Minority: A racial, religious, or other group regarded as being different from the larger group of which it is part (Webster’s Dictionary). Should the majority, defined only as the larger of the smaller, be given more rights to government concerns than minorities? Should size govern the decisions of the nation? Some individuals believe that the desires of the majority are more important than the protection of minority rights. Others believe that minority rights must be protected at all costs to ensure the views of every citizen are not ignored. A majority individual may wonder why this is such an important issue when, never having been part of the minority, has never faced the challenges of class distinction. The protection of minority rights is a pressing concern because potential social conflict can arise through repression of those rights. Currently in East Central Europe, numerous minorities are at risk and several regions could see ethnic tensions rising to produce yet more conflicts if nothing is done to protect the rights of these minorities. It is esstential that government protection is in place throughout the world to ease the civil unrest. However, minorities should not be granted profuse protection that could lead to the violation of majority rights. If possible, a median must be attained so that the rights of all citizens, majority and minority, are expressed and cared for. Respect for human rights and for the fundamental freedoms of everyone, regardless of their race, sex, or religion, is of basic importance for both individuals and groups. Therefore, governments should protect minority rights to such an extent that the minorities cannot negatively affect the well being of others. It is the governments responsibility to form a society in which minorities have equal access to participate in social, economic, political, and cultural affairs. It is true that Canada is an equal opportunity country for both minority and majority individuals, but it has not always been so liberal. Although our future is moving closer to a country that protects minority groups, our past is full of hardships and discrimination towards those very same minority individuals. Women were once considered a minority without the same rights we enjoy today. After decades of struggle and sexist attitudes, women could claim progress in property rights, divorce and child custody laws, employment and educational opportunities, and increased social freedoms. However, it was not until 1918 that women were giving the same right to vote as men through the success and awareness of the Women’s Suffrage Movement. Those of Japanese ancestry were also considered a minority and, although born in Canada, had very little government protection for their rights. In Canada’s worst systemic discrimination, Japanese Canadians watched as their civil and human rights were abolished by the same government in place to protect them during and after World War II. Their homes and businesses were taken away from them as they were sent to concentration camps for false pretenses. Moreover, it was not until 1949 that Canadians of Japanese ancestry were enfranchised. Other suppressed racial minority groups in Canada’s past include Aboriginal Canadians, Chinese, South Asian, and African Americans. Undoubtedly our past is full of discrimination against minorities, nevertheless our future is moving towards prosperity and protection for all. It is the duty of the federal government to protect the rights of each of these people whether they are black, white, Asian, Native American, conservative, liberal, or socialist. Persons belonging to minorities have the right to participate effectively in decisions concerning the minority to which they belong or the regions in which they live. The federal government needs to help ensure that each person is given a chance to lead a life comparable to that of a member of the majority.Compared to its past, Canada’s present appears to be rid of minority discrimination. Even though minority rights have improved due to the efforts of lobbyists and awareness groups, Canada must not stop there. Even in this day of freedoms of speech, expression, religion, and thought, minority rights still beg the protection of governments as new issues arise. Minority can also be defined as “the state or period of being under legal age” (Webster’s Dictionary). Therefore, the rights of children fall into a minority grouping. Some people may argue that children should be placed under the sole care of their parent or guardian and it is these persons who should determine their protection and rights. Other individuals will dispute that children have the same moral rights as any other person and in turn demand protection against any harm that may befall them under the care of these individuals or otherwise. Child abuse, sexual abuse and child pornography are just a few examples of the crimes against children in our modern society. The Protective Service, the Child Abuse Legislation and the Sexual Exploitation of Children Act are examples of government protection that have proven to be extremely helpful to the rights of those minority individuals it defends. There is also too much discrimination against such minorities as homosexuals in our world
