Human rights

Canada has recently been criticized for its failure to properly respect the human rights of refugees and immigrants in Canada by various UN bodies.[1]   The previous government did not commit to correcting its policies to ensure compliance with human rights standards.

What would you do to ensure that Canada’s treatment of refugees and immigrants respects international human rights standards?

Family reunification

Canada has been criticized by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child for being very slow at reuniting refugee families, leaving children separated from their parents for years.  Refugee children from some countries regularly wait over 3 years to be reunited with their parent in Canada, even after the parent has been accepted as a refugee.  [2]

Would you support immediate reunification in Canada of refugee families, with processing of their permanent residence application done here in Canada allowing the family to be together?

Refugee Appeal

The previous government failed to implement the appeal for refugees that is required by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, disregarding the clear will of Parliament that passed the law and breaking the promise of the then Minister who said that it would be implemented by 2003.  The lack of appeal puts Canada at risk of violating the rights of asylum seekers by sending them back to face persecution after a wrong refugee decision. [3]

What would you do to ensure immediate implementation of the Refugee Appeal Division, as required by the law?


Safe third country agreement and dramatic reduction in the numbers of claimants

Since the government implemented the “safe third country” agreement with the US, Canada’s door has been closed to many refugees, despite its obligation not to return refugees directly or indirectly to persecution.  The number of refugee claims made in Canada has plummeted to the lowest levels in twenty years. [4]

Given Canada’s wealth and privilege and its international responsibilities, do you think it justified that we reduce access to Canada and consequently the number of claimants so drastically?  How few claimants is few enough?


Parliament recently approved a bill criminalizing trafficking in persons, but nothing has been done to provide protection for victims of trafficking in Canada.  They are often subject to detention and deportation, rather than being treated as victims of a serious crime. [5]

Do you support amending the immigration legislation to provide a mechanism to offer protection for trafficked persons in Canada?  If so, what would you do if elected to achieve this goal?

Support for newcomer settlement services

The February 2005 budget contained a commitment to provide new money for settlement services, but these funds were not approved before the dissolution of Parliament.  Services for new immigrants to Canada are severely underfunded, making the adaptation process more difficult for newcomers.

What would you do to ensure that settlement services are adequately funded?

Labour market integration for all immigrants and refugees

Federal and provincial governments have been talking for years about the need to improve access to the labour market for newcomers.  However, actions taken so far have not done enough to address the range of barriers faced, including racism, and there is increasing poverty among immigrants and especially those from racialized communities.  There has been inadequate attention to the situation of immigrant women in particular.

What do you propose to do to break down barriers faced by immigrants seeking work?


Moratorium country nationals: Lives on Hold

The Canadian government has imposed a moratorium on removals to certain countries, such as Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of Congo and Iraq, because of the situation of generalized risk.  Nationals of those countries are allowed to remain in Canada and can apply for a work permit.  However, they are without permanent status, unable to reunite with family members, pursue higher education or get a secure job.  Some have been in this legal limbo for more than 10 years. [6]

Do you support a mechanism allowing people from moratorium countries to apply for permanent residence after three years in Canada?   If so, what would you do if elected to achieve this goal?

December 2005

[1] The Committee against Torture criticized Canada for failing to accept the absolute prohibition on return to torture (  The Human Rights Committee repeated the same concern and also criticized the use of security certificates (

 [2] The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (27/10/2003. CRC/C/15/Add.215) complained that Canada had not adequately addressed its earlier recommendation to expedite family reunification.  Dependants of refugees processed through Abidjan (includes dependants in Democratic Republic of Congo) must wait more than 36 months in 50% of cases.  For further information, see Family Separation: Who pays the cost,

[3] For information, see Letter regarding non-implementation of the Refugee Appeal Division, Nov. 2005, and The Refugee Appeal: Is no one listening?, 31 March 2005,

[4] For further information, see Closing the Front Door on Refugees: Report on Safe Third Country Agreement, August 2005,

[5] Bill C-49 (see For further information on the lack of protection, see Trafficking Backgrounder, Nov. 2004,

 [6] For further information, see Lives on Hold pamphlet,