Open letter: discourse on refugees and migrants in upcoming elections

4 June 2019

To the leaders of all federal political parties

We are writing because we are concerned about how refugees and migrants in Canada may be characterized during the upcoming federal election campaign.

We welcome thoughtful discussion on complex issues related to migration, and recognize that there are many legitimate perspectives.

We are also conscious that refugees and migrants are easily victimized in political debates. In many countries around the world, especially during election campaigns, refugees and migrants have been talked about in ways that insult their dignity and humanity, contribute to xenophobia and racism, and are frequently grounded in distortion and misinformation.

We believe that every leader, every candidate, and every political party, has a role to play in preventing this from happening in Canada. We therefore ask you to engage in discussions about migration in ways that recognize:

  • Our shared humanity,
  • That Canada finds opportunity through diversity,
  • That refugees strengthen our communities,
  • That refugees help build our economy,
  • That Canada has legal obligations to respect and uphold the human rights of those fleeing persecution

We believe that how we respond to refugees, and how we talk about vulnerable migrants, is an important part of our collective identity.

We want to be a country that welcomes refugees, that respects the dignity and human rights of vulnerable migrants, and that treats them fairly.

We know Canadians value compassion, equality and safety for all.

In the upcoming federal election campaign, we call on you to demonstrate your leadership by respecting these principles and speaking out when they are undermined by others.


Canadian Council for Refugees
Amnesty International Canada
The Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers
The Canadian Council of Churches
A&O: Senior Immigrant Settlement Services
Action Against Hunger Canada
Action for Healthy Communities
Action Réfugiés Montréal
Affiliation of Multicultural Societies & Service Agencies of British Columbia (AMSSA)
Alberta Association of Immigrant Serving Agencies (AAISA)
Alberta Council for Global Cooperation
Alliance for Healthier Communities
Anglican Church of St. John the Divine, Victoria BC
Anglican Diocese of Algoma
Anglican Diocese of BC
Anglican Diocese of Kootenay
Anglican Diocese of Niagara
Anglican Diocese of Qu'Appelle
Anglican Diocese of Rupert's Land
Anglican Diocese of Saskatoon
Assiniboine Credit Union
Association des lesbiennes et des gais sur Internet
Atlantic Region Association of Immigrant Serving Agencies (ARAISA)
Beacon of the Freed
Black Legal Action Centre
Bridges Not Borders
British Columbia Civil Liberties Association
Brottier Refugee Services (The Spiritans)
Canada Tibet Committee
Canada Without Poverty
Canadian Arab Federation
Canadian Association of University Teachers
Canadian Baptists of Ontario and Quebec
Canadian Baptists of Western Canada
Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC)
Canadian Council of Imams
Canadian Federation of Students
Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers)
Canadian Labour Congress
Canadian Multifaith Federation (formerly Ontario Multifaith Council)
Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)
Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East
CARE Canada
Carrefour d'Action Interculturelle
Carrefour d'aide aux nouveaux arrivants
Cathedral of the Holy Trinity
CATHII Comité d'action contre la traite humaine interne et internationale
Catholic Social Services
Central Alberta Refugee Effort (C.A.R.E.)
Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs
Centre justice et foi
Centre multiethnique de Québec
Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada
Christian Reformed Centre for Public Dialogue
Christian Reformed Church of North America
Christie Refugee Welcome Centre
Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ)
City of Refuge
Collaborative Network to End Exploitation
Comité d'éducation des adultes de la Petite Bourgogne et de Saint Henri (CEDA)
Community Legal Services of Ottawa
Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN)
Council of Canadians
Cowichan Intercultural Society
Crossed Hands Refugee Committee
Cultural Connections Institute - The Learning Exchange
Development and Peace-Caritas Canada
Diocese of London Inland Protection of Refugees
Diocese of Peterborough SAH
DisAbled Women's Network (DAWN) Canada
Edmonton Interfaith Centre
Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers
Egale Canada
Embarkation Law Corporation
Energy Mix Productions Inc.
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
FCJ Refugee Centre
Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph of Canada
Feminist Alliance for International Action Canada
Global Shapers Calgary
Golden and Golden Law, Darcy Golden, Barrister and Solicitor
Green 13
Hospitality House Refugee Ministry
Human Rights Watch
Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba Inc. (IRCOM)
Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS)
Immigrant Services Calgary
Immigrant Services Society of BC: ISSofBC
Immigrant Workers Centre
Inasmuch Community Society
Inter Pares
Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria
International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group
Islamic Association of Saskatchewan Saskatoon Inc.
Islamic Family and Social Services Association (IFSSA)
Jesuit Refugee Service Canada
Journey Home Community Association
KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives
La Table des regroupements provinciaux d’organismes communautaires et bénévoles
Leamington Area Ecumenical Refugee Committee LAERC
Manitoba Association of Newcomer Serving Organizations
Manitoba Association of Newcomer Serving Organizations (MANSO)
Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council
Manitoba Multifaith Council
Matthew House Refugee Reception Services, Toronto
Médecins du Monde - Doctors of the World
Mennonite Central Committee
Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto
Migrant Council
Migrant Workers Centre
MOSAIC (Multi-lingual Orientation Service Association for Immigrant Communities)
Mosaic Newcomer Family Resource Network
Mosaic Newcomer Family Resource Network
Multicultural Association of Charlotte County
Multicultural Association of the Greater Moncton Area (MAGMA)
Multicultural Family Resource Society
New Hope Community Services Society
New Journey Housing
Niagara Folk Arts Multicultural Centre
Nobel Women's Initiative
North End Sponsorship Team (NEST)
Northwood Neighbourhood Services
OCASI (Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants)
Oeuvres Marie-Anne-Lavallée
Office for Refugees, Archdiocese of Toronto
Ontario Association of Interval & Transition Houses (OAITH)
Ontario Council for International Cooperation
Oxfam Canada
Peace by Chocolate
PINAY (Filipino Women's Organization in Quebec)
Quaker Committee for Refugees
Rainbow Refugee
Rainbow Refugee Association of Nova Scotia
Refugee 613
Refugees for Brockville
Regional Synod of Canada, Reformed Church in America
Religions for Peace Canada
Reverve cocreative production company and incubator - Reverve Produtora e Incubadora Cocriativa
Rideau Institute
Romero House
Sanctuary North
Saskatchewan Association of Immigrant Settlement and Integration Agencies (SAISIA)
Saskatoon Open Door Society Inc.
Service d'aide aux Néo-Canadiens
Sojourn House
Somali Canadian Woman and children Association
Southern Alberta Language Assessment Services
Syria-Antigonish Families Embrace (SAFE) Society
Table de concertation des organismes au service des personnes réfugiées et immigrantes
Taddle Creek Family Health Team
The Canadian Refugee Sponsorship Agreement Holders Association
The Centre for Spanish-Speaking Peoples
The Incorporated Synod of the Diocese of Huron
The Presbyterian Church in Canada
The Primate's World Relief and Development Fund (Anglican Church of Canada)
The Salvation Army
The United Church of Canada
Tides Canada
Together Project, a project of Tides Canada
Toronto & York Region Labour Council
Toronto Board of Rabbis
United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW Canada)
Vancity credit union
Vancouver Association for Survivors of Torture
Vancouver Foundation
Vancouver Island Counselling Centre for Immigrants and Refugees
Victoria Coalition for Survivors of Torture
WELARC - Winnipeg Language Assessment and Referral Centre
West Central Women's Resource Centre
West Kootenay Friends of Refugees
Woman Abuse Council of Toronto (WomanACT)
World Renew
World University Service of Canada
YWCA Canada
YWCA Prince Albert