Support for human rights? There’s no better investment (Guest commentary)

Alberta used to lead the way on human rights, but now it’s in ‘shameful phase’
By Janet Keeping
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 02/17/2009

The Alberta Human Rights commission is suffering from political neglect. While notice of its death may be premature — as Mark Twain said of his own obituary — the patient is on life support. It is time for an injection of political commitment to bring it back to life.

Of course, compared to the basket cases of the world, such as Darfur or Somalia, things look good. But measured on a more rigorous scale, there is plenty of room for improvement.

The legal protection of human rights wasn’t always taken lightly in Alberta. The province was a leader, for example, in women’s political rights. In 1916, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta were the first Canadian jurisdictions to extend the vote to women. In 1918, two women were elected to the Alberta Legislature — the first females elected to public office in the British Empire. And in 1929 five Alberta women initiated the court case that established women are “persons” in Canadian constitutional law and can, therefore, be appointed to the Senate.