Canada’s Liberal government attacks refugee rights


Canada’s Liberal government attacks refugee rights

Laurent Lafrance

18 April 2019

In a major assault on democratic and human rights, the Trudeau government surreptitiously concealed reactionary amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act in its 392-page omnibus budget bill, the Budgetary Implementation Act. The amendments will make it significantly more difficult for migrants fleeing war and persecution to find asylum in Canada, and are accompanied by a Liberal pledge to spend an additional $1 billion on border security over the next five years.

Under the amendments, asylum seekers who have already made a refugee claim in a country with which Canada has an “information-sharing agreement” will automatically be refused asylum. They will be denied the right to a full-case hearing and, in most cases, will be quickly sent back to their home countries. The “information-sharing” countries in question—Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the US—comprise, along with Canada, the US-led “Five Eyes” spying network that conducts mass surveillance of the world’s population.

Given that the US is the only one of these four partners with which Canada shares a border, the practical effect of the legislation is to empower authorities to summarily deport refugee claimants crossing the US-Canada border to escape Trump’s anti-immigrant witch hunt.

This reactionary legislative change comes amid statements from Minister of Border Security Bill Blair and Canada’s US ambassador David McNaughton revealing that the Liberal government has been engaged in behind-the-scenes discussions with Washington on closing the so-called “loophole” in the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA). This 2002 US-Canada agreement allows Canada to return to the US anyone…

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