Canada's Original Think Tank

Open Caucus

In the spring of 2014, the Senate Liberals began our Open Caucus initiative. The goal of these meetings is to foster nonpartisan discussion on issues facing our country. We invite all parliamentarians as well as the public to take part in the discussion with a panel of experts on any given topic, and focus informing ourselves and others on matters that are important to Canadians.

 

Open Caucus Themes

  • November 22, 2017 — The Rights of the Child

    The Open Caucus, a forum for discussion on issues of national importance, was first established in 2014 when Senate Liberals opened their Caucus doors to the public on Wednesday mornings. The Open Caucus is now co-sponsored by the Independent Senators Group (ISG) and the Independent Senate Liberals. This non-partisan collaboration brings together two groups representing the majority of the Senate’s current membership.

    This non-partisan discussion is open to all Members of Parliament, Senators, parliamentary staff, media, and the public.

    The UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child (1959) followed by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) internationally established that children, who are some of the most vulnerable members of society, are to be treated with dignity and respect. In 1991 Canada ratified the Convention thereby enshrining that all children have rights which safeguard their physical wellbeing. These rights also establish that children have access to education, health care, and adequate standards of living. The Convention also asserts that children should have a voice in the process. The best interest of the child should lay at the heart of decisions. Although, Canada has made strides in implementing its obligations towards children there are still areas where improvement must be made. It is essential that action be taken to address issues such as mental health, poverty, and education. Furthermore, it is necessary that attention is given to the specific barriers which indigenous and racialized minority children face. In recognition of the UN Universal Children’s Day and Canada’s National Child Day we ask: how can Canada ensure that the rights of all children are recognized and protected?

    Panelists included:

    • The Honourable Landon Pearson: Former Senator and long-time advocate for the rights and well-being of children. Founder and Chair of the Landon Pearson Centre for the Study of Childhood and Children’s Rights at Carleton University
    • Irwin Elman: Ontario Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth with extensive background as an educator, counsellor, youth worker, program manager, policy developer and child and youth advocate
    • Sibel Cicek: Director of Public Policy at Children’s Mental Health Ontario where she works to develop and lead practical policy solutions to improve the health and well-being of children, youth and their families
    • Marc St. Dennis: Reconciliation and Research Coordinator at First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, a public speaker on issues related to improving the lives of Indigenous children and youth
    • Lisa Wolff: Director of Policy and Research at UNICEF Canada, a leader in developing educational plans and policies which advance the rights of Canada’s children to develop to their fullest potential, consistent with international human rights standards

    The meeting took place:

    Wednesday November 22, 2017
    9:15 am – 11:15 am
    Room 160S, Centre Block


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