I write this letter to draw attention to a case regarding CanadaImmigration and a man who has spent 600 days in sanctuary in St. Gabriel's Church in Montreal.
Canada has left this man no other choice but to defy an deportation order by taking sanctuary in a church.
He is from Algeria, a country full of strife, and a return to this country would put him in harm's way.
Sending him back to Algeria would be like throwing a bone to a hungry dog.
Abdlekader Belaouni has applied for and been refused immigration status for no clear reason.
Kader, as he is referred to by friends, is supported by individuals, as well as dozens of organizations, community groups and a five-person sponsorship.
Canada is always sending troops to "save" another country and here in our own country of Canada we have a man who needs to get on with his life. Yet, he is virtually being held prisoner.
For more information on this injustice taking place right here in Canada, go to www.soutienpourkader.net or you can write or e-mail MP Bob Mills or Minister of Immigration Diane Finley. I see no reason not to grant Kader status. He is not a criminal and I believe that his blindness is being held against him.
Please help this man stay in Canada.
Call or e-mail your MP today.
Red Deer County
PUBLICATION: Red Deer Advocate
COLUMN: Letter to the editor
WORD COUNT: 170
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Friday, December 14, 2007
Photo: Jacques Nadeau
Des sympathisants demandent à la ministre de l'Immigration de faire preuve d'humanité
Sept cent cinquante jours plus tard, l'Algérien Abdelkader Belaouni reste dans l'incertitude la plus totale quant à son avenir. Aveugle et diabétique, cet homme, réfugié depuis plus de deux ans dans un sanctuaire de Montréal, attend toujours un signe de la part du ministère de l'Immigration dans l'espoir de régulariser sa situation.
Mais ce signe ne vient pas, ont dénoncé hier une centaine de manifestants réunis à Montréal. Seule la ministre Diane Finley a la prérogative d'accorder à M. Belaouni le statut de résidant permanent pour motifs humanitaires. Sinon, le réfugié a épuisé tous les recours possibles pour éviter l'expulsion vers les États-Unis et, ultimement, l'Algérie.
M. Belaouni, de confession musulmane, s'est réfugié le 1er janvier 2006 au presbytère de l'église Saint-Gabriel, dans le quartier Pointe-Saint-Charles. Depuis, confiné, l'homme attend. A ce jour, il a reçu l'appui de plus de 500 personnes et 71 organismes, dont la Ligue des droits et libertés et Amnesty International. Ils ont tous écrit à la ministre Finley pour lui demander d'agir.
«Un peu d'humanité et d'ouverture de la part de Mme Finley pourrait faire la différence», a affirmé Thomas Mulcair, député néo-démocrate d'Outremont, qui était présent à la manifestation d'hier. «C'est gênant de penser qu'au XXIe siècle, on soit obligé de protéger une personne aveugle dans un sanctuaire pour lui éviter la déportation.» Depuis deux ans, les responsables du dossier de l'immigration des trois partis d'opposition à Ottawa ont tous demandé à Mme Finley de redonner sa liberté à M. Belaouni, mais sans succès.
Au Canada depuis 2003
Abdelkader Belaouni est arrivé au Canada en mars 2003 après un séjour de six ans aux États-Unis. Il affirme avoir fui l'Algérie pour ne pas avoir à collaborer avec des groupes armés impliqués dans la guerre civile. Sa demande d'obtention du statut de réfugié a été rejetée par la Commission de l'immigration et du statut de réfugié en janvier 2004.
Ce refus était basé sur des contradictions apparentes entre deux déclarations faites par M. Belaouni. De même, ses demandes d'examen des risques avant renvoi ont été refusées au motif qu'il n'a pas de famille au Canada et qu'il n'a pas réussi à trouver un emploi pendant les premiers mois qu'il a passés ici (M. Belaouni a toutefois fait du bénévolat pour divers organismes).
«On demande que la ministre respecte l'esprit de la Loi de l'immigration au lieu de l'appliquer à la lettre», a lancé le père James McDonald, qui accueille le réfugié dans son presbytère.
DU STATUT DE RÉFUGIÉ
704 : Still here / Toujours là - Une exposition de photographies d'Abdelkader Belaouni.
--> Reportage photo du vernissage : www.gallery.cmaq.net/
Le 5 décembre dernier, une délégation de 30 ami(e)s et supporteur(e)s d'Abdelkader Belaouni (Kader) ont organisé un vernissage de photographies sur chevalets humains devant les bureaux de la Commission de l'immigration et du statut de réfugié (CISR).
704 : Still here / Toujours là met en image les 704 jours passés ensanctuaire par monsieur Belaouni. L'exposition se déplace aujourd'hui pour s'installer pendant un mois dans le quartier de Pointe-St-Charles, le quartier de monsieur Belaouni, où elle sera exposée dans les locaux des Services juridiques communautaires de Pointe-St-Charles et Petite-Bourgogne, 2533, rue Centre, bur. 101 (métro Charlevoix). Lundi au vendredi de 8h30 à 16h30. Pour visionner les photos : www.tatianagomez.net/kb2/.
Depuis le 1er janvier 2006, sous la menace d'être déporté, Kader vit en reclus et ne peut quitter l'Église St-Gabriel de Pointe-St-Charles où il a pris refuge à Montréal. Sa demande d'asyle a été refusée par Laurier Thibault, un commissaire de la CISR qui a refusé 99 % des demandes lui ayant été soumises en deux ans.
À travers 704 :Still Here/Toujours là, la photographe montréalaise Tatiana Gomez nous offre un portrait intime de la réalité de Kader, son quotidien en sanctuaire et sa vigueur à maintenir l'espoir et sa dignité malgré les atteintes à sa liberté.
« En le mettant dans une situation où il n'a pas le choix de prendre sanctuaire, en le forçant à se réfugier dans une église, le gouvernement tente de rendre ses actions et monsieur Belaouni lui-même invisibles », selon madame Gomez. « Nous sommes ici aujourd'hui pour rompre cette
invisibilité, pour faire sortir Kader par l'entremise de ces photos qui témoignent des défis quotidiens auxquels il fait face ainsi que du nombre sans cesse croissant d'appuis qu'il récolte dans ses démarches pour vivre avec un statut et toute sa dignité au Canada. »
Rick Goldman, porte-parole de la Table de concertation des organismes au service des personnes réfugiées et immigrantes (TCRI) a aussi pris la parole.
L'événement s'est terminé par une procession de l'exposition dans la ville souterraine, menée par une fanfare qui accompagnait le tout d'une musique festive depuis le Complexe Guy-Favreau jusqu'au métro Place-des-Arts, où des centaines de spectateurs ont pu regarder les photographies déambulantes portées par des chevalets humains.
Le 1er janvier 2008 marquera le deuxième anniversaire du sanctuaire d'Abdelkader (Kader) Belaouni, qui a pris refuge en 2006 à l'Église Saint-Gabriel. Kader continue d'exiger une régularisation immédiate de son statut, afin qu'il puisse quitter l'église sans risquer l'arrestation et la déportation et qu'il puisse continuer sa vie au Canada.
Sous la bannière ""DEUX ANS, C'EST DEUX ANS DE TROP!": un statut pour Kader maintenant!", nous vous invitons à vous joindre à nous pour deux événements très importants :
* vendredi le 18 janvier 2008: Journée internationale d'action avec une manifestation à Montréal
* samedi le 26 janvier 2008: Souper communautaire avec concert à l'Église Saint-Gabriel
Contexte : www.soutienpourkader.net
Comité de soutien d'Abdelkader Belaouni
Tél : 514-691-0567
704: Still here/ Toujours là - An exhibition of photographs of Abdelkader
--> Photo essay of the guerrilla vernissage: http://photos.cmaq.net/v/704/
A delegation of 30 friends and supporters of Abdelkader Belaouni set up a photo vernissage - with human easels - in front of the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) offices on December 5th.
The exhibit, which portrays Mr. Belaouni's 704 days in sanctuary, will move to his neighborhood of Pointe St-Charles today. 704: Still here/Toujours là will be displayed for the coming month in the offices of the Community Legal Services of Pointe St-Charles and Little Burgundy, 2533
Centre St. # 101 (Charlevoix metro). They can be visited Monday to Friday from 8:30 to 4:30pm. The photos can also be viewed on line at www.tatianagomez.net/kb2/.
Since 1 January 2006, Abdelkader Belaouni, has been confined to St Gabriel's church in Pointe St.-Charles, Montreal. Under threat of deportation, he is unable to leave church property. Mr. Belaouni was refused by an IRB Commissioner, Laurier Thibault, who refused 99% of the cases
before him in a two-year period.
