Canadian immigration system needs urgent reforms

Tuesday, November 28 2006
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Archbishop Ébacher discussed with Mr. Andrew Telegdi, Liberal MP and member of the Standing Committee
Archbishop Ébacher discussed with Mr. Andrew Telegdi, Liberal MP and member of the Standing Committee
(CCCB – Ottawa)… The Episcopal Commission for Social Affairs, representing the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, has continued its plea in favour of refugees and migrants.

Following up on its January 2006 Pastoral Letter, We are aliens and transients before the Lord our God, the Commission presented a brief on 28 November 2006 to the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. Archbishops Roger Ébacher (Gatineau, Qc) and Brendan M. O’Brien (St. John’s, Nfld) have also denounced the deportation of a Rwandan refugee family as illustrating the Government of Canada’s ongoing violation of international law.

At the hearings, Archbishops Roger Ébacher of Gatineau and Brendan M. O’Brien of St. John’s, both members of the Episcopal Commission, urged reforms to ensure the treatment of refugees, migrant workers and immigrants respects their human dignity and the needs of their families. They made the following recommendations:

1)      Canada must withdraw from the Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States. Citing the ways in which the agreement results in the automatic rejection of people who might otherwise have realistic refugee claims. The Bishops called for an examination of what has become of those people denied admission to Canada under the terms of the agreement.  They noted that religious leaders in the U.S. have also called into question the impact of counter terrorism measures on refugees. “Refugees cannot become the unintended victims of the war against terror.”

2)      Canada must honour its obligations under international law and no longer remove, or “refoule”, refugees to countries where they face risk of persecution or danger. The removal to Rwanda of Mr. Jean-Bosco Rwiyamirira and his two children was a violation of international law.

3)      The Standing Committee’s report should unanimously call upon the government immediately to implement a rigorous, transparent and timely appeals system as required in the Act. 

4)      The government needs to 1) Eliminate obstacles which impede the speedy reunification of families; and 2) Reduce the waiting time for collective sponsorships.

5)      The government is to guard against a “generalized policy of detention”, ensuring that the Canadian system is in accord with the values of a free and democratic society.

6)      The government must continue to take proactive steps to protect women in the “feminization of migration”, especially regarding vulnerability to male violence, exploitation, and human trafficking.

7)      The government needs to protect migrant workers in the Temporary Foreign Workers Program.

8)      The government should take proactive measures to protect against forced migration due to climate change, the abuse of human rights by despotic regimes, and engineered poverty.


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Last Updated on Tuesday, October 20 2009