An Open Letter to Prime Minister Harper

February 16, 2007

The Right Honorable Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0A6

Dear Prime Minister:

We, the undersigned, have followed with pride the excellent work by Canadian officials and civil society members at the United Nations where for the past 5 years Canada has taken a central leadership role in the elaboration of a new Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

We applaud Canada's leadership at the United Nations on this issue. Through law reform and jurisprudence, Canada has a long history of making human rights protections meaningful to people with disabilities, and Canada brought this experience to the UN discussions. This important new human rights convention has been the beneficiary of Canada's thirty years of leadership and innovation on disability issues, as well as our strong record in other areas of international law.

Canada's participation in all of the meetings of the Ad Hoc committee to draft this historic document has been exemplary and a source of pride for us all. In light of this expansive history of leadership we were disappointed to learn that your government has decided not to participate at this crucial moment in the life of the new Convention, and we are writing to urge the Canadian Government to reconsider its position and participate in the signing ceremony for this historic Convention on March 30, 2007.

While we appreciate and support the need for ongoing consultations with Provincial and Territorial Governments, in particular with regard to ratification, we believe that the ongoing Federal/Provincial/Territorial consultations undertaken by the Canadian delegation throughout the five-year Convention negotiating process has been sufficient to enable Canada to become a signatory to the Convention. We recognize the need for further consultation in advance of ratification and are hopeful the consultation process will be open and transparent and inclusive of the disability community at the provincial/territorial and national levels.

Prime Minister, people with disabilities, their families and their allies in Canada and around the world have steadfastly supported Canada's participation in the development of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

With respect, it is time now for your government to support us, by taking its place with other leading countries and signing the Convention on March 30, with a view to ratifying it as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely,

Marie White's signature

Marie White
Chairperson, Council of Canadians with Disabilities
926 - 294 Portage Avenue,
Winnipeg, Manitoba
R3C 0B9
Tel: (204) 947-0303
Fax: (204) 942-4625

CC - Honourable Peter Mackay
Honourable Bev Oda
Honourable Stéphane Dion
M. Gilles Duceppe
Mr. Jack Layton

Organizational Supporters:

Action Canada for Population and Development, Jane Gauthier, Associate Executive Director
Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians, John Rae, President
Amnesty International - Canada (English-speaking branch), Alex Neve, Secretary General
Amnistie internationale (section canadienne francophone), André Paradis, Directeur
ARCH Disability Law Centre, Phyllis Gordon, Executive Director
British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, Jason Gratl, President
British Columbia Coalition of People with Disabilities, Al Hanet, President
Canadian AIDS Society, Monique Doolittle-Romas, Executive Director
Canadian Arab Federation, Mohamed Boudjenane, Executive Director
Canadian Association of Community Living, Zuhy Sayeed, President
Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, Kim Pate, Executive Director
Canadian Association of Independent Living Centres, Paul-Claude Berube, Chair
Canadian Association of the Deaf, Jim Roots, Executive Director
Canadian Bar Association, J. Parker MacCarthy, Q.C., President
Canadian Bar Association, National International Law Section, Clifford Sosnow, Chair
Canadian Helsinki Watch Group, David Matas, Chair
Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, Joanne Csete, Executive Director
Canadian Injured Workers Alliance, Phil Brake, National Coordinator
Canadian Labour Congress
Canadian National Institute of the Blind, Jim Sanders, C.M., President & CEO
Chinese Canadian National Council, Victoria Shen, Co-President
Christian Blind Mission International - Canada, David McComiskey, Executive Director
Confédération des Organismes de Personnes Handicapées du Québec, Choé Serradori, directrice générale
Council of Canadians with Disabilities, Marie White, Chair
DisAbled Women's Network Ontario, Barbara Anello, Chair
Easter Seals Canada, Max Beck, Chief Executive Officer
Equitas - International Centre for Human Rights Education, Rob Shroshire, Director
Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph of Canada, Sister Margaret Kane, President
Human Rights Internet, Corinne Packer, Executive Director
Independent Living Resource Centre of Calgary, Diane Kreuger, Chair
KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, Mary Corkery, Executive Director
Kashmiri-Canadian Council, Mushtaq A. Jeelani, Executive Director
l'Arche Canada, Jean Dansereau, President of the Board
L'Entraide Missionnaire, Gerardo Aiquel, Responsable de droits humains
Ligue des droits et libertés, Marie Guylda Thélusmond, Directrice générale
Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities, Terry McIntosh, Chair
National Association of Women and the Law, Yvonne Peters, Board of Directors
National Educational Association of Disabled Students, Frank Smith, National Coordinator
National Union of Public and General Employees, James Clancy, National President
Native Women's Association of Canada, Bev Jacobs, President
NWT Council of Persons with Disabilities, Cecily Hewitt, Executive Director
Oxfam Canada, Robert Fox, Executive Director
Rideau Institute on International Affairs, Steven Staples, Director
Rights and Democracy, Jean-Louis Roy, President
Showdoman Foundation, Dominique Show, President
UNICEF Canada, Nigel Fisher, President & CEO
Uyghur Canadian Association, Mehmet Tohti, President