Through 704: Still here/ Toujours là, Montreal-based photographer Tatiana Gomez offers an intimate portrait of Kader, his life in sanctuary and his struggle to keep hope and dignity alive.
"By forcing him to seek sanctuary, to be imprisoned within the church, the government has tried to make Kader's life invisible", said Gomez, "We are here today to break that invisibility, bringing him here through these portraits and testifying to the day-to-day realities of his life in sanctuary and the growing support for his struggle to live with dignity and status in Canada."
Rick Goldman, of the Table de concertation des organismes au service des personnes réfugiées et immigrantes (TCRI) also spoke at the vernissage.
At the end of the event, a marching band led the procession of human easels through the city's underground, from Complexe Guy Favreau to Place-des-Arts metro, while hundreds of on-lookers enjoyed the unexpected photo exhibit and musical performance.
January 1, 2008 will be the 2 year mark since Abdelkader (Kader) Belaouni took sanctuary in St. Gabriel's Church. Kader continues to demand an immediate regularization of his status so that he can leave the church without the risk of arrest and deportation, and continue his life here, in Canada.
Under the banner ""TWO YEARS TOO MANY!", Status for Kader NOW!", we invite you to join us at two important events :
* Friday, 18 January 2008: International Day of Action with Montreal march
in support of status for Kader
* Saturday, 26 January 2008: Community dinner and Cultural event at St.
Friday, December 7, 2007
Accusé à tort de traite de personne, un couple lavallois exige maintenant des excuses. Dans l'ordre, Nichan Manoukian, son épouse Manoudshag Sariboyajian et leur fille Arvine Manoukian.
La Couronne abandonne les poursuites contre un couple lavallois accusé d'avoir maintenu une aide domestique dans des conditions d'esclavage. Le couple accuse à son tour la GRC d'avoir mal enquêté et lui demande des excuses.
Quand Nichan Manoukian et Manoudshag Sariboyajian ont été accusés de traite de personne, en mai dernier, l'histoire a fait grand bruit dans les médias. Hier, c'était le grand soulagement pour eux et leurs quatre enfants, le tout mêlé à la frustration d'avoir été l'objet de fausses accusations. La Presse a rencontré le couple et sa fille Arvine chez son avocat. «Nous étions persuadés que la vérité apparaîtrait», a soutenu Arvine Manoukian, 21 ans, avant de commencer à raconter l'histoire qui a les a conduits dans ce bureau d'avocat.
M. Manoukian a engagé une aide domestique d'origine éthiopienne en 1997, alors que la famille vivait au Liban. «Presque tout le monde au Liban a des servantes, a-t-il assuré. J'ai payé 3500$ à une agence.»
«Elle travaillait comme servante, mais on la traitait comme un membre de la famille», a soutenu pour sa part Arvine Manoukian.
Selon la jeune femme, la servante a eu des vacances après trois ans de contrat. «Elle est retournée chez elle, et elle est revenue plus tôt que prévu avec des cadeaux pour nous.»
La famille Manoukian a emménagé au Canada en août 2004. Depuis, M. Manoukian a entrepris des démarches pour régulariser le statut de la servante.
Entre-temps, assure la famille, la femme était tout à fait libre de ses déplacements. Elle travaillait même dans d'autres familles pour gagner un peu plus d'argent.
Au tournant de l'année 2006, Mme Sariboyajian a reçu un appel à l'intention de la servante, puis un second, de la part d'une dame originaire d'Éthiopie. Quand l'interlocutrice aurait demandé à Mme Sariboyajian si la servante pouvait aller passer quelques jours chez elle, Mme Sariboyajian et son mari ont refusé, car ils ne la connaissaient pas. Quelques jours plus tard, en janvier 2006, la GRC se présentait chez les Manoukian, à Laval, et emmenait la servante.
Depuis ce temps, les Manoukian n'ont pas eu de contacts avec la femme qui a partagé huit années de leur vie. «Elle n'a jamais voulu partir de chez nous, soutient M. Manoukian. Nous l'aimons et elle nous aime.»
Selon lui, il est clair que celle qu'il appelle encore «notre fille» a été victime d'une mauvaise influence et qu'elle a menti. «Elle nous a trahis», dit-il.
Avant de tourner la page, la famille réclame des excuses de la GRC. Des excuses «sur une pleine page», demande M. Manoukian, afin que la même importance médiatique soit accordée aux accusations et aux excuses.
«La GRC a mal enquêté dès le début, dénonce M. Manoukian. Ils avaient leurs réponses dans le dossier avant même d'entrer chez nous. Je veux que la GRC emploie des professionnels pour enquêter, pas des amateurs.»
L'avocat Frank Pappas était encore abasourdi par l'enquête de la GRC. «Ils auraient dû au moins aller voir les voisins!»
Has Quebec residency; Cherfi still on outside looking in after 2 years
KEVIN DOUGHERTY, The GazettePublished: Saturday, November 10
QUEBEC - Mohamed Cherfi, the Algerian refugee claimant who was arrested in 2004 by police in the Quebec City church where he was given sanctuary, still can't get back into Canada even though Quebec granted him permanent residence in August 2005.
Jacqueline Roby, spokesperson for the federal immigration department, said yesterday a 25-month delay between an application to immigrate to Canada and admission is normal.
"We have to look at who enters Canada," Roby said. "We are committed to the safety and security of the Canadian public."
Janet Dench, a Montreal lawyer specializing in immigration and refugees, said for family members seeking to enter Canada, 30 per cent of cases are resolved in three months and 80 per cent of applicants get into Canada 11 months after their application has been received.
But Cherfi has applied on humanitarian grounds, not family reunification, and Dench confirmed that could take longer.
"Nothing justifies what is happening," Cherfi's partner, Louise Boivin, said at a news conference in the St. Pierre United Church, where Cherfi was taken into custody in 2004.
Because he entered Canada from the United States in 1998, Cherfi was expelled to the United States, where he was held in a Batavia, N.Y., detention centre near Buffalo, for 16 months before the Americans granted him political refugee status the second time he applied.
Boivin noted the Americans have their own security concerns. Yet they are not worried that Cherfi, now a free man working the night shift in a Buffalo factory, is a security threat.
And she wonders why he has had to wait so long to get into Canada.
But two years after Quebec granted him permanent residence in the province, Cherfi still hasn't received the security clearance from the federal government to cross the border, which includes checks of his "moral" and physical health, according to Roby.
"I don't know what they are doing," Boivin said, adding she can't get information from the federal immigration and public security departments.
When The Gazette called the office of Public Security Minister Stockwell Day, a reporter was referred to the office of Immigration Minister Diane Finley. Finley's spokesperson Tim Vail did not return calls. After three days of no response from Vail, the Gazette spoke with Roby, the department's spokesperson in Montreal.
Roby said the department handles 350,000 applications to enter Canada a year, accepting 250,000 new immigrants a year.
Under an agreement between the federal and Quebec governments, Quebec can choose its own immigrants, but Roby stressed Ottawa has the final word on who enters Canada.
Cherfi, 38, was a high school teacher in Algeria nine years ago, at the height of a bloody conflict between the Algerian state and Islamic fundamentalists, when he was called up for military service.
Because Algeria does not recognize the status of conscientious objectors, Cherfi fled first to the United States, entering on a tourist visa, then entering Canada from the United States as a refugee claimant.
His demand was refused and while living in Montreal he became active defending Algerian refugee claimants, while appealing his own case. His request to stay in Canada was refused, on the ground he had not integrated into Canadian society.
He was arrested and deported after living three weeks in the church basement.
JAN RAVENSBERGEN, The Gazette
Teams of activists launched a one-day blitz of 17 Montreal-region Members of Parliament Friday morning to underline their opposition to new security-certificate legislation which could be given third reading as early
as next week by the House of Commons.
The round of visits is expected to culminate at 3 p.m., with a visit to the St. Laurent-Cartierville riding office of Stéphane Dion, Liberal Opposition leader.
About 50 people are on the road as part of the effort, said Mary Foster, an organizer with Coalition Justice for Adil Charkaoui.
"It's going to be up to the Liberals to stop this" new bill, Foster added, given the current balance of power in the Commons. The Conservative government has a minority and both the Bloc Québecois and the New Democratic
Party have been indicating their members will vote against the bill.
Last February, the Supreme Court of Canada ordered the federal government to come up with a new law governing security certificates by Feb. 23, 2008.
Bill C-3, the legislation that resulted, was introduced by the Conservatives Oct. 22.
"Notably," according to the Coalition, the bill "will continue indefinite detention without charge, secret hearings without the detainee or their lawyer present, use of unreliable evidence obtained under torture, house
arrest, deportation to torture and a two-tiered system of justice."
