Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

1st Session, 41st Parliament,
Volume 148, Issue 58

Wednesday, March 7, 2012
The Honourable Donald H. Oliver, Speaker pro tempore

Foreign Affairs

Third Optional Protocol on Convention of the Rights of the Child

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. On February 22, a ceremony to sign the Third Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child took place in Geneva. The third optional protocol introduces a complaints procedure that will allow children and their representatives to bring rights violations directly to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child when they have exhausted all domestic remedies, just as adults can do for other core human rights treaties. Twenty states demonstrated their commitment to children’s rights by signing the protocol at the ceremony, including Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Finland and Germany.

For a very long time, Canada has been a leader in the advancement and protection of children’s rights. The Senate Human Rights Committee held a very long study on children’s rights, which we have been very proud of.

My question to the leader is: Why was the Canadian government not among the first countries to sign the new protocol?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the honourable senator for the question. We have a long and proud record not only as a country but as a government with regard to the rights of the child and women’s rights. Canada has been a full participant in many UN programs and has participated fully in many programs in Africa on maternal and child health.

I will take the honourable senator’s question as notice as I am not familiar with the circumstances she has cited.

Senator Jaffer: I appreciate that that the leader will find out why Canada has not signed the new protocol.

Are there plans for Canada to sign this protocol? If so, are there plans to begin consultations with the provinces and territories to look at what remedies we have and do not have for all the rights of children in Canada? When will Canada ratify this protocol? Are there plans to introduce a children’s commissioner in Canada?

Senator LeBreton: I have already responded to a question on the Senate recommendation for a children’s commissioner, but I will take the rest of the honourable senator’s question as notice.