Hanne Jensen Solidarity Collection, BC Labour Heritage Centre
Jack Munro representing Operation Solidarity and Renate Shearer of the Solidarity Coalition read aloud “A Declaration of the Rights of the People of British Columbia” at the Queen Elizabeth Plaza in Vancouver on October 15, 1983.
A Declaration of Rights of the People of British Columbia
We believe that the measure of a society’s humanity is the degree to which it provides rights that protect all its participants, its minorities no less than its majorities;
We believe that the substance of justice in a society is the degree to which rights are accorded to the poor and the powerless, and not simply to the rich and the strong;
And we believe that the best of a society’s commitment to democracy is its resolve to guarantee those rights even in the face of hardship and adversity;
Therefore we declare that in a democratic, just and human British Columbia every person has these fundamental rights which no government may justifiably extinguish:
The right to protection from all forms of unreasonable discrimination, by legislation that ensures human rights and programs that confront prejudice.
The right to freedom of expression and opinion without fear of reprisal.
The right to universally accessible, comprehensive and confidential medical care.
The right to a public school system that allows all children to develop to the full extent of their potential, and to post-secondary education that is accessible to all.
The right of senior citizens, disabled persons and visible minorities to participate fully and equally in society.
The right of every woman, in fact as well as in principle, to a full and equal place in society.
The right to receive adequate social services and assistance.
The right to freedom from arbitrary or unjustified eviction or increase in rents.
The right to universal accessibility of necessary legal assistance.
The right to local powers of decision-making about the provision of social services, and effective regional planning of the development of our communities.
The right of all employees to negotiate freely and collectively with their employer all the terms and conditions under which they work.
The right to freedom from arbitrary or unjustified termination of employment.
The right to open and democratic government, scrutiny of government actions, due process of law, full parliamentary debate and consultation with affected groups on all legislative proposals, and express submission of fundamental changes in law or rights to the electors.
This declaration is made in the face of an unprecedented legislative assault that seeks to eliminate or subvert existing rights and protections. This cannot be allowed. We also assert, therefore, that the people of this province have the right and the responsibility to resist. We shall do so with all of our strength.
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