Representatives of the Canadian Bar Association have told a Commons committee studying C-3 that they believe some provisions of C-3 would not be ruled constitutional.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Eric Beauchesne , CanWest News ServicePublished: Tuesday, December 04, 2007
OTTAWA - Canada is becoming a nation of immigrants again.
Canada's foreign-born population grew four times as fast as that of the Canadian-born population during the first half of this decade to reach a 75-year high of nearly one in five people living here, according to the latest analyses of data from last year's census.
The 13.6 per cent surge in Canada's foreign-born population between the 2001 and 2006 censuses, compared with the 3.3 per cent growth in the Canadian-born population, was mostly due to the arrival of 1.11 million new immigrants, Statistics Canada noted Tuesday in its analyses on "Immigration, citizenship, language, mobility and migration."
The proportion of foreign-born, which was at 22.2 per cent in 1931, fell during the Depression and the Second World War to a low of 14.7 per cent in 1951, and has been rising since.
The relatively rapid growth in Canada's immigrant population is seen as a potential offset to looming labour shortages that will follow the start of the retirement of the baby boom generation.
Supporting that view is the census finding that 57.3 per cent of immigrants to Canada over the past half decade were in the prime working age group of 25 to 54 years, compared with only 42.3 per cent of the Canadian-born population.
And they also tend to be better educated, especially the younger immigrants, added Jean-Pierre Corbeil, with Statistics Canada's language and demographics section.
"Everyone sees immigration as one way to counter this aging factor," he noted in an interview. "It's not the only way, but it's certainly one important way."
The continuing flow of immigrants here has also left Canada with a much higher proportion of foreign-born than the United States, 19.8 per cent compared to 12.5 per cent.
In fact, only Australia has a higher proportion of foreign-born than Canada.
And for the first time, in a land with more than 200 mother tongues, allophones - people whose mother tongue is neither English nor French - accounted for a full fifth of the population.
The increase in the proportion of allophones is mainly due to the immigrants who arrived during the latest census period, as four out of five of them had a mother tongue - the first language learned and still understood - that was neither French nor English.
These newcomers, nearly 60 per cent of whom were born in Asia, including the Middle East, made up almost 18 per cent of the foreign-born population in 2006, or 3.6 per cent of Canada's total population of 31.2 million.
The proportion of new immigrants who were born in Asia was unchanged from the previous census but was up from only 12.1 per cent 2-1/2 decades earlier, Statistics Canada noted.
And for the first time the foreign-born population from Asia and the Middle East in 2006 exceeded that from Europe.
Newcomers from Europe, who use to make up the majority of new immigrants to Canada, accounted for just 16.1 per cent over the half decade, down from more than 60 per cent as recently as 1971.
During the latest census period, just over 10 per cent of new immigrants were from Central and South America and the Caribbean, and another 10.6 per cent were born in Africa.
Regardless of where immigrants were from, separate Statistics Canada surveys found that Canada was the only choice for 98 per cent of them.
Those surveys found the largest proportion said they came to improve the future for their family, and when asked four years later why they planned to stay also cited the quality of life here and the positive future prospects for their family.
Meanwhile, Canada's three largest metropolitan areas became home to more than two-thirds of new immigrants, between two to three times the 27.1 per cent of Canada's total population who call Toronto, Vancouver or Montreal home.
Toronto accounts for 37.5 per cent of the total immigrant population, the highest of the three by far, and 40.4 per cent of recent immigrants.
While most of the recent immigrants live in the core of the metropolitan areas, more are also moving out to the suburbs.
A slightly higher proportion than during the previous census period -16.6 per cent compared with 14.3 per cent - also chose to settle in the smaller metropolitan areas of Calgary, Ottawa-Gatineau, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Hamilton and London.
Nearly 87 per cent of the foreign-born population live in three provinces: Ontario, with 54.9 per cent, British Columbia with 18.1 per cent, and Quebec with 13.8 per cent.
Those three provinces also received nearly 86 per cent of newcomers since 2001.
In contrast, foreign-born people account for less than four per cent of the population of Atlantic Canada.
Meanwhile, more than 85 per cent of the foreign-born who were entitled to become Canadian citizens had done so.
While only 2.8 per cent of all Canadian citizens, or 863,100, also had at least one other citizenship, four-fifths of those were foreign born, with the largest single proportion being the 14.7 per cent who held British citizenship, followed by 6.6 per cent Polish, and 5.4 American.
Le Devoir Édition du samedi 01 et du dimanche 02 décembre 2007
Le gouvernement pourrait devoir réécrire l'accord d'harmonisation signé dans la foulée du 11-Septembre
Ottawa -- Les groupes de défense des réfugiés crient victoire: un jugement rendu jeudi a démoli l'accord d'harmonisation signé avec les États-Unis dans la foulée des attentats terroristes du 11 septembre 2001. À moins d'en appeler, le Canada devra récrire sa loi.
Cet accord, c'est celui dit des «pays tiers sûrs». Le Canada l'a signé avec les États-Unis mais avec aucun autre pays de la planète. Il prévoit qu'un réfugié ne peut demander l'asile que dans un ou l'autre de ces deux pays. Si cette personne a mis les pieds d'abord aux États-Unis (comme dans 40 % des cas avant l'entrée en vigueur de cette entente), elle doit y soumettre sa demande. Officiellement, ce règlement visait à mettre un terme au «magasinage» d'un pays d'accueil. Dans les faits, il a jugulé le flot des demandes d'asile au Canada.
Les groupes de défense des réfugiés se sont toujours opposés à cette entente en rappelant que les États-Unis avaient une politique d'accueil beaucoup plus sévère. Dans les années 80, lorsque les États-Unis soutenaient plusieurs dictatures sud-américaines, ils refusaient le statut de réfugié aux ressortissants de ces pays alors que le Canada les acceptait.
Ces groupes se sont donc adressés à la Cour fédérale et ont gagné jeudi. Dans son verdict de 124 pages, le juge Michael Phelan pose un jugement lapidaire: les États-Unis ne devraient pas être considérés comme un pays sûr. Pourquoi? Parce qu'ils ne respectent pas la Convention contre la torture, notamment en retournant des personnes dans leur pays d'origine même si elles risquent d'y être maltraitées. Le juge Phelan rappelle le célèbre cas de Maher Arar, renvoyé par Washington vers les salles de torture syriennes.
«Bien qu'il ne s'agisse pas ici de juger la cause Maher Arar, écrit le juge, la cour prend note des conclusions du rapport Arar. Même si les États-Unis n'ont pas participé aux travaux, ils ont signalé à la commission qu'ils respectaient l'article 3 de la Convention contre la torture. Les faits entourant le cas Arar nous fournissent des raisons de douter sérieusement de cette affirmation.»
Plus loin, le juge écrit que le gouvernement canadien a eu tort de tenir pour acquis que les États-Unis s'acquittaient de leurs obligations internationales en matière de lutte contre la torture. En conclusion, écrit-il, «les politiques et les pratiques des États-Unis ne répondent pas aux conditions établies permettant au Canada de conclure [avec eux] une entente sur les pays tiers sûrs».
Les États-Unis ont répliqué hier soir par la bouche de leur ambassade. «Nous avons un bilan reluisant en matière d'accueil et de protection des réfugiés, de défense des droits de la personne et de respect de nos obligations découlant de traités. C'est pourquoi les États-Unis accueillent plus de réfugiés que n'importe quel autre pays au monde et restent un havre de paix et d'espoir.»
Pas de changement immédiat
Pour le moment, ce jugement n'a aucun impact: le juge Phelan a accordé aux parties jusqu'au 14 janvier pour lui faire des recommandations d'ordonnance. La Loi sur les pays tiers sûrs sera-t-elle abrogée? Ottawa portera-t-il la cause en appel? «Nous soupesons nos options», a indiqué une porte-parole au ministère de la Citoyenneté et de l'Immigration.
«Je suis très heureuse d'assister à cette intervention de la part de la Cour fédérale», a lancé Janet Dench, directrice du Conseil canadien pour le statut de réfugié, à l'origine de cette cause.
Avec l'entente sur les pays tiers sûrs, très peu de demandeurs arrivés au Canada par la voie terrestre sont acceptés. Une personne qu'on sait avoir d'abord séjourné aux États-Unis est immédiatement refoulée à la frontière. Les États-Unis emprisonnent les demandeurs plus souvent que ne le fait le Canada. La réunification familiale est devenue plus difficile.
