CCR questions for federal candidates

The Canadian Council on Refugees has posted a fact sheet and series of questions for political parties and candidates on immigration and refugee issues for the upcoming 2008 federal election. Questions specifically related to children and families include the following: See the ELECTION ~ Fall ’08 page (to the right) for more questions for candidates and parties.

TRAFFICKING: Will you support the Canadian Council for Refugees’ proposal for legislative amendment to protect trafficked persons in Canada?

Background: Currently, immigration legislation provides no specific measures to protect trafficked persons.  This means that trafficked persons, after being abused and exploited by their traffickers, may be simply detained and deported by the Canadian authorities.  For example, this summer an 11-year-old girl, who was a suspected victim of trafficking, was detained for over a month by Canadian immigration authorities.
The Canadian Council for Refugees has developed a proposal to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act  in order to provide temporary and permanent protection to trafficked persons.

REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT: Will you support an increase in the numbers of refugees resettled to Canada (including Iraqi refugees)?

Background: The UN Refugee Agency has recently estimated the number of refugees in need of resettlement at 560,000, a huge increase over previous years.  The Iraqi crisis has led to two million refugees fleeing to neighbouring countries.  Canada has not responded in any significant way to this crisis, unlike similar situations in the past where Canada has responded with special resettlement efforts.
Meanwhile Canada is resettling significantly fewer refugees today than we were in the 1990s (average annual in 90’s: 14,600; average annual 2000-2007: 10,600).
For more information, see Iraqi refugee crisis: Call for increased Canadian response, Dec 2007.

FAMILY REUNIFICATION: How will you make family reunification a priority and ensure that children are quickly reunited with their parents?

Background: In recent years, the immigration program has been increasingly oriented towards economic immigration, at the expense of family reunification.  Refugee families in particular face extremely long processing times: in some visa posts, families routinely wait more than a year and a half for reunification – this includes children that are separated from both their parents.  There are also barriers: for example, separated children in Canada have no right in law to reunite with their parents.
The CCR has developed a Manifesto on Family Reunification, calling for an immigration and refugee system that respects basic rights by favouring the speedy reunification of families. It calls in particular for the processing of family members of refugees, especially separated children, to be done in Canada.