I write in response to the horrific tragedy in Bangladesh and our collective complicity in that tragedy.
As we know, more than 300 people were killed when the garment factory they worked in collapsed.
Only five months ago, another 112 Bangladeshis were killed when the garment factory they worked in caught fire.
Both garment factories were housed in criminally unsafe buildings and the workers employed in hideously unsafe working conditions.
Assuming they were paid the minimum wage, these workers’ take-home pay was roughly $38 a month. I say to you that neither these buildings nor these working conditions would be legal in Canada, let alone tolerated.
Therein lies our complicity as a nation.
Both factories produced clothing for well-known Canadian retailers.
Indeed, some of the clothing produced in these very factories, or in countless others just like them in developing nations, is likely in the closets of my home.
So I ask, why is clothing legally available for sale in Canada when produced under labour conditions that would be illegal in Canada?
Are we, as a nation, saying that, although unacceptable for us, these labour conditions are acceptable for “those people”?
Have we, as a nation, compromised our long-held values of decency and justice in exchange for inexpensive clothing? I pray that we have not.
I may be in the minority, but I am quite willing to pay a significantly higher price for clothing so as not to exploit my fellow human being.
Every human being deserves to earn a livable wage and to earn that wage in safe working conditions.
Therefore, I ask the federal government to take the appropriate legislative action to ensure that all goods sold in Canada are produced under labour conditions we Canadians would accept for ourselves.