NUPGE support to international protection of human rights

Ottawa (14 Dec. 2018) — The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) has written a letter of support to Peter Julian, the NDP MP for Burnaby-New Westminster for his Private Member’s Bill C-331, An Act to Amend the Federal Courts Act (international promotion and protection of human rights).

Bill C-331 was given first reading in the House of Commons on December 14, 2016, and is scheduled for second reading after Christmas break.

We are now calling on all MPs to pass the bill at second reading.

"Powerful" and "ground breaking" piece of legislation

In a letter of support to Julian, Larry Brown, the President of NUPGE, calls Bill C-331 “a ground breaking piece of legislation in defense of human rights and corporate standards.�

Brown wrote,“There is no doubt that this would be a powerful piece of legislation in the public interest. It creates a real and legally enforceable court procedure to stop Canadian companies from committing human rights violations outside Canada,� said Brown. “Through the judicial system we will establish a robust enforceable mechanism to sanction human rights violators, and to punish their crimes with monetary penalties.�

Far-reaching sanctions for companies committing human rights violations outside Canada

The proposed legislation was created by human rights experts and endorsed by a group of Canadian labour lawyers, and it could have far-reaching legal implications for companies that allow violations of human rights, labour, and the environment to take place outside of Canada. The bill was created by a Carleton University professor of law and legal studies, and Mark Rowlinson, Assistant to the National Director of the United Steelworkers, who worked with Julian to write it. The bill has been endorsed by the Canadian Association of Labour Lawyers and other civil society groups.

The bill would give federal courts the ability to hear civil claims for allegations of violations that took place in foreign countries by any company or employees of a company that has assets in Canada. A non-Canadian could sue for violations of human, environmental, and labour rights committed outside Canada with no time limitation period. These include degrading treatment, arbitrary arrest, kidnapping, infliction of emotional distress, genocide, war crimes, torture, and unlawful detentions.

The legislation also covers environmental rights and human rights violations against environmental activists.

Legally enforceable rights, and monetary damages

According to the bill’s drafters, Bill C-331 would provide legally enforceable rights for people to come to Canada and sue those they are accusing of human rights violations. And a Canadian court would provide a hearing and make a decision that could render liability and monetary damages.


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE

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