Bill C-11: Open letter

April 2010


The Honourable Jason Kenney, P.C., M.P.
Minister for Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism
House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6

The Honourable Maurizio Bevilacqua, P.C., M.P.
Liberal Opposition Critic, Citizenship and Immigration
House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6

Thierry St-Cyr, M.P.
Bloc québécois Opposition Critic, Citizenship and Immigration
House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6

Olivia Chow, M.P.
New Democratic Party Opposition Critic, Citizenship and Immigration
House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6


Re: Bill C-11, amendments to the refugee determination system


Dear Minister and Honourable Members,

We are writing to voice our concern about certain aspects of Bill C-11 which we fear might put some refugees, particularly the most vulnerable, at risk of being deported to persecution.

We urge you to study this bill very carefully and not pass it without first making necessary amendments, bearing in mind that refugees’ lives are at stake.

We are particularly concerned about the safe country of origin proposal.  This would create an unfair two-tier system, denying some claimants access to the appeal based on nationality.  Claimants that will be particularly hurt include women making gender-based claims, and persons claiming on the basis of sexual orientation or sexual identity.  In many countries that otherwise seem fairly peaceful and “safe”, there can be serious problems of persecution on these grounds. An effective refugee system requires determination of individual claims, based on all the facts and the law, by an expert, independent body.

We are also concerned that the bill could lead to hearings before claimants are ready.  We agree that refugees need to get faster hearings than at present, but the proposal in the bill to have hearings within two months is not realistic or fair for many refugees.  It will be particularly problematic for refugees who have experienced serious trauma such as torture, refugees who cannot have the relevant documentation sent to Canada that quickly and refugees who need to build trust in order to be able to testify freely (such as persons who have experienced sexual assault).

A third key concern relates to the bar on claimants receiving humanitarian and compassionate (H&C) consideration.  This recourse is important because it can address compelling humanitarian issues, including consideration of the best interests of an affected child, as required by the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It is unclear what motivates the proposed bar, since the filing of an H&C application does not suspend a person’s removal from Canada.  Barring applications will only lead to more compelling cases without any recourse.

We also wish to express our dismay over the language used to present the bill, particularly the damaging use of labels such as “bogus claims”.  We need reasoned, fact-based discussion of the issues.  Not everyone who makes a claim needs protection but that doesn’t make such people “abusers”.  They may have compelling reasons for leaving their country, even though they may not meet the narrow refugee definition.  Nor is it fair to refer only to costs associated with refugee claimants, who also contribute as taxpayers to the Canadian economy.  It is the responsibility of the government to educate Canadians about our legal obligations towards refugees and to promote the positive value of a welcoming refugee policy.

Traditionally, major proposals for immigration reform are the subject of broad consultations before a bill is presented in Parliament.  This has not happened in the case of Bill C-11.  It is therefore particularly important that Parliament ensure that there is meaningful consultation on the bill.


Yours sincerely,



Wanda Yamamoto President Canadian Council for Refugees


Loly Rico and Francisco Rico-Martinez Co-Directors FCJ Refugee Centre


Debbie Hill-Corrigan Executive Director Sojourn House


Jim Mair Chairperson The North End Sponsorship Team


Élisabeth Garant Executive Director Centre justice et foi


Brydon Gombay Clerk (Chair) Quaker Committee for Refugees


Nancy Henderson Director Parkdale Community Legal Services


Mariette Milot, sasv Director,«SOLIDARITÉ-ENJEUX DU MONDE» The Congregation of the Sisters of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin


Claudette Bastien President Comité d'action contre la traire humaine interne et internationale


Shauna Paull Researcher The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women - Canada


Claudette Bastien Director Groupe Solidarité Justice SNJM du Québec


Gary Stein Director South Ottawa Community Legal Services


Loren Balisky Director (Kinbrace) Salsbury Community Society


René Guitard Director, Legal Services Clinique juridique francophone de l’Est d’Ottawa


Eunice Valenzuela General Director Mennonite Coalition for Refugee Support


Norrie de Valencia and Bettina Gruver Interim Coordinators Refugee Unit, Anglican Diocese of New Westminster


Alex Neve Secretary General Amnesty International Canada (English branch)


Sr. Helen Petrimoulx Refugee Ministry Specialist Diocese of London Ministry to Refugee Claimants


Chrystyan Jacques Resource Person R.E.P.A.S. de Rouyn-Noranda (Regroupement d'Entraide des Personnes Assistées Sociales)


John Docherty Coordinator Réseau d'intervention auprès des personnes ayant subi la violence organisée (RIVO)


Christine Morrissey Founder Rainbow Refugee Committee


Judith Deutsch President Science for Peace


Susan A.C.Russell, Executive Director Canadian Federation of University Women


Nathalie Villeneuve Director Maison Hina


Danielle Julien President, Commission Justice, Paix, Intégrité de la Création Service Intercommunautaire d’Animation Franciscaine


Amélie Châteauneuf Spokeswoman Front commun des personnes assistées sociales du Québec


