Greens support motion to designate August 1 as Emancipation Day in Canada

OTTAWA – The Green Party caucus unanimously supports the recent motion tabled by Liberal MP Majid Jowhari (Richmond Hill) calling for August 1 to be designated as Emancipation Day in Canada. The motion calls for the House to recognize the abolition of slavery that occurred within the British Empire on August 1, 1834.

“By officially recognizing Emancipation Day, we acknowledge the history of slavery in Canada and other Commonwealth countries,” said Green parliamentary leader Elizabeth May (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands). “This is a step in the right direction as we look to rectify past wrongs and address the ongoing legacies of colonialism in this country. Unfortunately modern day slavery continues to ensnare millions of people around the world, and Canada is not immune. Canadian companies working abroad must be held accountable to ensure that the rights of workers and communities are protected. Such protections are integral to our core Green values and our commitment to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

“We are very concerned that the Government of Canada is reportedly establishing a for-profit operation within correctional institutions in Kingston, Ontario, to produce milk for the Chinese corporation Feihe International,” said Green MP Paul Manly (Nanaimo-Ladysmith). “Any push to follow the US model of exploiting cheap prison labour for corporate profits calls into question Canada’s commitment to labour rights here at home. It also calls into question our commitment to reconciliation and anti-racism, because the over-representation of Indigenous and racialized people in Canada’s prison population is so extreme.”

Despite recent progress in reducing the numbers of children forced into child labour, a June, 2020 report from the International Labour Organization and UNICEF warns that millions of children are being put at risk due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Ms. May concluded that increased consumer awareness and action can help put pressure on companies to improve conditions for workers including children.  “I think most people would be horrified to learn that thousands of children are slaving long hard hours in the fields of West Africa, often in hazardous conditions, to harvest the cocoa needed for the production of their favourite chocolate bar,” said Ms. May. “We can and must do better to end modern-day slavery and improve the lives of people in Canada and around the world.”

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