«Cette entente a été signée pour tenter de réduire le nombre de réfugiés au Canada, et ç'a marché», déplore Joseph Allen, président de l'Association des avocats en droit de l'immigration.
«Un grand nombre d'Haïtiens sont tout simplement refusés aux États-Unis. Même s'ils ont vécu là-bas quelques années, on les ôte à leurs enfants, ceux-ci étant placés dans des centres d'hébergement, et ils sont expédiés en Haïti», ajoute M. Allen. «Le Canada ne retourne personne à Haïti à cause des risques.»
À la Chambre des communes, ce jugement a eu des échos. «Comme cette entente contreviendrait à la Charte canadienne et aux conventions internationales que le Canada a signées, le ministre entend-il renégocier les termes de cette entente?», a lancé la bloquiste Meili Faille. Le gouvernement s'est limité à dire, comme c'est toujours le cas dans ce genre de dossier, qu'il devait d'abord analyser le jugement.
Du côté du NPD, on s'est déjà fait une idée: cette entente doit être annulée. «Vous savez ce que le juge a fait?, a lancé le chef Jack Layton. Il a fait ce que Stephen Harper refuse de faire, soit de renoncer au style George W. Bush quand vient le temps de traiter de questions internationales et d'affirmer l'indépendance et l'autonomie canadiennes.»
L'entente, conclue en principe en décembre 2001, est entrée en vigueur en décembre 2004. Le nombre de demandeurs du statut de réfugié est alors passé d'environ 19 000 à moins de 15 000.
Hier, les libéraux se sont défendus d'avoir adopté cette mesure par réflexe sécuritaire. «Nous avons été aspirés dans cette nouvelle ère de sécurité et de coopération, a expliqué le député Omar Alghabra. À l'époque, c'était sensé. Maintenant que nous avons testé ce régime pendant quelques années, il serait normal de faire un retour en arrière et d'apprendre de nos erreurs, des lacunes de l'entente, et de la revoir.»
The Canadian Press
December 1, 2007
OTTAWA -- Armed with a major court victory, advocates urged the federal government yesterday to scrap a deal that sees Canada turn refugee claimants back to the U.S. to face deportation and possible torture in their home countries.
Opposition MPs, Amnesty International and other groups called on Ottawa to scrap the so-called Safe Third Country Agreement after a Federal Court judge ruled it violates refugee rights. The government says the deal remains in effect while it mulls its response.
"We're considering the options now," said Citizenship and Immigration spokeswoman Karen Shadd-Evelyn. "The court has given the parties time to make submissions regarding an appeal."
Lawyers for both sides have until Jan. 14 to file papers for a final court order, which would likely strike down the agreement based on the judge's reasons. It will then be up to Ottawa to decide whether to appeal the outcome - a move that could take years to ultimately clear the Supreme Court of Canada.
Mr. Justice Michael Phelan of the Federal Court said the U.S. can't be considered a "safe country" for asylum seekers from such countries as Haiti, for example, because it doesn't comply with international refugee protections against torture.
Unlike the U.S., Canada will not deport back to Haiti.
Judge Phelan also said the deal is unfair because it turns back claimants who arrive from the United States by land, while those who fly to Canada can stay to make their case.
Rather than appeal the ruling, refugee advocates say Canada should reassert its traditional role of defending some of the world's most vulnerable people.
"We have a judgment that in clear, stark, detailed ways highlights the multiplicity of human-rights violations and shortcomings in the refugee system that await asylum claimants who are turned away from the Canadian border and forced into the U.S.," said Alex Neve, secretary-general of Amnesty International Canada.
U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins countered in a statement yesterday that his country "has a proud record of accepting and protecting refugees, defending human rights and adhering to our treaty obligations.
"Last year alone, the United States accepted more refugees for resettlement than any other country, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees," Mr. Wilkins said.
However, the UN refugee agency also spoke out in October against Canada's practice of summarily sending refugee claimants back to the U.S. - even when they're entitled to seek asylum here.
The practice again made headlines when four refugees from Haiti and one from El Salvador were sent back to the U.S. on Oct. 8 from the Lacolle, Que., border point near Montreal. Two of the five were later detained in the United States, said the UN high commissioner's office, making it difficult for advocates to track their fate.
NDP immigration critic Olivia Chow has already submitted a motion seeking support from the Commons all-party citizenship and immigration committee to support scrapping the safe third country deal.
The 2004 Safe Third Country Agreement struck under the former Liberal government was billed as a means of allowing both Canada and the U.S. to better manage the flow of asylum seekers.
02 December, 2007
By SUZANNE GAMBOA, Associated Press
WASHINGTON - More people seeking asylum in the U.S. could be detained and then jailed longer under a new Homeland Security Department policy for people wanting safe harbor.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a division of the Homeland Security Department, said it issued the new policy Nov. 6 to make detention rules for asylum seekers more consistent and clear. But refugee advocates say it sets tougher standards for asylum seekers to win parole from detention.
The U.S. generally grants safe harbor to refugees fleeing persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion. Last year, the country granted asylum to 26,113 people, according to Homeland Security Department statistics. Most were from China, followed by Haiti and Colombia.
A total of 5,252 people claimed to have a credible fear of persecution in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. Sixty-three percent of those claims were handled by ICE‘s asylum office in Houston, according to Homeland Security Department statistics.
The numbers do not include Cubans requesting asylum because they are not placed in expedited removal.
The new policy says detention and removal officers also must decide whether the person is seriously ill, a juvenile, pregnant, a witness in judicial, administrative or legislative proceedings or whether detention of the person is not in the public interest. The policy does not define public interest.
In cases of people who requested asylum from deeper within the country — such as when a tourist visa ran out — an immigration judge can issue bond and order their release from detention.
Expedited removal was adopted to keep people in the country illegally from disappearing after being released on bond.
The agency chose not to define public interest to allow officers flexibility, she said. The policy also directs officers to collect information on parole denials and releases that will be collected monthly and analyzed.
"Rarely is there political will in existence to take a step back and say, ‘Maybe we shouldn‘t be doing this,‘" Bardavid said.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom found in a 2005 study mandated by Congress that the expedited removal policy puts people with legitimate asylum claims at risk of being returned to their home countries to be persecuted or tortured.
The commission also found asylum seekers were being jailed with criminals while they waited for a decision on their claims. In a follow-up study this year, the commission said little had changed.
Sunday, December 2, 2007
Grassroots organizations mobilize and raise awareness by various means. Street posters and spray painting are two such means that linger on the public sphere long after the event has taken place. They are an enduring testament to the grassroots struggles of migrants in this city.
From 18-25 June 2005, non-Status people and their allies marched from Montreal to Ottawa demand the regularization of all on-status people in Canada, an end to deportations and detentions, and the abolition of security certificates. Organized by Solidarity Across Borders, a network of migrants and their allies in Montreal, the march asserted the right to live and work with dignity. This stencil was spray painted onto a bus shelter at Atwater Park, where the march gathered before embarking on the march on Ottawa.To read more click HERE
Jennifer Saltman, The Province
Published: Thursday, November 29, 2007
An application by Punjabi refugee claimant Laibar Singh to remain in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds has been denied by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
"Mr. Laibar Singh is incredibly disappointed and troubled from this news," Singh's lawyer, Zool Suleman, said last night.
Singh entered Canada on a forged passport in 2003, claiming political persecution, but suffered paralysis after a brain aneurysm a year ago.
He was ordered deported on July 8 but fled to the Abbotsford Sahib Kalgidhar Darbar Gurudwara temple July 7.
He was arrested Aug. 13 after leaving the temple to seek medical attention and was again ordered deported.
But on Aug. 18, he was granted a 60-day stay of deportation by Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day. Singh had been detained at the North Fraser Pretrial Centre.
He was granted a further 20-day reprieve on Oct. 20, pending a decision on his humanitarian and compassionate claim.
Harsha Walia of No One is Illegal said, "The deportation of Mr. Singh is profoundly inhumane and we continue to demand that the government of Canada allow Mr. Singh to remain in Canada."
Suleman said he will be exploring legal avenues, including an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada or a plea to Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada Diane Finley.
It costs the Canadian health-care system more than $146,000 a year to care for the 48-year-old. A medically staffed flight home would cost taxpayers $68,700.
Singh has four children in India.
Friday, November 30, 2007
Temporary Foreign Worker Program Should Be SuspendedOTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 27, 2007) - The Canadian Labour Congress calls for an immediate moratorium of the government's Temporary Foreign Worker Program until a comprehensive investigation of identified abuse and exploitation cases takes place. Full suspension of this program is necessary as the government officially acknowledges that it cannot "monitor the working conditions offered by the employer following entry into Canada" - that it cannot protect these workers.
