Voices-Voix: Remarks from Pearl Eliadis at the CCIC Annual Forum 2012

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Remarks by Pearl Eliadis[1] at the CCIC Annual Forum: Changing realities, changing roles and the future of Canadian CSOs, Concluding Plenary, Ottawa, May 25, 2012

Thank you to Julia Sanchez and the organizers for inviting me to be a part of this event.  

I have been asked to talk about the Voices Coalition, its work and its relevance to the international development community in Canada.

Canadians think of themselves as champions of human rights, leading the way in the international community, forging a strong consensus for human rights and tolerance at home.

There are serious doubts today about whether this description is still accurate: it is true that there has been a long-standing and nonpartisan consensus in Canada about the importance of human rights and tolerance, but in 2006, Ray Pennings and Michael Van Pelt published a signal article in the journal Policy Options, called “Replacing the Pan-Canadian Consensus”.   They argued that tolerance and the “aggressive” human rights polity of the past are giving way to an agenda that is less interested in both. Torstar’s Thomas Walkom  dubbed it the “new, grim consensus”. 

The “new, grim consensus” is being implemented at the federal level through the takeover and transformation of Canadian democratic institutions, through attacks on independent or dissenting voices and a crackdown on civil society.

In the spring of 2010, a group of us came together to share our growing unease that something more was going on than a new government’s growing pains and new policies. And that something needed to be done.

To read the speech in full, please click here.


[1]     This paper draws on several sources, including the Voices website, www.voices-voix.ca, earlier remarks by Alex Neve, which can be found online on the Voices web site, and original material from a book that I am currently writing.