FEDERAL ELECTIONS, JUNE 2004
QUESTIONS FOR POLITICAL PARTIES
1. United families
Many families, including refugee families, suffer years of separation because
of slow immigration processing and bureaucratic requirements.
a) Would your party direct that spouses, partners and
dependent children of refugees recognized in Canada be allowed to come immediately
to Canada to reunite with their family members and complete immigration processing
b) What is your party’s plan to speed up immigration processes
for families trying to reunite?
2. Resettling refugees
Resources allocated to processing refugees overseas for resettlement in Canada
are inadequate. As a result, groups in Canada wishing to privately
sponsor refugees routinely wait years for an application to be processed,
leaving the sponsored refugees at risk in camps or other vulnerable situations,
and the sponsors deeply concerned.
What would your party do to speed up processing times for sponsored refugees
waiting to be resettled to Canada?
3. Protecting refugees
In 2002 the government brought in the new Immigration and Refugee Protection
Act without implementing the Refugee Appeal Division. At the same time,
the new Act reduced the number of decision-makers in a refugee hearing from
two to one. As a result, the fate of a refugee claimant in Canada is
now determined by one person, without any appeal on the merits. Refugee
claimants, whose lives may be at risk, have fewer rights of appeal than Canadians
contesting a parking ticket.
Is your party committed to implementing the Refugee Appeal Division, as
set out in the law passed by Parliament?
4. Safe third country agreement
In December 2002, the governments of Canada and the US signed a “safe third
country” agreement. The effect of this agreement, not yet implemented,
will be to largely close the door to refugee claimants at the US-Canada border,
without regard to what might happen to those forced to claim asylum in the
US and despite the concerns raised by human rights organizations such as
What is the position of your party with respect to the safe third country
5. Detention of refugee claimants
Detention of refugee claimants in Canada has increased since 2002.
In any week, approximately 290 refugee claimants are in immigration detention
in Canada. Refugee claimants without identity documents are among those
detained, even though there are often compelling reasons why refugees cannot
Will your party cease the detention of refugee claimants on the basis
of lack of identity documents?
6. Civil Rights
Security measures taken in the wake of the September 11 attacks have eroded
basic rights in Canada, with some of the worst impacts being experienced
by refugees and immigrants. The Canadian government has used the broad powers
of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to detain, arrest and deport
people based on mere suspicion or secret evidence. Muslims and Arabs
are overwhelmingly the victims.
Will your party appoint an independent ombudsperson to investigate complaints
against immigration officials, including complaints of racial profiling?
7. Security certificates
Since 2001 there has been increased use of “security certificates” to make
accusations against individuals, without showing the accused, or even their
lawyer, the evidence against them. The trend is towards an expansion
of powers under the security certificate: a right of review for permanent
residents was withdrawn in 2002 and Prime Minister Paul Martin has reduced
the number of Ministers required to sign a certificate from two to one.
Will your party reform or eliminate the security certificate process to
make it conform to due process rights?
8. Integrating newcomers
Settlement services offer important assistance to newcomers adapting to life
in Canada. These services are chronically underfunded. Their
budget is not tied to the number of immigrants, meaning that there are fewer
services per immigrant when rates of immigration go up.
What is your party’s plan to ensure that newcomers have access to adequate
9. People without status in Canada
A key to integration for newcomers is the acquisition of permanent status.
However, some refugees and immigrants find themselves in limbo, remaining
in Canada for years without access to permanent residence (including people
recognized as refugees, people who cannot be removed because of the generalized
situation of risk in their country of origin and other people living for
years without status in Canada).
What is your party’s plan to address the situation of people without status
10. Newcomer access to the labour market
Several studies have shown that immigrants and refugees are facing increasing
challenges in accessing the labour market, and are experiencing high levels
of poverty. They are often relegated to contingent employment and face
systemic barriers in becoming accredited and employed in their field.
What is your party’s plan to ensure that newcomers can access the labour
market and obtain adequate employment?