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ACTION ALERT: Axe the Refugee Exclusion Act (Bill C-31)

On February 16th, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney introduced bill C-31. This bill amounts to an immigration “omnibus” bill, one that effectively hollows out Canada’s system of refugee protection.

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With this bill, Kenney and Harper seek to push through measures that dismantle Canada’s refugee system while broadening and deepening the scope and brutality of its system of detention and deportation. This bill resurrects the most egregious elements of bill C-4 (formerly bill C-49), a bill lambasted by both opposition parties and by hundreds of mainstream civil and human rights organizations and refugee lawyers across the country.

Simultaneously, this bill introduces measures that, in tandem with the changes bought by bill C-11 that are to come into effect in June of this year, entrench and intensify a two-tiered asylum system that is not only manifestly racist, but deprives migrants and refugeesof their fundamental rights to due process. This bill stands in blatant violation of Canada’s obligations under the Canadian Charter as well as its obligations under a number of international legal conventions.

To find out more about Bill C-31, read:

This is an absolute outrage. Bill C-31 must be stopped.

Bill C-31 is an act designed to exclude, jail and deport those seeking asylum and is most accurately described as the Refugee Exclusion Act.

It is imperative that people across Canada are aware of this bill and its implications. Please call, fax and email your Member of Parliament (details follow) and ask your friends and colleagues to do the same.

Insist that Canada:

> Axe C-31 the Refugee Exclusion Act
> Ensure justice, dignity and status for all migrants

1) Call and write your Member of Parliament. To find their contact information, click You can see a sample letter below.

2) Have your organization, traditional council, union, community group, or artist collective write a short public statement/press release of support of migrants and against Bill C-31. Please email a copy to

3) Always take a minute to write letters to the editor and comment on news stories – make a difference in public conversation!Reinforce your support for migrants and refugees, demand that Bill C-31 be immediately and entirely scrapped. All letters must be short (100 words), include name, mailing address and daytime phone number of the writer; state “Letter to the Editor” in subject; and content should be in the body of the email.

4) Invite a speaker to your next meeting. Email and we would be happy to attend or suggest speakers, as well as provide educational materials.

5) Join our low-traffic email announcement list to receive news and events about upoming actions against Bill C-31. You can subscribe yourself by Our Facebook group is . Please also like


Dear (MP’s Name),

I am writing today out of concern that Bill-C31, which will be in Parliament, then in committee in the next few days, will become law. Asylum seekers seeking refuge in Canada will be made even more precarious than they already are, in that their permanent residence will cease to be permanent.

I am deeply worried at the prospect of jailing asylum seekers and entrenching a discriminatory two-tier system for refugees in this country. The Minister’s discretionary ability to revoke permanent residency is a terrifying precedent to set in our immigration system, especially when it is possible that Canada will tie the value of asylum to economic concerns like free trade deals. Along with the host of increased law enforcement and invasive data collection powers in this omnibus bill, please consider the weight of what a weakened refugee system will mean for Canada’s commitments under the Geneva Convention and our global role in providing refuge more generally.

This bill does not seem to be salvageable, and shows a frightening trend in our immigration system reminiscent of darker chapters in Canadian history, such as the Chinese Exclusion Act. If this is the direction this government wishes to take, it will be at the cost of justice for refugees and all those who wish to live in a society that is genuinely invested in the concept of asylum. Community organizations, professional bodies, concerned residents and many others have already spoken out against this legislation and its potentially disastrous consequences for refugees in our communities.

Please join us in scrapping this bill immediately.

Yours sincerely,

(Your name)