May 9th, 2012

Conservative bill will hurt legitimate refugees

OTTAWA – After a marathon week of damning testimony from legal experts, frontline workers and refugees in opposition to the refugee bill, C-31, New Democrats are calling on the Conservatives to abandon the legislation and go back to the drawing board.

“Witness after witness has told the committee that C-31 is fundamentally flawed,” said New Democrat Citizenship and Immigration critic, Jinny Sims (Newton-North Delta). “We have to ensure that the claims process is fair and that it helps the right people – but this bill centralizes power in the hands of the Minister while punishing refugees and won’t address the problem of human smuggling.”

Among the numerous measures highlighted as dangerous by the witnesses are:

  • provisions giving the Minister the power to hand-pick which countries he thinks are safe – without the advice from any independent experts;
  • the ability to detain refugee claimants for a year without review;
  • measures to deny some refugees access to the new Refugee Appeal Division;
  • a five-year mandatory wait for bona fide refugees to become permanent residents and reunite with their families.

“Witnesses raised serious concerns that this bill may even violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and our international obligations under the United Nations Refugee Convention,” added Sadia Groghué (Saint-Lambert), Deputy Citizenship and Immigration critic. “The Conservatives must scrap this dangerous bill and allow time for the current refugee laws to work.”