I have spent my adult life trying to undo the impacts of my grandmother's "voluntary" enfranchisement seven decades ago.
They first installed Bill C-31 to target the refugees, then in 2014 enacted Bill C-24 that turned immigrants and their families into second-class citizens. During that time, the Conservatives scrapped 280,000 skilled worker immigration applications. They stripped tens of thousands of foreign students of the opportunity to seek work and stay in Canada. They raised the bar for immigrants to become citizens.
A designated country of origin (DCO) is a country declared as "safe," on grounds that it can provide adequate protection to its citizens and therefore not likely to produce refugees. It also discounts the treatment of some minority groups in so-called "safe" countries perhaps most particularly, the Roma in Europe.
Recently, Ottawa introduced Bill C-31, the Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act, and announced it was going to cut temporary health and mental health care to certain categories of refugees. The result was an outcry of support for people who have left everything they own to flee persecution, rape, torture and violence in their home country. Eliminating important supports and services from refugees is nothing short of inhumane. We're speaking out because the issue speaks to the heart of our purpose. We Care.
On Wednesday June 27 Bill C-31: Protecting Canada's Immigration Act was cleared through the Senate leaving a stain on our country's immigration and refugee protection system, a system that we as Canadians could once be proud of. With the passage of this bill, several principles which have defined us as Canadians for decades have now been compromised and our world's most vulnerable populations will now have to pay the price.
On Monday, Cabinet Minister Joe Oliver made a federal funding announcement at Toronto General Hospital. However, within minutes of Minister Oliver taking the podium, something truly exceptional occurred; emergency room doctor Chris Keefer walked boldly up to the front of the room. Despite attempts by a hospital administrator to shut down Keefer's interruption, he nonetheless persisted.
My greatest fear is that one day Canadians, as fair-minded as they may be, will close their doors to other refugees. Bill C-31 -- Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act -- is now in the Senate where it will be studied and debated. Not only is this bill unconstitutional and inconsistent with Canada's international obligations, it will change the face of Canada as we know it.
There are an estimated 12 million displaced people on the planet at this moment and most of them are children. News of this came around the same time as the controversy surrounding Bill C-31, and the way the Harper government wants to crack down on immigration and refugees. But this World Refugee Day, let's be careful and conscious in our assessment of exactly who these people are.
If Bill C-31, "Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act," passes in parliament, Canada will lose its reputation for fairness and human rights and, more importantly, hundreds if not thousands of people's lives will be adversely affected. Refugees would be ineligible to sponsor any immediate family members and these refugees would be second-class people in Canada.
At the whim of the public safety minister, refugee claimants could face incarceration in provincial jails for one year without