Pictured above (l-r): Saint Mary’s University President, J Colin Dodds; Minister Denise Peterson-Rafuse; Joan Levack, Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities; Steven Estey, Council of Canadians with Disabilities; Minister Peter MacKay and Mount Saint Vincent University Interim President, Alexa McDonough.
Politicians, administrators and members of the disability community joined Dr. J. Colin Dodds, President of Saint Mary’s University, and Alexa McDonough, Interim President, Mount Saint Vincent University, to celebrate the recent ratification United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities (CRPD).
Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence and a huge supporter of the U.N. effort, said the March 11 ratification signals Canada’s commitment to be governed by the Convention.
“Our government’s backing of the Convention demonstrates our strong commitment to removing obstacles and creating opportunities for people with disabilities,” said Minister MacKay. “The Convention is important internationally because it is the first international human rights treaty that explicitly reaffirms existing human rights guarantees for people with disabilities and promotes respect for their inherent dignity.”
Nova Scotia was one of the first provinces to signal provincial support for ratification, and the Denise Peterson-Rafuse, Minister of Community Services and Minister Responsible for the Disabled Persons Commission Act, said she was proud Nova Scotia was one of the first provinces to signal support for ratification of the historic treaty.
“In a province where 20% of its population has a disability, we must do everything we can to ensure that the talents, skills and abilities of Nova Scotians with disabilities are utilized to the fullest,” said Ms. Peterson-Rafuse. “We will continue to support the goals of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.”
Dr. Dodds and Ms. McDonough, co-hosts of the event at Saint Mary’s University, applauded the crucial contribution of disability consumer groups across Canada, citing Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities (NSLEO) for their effective advocacy and achieving a human rights-based treaty, upon which disability policy reform will be built.
“We hope the ratification will now move legislators and policy makers into discussions about respecting the rights of persons with disabilities and out of discussions about policies and services that treat persons with disabilities as objects of charity”, stated Joan Levack, NSLEO Chair. “Throughout this process, we have particularly valued the contribution of the Hon. Peter MacKay and Mr. Steven Estey, two Nova Scotians who have championed the Convention and been instrumental in its recent ratification.”
Other leaders with disability organizations expressed confidence the new human rights framework will result in bold steps to address the exclusion and lack of access the disabled experience in daily life.
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