Press Conference: How well will Politicians Court the Immigrant Vote?

Posted by admin on Jan 11th, 2006



WHERE: Thurs. Jan 12th at 10:30 am at Philippine Women’s Center, 451 Powell St, Vancouver.  WHO: Chinese-Canadian National Council, Canadian Council for Refugees, No One is Illegal, South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy, and Philippine Women’s Center

In recent weeks, federal politicians have attempted to court the “immigrant vote” with certain policy announcements such as those relating to Chinese Head Tax redress and the $975 landing fee. In response to such announcements, a diverse number of community-based groups will be challenging federal politicians to address immigration issues in a substantive manner at a press conference on Thursday January 12th at 10:30 am at Philippine Women’s Center (451 Powell St, Vancouver)

Head Tax redress has become a key community-driven election issue. At least three Liberal cabinet ministers and the Prime Minister have now spoken about reversing their position of “no apology, no compensation”. Sid Tan, National Director of Chinese-Canadian National Council (CCNC), however, states that what is required is a “full Parliamentary apology for 62 years of legislated racism. An individual apology is not good enough.” CCNC has sought redress of the Head Tax and Chinese Exclusion Act for more than 20 years, but was excluded from a controversial deal between the Government and a group that it chose to represent Chinese-Canadian interests.

In response to the promise to slash the landing fee, Glecy Duran of SIKLAB- a national organization of Filipino migrant workers – states, “the $975 head tax exposes how Canadian immigration is far from being humanitarian. Immigration is essentially a cash cow for the Canadian government without regard to the human rights of new immigrants and temporary workers. We challenge the Government to put human rights first by ending the unjust deportation of Filipino live-in caregivers who cannot complete the required 24 months of live-in work within three years.”

“Such policy announcements are band-aid solutions that do not address the systemic and structural flaws of the immigration system,” states Harjap Grewal of the immigrant and refugee rights collective No One is Illegal-Vancouver.  “For example, the anti-terrorism legislation and security certificate regime that has eroded civil liberties and altered intelligence, and immigration apparatus in the post 9/11 climate unsurprisingly remains unaddressed” further states Grewal. Security Certificates and the use of secret evidence mirror the PATRIOT Act of the US which fundamentally violates the rights of non-citizens and has been widely criticized including by various United Nations committees.

Dr. Mandeep Dhillon of the South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy calls on all federal politicians who are presenting themselves as advocates for immigrant communities to “stop the trend towards increasing deportation and the continuing scape-goating of immigrants and refugees.” Dhillon further states, “Immigrant communities will not easily be persuaded by any empty federal election promises given the bleak history of human rights for immigrants.”

MEDIA CONTACTS: Harsha Walia (No One is Illegal Vancouver): 778-885-0040

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