Ninety Advocacy, Human Rights and Legal Organizations Want Border Security Off the Air

Posted by admin on May 2nd, 2013


May 2 VANCOUVER, UNCEDED COAST SALISH TERRITORIES – Ninety organizations are releasing an open letter calling for the cancellation of the TV show Border Security: Canada’s Front Line.

International and national human rights organizations, community groups, legal organizations, agencies and labour unions are urging Minister Vic Toews, Canadian Border Services Agency, Force Four Entertainment, and the broadcaster Shaw Media “to cancel, stop participating in, and end the broadcast of Border Security.”

Signatories include Amnesty International, Anti-Capitalist Convergence of Montreal, BC Government and Service Employees Union, Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, Canadian Council for Refugees, Canadian Labour Congress, Chinese Canadian National Council, Coalition of South Asian Women Against Violence, Council of Canadians, Idle No More, Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign, International Federation of Iranian Refugees, Justice for Migrant Workers, KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, Queer Migration Collective, Law Union of Ontario, and Simon Fraser University Department of Sociology and Anthropology.

The letter is linked here in full:!letter-from-organizations/c39y

Katie Zalazar, member of the migrant health group Sanctuary Health who initiated the letter says, “The diversity of organizations that have signed this letter is evidence of how deeply problematic the show is on so many levels. From university programs and legal offices to grassroots community groups, we stand together against violation of privacy, racism, and the exploitation of vulnerable migrants. Deportation is not entertainment and we will not stop until the show is cancelled.”

According to Maude Barlow, chairperson of the Council of Canadians, “The Harper government and the production company should not be collaborating on a disgusting for-profit show that has turned deportation into entertainment. Is this really where the federal government is spending tax-payer resources and what broadcasters are choosing as programming?”

Opposition to Border Security continues to gain momentum. Over 250 cultural professionals including award-winning filmmakers, actors, directors, producers and authors, are calling for an end to the show. The Canadian Bar Association, representing the country’s jurists and lawyers, have released an unprecedented letter urging Minister Toews to withdraw CBSA’s participation in the show, and a legal complaint to the federal Privacy Commissioner has been filed by the BC Civil Liberties Association. A petition launched by family members and community groups has gathered over 24,000 signatures.

According to Mike Leitold, member of the Law Union of Ontario, “This TV show’s filming and use of images of vulnerable people either crossing the border or within Canada appears to be an invasion of privacy with questionable ethics on informed consent. It is ludicrous to suggest that someone is able to freely give informed consent to being filmed while under the control of law enforcement without access to legal counsel. The production company, broadcasters and federal government have an obligation to uphold privacy rights and not profit from the vulnerability of migrants.”

Clayton Thomas-Muller, Director of the Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign, explains the broader political implications of the show: “This TV show has got to go. It plays off the humiliation of detention, deportation and family separation of Indigenous and migrant families. Furthermore, the federal government’s involvement in this show is a clear indication that it is part of the Harper agenda to criminalize people and exploit our Mother Earth while supporting productions that profit off misery.”

Six weeks ago this TV show made headlines when their TV crew was embedded with Canadian Border Services Agency officers during an immigration raid at a construction work site in Vancouver. A freedom of information request revealed that the show is approved by Minister Vic Toews and is receiving support from the federal government, including for operational costs.

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