Members Statements in the Ontario Legislature
Re: Human Rights Awards
December 10, 1998
| Human Rights Awards   |
| Peter Kormos   |
| Frances Lankin   |
Hon Isabel Bassett (Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation): On this day, the 50th anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it's my pleasure to announce the five recipients of the Government of Ontario Award for Outstanding Achievement in Human Rights, a special award created to help mark this milestone.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a history-making document signed just three years after the end of the Second World War. The declaration has proven to be the source of inspiration for a wide variety of human rights protections both here and around the world.
Ontario's leadership role in the protection of human rights dates back to the earliest pioneer days, when our first Lieutenant Governor, John Graves Simcoe, passed an anti-slavery decree in 1793, a full 70 years before Abraham Lincoln's famous Emancipation Proclamation.
The government's award has been created to help Ontarians celebrate the 50th anniversary of the UN declaration as well as the more than two centuries of human rights legislation in this province.
Let me name and briefly describe the contributions of each of the five recipients of the Ontario Government Award for Outstanding Achievement in Human Rights. ...
... The second recipient, the late Right Honourable Brian Dickson of Ottawa, is remembered as a brilliant legal mind, one of Canada's foremost chief justices of the Supreme Court and an interpreter of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Supreme Court, under Dickson's stewardship between 1984 and 1990, helped to define the debate about who we are as Canadians. His work in determining the terms of reference for the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples will have a lasting impact on the improvement of human rights in this country. His legacy includes the recent formation of the Dickson Circle, a group of senior lawyers from private law firms who donate their time and expertise to act as counsel for ARCH, a not-for-profit legal resource centre for people with disabilities. ...
These five recipients of the Government of Ontario Award for Outstanding Achievement in Human Rights represent the high standards of performance and commitment to human rights that we proudly uphold in Ontario. Their voices and their combined efforts are a treasured part of the history of this province.
On this day, I would also like to pay tribute to the Ontario Human Rights Commission, the first such commission in Canada. ...
The 50th anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights represents an important challenge for the world. All Ontarians can rightly take pride in our heritage on human rights, but we must not become complacent and there is still work to be done. As we approach the next millennium, let us ensure that the legacies established by these recipients of the Government of Ontario Award for Outstanding Achievement in Human Rights are represented in all we do.
Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): I find it incredible that the Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation would pick this day of the 50th anniversary of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights to announce the awarding of medals. We don't quarrel with the recipients, but I wonder what Mr Justice Dickson would say about this medal. I'm sure he'd far rather have an Ontarians with Disabilities Act that was mandatory and had teeth than this medal any day of the week.
It's important to hold up this declaration of human rights and to measure the success of this government since it came to power. ...
Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): "Whereas Ontarians with disabilities face many barriers when they seek to participate in all aspects of Ontario life; and
"Whereas there is an urgent and pressing need for a new, strong and effective law to achieve a barrier-free Ontario for people with disabilities; and
"Whereas Premier Harris promised in writing during the 1995 election to work together with the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee to develop this new law, to be called the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, and to pass it in his first term; and
"Whereas the Ontario Legislature unanimously passed a resolution on October 29, 1998, calling on the government to make sure that this law is strong and effective, and embodies the 11 principles set out in the resolution, to make sure that the law is strong and effective, not weak and window dressing,
"Therefore, the undersigned
"1. Call on the Ontario government to enact a strong and effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act in this term, before calling an election, which fully complies with unanimous resolutions of the Ontario Legislature passed on October 29, 1998.
"(2) Call on Premier Harris to immediately meet with the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee, instead of continuing to refuse to meet with them, since he promised during the last election to work together with this broad-based disability coalition to develop this law.
"(3) Call on Premier Harris to immediately direct his citizenship minister, Isabel Bassett, to stop making the false claim that the Ontario Legislature's October 29, 1998, resolution calls for job quotas, since it includes nothing of the sort."
It's signed by many people from the disability community
and was sent to me by Sandy Russill from the Canadian Hard of
Hearing Association. I'm in complete agreement and will affix
my signature to this.