What is RightOnCanada.ca?
RightOnCanada.ca is an internet and public advocacy campaign of the Rideau Institute to put human rights back on Canada’s political agenda. RightOnCanada.ca provides valuable information and advocacy tools that support citizen action.
Who are the people at RightOnCanada.ca?
The founder and co-ordinator of RightOnCanada.ca is Kathleen Ruff, a long-time human rights activist and board member of the Rideau Institute. Kathleen is a former director of the Court Challenges Program and a former director of the BC Human Rights Commission. She was the founding editor and publisher of the Canadian Human Rights Reporter and host of the CBC TV program Ombudsman. She is presently one of the international coordinators of the Rotterdam Convention Alliance, which represents environmental and health organizations around the world that are working to defend and promote the Rotterdam Convention. She is founder of RightOnCanada.ca and Senior Advisor on Human Rights to the Rideau Institute. Kathleen received the Canadian Public Health Association’s National Public Health Hero Award in 2011 for her advocacy to end Canada’s export of asbestos.
Why do we need RightOnCanada.ca?
Most Canadians want our federal government to advance human rights, social justice, democracy and environmental sustainability. Canadians recognize that this is the only effective way to truly build peace in the world.
We are proud of Canada’s leadership in bringing about the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Treaty to Ban Land Mines and the International Criminal Court.
But today our federal government is taking decisions that too often, harm human rights, democracy and the environment. Instead of being a human rights leader, Canada is becoming a human rights saboteur.
And, very often, the government is taking these harmful decisions with NO public or parliamentary debate.
How can we pressure other countries to respect democracy, human rights and international law, if we fail to do so ourselves?
It’s time for citizen action. It’s time to challenge these destructive policies that are being enacted in our name, and demand that our government put the well being of people and the planet first.
What are examples of government decisions that harm human rights?
In the past few years the Canadian government has:
- Refused to recognize the human right to water
- Sought to overthrow a world moratorium on Terminator technology, which causes seeds to become sterile after just one first harvest, thus endangering people’s right to food and the planet’s biodiversity
- Helped sabotage a U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
- Blocked action internationally to control export to developing countries of asbestos, the world’s biggest industrial killer
- Failed to meet our obligations under international human rights law by refusing to deal with inequality and poverty. This especially affects women, children and First Nations peoples.
- Weakened a UN Convention on Forced Disappearances
- Ignored important recommendations made to Canada by U.N. human rights committees
Human rights and the environment are sometimes treated as separate entities. Rightoncanada.ca takes a holistic approach. People and the planet are one and need to live in harmony. We cannot save one without the other. We have a responsibility to care about human rights AND to act as responsible stewards of the environment.
How is RightOnCanada.ca funded?
Rightoncanada.ca is independent and receives no funding from government. Funds come from donations from individuals.
How can I help the work of RightOnCanada.ca?
You can help by:
signing on to receive our action alerts and sending letters to your MP and the government
spreading the word and letting others know of our website
- volunteering to help with advocacy campaigns
sending in ideas for campaign actions
What kinds of strategy will we use?
RightOnCanada.ca will work to bring back democracy to the grass-roots level. The website will enable people to quickly send a letter or fax to the government and their MP. We will focus on making each MP accountable. Every MP will be asked to take a stand and, when possible, their responses will be posted on the website, making it simple for anyone to know what position their elected representative has taken.
We will strategically target particular MPs with relevant ministerial or critic responsibilities, and support the local efforts of engaged citizens. Many Canadians feel disempowered when they see our government deciding policy on key issues behind closed doors or at meetings of distant, non-accountable institutions, like the World Trade Organization (WTO), the International Monitory Fund (IMF), and the World Bank.
RightOnCanada.ca will work to bring back democracy to the grass-roots level by demanding accountability of individual MPs.
We will lobby individual MPs, political parties, and government ministers to support open, democratic processes and policies that put the well-being of people and the planet first.
Advocacy and lobbying
Many human rights and environmental groups in Canada carry out excellent research and develop sound policy recommendations for our government. However, it is often difficult for these organizations to carry out strong advocacy and political lobbying because the Canadian charitable tax law severely restricts advocacy activity. Consequently, they are hampered in trying to put pressure on governments to adopt policies that advance human rights and the environment.
Corporations, on the other hand, carry out aggressive, heavily financed lobbying campaigns to get the government to implement policies that benefit corporate interests. And they receive tax subsidies to do so.
RightOnCanada.ca deliberately has not sought charitable tax status in order to preserve its freedom to carry out the kind of strong advocacy and lobbying that is sorely needed if we are to make gains for human rights and the environment.
War and Peace
The Canadian government is moving away from its traditional peacekeeping role. It is aligning us with a U.S. approach based on ever increasing militarization and weaponry.
We believe that increased militarism will not bring about peace and security in the world. This can only be achieved by building human rights, democracy and a healthy environment for all.
The commitment of RightOnCanada.ca is to build peace through promoting human rights, democracy and a healthy environment.
Providing links to other organizations
Rightoncanada.ca is pleased to provide information about and links to other organizations working on particular human rights issues and encourages you to go to these websites to learn more and to get involved.