Noa Mendelsohn Aviv
Director of Equality Program
The federal government is trying to roll back significant protections for refugees in an underhanded and undemocratic move. For so many of us in Canada, we know that immigration is our strength, and protecting refugees is a source of pride. We also must defend refugee rights under our Charter and international law.
The new omnibus Budget Bill (Bill C-97) includes measures that would deprive asylum seekers of a full and fair independent hearing in Canada if they previously filed a claim in the US or certain other countries.
Before critical changes are made and fundamental rights removed, changes to our refugee laws need careful attention, critical consideration, and open discussion by members of Parliament and by the public. This discussion will almost certainly not happen if these changes are included in a Budget bill rammed through the Finance Committee.
A budget bill is supposed to focus on, well, the budget. Looking at Canada’s income and spending over the next year is an enormous task – but it is something the Finance Committee knows how to do. The Finance Committee has neither the time nor the expertise to properly consider and debate what changes to the refugee laws will do to people in Canada seeking asylum, and what harms may befall them if the government removes them. So who does have the time and expertise?
In a free and democratic country like Canada, each of us has the right to vote for our representative to propose, debate, and create (or object to) laws, to look closely at each one, and to hold the government to account. Therefore, many politicians, including Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau, have both at some point voiced their strong objection to omnibus budget bills.
For the same reason, CCLA objects to steamrolling changes to refugee laws through an omnibus budget bill. It is undemocratic and unCanadian – and far more importantly, the consequences for people fleeing persecution, torture, or even death could be horrifying.
CCLA has joined forces with CARL, CCR, BCCLA and Amnesty International to oppose these measures. Please help us – and help demand, at a very minimum, that any changes to Canada’s refugee laws must undergo careful consideration by a Parliamentary committee with the appropriate time and expertise. In just 30 seconds, by using this link you can easily add your name to those opposing this measure – and a letter will be sent to the Prime Minister and other relevant members of Parliament.
If you want to learn more about CCLA’s other campaigns, challenges and initiatives, click here.
Also, contribute to CCLA so that we can continue to stand up for the rights and freedoms of all people in Canada, click here.