Urgent Action Alert: Stop Anti-Immigrant Bill C-49

Posted by admin on Nov 1st, 2010

This is an urgent call for action regarding Bill C-49 which is currently before the House of Commons (it was at 2nd reading on October 27th). Please see below for details of the bill and the specific concerns of Health for All, followed by suggestions on taking action. For details of the bill, including the full legal text and time-line in parliament, please see the Parliament of Canada Website.

This bill is not about smugglers, it is about denying migrants basic rights. The bill, as currently stands, carries no definition of “Smuggler” but begins with a definition of “designated foreign national.”

IF PASSED it would allow the Minister of Public Safety to declare any group of migrants coming into Canada a ‘smuggling incident’.

For the asylum seekers who are declared part of such an ‘incident’ (which could be anyone making a refugee claim in groups of 2 or more, e.g. a family), the Conservative government will have the power to:

* Detain them for a minimum of one year (with no exceptions for children, the elderly, pregnant women or any other subgroup)
* Deny access to healthcare and other social services
* Deny monthly detention reviews, allowing migrants in jail a chance to gain freedom only once every 6 months
* Be able to revoke people’s refugee status after it has been granted by the refugee determination process
* Ban applications for permanent residence for five years after gaining refugee status
* Bar people from reuniting with their families for five years after gaining refugee status
* Stop people from leaving Canada for five years after gaining refugee status
* Deny the right of appeal to a rejected refugee claimant

This bill, now at second reading in Parliament, must be stopped.

It is imperative that people across Canada are aware of this bill and its implications.

This bill is not an isolated piece of legislation. It is part of an organized and vigorous effort by Vic Toews, Minister of Public Safety, Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism and a very vocal anti-migrant and racist movement within the Conservative Party, to punish migrants while flagrantly flouting international law and responsibility.

This past month Jason Kenney personally spent a few days in India working on the “intelligence network targeting Southeast Asian smuggling syndicates.” The results of this network so far: arrest of 250 Tamil migrants in Bangkok in October “most or all of [whom] were destined for Canada” in the Minister’s own words, which is to say that “most or all” were refugees and not members of “smuggling syndicates.” This incident shows the true face of bill C-49: Undermining rights of all migrants, including those fleeing brutal war, occupation and displacement, under the purposely vague and misleading guise of ‘smuggling.’ (Globe and Mail 2010.11.1)

With Canadian and other western economies responsible for the displacement of millions of people through war, economic turmoil and environmental havoc, there has been an intense spike in people migrating in search of physical and economic security. As members of civil society promoting health for all people and individuals and opposing war, exploitation and environmental degradation, it is imperative that we resist the closing of borders that will limit the ability of communities in turmoil to seek safety.

Please call, fax and email your Member of Parliament (details follow) and ask your friends and colleagues to do the same. Tell your MP that:

* Detaining refugee claimants is absolutely unjust
* We want Canada to be sanctuary for refugees asylum seekers
* Cancelling a refugee claim after it has been granted is absurd and illegal
* Ministers having unrestricted power to label anyone a criminal is dangerous and a breach of human rights
* This Act contravenes the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and breaks the objectives of family reunification within the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Family reunification is one of the most significant factors in the physical and psychological well-being of migrants and is essential to their healing and success as members of our communities.
* This Act is in violation of the 1951 Refugee Convention, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

See below for reference to articles in the mainstream press for more information and ideas.

(1) Participate in the Call/Email/Fax Campaign to the Government and your MP. Articles and statements for your reference are listed below.

To find out who your MP is and where to write them: http://www2.parl.gc.ca/Parlinfo/Compilations/HouseOfCommons/MemberByPost…

(2) Have your organization, traditional council, union, community group, or artist collective write a short public statement/press release of support of migrants and against Bill C-49. Citizenship and Immigration Canada engineered dozens of press releases the day after Bill C-49 was proposed from ‘community groups’. It is imperative that we counter this propaganda. Please email a copy to healthforalltoronto@gmail.com 

(3) Always take a minute to write letters to the editor and comment on news stories – make a difference in public conversation! Reinforce your support for migrants, demand that Bill C49 be scrapped and condemn irresponsible reporting including repeating unsubstantiated lies. All letters must be short (100 words), include name, mailing address and daytime phone number of the writer; state “Letter to the Editor” in subject; and content should be in the body of the email.

Globe and Mail: letters@globeandmail.com
 Toronto Star: lettertoed@thestar.ca 
National Post: letters@nationalpost.com 
 24 Hours: news@sunmedia.ca
 Metro News: http://www.metronews.ca/toronto/contactus Now Toronto: letters@nowtoronto.com Eye Weekly: letters@eyeweekly.com

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