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Transforming Rights

Transforming Rights: Reflections from the Front Lines

Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 256
  • Book Info
    Transforming Rights
    Book Description:

    Transforming Rightsdraws on Yalden's extensive experience in rights work to provide a personal assessment of how issues of human rights and language rights have evolved over the past forty years, both within Canada and internationally.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7016-7
    Subjects: Political Science, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. PART ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-24)

    I was born in Toronto in April 1930, a singularly inauspicious year, and raised as an only child in that city during the Depression, growing into adolescence during the war years. My parents were both immigrants to Canada, in a manner of speaking, my father from England¹ and my mother from Trinidad. I say ‘in a manner of speaking,’ because of course new arrivals from England or the colonies were not considered to be ‘real’ immigrants in those days. After all, like other Canadians, they were British subjects.

    My wife, Janice, and I were married in Toronto in 1952. In...

  6. PART TWO Language Rights
    (pp. 25-114)

    Two observations are, I think, important before we begin a closer examination of the Royal Commission’s lengthy study and recommendations, which were to frame language reform and language rights policy from the mid-nineteen sixties until the present day.

    First, questions are sometimes asked as to why language rights and human rights are dealt with almost independently of one another in this country. After all, language rights are usually regarded as a subspecies of human rights – for example, in the Universal Declaration and the international treaties. Nevertheless, in Canada, we have taken them up separately, both in different sections of the...

  7. PART THREE Human Rights
    (pp. 115-196)

    For most purposes, it is sufficient to trace our contemporary thinking about rights to Locke and Rousseau and the eighteenth-century American constitutionalists. Looked at in more comprehensive historical terms, one could of course carry the search for a rights foundation backward in time almost without limit. The Sophists wrote more than two millennia ago, for example, about equality of rights for all, just as Antigone spoke of ‘unwritten laws which live always and forever, and no man knows from where they have arisen.’¹ And we used to learn very early in life that one should render unto Caesar what is...

  8. PART FOUR Human Rights and International Relations
    (pp. 197-218)

    It may appear odd in a study of language and human rights in Canada to change the focus to the international arena, though it is perhaps understandable for someone with my foreign affairs background. In fact, there are better reasons than that. In the first place, much of our Canadian human rights law and practice finds its origins in international declarations and covenants, to which Canadians have contributed substantially. A further reason is simply that sound international standards and effective machinery for observing and checking on their implementation can only improve the chances for human rights on the domestic scene...

  9. PART FIVE Summing Up and Conclusions
    (pp. 219-230)

    There can of course be no ‘conclusion’ in the matter of language rights and human rights. It is an unfolding narrative that will be with us for a very long time: language rights because of the very nature of Canada; human rights because of a universal story that has inevitable implications for all countries, including our own. I must nevertheless conclude this essay, and I do so more on an optimistic than a gloomy note. Which surprises me, I must say, as anyone who knows me will confirm that I am a pessimist by nature.

    Perhaps my relatively positive attitude...

  10. Appendix: Official Languages and Human Rights Commissioners
    (pp. 231-232)
  11. Notes
    (pp. 233-252)
  12. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 253-260)
  13. Index
    (pp. 261-265)