Send your registration to the CCR office by Friday, 3 November to take advantage of the early registration rates for the CCR Fall Consultation ‘Taking the Lead: Refugee and Immigrant Youth’, 23-25 November 2006 in Montréal. Access registration forms, updated information about the Consultation sessions and Consultation promotional materials online at: www.web.ca/ccr/meetings.htm Special registration rates are available for youth, refugee and low-income participants.
There will be a wide range of workshops at the consultation including: youth and settlement challenges and opportunities; refugee and immigrant youth and sexual health; trafficked persons and in the immigration program; post-refusal recourses for private refugee sponsorship applications; detention issues; the impact of the 'war on terrorism' on refugees and immigrants; using new media to promote refugee rights; and much more. The Thursday evening plenary session will feature a discussion between Immigration critics from the Bloc Québécois, the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party. The participation of a representative from the Conservative Party is to be confirmed.
Conference participants are warmly invited to attend a screening of the film ‘Bledi: Mon pays est ici’ (‘Bledi: This is my Home’) presented in French with English subtitles on Wednesday, 22 November at 9 pm. Malcolm Guy, producer of the film, will be present to answer questions. An orientation session for youth participants will also take place on 22 November from 7:30 pm – 9 pm. See www.web.ca/ccr/meetings.htm or email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
The CCR has issued a statement on the recently announced budget cuts by the Conservative government. The statement underlines the impact these cuts will have on refugees and immigrants and is accompanied by background information on specific programs targeted by the federal cuts. The CCR also asserts the inherent value of seeking equity in society, and challenges the fact that programs working for equality have been targeted by the cuts. We demand that funding for such programs be reinstated and that the contribution of the not-for-profit sector in improving policies be recognized.
Other organizations are invited to adopt the statement (please send notice of endorsements to Meissoon Azzaria at email@example.com).
The statement can be found online at: http://www.ccrweb.ca/statementoct06.html.
A CCR press release, Government Cuts Will Hurt Refugees and Immigrants, 11 October 2006, can be accessed at: www.web.ca/ccr/releaseccpoct06.html. The release highlights the impacts of the elimination of the Court Challenges Program, which has been offered critical support to refugees and immigrants seeking to contest discriminatory laws and policies.
On 3 October, the Canadian Council for Refugees was invited to discuss refugee issues with the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, as they began a study on this topic. The CCR focussed its comments on the private sponsorship of refugees, the non-implementation of the Refugee Appeal Division, appointments to the Immigration and Refugee Board, refugee family separation, and the situation of moratorium nationals whose lives are on hold.
The CCR invited all members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration to attend the CCR Fall Consultation in Montreal from 23 to 25 November. The whole Committee has since decided to attend the Consultation.
For the transcript of the meeting, including the CCR presentation, please go to http://cmte.parl.gc.ca/cmte/CommitteePublication.aspx?SourceId=175333
For a CCR press release highlighting the problem of the lack of IRB appointments, see: www.web.ca/ccr/releaseIRBapptsept06.html
The preliminary stages in the court challenge of the safe third country agreement are continuing. The hearing is set for 5 February 2007 in Toronto.
We are still waiting for the tripartite report on the first year of Safe Third. This report from the governments of US and Canada has been repeatedly delayed: most recently it was expected to be made public by the end of October, but it was not out by the end of the month. The extraordinary delay in making the report public underlines the two governments’ lack of interest in being accountable with respect to the impact of the Agreement on asylum seekers.
In November 2005, the government acknowledged the lack of accessible information regarding the Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement. The Canadian Border Services Agency has recently responded by posting an information guide on its website at:
On 30 October, the CCR filed an application for intervener status in a case currently before the Federal Court. It involves a Colombian asylum seeker who first arrived at the Canadian border and had his claim rejected on the basis of safe third country. He later found his way into Canada and made a second claim. This time his claim was rejected on the basis that he had made a previous refugee claim (and the law only allows one claim in a lifetime). He was also ineligible for a Pre-Removal Risk Assessment. Canada was set to remove him to Colombia, the country in which he feared persecution, without any determination of his refugee claim. The CCR is aware of another person caught in the same situation – one of the side-effects of the Safe Third Country Agreement.
The CCR Legal Affairs Committee has recently taken on a new status as a freestanding committee (rather than an Executive Committee). This change reflects the increasingly important role of the Committee in overseeing CCR’s more active litigation agenda.
The Committee also welcomes new co-chairs: Sharry Aiken and Pia Zambelli. They take over from Mitch Goldberg and Nick Summers, whom we thank for their leadership.
The Committee is currently recruiting new members. If you might be interested and would like more information, please contact Janet at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The CCR opposes the recent government decision to arm border guards. This was the message sent to Prime Minister Stephen Harper in a letter sent by CCR President Elizabeth McWeeny. The letter highlights the negative impression of Canada given to newcomers whose first sight is a border official carrying firearms. The impact will be particularly devastating for refugees who are fleeing violence by authorities, and may affect their ability to answer questions adequately while they are making their claims. The letter raises additional concerns over the growing enforcement emphasis among CBSA officers, who may lose touch with their role as immigration officers. Finally, the CCR emphasizes the need for an independent complaints mechanism to oversee CBSA.
A copy of the letter can be found online at: www.web.ca/ccr/armingCBSA.html