MONTREAL, June 15 /CNW Telbec/ - The need to protect human rights and to
reinforce the human rights protection systems is the focus of the conference
organized by the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la
jeunesse being held today and tomorrow in Montreal.
    "The work of commissions and other institutions responsible for the
defence and protection of human rights has never been as important as it is
now in this current period of economic crisis," said the president of the
Commission, Gaétan Cousineau, at the opening of the conference attended by
members of the Canadian Association of Statutory Human Rights Agencies
(CASHRA), experts in the field, lawyers, academics and representatives of
human rights groups.
    "By exchanging information, ideas and experiences, we hope to identify
the best strategies for promoting and protecting human rights across this land
and contribute towards the common goal of freedom, justice and peace for all,
" added Mary Pat Short, Chair of CASHRA and of the Northwest Territories Human
Rights Commission.
    Addressing the theme Dare to Reach Higher! the conference brings together
30 speakers and close to 200 participants from all parts of Canada.
    This morning, Mr. Cousineau and his colleagues from the Ontario and
federal human rights commissions, the chair of the Human Rights Tribunal of
British Columbia, as well as François Crépeau of the Faculty of law of McGill
University focused on the advantages and limitations of current human rights
systems in Canada.
    Jennifer Lynch, the Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights
Commission, underlined human rights commissions' vital purposes in providing
access to justice for the most vulnerable, and in identifying societal shifts
and promoting change to strengthen social inclusion and respect for diversity.
"Yet, she said, the human rights system is under attack from some detractors
who suggest that equality has been achieved in Canada. In fact, much remains
to be done and we cannot relax our vigilance."
    Throughout the day, several workshops will serve as a forum for exchanges
on the challenges of mediation, partnerships and the role of commissions as
agents of social change.
    Tomorrow June 16, participants will address economic and social rights,
demographic change, the economic crisis, as well as the link between human
rights protection and the environment. Speakers will include: Claude Béland
(Institut de recherche en coopération de l'Université de Sherbrooke), Steven
Guilbeault (Equiterre), Ghislain Picard (Assembly of the First Nations of
Quebec and Labrador) and Bernard St-Jacques (Réseau d'aide aux personnes
seules et itinérantes de Montréal).
    The full program is available at:
http://www.cdpdj.qc.ca/en/cashra/programme.asp .

    Information : Patricia Poirier
                  514 873-5146 or 1 800 361-6477, ext. 358
                  Cell phone: 514-708-0297
    -%SU: CPN
    -%RE: 40

For further information:

For further information: Patricia Poirier, (514) 873-5146,
1-800-361-6477, ext. 358, Cell phone: (514) 708-0297

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