Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In recognition of Human Rights Day, on December 10, 2015, I’d like to reflect on our privilege and power as legislators in order to advance and protect human rights in Alberta. Although it’s crucial to enshrine human rights in formal legislation such as the International Bill of Human Rights and the Alberta Human Rights Act, it is equally important to engender respect for human rights in individuals both at home and abroad.
The last few months of discussions about gender rights; refugee, immigration, and indigenous rights; and vulnerable Afghan minorities have all allowed progressive defenders of human rights to demonstrate a depth of caring, compassion, and motivation to make this world a better place for those whose enjoyment of human rights is hampered at best, yet our human rights champions constantly face individuals and groups who believe that we don’t have the capacity to welcome refugees into our hearts and our homes.
Although we’ve stumbled at times in our efforts to protect basic human rights in Canada and in Alberta, oppressed people worldwide have looked to us to defend the core values that everyone on this planet has a right to. Those rights include a life free of fear and oppression regardless of their nation, language, religion, or ethnic origin. We see an excellent example of Alberta’s passion for human rights in our warm welcome for Syrian refugees, our resolve to show them how we value human rights in Alberta.
As Alberta’s voices of reason we must each exercise social responsibility as legislators to become educated about the human rights issues faced by some of our new and established constituents and to educate and help each other and our constituents understand and sympathize and connect personally with those in need.
Female refugees face particular vulnerability when fleeing human rights violations around the world. Often, as heads of wartorn households they are simultaneously responsible for feeding, clothing, housing, and educating their families. They’re targets for human trafficking, pressured into forced prostitution.
All of these things we must remember, Mr. Speaker.
On December 3, 2015, Sandra Jansen called attention to legislators' responsibilities to defend human rights.
PC Caucus in the Legislature
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