Alexa Conradi President Fédération des femmes du Québec


Léonie Couture General Director La rue des Femmes de Montréal


Lorette Langlais General Superior Institut Notre-Dame du Bon-Conseil de Montréal


Suhail Abualsameed Coordinator Salaam: Queer Muslim Community


Vanessa Taylor, Co-Director Women’s Centre of Montreal


Father Yvon Pomerleau, OP President Canadian Religious Conference


Sylvie Lévesque General Director La Fédération des associations de familles monoparentales et recomposées du Québec (FAFMRQ)


Janet Goodfellow Recording Secretary War Resisters Support Campaign


Debbie Douglas Executive Director Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI)


Mona Greenbaum Executive Director LGBT Family Coalition


Suzanne Boggild CEO Sherbourne Health Centre, Toronto


Christine Drolet Coordinator Centre d'éducation et d'action des femmes


Laura Stewart Chair of Council Trinity United Church, Vancouver, BC


Brigitte Michaud Coordinator Table de concertation des groupes de femmes du Bas-Saint-Laurent


Alexandra Charlton Centre Coordinator SOS-Settlement Orientation Services


Ken Lewenza National President CAW Canada


Hélène Morin Coordinator Femmes en Mouvement


Louise Dionne Coordinator La Maison des femmes de Rimouski


Kathy Vandergrift Chair of the Board of Directors Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children


Louise Fortin President L'R des centres de femmes du Québec


Scott Jones Executive Director Micah House Refugee Reception Services Inc.


Andrée Fortin Director Group "Vallée du Richelieu",Amnesty International, Francophone Section


Viji Antony Family coordinator Community Help, Toronto


Sheila Molloy Director Toronto Women for a Just and Healthy Planet (TWJHP)


Anne Kettenbeil Executive Director ACEM: Montreal Community Loan Fund


Heather White Executive Director Romero House


Thérèse Ménard Chair of the Board of Directors Le centre de femmes "Avec des Elles"(St-Gabriel-de-Brandon)


Josée Martel Director Centre des femmes de Rosemont


Tracey Vaughan Executive Director Community Development Council Durham


Teotiste Wood President Latin American Women's Support Organization


Sadeqa Siddiqui Coordinator South Asian Women’s Community Centre


Ihsaan Gardee Executive Director Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations(CAIR-CAN)


Lise Gagnon Coordinator Sector Missions of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary


Martin Thériault Coordinator Réseau d'information et d'aide aux personnes assistées-sociales (RIAPAS) de Châteauguay


Denis Lemelin National President Canadian Union of Postal Workers


Carole Henry Spokesperson Au bas de l'échelle


Rita Acosta Administrator Mouvement contre le viol et l'inceste


Annie Kouamy Support worker Centre des femmes de Verdun


Nathalie Simard Support worker Centre de femmes L'Étincelle


Paula Kline Executive Director Montreal City Mission


Jennifer Laforest Activity organizer Centre des Femmes du Témiscouata


Omega Bula Executive Minister, Justice, Global and Ecumenical Relations Unit United Church of Canada


Andrée Juneau Coordinator SARQ- Service d'accueil aux réfugiés de Québec


Allison Dewar National Steering Committee Co-Chair National Association of Women and the Law


Barbara Legault Coordinator The RebELLEs Mouvement- Pan-Canadian Young Feminist Gathering


Mary Lou Roe Chairperson Kitchener-Waterloo Sanctuary Coalition


Valerie Collicott Policy & Administrative Coordinator Women's Initiatives for Safer Environments (WISE)


Dr. Hugh Drouin Co-Chair Local Diversity and Immigration Partnership Council(LIP), Durham Region


Réjeanne Lapierre Support worker Regroupement des femmes La Sentin'Elle


Alain Rodrigue, c.m.m. Provincial Superior Missionnaires de Mariannhill


Woo Jin Edward Lee Vice President AGIR – Action Lesbienne, Gaie, Bisexuelle, Trans et Queer pour les Immigrants et Réfugiés


Gilles Barrette M.Afr. Director Centre Afrika, Montreal


Me David CHALK President Québec Immigration Lawyers Association


Marie-France Lamarche Administrative Assistant Centre de femmes l'Essentielle, Beloeil QC


Sandra Rose, Chair and Mario Ayala, MBA, MBE Refugee Services Director Inland Refugee Society of BC


Priscilla Solomon CSJ Faith and Justice Office of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Sault Ste. Marie


Lyse Cloutier Coordinator Table régionale des centres de femmes, Montreal/Laval


Sister Pauline Lally General Superior Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul


Christine Drolet Coordonnatrice


Christine Drolet Coordinator Centre d'éducation et d'action des femmes


Nicolas Demers President Comité d'actions sociales et internationales University of Montreal


Erin Williams Executive Director Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women (OCTEVAW) and the Advocacy Standing Committee of OCTEVAW


Marie-Eve Surprenant Coordinator Table de concertation de Laval en condition féminine


Joanne Blais Coordinator Table de concertation du mouvement des femmes de la Mauricie


Sylvie Lupien Coordinator La Passerelle, Centre de Femmes de la MRC du Haut-Saint-François