Now is the time for action

August 2nd, 2016

It is exactly nine months this week since the Liberal government took office. In that time, their efforts on a number of immigration-related files have been admirable. Notably, the efforts to take in many thousands of Syrian refugees over the course of the winter was a welcome change from the previous incumbents of the government benches. There are, however, certain areas that demand attention, none more so than the indefinite detention without charges of foreign nationals in provincial prisons.

So far this year, at least three individuals have died while in immigration custody, with the Ottawa Citizen referring to detention as the “ugly underbelly” of how Canada treats certain migrants.

This summer, it has taken hunger strikes among detainees to bring popular attention, via the media, to their plight. Around 50 individuals began a hunger strike at two Ontario prisons on July 11. Their principle demand is for a meeting with Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale. The group wants Goodale to limit detentions to 90 days and to stop putting immigration detainees in maximum security prisons.

Throughout all this, it is crucial to remember that many children are among those being detained. Between 2005 and 2015, 4,392 minors were placed in immigration detention in Canada. Some were there for months or years. Some remain there. Last summer, in a blog titled ‘Children deserve to celebrate Canada Day,’ I wrote that, perhaps naïvely, I didn’t think Canada was a place where children were placed in indefinite detention, at least certainly not in those numbers.

At the time of writing, it seems that the hunger strike may be ending. Let us hope that safety and common sense prevails, and that no more people feel compelled to follow this course of action. The best way — indeed, the only way — to address the issue is for our government leaders to face up to the scale of the problem and deal with it appropriately, and with far more humanity than their predecessors, who first allowed the situation to get out of hand.

Surely, nine months is enough time to formulate policies, draft legislation, and implement change for individuals and families. A government’s mandate can fly by in what seems like an instant, and we could be here again in a year, two years, three, asking the same questions and seeing the same results if something is not done soon to change this dark side of our immigration system.

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4 Responses to “Now is the time for action”

  • On August 3rd, 2016, William Allen said ...

    Please stop constantly bashing previous government leaders for all the perceived ills you endlessly bellyache about. It is getting old and boring. And good luck with all the so-called “Syrians!” Hope they are all properly vetted, which, of course, is impossible. Canada may ultimately regret the liberal immigration policies that unduly favor Middle Easterners just as the Europeans are now.

  • On August 4th, 2016, Anonymous said ...

    Procedures followed by the Canadian government towards migrants in general and refugees Syrians, especially given great results and had a deep impact in alleviating this tragedy and will remain the world looks with admiration and we will continue we Syrians owe to the people of Canada and the Government for extending in this regard, thank you, and the glory of Canada

  • On August 17th, 2016, Anonymous said ...

    Canada can mostly choose its arrivals, unlike the Europeans who receive them by the boatload. Surprising then, that anyone needs to be detained.

  • On August 17th, 2016, REALITYCHECK said ...

    We don’t need to increase the number of immigrants; we need to make sure that those who are let in are indeed CREATING JOBS FOR CANADIANS, AND NOT HAVING TO BRING IN MORE OF THEIR OWN as Canadians don’t speak the right language for this group.
    Furthermore, if we REPLACE THOSE 80,000 TO 100,000 of the 2 biggest groups by people in danger WHO NEED US TO SURVIVE, not to commit crimes including fraud, in SMALLER NUMBERS, THERE WOULD BE MORE TIME SPENT FOR VETTING THOSE WHO SEEM IMPOSSIBLE TO CHECK. That includes the Syrian group. Others, such as TIBETANS in great danger in the hands of chinese in control in Nepal, the manpower would be minimal.
    As long as we don’t have the present mass that arrived properly checked, no point in bringing in more. It costs us Canadians much too much, in support, and in economic consequences, on the housing market to start with.
    In order to bring down the cost of bringing large families from Syria here, the market needs to be back to Canadian levels. All that china laundromat business has to stop. A tax on buying is a start, but those who already cleaned their money need to be hit on the way out. The cheating with putting the house in a guy with PR or citizenship here to dodge the taxes needs to be investigated. The easy way is to check the 10 last year’s tax returns if those registered as owners to see their ability to PAY $1.5M CASH and much more to buy properties. If not, then it is with a GIFT, on which TAXES ARE OWED. Any visa delivered to those who committed fraud, PR or citizenship, HAS TO BE STRIPPED, the property, PRODUCT OF CRIME, CONFISCATED.

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