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Ontario Hansard - 09-December2015

Mr. Randy Hillier: December 10, tomorrow, marks that day in 1948 when the General Assembly of the newly formed United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This year’s Human Rights Day highlights and underscores that freedom is the pillar of human rights. Freedoms are integral and the keystone. The freedom of speech, the freedom to practise religion, the freedom of association and others are all prerequisites for a society that values, protects and upholds human rights and civil liberties.

We are fortunate to live in a country such as Canada, fortunate that our ancestors—and today, we fight and protect and cherish those human rights. However, we cannot let our guard down and must forever be diligent in our defence of human rights and the freedoms that they are based upon. Even here at home, there can be little, incremental challenges to our freedoms, and our human rights can come under attack, such as we saw with Bill 109 and the limit on freedom of association that came with schedule 2 in limiting union members and their ability to have freedom of association.

While the adoption by the General Assembly was a great leap forward for human rights, the struggle to obtain and preserve these rights has not ceased with this celebrated declaration. We have seen genocides, oppression and tyranny in Africa and in Asia, and struggles for civil rights and basic freedoms across the globe. We see minorities across the world who suffer from persecution from organizations such as the Islamic State, Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab, who terrorize and dehumanize those who object to their skewed and evil world view.

But not all human rights violators are as quick to broadcast and highlight their evil deeds. Many attempt to hide their violations in the shadows, and hide behind a friendly veil. One of our largest trading partners, the Chinese government, is known to be persecuting practitioners of Falun Gong and Uighurs and Tibetans—organ harvesting, persecution and oppression—all because those groups are not obedient to a public policy view of their government. They even, as we saw last week, refused to let a representative from our country go to China. Canada’s Miss World, Anastasia Lin, who is a practitioner of Falun Gong and who has spoken out against human rights oppression and human rights abuses, was refused an entry visa to China.

The best safeguard for human rights is not a mighty army or countless declarations and celebrations in their honour. The best safeguard is a fundamental upholding and understanding of the rule of law. The rule of law guarantees freedom and protection to minorities from the tyranny of the majority. The rule of law treats us all equally and safeguards each and every one of us and all of our individual freedoms which make human rights possible.

I hope to see human rights, here and abroad, continue to triumph and prevail and be a value that governments across the globe continue to uphold and keep sacred.

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