The OHRC was pleased to host the 2008 conference of the Canadian Association of Statutory Human Rights Agencies (CASHRA) at Niagara College. Under this year’s theme, Collective Strength: Commission to Communities and Back, over 200 people (including representatives from human rights commissions across Canada and community representatives) shared experiences and expertise on a number of key human rights issues ranging from national security and profiling, working with policing services and other public institutions for systemic change, to the accommodation debate.
One of the highlights of the conference was the plenary discussion about the roles of commissions and the media and implications for human rights. Panelists Alan Borovoy, Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Wahida Valiente, Canadian Islamic Congress, Mel Sufrin, Ontario Press Council, and Pearl Eliadis, human rights lawyer, engaged in a lively debate on human rights protections and legal limits for freedom of expression alongside freedom from discrimination.
Another highlight was a speech given by Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International, Canada, who spoke on the need for human rights commissions to recognize, promote and integrate Canada’s international human rights obligations into the fabric of their work.