Canadian Council for Refugees E-Chronicle Vol. 1 #10, 1 February 2007

Members of Parliament began debate on Bill C-280, An Act to Amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (coming into force of sections 110, 111 and 171), calling for the immediate implementation of the Refugee Appeal Division on Monday 29 January 2007.  During debate, Omar Alghabra, recently-named Liberal Party critic of Citizenship and Immigration stood in support of the Bill C-280, as did members of the NDP and Bloc Québécois (which proposed the bill).  This is encouraging, but more voices need to stand and support it!

Please contact your Member of Parliament and ask them to vote in favour of this important bill.  It is especially important to speak with Liberal and Conservative Members of Parliament to ensure that this bill passes, as we already anticipate the support of the Bloc Québécois and New Democratic Party.  The vote on second reading is expected in March 2007.

The CCR has prepared an information backgrounder responding to a number of questions about the proposed Refugee Appeal Division, as well as highlighting the devastating human impacts of not implementing the RAD.  Please share the information in this document with your Member of Parliament and use the set of talking points when you contact your MP. 

The backgrounder can be accessed online at:

If you are able to meet with your MP, talking points and a one-page summary of points on the Refugee Appeal Division are available on ‘What’s New?’ section at

If you haven’t done so already, sign the Amnesty International online petition calling for the implementation of the Refugee Appeal Division at:


The Canadian Council for Refugees welcomed the Ontario Superior Court’s ruling that the Ontario College of Teachers unfairly discriminated against Fatima Siadat.  Fatima, a teacher, fled Iran as a refugee after she suffered persecution because of her comments in favour of free speech.  Given this persecution, she cannot obtain an original of her educational qualifications from Iran.  The College refused to design alternative means for her to satisfy them as to her qualifications.  The Court found that their refusal violated the Ontario Human Rights Code. 

The decision is Fatima Siadat v. Ontario College of Teachers, 10 January 2007, file 561-04.

For the CCR press release welcoming the court ruling, see:

For the Ontario College of Teachers response to the ruling, see:

For an article from the Ottawa Citizen highlighting Fatima Siadat’s case, see:


The CCR is following up on the issue of “excluded family members” (s. 117(9)(d) of the regulations).  This cruel rule condemns numerous families to perpetual separation, based on the fact that a family member wasn’t included in the original immigration application.  In early January the CCR presented a summary of affected cases to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).  CIC showed interest in studying the cases in detail in order to identify problems with how the system currently works, and in considering alternatives to the current regulation, if CIC’s concerns about fraud can be addressed.

The CCR has since sent details of 31 cases to CIC and will be discussing this issue at an upcoming meeting with CIC in February.

The Federal Court recently overturned a 117(9)(d) refusal of a sponsorship of a child whose existence was unknown to the sponsor when he immigrated to Canada.  The government is appealing this decision which went in favour of the child.  The citation is 2006 FC 1540 (Woldeselassi v. Canada) available at

For further background on the impacts of the excluded family member rule, see


The CCR is asking all its members to formally endorse the Family Reunification Manifesto and to encourage other organizations to do the same.  CCR members have been sent information about the Family Reunification campaign and the Manifesto in the January mailing and we have set a deadline of 16 March 2007 to receive this next round of Manifesto endorsements.  Please report any endorsements to:  Encourage any individuals wanting to endorse the Manifesto to have organizations that they are involved in to sign on (we are not seeking endorsements from individuals).

It is important for all CCR member organizations to endorse the Family Reunification Manifesto (text available at: as a first step towards using the Manifesto to:

  • Encourage the federal government to make speedy family reunification a priority
  • Reach out to allies (for example: community, health, education, faith-based organizations, city councils)
  • Promote public awareness of the unnecessary and painful costs of family separation

Additional resources:
Please see for updates on the Family Reunification campaign and for a complete list of available resources.


