Canadian Parliament Debates Motion to Prohibit Caste Discrimination as Human Rights Issue

Caste-based discrimination is a reality for many Canadians and should be expressly prohibited, the motion stated.
Canadian Parliament Debates Motion to Prohibit Caste Discrimination as Human Rights Issue

New Delhi: A Canadian Member of Parliament (MP) has proposed a motion in Parliament to formally recognize caste-based discrimination. The motion, introduced by Don Davies of the New Democratic Party (NDP), urges the government to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act by including caste as a prohibited ground of discrimination. The NDP, in collaboration with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party, aims to garner support for the legislative change.


Speaking at a press conference in Vancouver, Davies stated, “Thanks to the relentless efforts of advocates, some institutions have acknowledged caste-based discrimination as a violation of human rights, albeit indirectly. It is now imperative to explicitly address this issue and unequivocally convey that such discrimination will not be tolerated in our society.”


At the press conference, Davies was accompanied by Jai Birdi, the executive director of the Chetna Association of Canada, along with Jyotika Jasuja, Chetna’s cultural events coordinator, and Manoj Bhangu.


In March 2023, Manoj Bhangu was awarded CA$9,755 by the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal after it determined that he had been subjected to a caste-based slur by Inderjit and Avninder Dhillon during an altercation at a taxi company’s Christmas Party in 2018. Bhangu, who is Hindu, had endured verbal abuse from his former co-workers.

“Caste discrimination continues to be a significant issue in Canada, and it requires urgent action,” Bhangu remarked.


“We need collective efforts to foster a society free from caste distinctions, where people can coexist harmoniously despite their differences,” Birdi emphasized.


Meanwhile, the motion M-128 faced criticism from Indo-Canadian community groups. In a statement posted on X (formerly Twitter), the Coalition of Hindus of North America Canada argued that it “misuses the noble intent of Human Rights to single out, profile and target a specific group of people based on their origin”.

The statement highlighted CoHNA has time and again raised concerns over the use of caste to specifically target Indians and Hindus.

In the past year, motions acknowledging caste-based discrimination in Canada were adopted by Burnaby in British Columbia, Brampton in Ontario, and the Toronto District School Board.

According to Davies’ motion, “Caste-based discrimination is a reality for many Canadians and should be expressly prohibited.”

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