Over two months ago, Canada's poorly regulated Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) enabled a labour broker to lure 11 skilled trades' people to Canada for non-existent jobs.
Those workers - known as the "Filipino 11" - became indentured labour after having to pay over $10,000 each in so-called administrative fees to labour brokers and intermediaries that thrive within the unregulated margins of the TFWP.
Promised jobs in their field at up to C$23 an hour, some sold their homes or took out loans to cover C$10,000 or more in fees demanded by labour brokers. But once in Canada, they were "sold" to unscrupulous employers, kept in an isolated rural house, and forced to do menial jobs earning - if paid at all - a fraction of what they were promised.
As The Economist magazine (November 22) reported "They were economic slaves," said a Barrie policeman who chanced upon them: "It turned my stomach."
The Canadian Labour Congress first learned of the plight of these workers in early September, and filed a complaint with the Conservative government demanding an investigation into the case. In that complaint and in the September 11, 2007 news release, we asked three things:
- What investigative steps and findings will be taken by government's departments and agencies with regard to this case?
- What steps are being taken to identify and pursue the labour brokers, contractors and employers implicated to retrieve wages and usurious processing and administrative fees paid by these workers?
- What steps will be taken to prosecute the individuals and employers involved in this case?
The government's official response, received just this past week, offers little more than the shameful excuse that the department that brings in guest workers is "not mandated to monitor the working conditions offered by the employer following entry into Canada".
Meanwhile, the Canadian Labour Congress has uncovered allegations that the workers were handed from an unscrupulous broker to various employers.
"Given all that is known - and how much is still NOT known - it would be unconscionable for the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development, and the Minister of Immigration to carry on with this program or to announce any further expansion of this program before undertaking a serious investigation into the known cases of abuse and exploitation," says Hassan Yussuff, Secretary-Treasurer of the Canadian Labour Congress.
The disturbing story of the Filipino 11 is not isolated. It is but one of many cases across the country being documented by the labour movement involving migrant workers in the construction, health care, service, and agricultural sectors.
The Canadian Labour Congress, the national voice of the labour movement, represents 3.2 million Canadian workers. The CLC brings together Canada's national and international unions along with the provincial and territorial federations of labour and 136 district labour councils. Web site: www.canadianlabour.ca
UNNATI GANDHI AND COLIN FREEZE
November 30, 2007
Citing the example of Maher Arar, a Federal Court judge ruled yesterday that Canada must reconsider a reciprocal refugee-processing agreement with the United States because Washington flouts conventions meant to safeguard immigrants against torture in their homelands.
Experts say the effect of the ruling may ultimately be that Canada will have to process thousands more refugee claimants each year, now that the continued existence of the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA), passed in 2004, is in question.
Mr. Justice Michael Phelan wrote that the U.S. does not comply with international refugee conventions and that the Canadian government, in entering into the agreement, "acted unreasonably" in concluding that it did.
"... The United States' policies and practices do not meet the conditions set down for authorizing Canada to enter into a STCA," Judge Phelan wrote in his 126-page decision.
"The U.S. does not meet the Refugee Convention requirements nor the [UN] Convention Against Torture prohibition (the Maher Arar case being one example). Further, the STCA does not comply with the relevant provisions of the Charter."
Mr. Arar was under Canadian investigation in 2002 when U.S. officials stopped him at a New York airport and sent him to the Middle East to be interrogated as an alleged al-Qaeda suspect. His complaints of being wrongly smeared at home and tortured overseas were upheld by a judicial inquiry last year, causing Canada to reconsider many of its laws and practices.
Judge Phelan also concluded that the Canadian government has not conducted the ongoing review of the STCA mandated by Parliament "despite both the significant passage of time since the commencement of the STCA and the evidence as to U.S. practices currently available."
The STCA requires refugee claimants to seek protection in the first country they reach, and has allowed Canada to automatically send refugee claimants at the border back to the United States, from where they are usually detained or deported.
The result has meant a dramatic drop in the government's refugee caseload, one immigration expert says, reducing the number of asylum claims in Canada by as much as 50 per cent.
"By removing the Safe Third, we can reasonably expect to see a new significant inflow of refugee claimants to Canada from the United States. The door will soon be open ... [because] the Federal Court decision has made it virtually impossible for the Safe Third Country Agreement to continue to exist," said Richard Kurland, a Vancouver lawyer and immigration policy consultant.
Karen Shadd-Evelyn, a spokeswoman with Citizenship and Immigration Canada, read a prepared statement that said the STCA remains in effect, as the court has given both parties until Jan. 14 to make and respond to submissions for an appeal.
Janet Dench, executive director of the Canadian Council for Refugees, which mounted the legal challenge based on the argument that the U.S. is not a safe country for refugee claimants, said the court's decision is significant.
"It is very good to see a court is taking seriously the human rights of refugees because there are times when we feel the rights of refugees don't count for much around the world."
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Paul Cherry, The GazetteTwo Canadian-based human smuggling rings have been dismantled after a lengthy investigation on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border.
The U.S. Attorney's office in Vermont unsealed two indictments revealing two separate alleged conspiracies where hundreds of aliens from various countries were smuggled into the U.S. through border crossings in Quebec.
Two Terrebonne residents have been charged in Sherbrooke in connection with one of the two smuggling rings. Marcos Gonzales and Patricia Sorgente each face three counts of conspiracy. They are expected to return to court on December 20.
Three other people tied to the same ring have been arrested face possible extradition to the U.S. where they face charges in Vermont.
A woman named Jatinder Singh, 50, another alleged member of the ring is still being sought and is believed to be somewhere in Canada, a RCMP spokesperson said.
Gonzales and Sorgente are alleged to be part of what the U.S. Attorney in Vermont described as the "Galdamez Organization." It allegedly offered human smuggling services to other groups that trafficked in humans. According to U.S. authorities, people from Central and South America and countries like Pakistan and India, were willing to pay thousands of dollars to be brought into the U.S. through border crossings in Quebec.
Members of the organization would guide people across the border by foot at night while avoiding roads and points of entry. Other people tied to the organization would be waiting on the U.S. side of the border, ready to
provide transportation to U.S. cities.
Another smuggling ring was based in Toronto and is alleged to have smuggled hundreds of undocumented workers from Korea into the U.S. though unchecked parts of the border in Quebec.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
By Naomi Klein; November 22, 2007 - Los Angeles Times
The world saw a video last week of Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers using a Taser against a Polish man in the Vancouver International Airport in October. The man, Robert Dziekanski, died soon after the attack. In recent days, more details have come out about him. It turns out that the -year-old didn't just die after being shocked -- his life was marked by shock as well.
Dziekanski was a young adult in 1989, when Poland began a grand experiment called "shock therapy" for the nation. The promise was that if the communist country accepted a series of brutal economic measures, the reward would be a "normal European country" like France or Germany. The pain would be short, the reward great.
So Poland's government eliminated price controls overnight, slashed subsidies, privatized industries. But for young workers such as Dziekanski, "normal" never arrived. Today, roughly 40% of young Polish workers are unemployed. Dziekanski was among them. He had worked as a typesetter and a miner, but for the last few years, he had been unemployed and had had run-ins with the law.
Like so many Poles of his generation, Dziekanski went looking for work in one of those "normal" countries that Poland was supposed to become but never did. Two million Poles have joined this mass exodus during the last three years alone. Dziekanski's cohorts have gone to work as bartenders in London, doormen in Dublin, plumbers in France. Last month, he chose to follow his mother to British Columbia, Canada, which is in a pre-Olympics construction boom.
"After seven years of waiting, [Dziekanski] arrived to his utopia, Vancouver," said the Polish consul general, Maciej Krych. "Ten hours later, he was dead."
Much of the outrage sparked by the video, which was made by another passenger at the airport, has focused on the controversial use of Tasers, already implicated in 17 deaths in Canada and many more in the United States.
But what happened in Vancouver was about more than a weapon. It was also about an increasingly brutal side of the global economy -- about the reality that many victims of various forms of economic "shock therapy" face at our borders.
Rapid economic transformations like Poland's have created enormous wealth -- in new investment opportunities; currency trading; in leaner, meaner companies able to comb the globe for the cheapest location to manufacture. But from Mexico to China to Poland, they also have created tens of millions of discarded people, the people who lose their jobs when factories close or lose their land when export zones open.
Understandably, many of these people often choose to move: from countryside to city, from country to country. As Dziekanski appeared to be doing, they go in search of that elusive "normal."