The CCR has made public its letter to Stockwell Day, Minister of Public Safety, calling for action to address the shocking conditions of detention facing the three men held on security certificates.  A copy of this letter is available at:

Many groups have been pressing the government to respond to the demands of Mohammad Mahjoub, Mahmoud Jaballah, and Hassan Almrei, who have spent weeks on a hunger strike.  The state of their health is of concern, yet they are not being provided with medical attention.  Many of the demands of the detainees could be met without cost or inconvenience to the government (for example, ceasing head counts in an institution with only three detainees, allowing detainees to wear their own clothing, allowing detainees to make phone calls using cheap calling cards).  While these matters are trivial from the government’s point of view, they have a tremendous impact on the detainees.

For a Toronto Star article on Mahmoud Jaballah, one of the detainees at the Kingston Immigration Holding Centre, see: (6 January 2007)

A decision by the Supreme Court on the security certificate cases is imminently awaited.


The CCR Winter Working Group meetings in Toronto from 23 to 26 February 2007 are fast approaching.  All CCR members are encouraged to attend the Working Group meetings, which are also open to others interested.  The meetings are closed to media and government.

The schedule is as follows:
- FRIDAY 23 FEBRUARY: Walmer Centre (see details below)
9:30am - 5pm
Inland Protection Working Group meeting and
Immigration and Settlement Working Group meeting

- SATURDAY 24 FEBRUARY: Walmer Centre (see details below)
9:30am - 5pm: Overseas Protection & Sponsorship Working Group

Location: Walmer Road Baptist Church/The Walmer Centre
188 Lowther Ave., tel. 416-924-1121
Two blocks from Spadina subway station. From the intersection of Spadina and Bloor, walk one block west to Walmer, one block north to Lowther. There’s parking space at the Walmer Centre. See map, details at:

9am - 12 noon: Roundtable meeting with Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). The roundtable meeting is open to CCR members.  Anyone wishing to participate must inform Janet at by Friday 9 February.


In 2006 a total of 22,887 claims were made in Canada.  This number represents an increase over 2005, the first year of safe third country, but still significantly below the yearly average before the doors were closed through safe third (in the 10 years before safe third, the annual average was over 30,000 claims).

As a result of the increasing barriers put up by the government against refugees getting to our borders to claim protection, more and more claims are made inland, rather than at a port of entry. 62% of claims were made inland in 2006.

The top country of origin of claimants was Mexico.  It should be noted that Mexicans do not need a visa to travel to Canada.  Refugees from the many other countries on which a visa requirement is imposed face far greater barriers making it extremely difficult for them to reach Canada to seek our protection.


Diane Finley replaces Monte Solberg as Minister of Citizenship and Immigration following a cabinet shuffle at the beginning of January.  In statements since her appointment, Ms. Finley has named setting up an agency to recognize foreign professional credentials among her priorities.

The Liberal Party also named a new representative for their immigration portfolio, Omar Alghabra replacing Raymonde Folco.  Since the opening of Parliament, Alghabra has declared his support for Bill C280, calling for the immediate implementation of the Refugee Appeal Division.

For the Toronto Star article outlining the challenges that Diane Finley will face as Minister of Citizenship and Immigration:


During the week of February 4th, the Federal Court of Canada and the Parliamentary Standing Committee of Citizenship and Immigration will hear arguments as to why the United States should not be considered a “safe third country” for refugees.  In the Federal Court proceedings in Toronto, the Canadian Council for Refugees, Amnesty International and the Canadian Council of Churches will argue that the US does not respect its obligations under the Convention Against Torture and the Refugee Convention. 

The Federal Court will hear about barriers faced by refugees in the U.S. such as:

  • the deadline of one year to file a refugee claim,
  • the excessive use of detention,
  • extremely broad provisions excluding refugees who are deemed to have provided “material support” to terrorists.

All of these factors contribute to the likelihood that a person will be removed from the United States to a country where they are at risk of persecution or torture.

Later in the week, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration will hear testimony from a number of witnesses on the Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement, including advocates from the United States. 

Deborah Anker of Harvard Law School, along with numerous other US refugee experts, has submitted evidence filed in the safe third country legal challenge. “The Harvard Law School conducted a study which found that the STCA not only fails to accomplish its stated goal of securing the Canada/U.S. border, but makes the border less secure, endangering the lives of refugee claimants and threatening the security of the United States and Canada,” said Ms. Anker.

For more information on the campaign to have the Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement cancelled, see

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