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Canadian Council for Refugees E-Chronicle Vol. 2 #1, 5 April 2007

Members of Parliament have been debating 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.  It was approved by the House of Commons at second reading by 172 votes to 126, on 21 March.  The Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration is now studying the bill: it heard from Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the Immigration and Refugee Board on 29 March.  Unfortunately the meeting ended with the chair calling it a farce.  Further planned witnesses, including Peter Showler, former IRB chairperson and author of Refugee Sandwich, did not get a chance to speak.

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: www.ccrweb.ca/RADpage/RADpage.htm

On 7 March, the CCR and other members of the Lives on Hold Coalition held a press conference to release profiles of several nationals of moratorium countries who remain in Canada without permanent status, including several mothers and fathers separated from their children for five years or more.

The people profiled come from moratorium countries - countries to which Canada does not deport because of situations of generalized insecurity.  Over 6,000 people from these countries are in Canada without any imminent prospect of achieving permanent residence and family reunification.

These cases highlight the need for a comprehensive solution, which is more urgent than ever. The Coalition calls on the government to create a regulatory class that provides permanent residence to all persons from countries to which Canada does not remove who have been in Canada for three or more years.

On March 31, members of the Coalition met with officials from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) in Montreal to discuss the reasons why many nationals from moratorium countries are not applying for permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.  Lack of knowledge about the process, fear of communicating with authorities, long delays in application processing without guaranteed success, the cost of filing applications, and having other priorities - such as acquiring and maintaining valid work permits - were some of the reasons presented.

The profiles as well as other information on the Lives on Hold campaign can be found at http://www.ccrweb.ca/livesonhold.htm.  The profiles can be accessed directly at: http://www.ccrweb.ca/profiles.pdf.

The parliamentary committee reviewing the Anti-Terrorism Act has finally tabled its report, which includes consideration of security certificates.  It recommends creating a special panel of lawyers with security clearance to test secret evidence, in security certificate cases and other contexts (such as de-registration of charities).  Unfortunately, such a recommendation still will not provide a person the opportunity to know the case against them.  Apart from this recommendation, the report only suggests minor adjustments to the security certificate regime.  There are dissenting opinions from the Bloc québécois and NDP, with the latter recommending that the security certificates be simply abolished (the CCR position).

The report, ‘Rights, Limits, Security: A comprehensive review of the anti-terrorism act and related issues’ is available at: http://cmte.parl.gc.ca/cmte/CommitteePublication.aspx?SourceId=199086 (Chapter 9 discusses the issue of security certificates, Chapter 10 deals with the Panel of special counsel, dissenting opinions are right at the end.)

At the beginning of March, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination released its concluding observations following its examination of Canada.  It made a number of comments directly related to refugees and immigrants, including concerns over racial profiling in the context of security measures and the security certificates, detention on the basis of identity, treatment of stateless persons, and access to social assistance for undocumented migrants.  They also call for the reinstatement of the Court Challenges Program.

The UN Committee report is available at http://www.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cerd/docs/CERD.C.CAN.CO.18.pdf

A CBC report, ‘Term 'visible minorities' may be discriminatory, UN body warns Canada’, can be found at:


e) Refugee Rights Day 2007 – April 4th: Share your activities with us!

We know of a number of activities that have been organized to observe Refugee Rights Day in communities across the country, but there are many more!  Share your activities with us!  We can pass on great ideas for other organizations to use in coming years and improve the resources that the Canadian Council for Refugees prepares, such as the Refugee Rights Day virtual toolkit (available at: www.ccrweb.ca/RRDay.html).

The toolkit contains many things you can use around the year, includes tools to alert the Canadian public, members of the media and politicians to advances made in the protection of refugee rights as a result of the Singh decision, as well as to threats to those rights.

April 4, 1985 was a milestone for refugee rights in Canada.  On that day, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects the right of refugee claimants in Canada to life, liberty and security of the person.  Twenty-two years later, not all refugees are treated fairly.

A disturbing chain email continues to circulate, wrongly stating that refugees in Canada receive greater financial assistance than Canadians collecting a pension.  You can access facts to refute this myth on the CCR website at: www.ccrweb.ca/refassistrebut.html.  This page also contains links to other sources of information and rebuttals.

For a CBC News feature from Prince Edward Island addressing the myth, see: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/prince-edward-island/story/2007/03/09/refugee-email.html

An article from the Vancouver Sun tells the story of one woman and her family who are recently arrived government-sponsored refugees and struggling to live with government financial assistance, see: ‘The surprising price of freedom’.

If you receive the email, reply by sending on this Vancouver Sun news story and ask others to pass it on along with information from the CCR’s webpage at: www.ccrweb.ca/refassistrebut.html

From 24-26 May 2007 refugee and immigrant rights advocates from across Canada will be gathering in Edmonton for the Canadian Council for Refugees 2007 Spring Consultation.  The Conference will be a unique opportunity for advocates to exchange ideas on the successful integration of refugees and immigrants, with a particular focus on how these issues are addressed through a gender lens.  The consultation program and electronic registration forms are now available online at: www.ccrweb.ca/eng/about/meetings.htm.  Copies of the program and registration form have been sent to CCR members in the March mailing.

Consultation participants are invited to use the CCR toolkit: Pathways to Gender Justice: A toolkit for people working in the refugee and immigrant serving sector in Canada. You can consult the toolkit prior to the sessions in Edmonton at: www.ccrweb.ca/gender.pdf. To order a printed copy of the toolkit in a folder, please fill in the order form at: www.ccrweb.ca/ordergender.pdf and send it to the CCR office.

Prior to the Consultation, on Wednesday 23 May in Edmonton, the CCR Youth Network will be hosting a one-day caucus on issues affecting refugee and immigrant youth, as well as strategies to address them.  Further details on these sessions will be available on this site in the coming weeks.  For more information on the CCR Youth Network, see http://groups.takingitglobal.org/ccrjeunes or contact Colleen French at ccr4@web.ca.

Please help us to promote this Consultation by passing this invitation to people who might be interested in attending and by directing people to the consultation information on the CCR website at: www.ccrweb.ca/eng/about/meetings.htm.  We appreciate your help to make the consultation a success!

A revised version of the popular 'Facing Facts: Myths and misconceptions about refugees and immigrants in Canada' is now available on the CCR website in the Recent Information section at: www.ccrweb.ca/documents/FFacts.htm.

This pamphlet confronts some of the most common myths about refugees and immigrants in Canada, backing up its myth-busting arguments with up-to-date facts and citations.  It's a useful tool for reaching out to a large, public audience and can be adapted to a variety of settings such as meetings with journalists, school activities, community events, and much more.

For easy access and distribution, the pamphlet can be downloaded, printed on legal-sized paper and photocopied.  For the printable copy of the pamphlet, go to www.ccrweb.ca/documents/FFacts.pdf

Want to find out the latest developments in immigrant and refugee rights advocacy in Canada? Want to know more about promoting the rights of immigrants and refugees in your community? Then you will be interested in the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) Chronicle - a monthly digest keeping you in the loop on refugee and immigrant rights advocacy in Canada.

To receive the CCR Chronicle electronically, go to the Chronicle page.

Pass it on: tell others about the CCR Chronicle. A monthly dose this quick is good news!