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July 18, 2012 / Man in the Mirror

What is Bill C-31? What will it do?

Bill C-31 is a new law that proposes to dramatically change the way that Canada welcomes immigrants and refugees. Bill C-31 will affect individuals and families who flee their home country and come to Canada to ask for protection. Canada has a system in place to hear the stories of these individuals (called refugee claimants) and to decide if they meet the international and Canadian definitions of needing refugee protection: Are they refugees? Should Canada offer them a new, permanent home?

Bill C-31 will change the way that Canada decides who is a refugee. The bill proposes to treat refugee claimants differently depending on the country they came from or the method they used to come to Canada. If passed, it means:

  • Putting some refugee claimants for one year, if the government calls them ‘irregular arrivals’ (Refugee claimants wouldn’t be given the benefit of the doubt that they were forced to use a smuggler to escape persecution).
  • Less time for some refugees claimants to prepare to tell their story to Canadian officials and to gather documents that support their story.
  • No chance for some refugee claimants to appeal a poor decision or to share new information to support their story.

In addition, several sections of Bill C-31 violate Canadian law (the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms) and international law (the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the Convention on the Rights of the Child).

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