today. They are denied the same rights as majority heterosexual couples such as the rights to a legal marriage, tax rebates and spousal benefits including health care and dental care. Their minority status makes them a target for hate crimes and prejudice. It is true that some people see them as being different; a non-acceptable part of society who deserve no government protection, but as people, they are entitled to equality, freedom, and justice regardless of sexual orientation. It is essential that governments undertake measures to promote equality and freedom and that they take steps to combat such hate, prejudice, and discrimination. Similarly, minority groups are not just restricted to humans. Animals should also be protected by governments against unlawful medical testing, murder for the fur and medicinal trade and abuse. Lobbying efforts by animal advocacy groups have resulted in trapping restrictions in numerous countries and an end to federal fur industry subsidies but it’s simply not enough. Defenseless animals require additional government aid in order to survive. Their rights should not be ignored. The federal government has an obligation to protect the rights of its country’s inhabitants; human, animal and environmental. For we are all affected by the actions of one another. In order to ensure fair and equal rights for all national minorities, protection of individual rights must be maintained.In democratic countries, such as Canada, it is even more important that the rights of minority groups are upheld. Minorities frequently find democratic, majority rule processes to be extremely threatening. The danger is that the majority will use it’s power to win elections, and then in most cases, take away the rights of the minority. This is why effective means for protecting minority rights are essential to the success of any democratic process. If the minority is suppressed it will eventually lead to an uprising, civil riots, or possibly a revolution. When basic rights are stripped from minorities, the minority eventually refuses to abide by the laws set forth by the majority. Therefore, although the rights of the majority are important, the rights of the minority cannot be forgotten. An equilibrium must be reached in which the rights and freedoms of both minorities and the majority are met.In the discussion of minority rights one must not forget the struggles throughout Eastern Europe. Differences between majority rule and minority identity has been an ongoing battle for decades and continues into the new Millennium. Since Sunday October 1, 2000, thirty-five Palestinian citizens of Israel have been killed in clashes with Israeli police in the Arab towns of Umm el Fahem, Jat, Nazareth, Ma’awia, Arrabe, Sakhnin, Kufr Manda, and Kufr Kana. The deaths were the result of the police’s brutal attempts to contain protests against minority persecution. How can one believe majority will justifies the deaths of others? Minority groups are entitled to the protection of the government, yet clashes between demonstrators and Israeli police remain ongoing. Minority rights in Yugoslavia are continuously at risk and potential conflict is continuing between such minorities as the Bosniaks (Muslims), Roma, Vlachs and ethnic Albanians. Futhermore, as a vulnerable minority group, opportunities for Muslim women in India raise concerns over access to education rights and work opportunities. Governments must intervene and allow protection against such injustices. Although such organizations as Minority Rights International fight valiantly for equality, personal minority freedoms continue to be severely restricted. In fact, elections in Egypt are rigged and religious persecution still exists in the country. Minority rights were denied for years under the leadership of Adolf Hitler throughout Germany in the early 1930’s. Hitler spread his propaganda of racial hatred and contempt for democracy. He replaced all labor unions with one Nazi-controlled German Labor Front, banned all political parties (except for the Nazi party), and systematically installed Nazi ideals within the government and the courts. The Nazi power controlled the economy, the media, and cultural activities. Thousands of Jewish minorities were stripped of their civil rights and sent to concentration camps where they were tortured or killed. Where the government protection failed in the past, it can succeed in the present. In East Central Europe, ethnic and religious minorities demand respect and protection for their cultural and religious traditions. The government must provide such protection in the promotion of inter-ethnic understanding and peaceful coexistence.Global diversity of ethnic and racial minorities is a celebrated accomplishment. There are many different cultures throughout the world, ranging from Japanese to South African; Arab to Native American. However, it is essential that governments protect minority rights to the fullest extent in order for peace and order to be maintained throughout society. Extension of protection of minority rights to such groups as children, homosexuals, women, racial cultures, the environment and even animals is a must in creating a society of peace, equality and basic standards of life. As long as one class does not contain the bulk of governmental power, nor inflict harm or judgment upon the lesser, society can govern peacefully. Therefore, governments should protect minority rights to such an extent that the minorities cannot negatively affect the well being of others.