"Canada's first National Election for the Rights of Youth will take place on November 19, 1999. Marking the 10th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, this election will give a tremendous boost to public awareness of children's rights and of Canada's democratic process."
So begins the joint news release by UNICEF Canada and Elections Canada which was sent to all Canadian schools on August 20, 1999.
Without so much as a 'by your leave', UNICEF announced that it will invade every Canadian school having an Internet connection to conduct a vote among students aged 6 to 17 years. The students will vote "for the right they feel is most important to them".  The implication is that the United Nations has conferred special rights on all children. UNICEF is determined to drive a wedge between Canadian children and their parents by conducting this charade with the assistance of Elections Canada.
Canadian children's rights do not originate with the United Nations' Treaty, but children who participate will believe that they have been given a new set of rights by the United Nations. They will believe that Article 14 of the UN Treaty gives them "freedom of thought, conscience and religion"; they will believe they now have the right to associate with anyone they choose (Article 15); they will believe the Treaty gives them the right to receive information of all kinds through media of their own choice (Article 17); the "right to rest and leisure" (Article 31) would suggest chores and homework are no longer required.
The involvement of Elections Canada with UNICEF is very peculiar. Chief Electoral Officer of Canada, Jean-Pierre Kingsley's message on the web page says: "The event will also give them a chance to learn about elections, which form the basis of the democratic process..." and yet, an embargo on the questions prevents parents, teachers and students from discussing the implications beforehand. If voting choices are confidential until just before the vote, and if whole groups can opt out, how does this teach children about their civic obligation and the democratic process? How private and confidential will the process be if teachers are conducting the vote?
UNICEF was set up in 1947 to provide emergency relief for children in the wake of World War II. Canadians supported UNICEF just as they supported the Easter Seals campaign or Operation Eyesight. Until recently, many Canadian children collected money for UNICEF as they went 'trick or treating' on Hallowe'en. Gradually over the years, population control replaced food, clean water and shelter, and UNICEF became a provider of 'family planning services'. Money collected for the relief of hunger and disease provided abortifacient contraceptives to women in Third World countries. From 1987 onwards, UNICEF endorsed abortion and worked closely with other UN agencies which provided sterilizations, contraceptives and abortions. In 1990 during a meeting of UNICEF's Executive Board in New York, some European countries proposed that UNICEF should "become an advocate for abortion in countries where sovereign legislation does not allow it." The Holy See issued the following statement in response:
"..the Holy See views with great alarm some repeated proposals that this United Nations agency, established for the well-being of children, to become involved in the destruction of existing human life, even to the point of suggesting that UNICEF become an advocate for abortion in countries whose sovereign legislation does not allow it. The Holy See firmly opposes such proposals not only on moral grounds, but also because they would bring a totally unacceptable deviation from the stated Purpose of UNICEF in favour of children. Moreover, such proposals appear to reveal a dangerous form of neocolonialism -- to which the developing countries are justifiably sensitive --where the mighty will try to impose on the less powerful the adoption of practices contrary to those cultural, social, moral and religious values which have historically formed their heritage and have sustained them in their difficult path to independence and development."
Now that UNICEF has been unmasked and its intentions are known, parents must try to insulate their families from this invasion of privacy. No precedent allows a quasi World Government agency to override our national sovereignty. The whole exercise is a smokescreen to enable UNICEF to invade the very interface between children and their parents. Since federal and provincial governments seem oblivious to this deception, it will be up to parents, teachers and school trustees to block this first of many intrusions. UNICEF and Elections Canada have no right to conduct this "Election for the Rights of Youth" and should be prevented from doing so.
1. from the National Election for the Rights of Youth page on the Elections Canada web site.
[The Web site above now includes the text of the "rights candidates" on which Canada's children and youth will be voting. They appear below, and include far-reaching assertions about rights that justify Ms. Toth's concern. Visit the Web site for more information about this exercise and its promotion to our schools. Ed.]
1. EDUCATION – our right to an education
We have the right to education. Governments have the responsibility to guarantee that primary education is compulsory and free of charge, and to take steps so that we all have equal access to secondary and higher education. The discipline used in our schools must not go against our human dignity. Our education must develop our own personalities and abilities; prepare us to become responsible members of a free society; and develop respect for our parents or guardians, for human rights, for the environment, and for the cultural and national values of ourselves and others.
2. FAMILY – our right to have family to care for us
We have the right to live with our parents unless this is against our best interests, and to be reunited with our families across international borders. Both of our parents are responsible for our upbringing; governments must respect this and support our parents in bringing us up. Our right to care also means that, if we are deprived of a family environment, we have the right to special protection, are entitled to alternative care that respects our background, and have the right to a regular review of that care. In the case of adoption, our best interests must be considered.
3. FOOD & SHELTER – our right to food and shelter
We have the right to a decent standard of living for our physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social well-being and we have the right to benefit from social security, including social insurance. Those of us who have a disability have the right to special care, education and training.
4. HEALTH – our right to a safe environment and healthy life
Governments must do everything possible to make sure we survive and develop. We have the right to the best possible level of health care available, to clean air and water.
5. NAME & NATIONALITY – our right to have a name and acquire a nationality
We have the right to be given a name, to acquire a nationality and, whenever possible, to know and to be cared for by our parents. Governments have an obligation to protect our identity, name, nationality and family ties.
6. NON-DISCRIMINATION – our right to be treated fairly without discrimination
All rights apply to all children, no matter who we are or where we live.
7. OWN CULTURE – our right to our own cultures
We have the right to enjoy and practise our own cultures, languages and religions, especially if we belong to a minority or indigenous population.
8. PROTECTION FROM HARM – our right to protection from harmful acts
We have the right to be protected from abuse, neglect, torture, sexual exploitation, the use and distribution of drugs, and abduction. We have the right to be protected from having to participate in work that threatens our health, education or development. We have the right to special protection in times of war and fair treatment if arrested. Governments must take steps to prevent harm and exploitation and to provide treatment for those who have been abused or exploited, have been in conflict with the law or have experienced armed conflict or torture. Governments must set minimum ages for employment and regulate working conditions.
9. REST & PLAY – our right to rest and play
We have the right to rest, leisure, play and participation in cultural and artistic activities.
10. SHARE OPINIONS – our right to share our opinions
We have the right to express our views and opinions and to have these opinions listened to in matters that affect us. We have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, the freedom to receive information from many sources, the freedom to meet with others and to join or start our own associations and the freedom from governmental invasions of our privacy.