But there isn't enough normal to go around, or so we are told. And so, as migrants move, they are often met with other shocks. A treacherous razor fence protecting Spain's North Africa enclaves on Spain's southern border, or a Taser gun on the U.S.-Mexican border. Canada, which used to be known around the world for its openness to refugees, is militarizing its borders, with lines between immigrant and terrorist blurring fast.
Dziekanski's inhuman treatment at the hands of the Canadian police must be seen in this context. The police were called when Dziekanski, lost and disoriented, began shouting in Polish, at one point throwing a chair. Faced with a foreigner like Dziekanski, who spoke no English, why talk when you can shock? It strikes me that the same brutal, short-cut logic guided Poland's economic transition to capitalism: Why take the gradual route, which required debate and consent, when "shock therapy" promised an instant, if painful, cure?
I realize that I am talking about very different kinds of shocks here, but they do interconnect in a cycle I call "the shock doctrine." First comes the shock of a national crisis, making countries desperate for any cure and willing to sacrifice democracy in the process. In Poland in 1989, that first shock was the sudden end of communism and the economic meltdown. Then comes the economic shock therapy, the undemocratic process pushed through in the window of crisis that jolts an economy into growth but blasts so many people out of the picture.
Then, in far too many cases, there is the third shock, the one that disciplines and deals with the discarded people: the desperate, the migrants, those driven mad by the system.
Each shock has the potential to kill, some more suddenly than others.
Naomi Klein is most recently the author of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. Read more of Naomi Klein's work at Naomiklein.com.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Depuis le début de sa tournée, la commission Bouchard-Taylor en entend des vertes et des pas mûres sur les accommodements raisonnables, l'immigration et certaines communautés culturelles. Alors que les commissaires entament ce soir les dernières audiences à Montréal, examinons quelques mythes entendus aux quatre coins de la province...et la réalité.
1. Les accommodements raisonnables servent essentiellement les groupes religieux fondamentalistes.
Faux. Toute personne victime de discrimination en raison d'une caractéristique personnelle visée par les chartes des droits (sexe, grossesse, état civil, âge, religion, origine ethnique, handicap, etc.) a droit à des accommodements raisonnables. La vaste majorité des demandes d'accommodement au Québec porte sur un handicap. «Les demandes d'accommodement à caractère religieux devant les tribunaux restent plutôt marginales», indique Christian Brunelle, vice-doyen aux programmes de premier cycle de la faculté de droit de l'Université Laval.
2. Les accommodements raisonnables sont un problème lié à l'immigration.
Pas nécessairement. La Commission des droits de la personne, entre 2000 et 2006, a examiné 32 demandes d'accommodement religieux. Dix provenaient de protestants, neuf de musulmans, sept de juifs, cinq de témoins de Jéhovah et une d'un catholique. «De ces données, on ne peut pas tirer la conclusion que les demandes d'accommodement raisonnable sont nécessairement liées à l'immigration ni même à un groupe religieux en particulier», souligne Pierre Bosset, professeur au département des sciences juridiques de l'UQAM.
3. Les universités sont obligées de fournir des locaux de prière à leurs étudiants.
Faux. «Aucun tribunal ne s'est prononcé en ce sens», indique Pierre Bosset.
En 2006, la Commission des droits de la personne a recommandé à l'École de technologie supérieure, une constituante de l'Université du Québec, de proposer un accommodement faisant en sorte «que les étudiants de religion musulmane fréquentant l'ETS puissent prier, sur une base régulière, dans des conditions qui respectent leur droit à la sauvegarde de leur dignité». La Commission a refusé de donner suite à la demande des étudiants, qui réclamaient initialement qu'un local de prière leur soit attribué en permanence.
En réponse à la recommandation de la Commission, l'ETS a fait savoir qu'elle mettait à la disposition de tous ses étudiants «56 salles de cours qui sont libres «...» pour un total de près de 260 heures de disponibilité par jour ou plus de 1300 heures par semaine». L'ETS a également décidé de publier un horaire de type inversé qui fait connaître la liste des locaux libres chaque jour. Cet horaire est porté à la connaissance des étudiants par courriel à chaque début de trimestre.
La Commission a estimé que ces mesures d'accommodement étaient raisonnables et a décidé de ne pas s'adresser au tribunal.
4. On sort le crucifix des écoles, mais on rentre le kirpan. C'est dangereux, des couteaux à l'école.
Aucun incident violent lié au kirpan n'a été signalé dans les écoles du Canada depuis la décision rendue par la Cour suprême en mars 2006. Dans une décision unanime, les juges ont estimé que le kirpan ne constituait pas une menace à la sécurité. De plus, la Cour a reconnu que l'accommodement demandé par Gurbaj Singh Multani, le jeune Montréalais qui a porté la cause devant les tribunaux, était raisonnable puisqu'il acceptait de porter le kirpan sous ses vêtements, dans un étui de bois lui-même cousu dans une étoffe. Environ 5% des 8500 sikhs du Québec portent le kirpan, dont une infime minorité d'enfants.
5. La liberté religieuse jouit d'une prépondérance de principe sur les autres droits et libertés, notamment sur l'égalité entre les femmes et les hommes.
Faux. Les tribunaux considèrent que les droits et libertés ont une égale valeur et qu'il n'y a pas de hiérarchie entre eux. Les juges cherchent plutôt à établir un équilibre entre ces droits et libertés en fonction des faits et du contexte propres à chaque affaire. À titre d'exemple, le droit des femmes à la liberté et à la sécurité peut justifier le recours à l'avortement même si cette pratique constitue, selon certains, une atteinte au droit à la vie. De même, les tribunaux pourront permettre à des médecins de pratiquer une transfusion sanguine pour sauver la vie d'une personne même si celle-ci s'y oppose pour des raisons religieuses. Au Québec, il n'existe à ce jour aucune décision judiciaire où la liberté de religion prime le droit à l'égalité entre les femmes et les hommes, explique Christian Brunelle.
6. Les tribunaux interprètent l'obligation d'accommodement en faisant fi des droits de la majorité.
Faux. Les tribunaux ont affirmé très clairement que l'obligation d'accommodement n'est ni absolue, ni illimitée. Une demande d'accommodement peut être rejetée si elle entraîne une «contrainte excessive» ou un «fardeau déraisonnable» pour la personne ou l'institution qui la reçoit. Dans la détermination de ce qui constitue une «contrainte excessive», l'atteinte aux droits d'autrui est d'ailleurs un facteur important aux yeux des tribunaux, explique Christian Brunelle.
L'immigration et les communautés culturelles
7. Les immigrés ne parlent pas français. S'ils ne veulent pas apprendre notre langue, qu'ils retournent dans leur pays.
La connaissance du français et le bilinguisme (anglais-français) ont beaucoup augmenté chez les immigrés au cours des dernières années. Entre 1980 et 1984, 38% des nouveaux arrivants connaissaient le français ou étaient bilingues. Cette proportion a atteint 50% pour la période de 2000 à 2004. Au cours des années 2001-2003 et 2004-2006, la proportion moyenne de nouveaux venus qui connaissaient le français est passée de 49% à 57%. Dans la population allophone* (autre que francophone, anglophone ou autochtone) établie au Québec, la proportion des personnes en mesure de converser en français était de 47% en 1971 comparativement à 74% en 2001.
8. Les musulmans ne s'intègrent pas dans la société québécoise.
Faux. «Le Québec a la communauté musulmane la plus qualifiée et la plus instruite du monde occidental dans son entier. Les musulmans viennent pour travailler et pour s'intégrer», note Frédéric Castel, chercheur à l'UQAM. Plus du tiers des musulmans au Québec ont un diplôme universitaire. C'est une proportion beaucoup plus élevée que dans la population québécoise en général. De plus, 75% des musulmans québécois parlent français. «Il n'y a pas de taux plus élevé parmi toutes les communautés culturelles», ajoute Frédéric Castel. Parmi les musulmans originaires du Maghreb, 95% maîtrisent la langue de Vigneault.
9. Comme Québécois catholique, pourquoi devrais-je payer pour que mon miel et mon beurre d'arachides Kraft soient casher?
Après avoir entendu maintes fois des propos sur une prétendue «taxe casher», le commissaire Gérard Bouchard a fini par les qualifier d'«antisémites». Des produits de consommation courante comme le ketchup Heinz ont cette certification religieuse basée sur la loi juive. Or, l'effet sur le prix est minime puisque ces produits sont fabriqués en grand volume. Dans la portion épicerie chez Metro, 75% des produits sont casher. Or, les fournisseurs de Metro ne facturent pas plus cher pour cette certification, assure sa porte-parole, Marie-Claude Bacon. Pour l'obtenir, les entreprises doivent suivre des règles très strictes et mettre de côté certains ingrédients. Une minorité de produits sont plus chers et ce ne sont pas des produits de consommation courante. On parle de produits comme la viande casher, généralement en vente dans des épiceries spécialisées. Cette dernière est vendue dans quelques grandes surfaces seulement au Québec, et toujours clairement marquée comme telle.
