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July 18, 2012 / Man in the Mirror

Why is it important to talk about Bill C-31?

Bill C-31 will:

  • Put Canadian permanent residents at risk.

A person who came to Canada as a refugee or refugee claimant and doesn’t yet have their Canadian citizenship could have their permanent status take away and be deported. This includes people who have been in Canada for many years and have built successful lives here.

  • Keep some refugees claimants in jail for one year without the possibility of review

Refugee claimants who are ‘designated irregular arrives’ will be put in jail for one year. They will have to gather documents and prepare to tell their story to Canadian officials while they are here.

  • Separate refugee families for long periods

‘Designated irregular arrivals’ will not be allowed to travel overseas or to apply to have their family join them in Canada for 5 years, even if Canada offers them protection as a refugee.

  • Deny refugees a fair chance to tell their stories

Bill C-31 isn’t flexible. It will allow a maximum of 60 days for refugee claimants to prepare to tell their stories to a Canadian official. People who have suffered torture and other forms of violence and discrimination may need more time and flexibility.

  • Allow the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to designate certain countries ‘safe’, despite the dangers for some people.

Refugee claimants from countries that the Minister considers ‘safe’ will face an even faster process (30 days instead of 45). While a country may be safe for many of its citizens, others in the same country may not be. For example, Canada discourages tourism to certain regions of Mexico. If Canada considers Mexico a ‘safe’ country, a refugee claimant fleeing organized crime from that region may not have enough time to prepare their story for officials. No exceptions. Is that fair?

Bill C-31 is a complex law and the Harper government hasn’t asked Canadians if this is how we want to welcome refugees to Canada.

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