Rally to Defeat Bill C-31 “Defend the Rights of all Immigrants and Refugees

more photos from the rally

On Wednesday, April 4, at 2pm at 300 West Georgia (at Hamilton St. across from the CBC Building) a rally is being organized to protest the Stephen Harper Government’s Bill C-31, which will affect the rights of immigrants and refugees.

There has been a Facebook group created for the event with more info on the issue: Facebook Event

The organizers of the event state the following about Bill C-31:

“Bill C-31 threatens to put the lives of tens of thousands of immigrants and refugees at risk by subjecting them to arbitrary targeting, profiling, detentions, and deportations. Both community meetings were very energetic and participants were committed to building a broad and inclusive movement to oppose and defeat the unconstitutional and inhumane Bill C-31.”

The Bill C-31 is being introduced by the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, the Hon. Jason Kenny. Bill C-31 is being called by the Government as the “Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act: An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Balanced Refugee Reform Act, the Marine Transportation Security Act and the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Act.”

Mr. Kenny has claimed the need for the legislation because of “bogus refugees” applications in an interview with the CBC. Full article here: CBC

NDP critic for Immigration Don Davies state that proposed legislation gives too much discretionary power to the Minister responsible for immigration. In the same CBC article Don Davies is quoted as saying about Bill C-31: “once again puts too much power in the hands of the minister.”

In a debate on Bill C-31 in the House of Commons, Don Davies further stated:

“Mr. Speaker, parliamentarians on this side of the House will never support a bill that would jail children. The government thought that was a good idea, to bring forth a bill that would jail refugees, men, women and children, for up to a year.
The government has made one change and will now only jail children who are 16 or 17 years old. However, what happens if a refugee family arrives with an eight-year-old child? Do we really think that those parents are going to stay in detention for a year and allow the state to separate them from their eight-year-old child? Absolutely not. We all know what will happen: The eight-year-old child will stay with the parents. Hence, we are still looking at children being jailed with their parents, and the government knows it.

The minister has said that the UN High Commissioner for Refugees approves of his designation of certain countries as safe. New Democrats have checked and what the high commissioner has really said is that if Canada is going to have a system designating countries as safe, there must be an appeal on the merits from an initial decision. Bill C-31 denies refugee claimants from designated safe countries an appeal before the refugee appeal division. I know the minister is not a lawyer, but he should know that an appeal to the Federal Court is not an appeal on the merits; it is an appeal only on natural justice.

My question for the member is this. How can she justify a bill that deprives people of access to the refugee appeal division depending on the country they come from, in violation of what the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has required?

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