10. Les musulmans vivent dans des ghettos.
Faux. Les ghettos musulmans existent dans certains pays européens, notamment en Angleterre et en France, mais pas au Québec. «À Montréal, les musulmans sont dispersés dans toute l'île et même dans certains quartiers qui, traditionnellement, n'accueillent pas d'immigrés, comme Rosemont et Hochelaga-Maisonneuve. Il y en a aussi sur la Rive-Sud et à Laval. Dans les endroits où il y a de plus fortes concentrations de musulmans, notamment à Saint-Laurent, Côte-des-Neiges et Parc-Extension, ils cohabitent avec beaucoup d'autres communautés», soutient le chercheur Frédéric Castel, de l'UQAM, qui s'est récemment penché sur la question.
11. Le nombre grandissant de femmes voilées à Montréal démontre que la communauté musulmane se radicalise.
Faux. Les experts attribuent le nombre croissant de femmes qui portent le hijab au Québec non pas à un vent de conservatisme dans la communauté musulmane, mais davantage au fait que le nombre de musulmans a quadruplé au Québec depuis 15 ans. Il n'existe pas de statistiques exactes, mais les universitaires qui s'intéressent aux musulmanes québécoises notent qu'entre 5% et 15% d'entre elles portent le hijab.
12. Les musulmans ne peuvent pas épouser des gens qui ne partagent pas leur foi.
Faux. En principe, le Coran dit qu'un musulman ne peut pas épouser une femme polythéiste (qui croit en plusieurs dieux), mais il peut épouser une chrétienne ou une juive. Le Coran ne dit rien sur le droit des femmes de se marier avec un non-musulman. Traditionnellement, les interprétations diffèrent quant à ce droit.
13. Les Québécois de souche seront bientôt une minorité au Québec.
Faux. En ce moment, seulement 10% de la population du Québec est née à l'extérieur du pays. Dans le but d'accroître sa population jeune et sa main-d'oeuvre, le Québec recrute environ 45 000 immigrants par année et reçoit quelques milliers de réfugiés. À ce rythme, il faudrait 150 ans pour que les Québécois de souche deviennent minoritaires.
CALEDONIA, Ont. — Residents living with one of the nation's longest aboriginal occupations say they want the province to step in and clear the disputed land as Ontario's new aboriginal affairs minister made his first visit Monday to the beleaguered town of Caledonia.
Michael Bryant met with local politicians, business and spiritual leaders during his much-publicized trip, but did not meet with any of the Six Nations protesters or their representatives. Some residents who also weren't able to meet with Bryant protested outside one of his meetings, holding signs saying “One Law for All” and “Frustrated, Forgotten, Fed Up.”
Misti Bottenfield, who lives near the former housing development site that has been occupied for almost two years, said it's time Mr. Bryant gave protesters an ultimatum.
“It should be — get off the land or no talks,” said the 26-year-old, adding she has been repeatedly intimidated by the protesters. “Get off the land and out of the houses. Even though the barricades are down and the roads are open, it's still not much better. It sucks.”
Mr. Bryant came to this divided southern Ontario town to talk to residents but Ms. Bottenfield said she doesn't know anyone who has been able to speak to him.
Pat Woolley, a 20-year resident of Caledonia, said it's going to take more than a visit from Mr. Bryant to ease the worries of the town. The barricades may have come down and the occupied site may be fairly quiet now, but Woolley said the ongoing occupation continues to hurt both the town and its residents.
“This thing is getting worse, not better,” said Woolley, adding the province should put an end to the occupation now while it continues negotiating the land claim.
“Businesses continue to suffer ... You can't allow this thing to go on. I've always brought my children up to believe we are all equal under the law. My frustration with this Liberal government is that we're not seeing this transpire in this community.”
Mr. Bryant said he spent Sunday afternoon in the town and talked to residents casually in the local Tim Hortons, although he admitted the Grey Cup likely kept many people glued to their televisions at home. The province is interested in working with the town to improve tourism and development while negotiating an end to the occupation, he said.
Whether the provincially owned land is cleared of protesters is a matter for the provincial police, not the governing Liberals to decide, Mr. Bryant added.
“What we're trying to do is come up with some short, medium and long-term solutions at the same time as negotiations are taking place,” he said.
“I certainly heard loud and clear ... about what's going on here in terms of how people are feeling. Obviously people are hurting. We want to get to a point where we're turning things around.”
Haldimand County Mayor Marie Trainer has said town residents living with the ongoing occupation won't feel safe until Six Nations protesters leave the disputed land. But Monday, Ms. Trainer said the town wants to focus on re-starting its economy which has virtually ground to a halt since the occupation began.
Although Caledonia was one of the fastest growing towns in Ontario, Ms. Trainer said virtually no building permits have been issued in the last two years.
“We want these land claims settled,” she said. “We have lived in harmony with the First Nations people for a very long time. It's going to be hard to get that back.”
Six Nations protesters occupied the former housing development site in February 006, saying the land was wrongfully taken from them by the Crown over 200 years ago. The occupation has been violent at times, marred by barricades blocking the town's thoroughfare and clashes between local residents and protesters.
To watch video, click HERE
To view photos, click HERE
Youths have damaged police stations, shops and cars in two Paris suburbs, following the deaths of two teenagers whose motorbike hit a police car.
A prosecutor has ordered an internal police inquiry into possible manslaughter and "non-assistance to persons in danger".
The violence - reminiscent of riots in 2005 - lasted for more than six hours.
In 2005, the deaths of two youths in nearby Clichy-sous-Bois led to France's worst civil unrest in more than 40 years.
On Sunday night Villiers-le-Bel police station was set ablaze and another in Arnouville was pillaged, police say. At least seven people were arrested.
Clashes broke out on Sunday night after two teenagers - aged 15 and 16 - were killed when the motorcycle they were driving collided with a police car.
Police sources said the two were riding a stolen mini-motorcycle, and that neither was wearing a helmet.
The police car was on a routine patrol and the teenagers were not being chased by police at the time of the accident, police said. The collision wrecked the front of the car and smashed the windscreen.
Witnesses have accused the police of leaving the scene and of preventing local people from trying to help the youngsters as they lay in the road.
The brother of one of the victims has called for the officers involved to be convicted.
After the accident, dozens of youths went on a rampage, setting the police station in Villiers-le-Bel on fire, ransacking the Arnouville police station and torching two petrol stations.
Riot police were sent to the area, but youths blocked their way with burning cars.
French media report that the rioters also damaged the Arnouville-Villiers-le-Bel railway station and nearby shops.
Meanwhile, a state prosecutor ordered the National Police General Inspectorate (IGPN) to carry out a detailed inquiry on the circumstances in which the two teenagers - named only as Moushin, 15, and Larami, 16, lost their lives.
In a preliminary report, the IGPN excluded any responsibility of the policeman driving the car. "The driver did not see the motorcycle arrive and was surprised by the violence of the collision," the report says.
Two witnesses said the police car was driving at 40 - 50kph (25 - 30mph) and had no revolving lights or siren on.
Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie, speaking in Villiers-le-Bel, deplored the deaths and called for "responsibility from everyone", adding "of course the circumstances [of the accident] have to be totally clarified and this will be the job for the judiciary."
The mayor of Villers-le-Bel, Didier Vaillant, appealed for calm and said he would ensure there was "an impartial investigation, for full light to be shed" on the accident.
A brother of one of the dead teenagers, Omar Sehhouli, said the rioting "was not violence but an expression of rage".
In 2005, country-wide riots erupted after the electrocution of two teenagers from another Parisian suburb - Clichy-sous-Bois - in an electricity sub-station. They were reported to have been fleeing police at the time.
Relations between police and young people in many deprived areas have continued to be tense ever since.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
The temporary foreign workers pouring into Canada are often exploited
TIMES had caught up with the sprawling brewery in the town of Barrie, an hour's drive north of Toronto. Canadians were drinking less and less beer, especially the traditional mass-produced brands. So Molson, the biggest of them all, closed the brewery and sold the property. The new owners were soon pandering to a different vice—marijuana. When police raided the plant in 2004, it was producing four crops a year of 30,000 high-grade, hydroponically-grown plants, worth around C$100m ($102m).
