19 May 2003

The Canadian Council for Refugees condemns the anti-immigrant and anti-refugee positions in the Ontario Progressive Conservatives’ electoral platform, The Road Ahead.

“Attacking immigrants and refugees is unfortunately a common tactic of political parties facing electoral defeat,”said Kemi Jacobs, President.  “Clearly, the Conservatives are trying to win votes by whipping up xenophobia with the predictable old stereotypes about foreigners abusing our programs and threatening our security.”

The platform’s sections on immigrants and refugees are highly divisive and simplistic, presenting newcomers as either “good people” (i.e. skilled immigrants who are expected to serve Ontario’s needs), or “bad people” (criminals, terrorists, abusers of various kinds).

The platform also irresponsibly promotes false information about current realities, implying that people on welfare can sponsor immigrants (they can’t) and that “illegal immigrants” have access to OHIP (they don’t).

According to The Road Ahead, the Ontario Conservatives plan to take over security screening from the federal government.  The document does not explain how they plan to make this work, since at present there are no borders between Ontario and other Canadian provinces.

“The chapter on immigration is called ‘Passport to Ontario.’  A better name would be ‘Fortress Ontario’,” said Jacobs.

The Canadian Council for Refugees is counting on Ontarians to send a strong message to the Conservatives that scapegoating refugees and immigrants is NOT the path to electoral victory in Ontario.

For more information, please contact:
Kemi Jacobs, President (416) 588-6288 (ext. 202)
Janet Dench, Executive Director (514) 277-7223 (ext. 2)

The Canadian Council for Refugees is a non-profit umbrella organization committed to the rights and protection of refugees in Canada and around the world and to the settlement of refugees and immigrants in Canada. The membership is made up of over 175 organizations involved in refugee sponsorship and protection and in newcomer settlement. The CCR serves the networking, information-exchange and advocacy needs of its membership.