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May 28th, 2019

Liberal and Conservative Fight Against Migrants Hurting Canada’s Reputation as Human Rights Defender

OTTAWA – This week, NDP MPs are denouncing actions taken against migrants by the previous Conservative and current Liberal government, revealed in Radio-Canada’s damning report, “‘Distasteful alliances’: The secret story of Canada’s fight against migrants”.

Since 2010, over $120 million dollars has been spent, nearly $18 million per year under the Trudeau government, to “disrupt, interdict and deter human smuggling operations.” New Democrats find it extremely troubling that the Canadian government is colluding with local authorities in foreign countries to prevent migrants from seeking refuge in Canada, including with Colonel Moussa Tiégboro Camara in Guinea who has been formally charged with “crimes against humanity” according to a UN inquiry.

“While Justin Trudeau defines his foreign affairs policy as feminist, ambitious and with strong leadership on peace and human rights, the reality is quite different. This report shows that in addition to following Harper's dreadful mechanisms in the immigration framework, the Prime Minister is refusing to explain the links between his government and the Colonel who was prosecuted for crimes against humanity,” denounced NDP Foreign Affairs Critic Guy Caron (Rimouski-Neigette--Témiscouata--Les Basques).

These efforts to prevent the arrival of migrant ships to Canadian shores mean that the Canadian government is working with countries where human rights are not guaranteed. While smugglers who transport migrants are considered criminals under international law, the migrants in these desperate situations should not be treated as such. Canada is a signatory to the 2004 UN Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air which aims to prevent and combat the smuggling of migrants while upholding the rights of migrants.

“Instead of spending millions of dollars on alliances with criminals, we should be spending that money on ensuring CBSA has the funds they need to do their work here in Canada where we can ensure transparency and oversight. We should be seeking to protect Canadians and those who seek refuge, not supporting criminals abroad,” added NDP Public Safety Critic Matthew Dubé (Beloeil – Chambly).

Canada’s reputation on the international stage is at stake. Transparency and accountability in this matter are needed. More than ever, Canada needs a plan that respects the UN Protocol on the Smuggling of Migrants by ensuring the wellbeing of migrants in transit, at the border, and when they arrive in Canada.

“The Liberal government may paint themselves as world leaders in tackling the global migrant crisis, but this report has revealed that they, just like the Conservatives, would use every possible tool in their power to prevent migrants from reaching our borders,” explained NDP Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Critic Jenny Kwan (Vancouver East).