Along with the “pot jungles” set up in 40 mammoth brewing tanks, police found a dingy windowless dormitory and living quarters for dozens of workers. The only people charged were nine “gardeners”; the owners escaped prosecution. They may be less lucky next time. The police have launched a new investigation into a bottled-water business they are now running out of the old brewery, involving another fast-growing, but even shadier, area of Canada's economy—the exploitation of temporary foreign workers.
Among the staff at the factory, police found 11 Filipinos, lured to Canada with the promise of jobs paying up to C$23 an hour. Some sold their homes or took out loans to cover C$10,000 or more in fees demanded by labour brokers. But once in Canada, they were “sold” to unscrupulous employers, kept in an isolated rural house, and forced to do menial jobs earning—if paid at all—a fraction of what they were promised. “They were economic slaves,” said a Barrie policeman who chanced upon them: “It turned my stomach.”
The case, still unreported, is just one of a growing number of instances of abuse stemming from the dramatic rise in the use of temporary foreign workers in Canada. The increase is the result of a quiet loosening of restrictions on foreign workers by Stephen Harper's Conservative government, designed, union leaders say, to keep wages low and to avoid a national debate on the sensitive issue of immigration.
It is Canada's thriving economy that is behind the big rise in demand for foreign workers. The jobless rate has fallen to 5.8%, its lowest level in more than 30 years. In provinces such as resource-rich British Columbia and oil-soaked Alberta, the abundance of jobs has actually become a problem; tens of thousands of posts, particularly in the construction and service sectors, remain unfilled.
It is not as if Canada is not already importing foreign workers. Last year more than 250,000 came in, most of them classified as “economic immigrants”. But they are chosen on a points system which rewards university education and advanced skills. In their countries of origin, many were part of the urban elite. Three-quarters settle in Toronto, Vancouver or Montreal, where there are relatively few job vacancies. Besides, few of these highly qualified immigrants would be interested in pouring cement or coffee for a living.
Heeding the call of employers needing less qualified, lower-paid workers, the government has introduced a series of measures over the past two years designed to make the hiring of foreign workers simpler. No longer are employers obliged to place an advertisement in local newspapers for six weeks for local applicants before searching farther abroad; just one week in a federal job centre will now suffice. Instead of being allowed to stay for only one year, foreign workers are now often getting visas lasting two.
At the same time, the requirement for a “labour market opinion” (LMO) on whether a worker from outside the country is really needed has been scaled back. The federal government has launched a pilot scheme specifically aimed at bringing in low-skilled workers. And special teams of federal bureaucrats have been set up in Calgary, Vancouver and Montreal to help guide employers through the process of hiring foreign workers.
Over the two years to December 2006, these changes contributed to a jump of more than 40,000 in the number of temporary foreign workers in Canada, bringing the total to 166,000. This is sure to be dwarfed by the 2007 figures, when they are released; applications for LMOs (of which about 85% are normally granted) are already up nationally by more than a half since 2006. In Alberta they have more than tripled to over 60,000. “All of this has been allowed to happen without public debate,” Gil McGowan of the Alberta Federation of Labour says. “It was not discussed in Parliament. It was not debated in the last election campaign. It was just done, quietly.”
In the past, Canada's foreign workers have tended to fall into three categories: seasonal agricultural workers; live-in nannies and care-workers; and highly skilled specialists such as academics, entertainers and doctors. But foreign workers are now being sought, too, by small- and medium-sized businesses, particularly fast-food restaurants and hotels, which have trouble both in attracting and retaining local employees. In some of these businesses, anyone who lasts longer than three months is regarded as a “veteran”, says Dan Kelly of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. Foreign workers are a “massive relief”, not least because they are usually tied to their employer for the duration of their visa.
But Mr McGowan and other labour leaders complain that foreign workers are “now a recruitment tool of first choice rather than last resort”. Once in Canada, they say, there is virtually no monitoring of their pay or work conditions, leaving them wide open to abuse. “Every foreign worker needs basic training in his rights and to be told that there's a place to go to if he's being abused,” says Wayne Peppard, a British Columbia labour leader. Last year his union came to the aid of several dozen Latin American construction workers, who were being paid as little as C$3.56 an hour to dig a tunnel for a rail link between Vancouver and the city airport.
Other foreign workers are both less visible and more difficult to approach. Last spring two Chinese workers were killed when an oil tank they were building in the tar-sands region of northern Alberta collapsed. Housed in a remote camp virtually without any health and safety control, they were part of a crew of 300 workers brought in by a Chinese contractor. When a second tank collapsed soon after the first, the contract was cancelled and the Chinese workers were all sent home.
The reluctance of Canada's opposition parties to pursue the foreign-worker question in Parliament is probably due to a fear of appearing to oppose immigration in a country where one in five of the population are foreign-born. It is a concern that labour leaders share. They are at pains to stress that they do not take issue with foreign workers coming into Canada; they just do not like the temporary aspect of their stay. “If these people are good enough to build our factories and serve us coffee, they're good enough to be full citizens,” Mr McGowan says.
Ottawa is promising to make it easier for temporary workers to become permanent residents, but this is likely to be limited to the more highly skilled. And Canada needs the low-skilled too.
Friday, November 23, 2007
Nov 16, 2007 09:29 PM
LEGAL AFFAIRS REPORTER
While acknowledging it may seem "harsh" to surrender him to the United States after 30 years in Canada, the Ontario Court of Appeal has upheld the extradition of Joseph Pannell, the Toronto librarian wanted for the 1969 attempted murder of a Chicago police officer.
There is evidence upon which a properly-instructed jury could convict Pannell and little support for his contention that, as a black man, hewould not receive a fair trial in a racially-charged U.S. justice system, a three-judge panel ruled today.
Pannell, 58, a father of four who lived quietly in Mississauga under the name Gary Freeman until his arrest three years ago, was appealing a Toronto judge's ruling from 2005, which committed him for extradition, as well as a decision last year by Vic Toews, then justice minister, ordering him to surrender.
"To return Pannell to the United States after thirty years of quiet, peaceful living in this country may appear to some as harsh and may
seem to exact an onerous and unfair penalty on his wife and children," said Justice Marc Rosenberg, who wrote today's decision. "Indeed, the
record is filled with letters of support attesting to Pannell's good character since he has lived in Canada and the perceived injustice of returning him to Chicago after so many years."
Pannell's lawyer, John Norris, argued the U.S. simply has not made out a sufficient case for extradition. He also argued that Justice David Watt, who presided at an extradition hearing two years ago, was wrong to deny Pannell a chance to summon the shooting victim, retired officer Terrence Knox, as well as an Illinois prosecutor, to the witness stand in a Toronto courtroom and challenge them on deficiencies in the evidence.
The state's attorneys filed a case record with Watt asserting they have evidence Pannell shot Knox on March 7, 1969, as the officer tried to question him outside a Chicago high school. Two civilian witnesses claim they chased Pannell as he ran from the scene and identified him as the shooter once he was in a police cruiser.
Every officer involved in arresting Pannell and recovering the gun have since died and the weapon has been destroyed.
But the U.S. still insists it can prove a gun was found and that it had been used to shoot Knox. "How it will do so, in view of the deaths of the arresting officers, is unexplained," Rosenberg said.
Norris also pointed to discrepancies in Knox's story, saying they call into question the reliability of the state's evidence.
In a victim impact statement, Knox said Pannell pulled out a gun and fired about 13 shots. Other documents say Knox is expected to tell a Chicago jury that Pannell fired 7 shots, while the officer fired back with six.
It would be wrong to focus on a single inconsistency about the number of shots fired, said Rosenberg, writing on behalf of a panel that included Justices Eileen Gillese and Jean MacFarland.
All of Knox's proposed testimony must be considered and it includes consistent accounts of, among other things, when and where the shooting happened, he said.
Pannell contends a false allegation that he was once a member of the Black Panthers - he thinks the story came from the Chicago police force - together with an accusation that he shot a white police officer, put him at risk of physical harm in the U.S.
His lawyers provided Towes with what they believed was evidence that racism pervades the U.S. justice system.
Toews, however, said that despite past problems, concrete steps have been taken to combat racism in the system. There is also no evidence that Pannell had been mistreated in jail in Chicago following his arrest, Toews said.
"This was important information upon which the Minister (sic) could properly conclude that the appellant was not at risk, despite his subjective perception," Rosenberg said.
He noted Toews also relied on the fact Pannell had been twice granted bail, despite the seriousness of the charge against him, during a period of volatility and ugly racial violence in Chicago.
Pannell said he fled to Canada while out on bail because he feared for his safety.
Deemed a flight risk, he was denied bail following his arrest in July, 2004. He still has the option of seeking permission to appeal today's ruling to the Supreme Court of Canada.