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Xinhua China Daily: Rallies in Canada protest deportation of illegal workers

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Updated: 2006-05-28

Thousands of immigrants, refugees and their supporters gathered Saturday in several of Canada's big cities to protest the deportation of illegal workers.

In the biggest city of Toronto, where illegal workers amount to 80,000, about 1,000 protesters went to the streets, including several parliament members of opposition parties.

Protests were also held in Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal and Fredericton to demand the federal government immediately grant permanent resident or landed immigrant status to all illegal workers, estimated at 500,000 across the country.

The marchers complained about Canadian Border Services Agency officers of targeting non-status workers in shopping malls and subways, and using children as bait to nab parents.

Canada's Conservative government took on a tough stance on illegal immigrants, having deported plane loads of undocumented workers since April.

Immigration Minister Monte Solberg has said the government "has an obligation to the hundreds of thousands of people waiting to get into this country to make sure we don't reward those who don't play by the rules".

Opposition parties, who hold a different opinion, have been applying pressure on the government. Parliament member Olivia Chow of the New Democratic Party, who was at Saturday's Toronto rally, said she will bring a motion to the parliament, asking the government to temporarily halt deportations, offer work permits to some non-status workers and create a program to integrate skilled workers into the construction and service sectors.

Liberal parliament member Boris Wrzesnewskyj, who was also at the rally, called for an overhaul of the current system for accepting immigrants whose emphasis is on bringing in highly educated workers.

He said because of the current policy it is extremely difficult for blue-collar workers to get into the country legally, although the country's booming construction industry urgently needs new labor.