Canada’s unions are urging the Canadian government to denounce the US Executive Order barring Syrian refugees and discriminating against other travellers of Muslim faith or background. They also want Canada to do more to help those most affected.
“The measures being implemented by the US administration are based on ignorance, Islamophobia and hate and have nothing to do with protecting national security,” said Canadian Labour Congress President Hassan Yussuff on Jan. 31. “Instead, they inspire violence everywhere and threaten the security of thousands of families desperately fleeing terror in their own countries.”
Yussuff emphasized that the ban was inconsistent with a long tradition of millions of Americans welcoming asylum seekers and immigrants and celebrating their contributions to their country.
“President Trump’s divisive policies do not reflect the will of the majority of Americans, a fact borne out by the millions of people who have taken to the streets and social media in protest,” he said.
He linked the anti-Muslim rhetoric and policies put forward by the US administration to the kind of hate that inspired Sunday night’s attack on Muslim worshippers in Quebec City.
“We don’t yet know what motivated Sunday night’s attack in Quebec City, but we cannot deny that the kind of racism and Islamophobia reflected in the US administration’s rhetoric and approach to governing perpetuates fear and encourages hate crimes against Muslim communities,” said Yussuff.
This is why, he said, it was crucial for the Canadian Prime Minister to denounce the US administration’s anti-Muslim travel ban as discriminatory.
“Our government has already shown international leadership by publicly welcoming refugees and making it clear that we will not discriminate based on faith or ethnicity,” said Yussuff. “Now Canada must send a clear message to the US and to the world by denouncing this blatantly discriminatory approach, and making it clear that the hate and violence it inspires will not be tolerated,” he added.
Yussuff said that Canada’s labour movement was also adding its voice to those of human rights and refugee organizations across Canada that are calling on the government to take a number of concrete steps to help those affected by the ban. Those steps include:
– Immediately increasing Canada’s refugee resettlement targets and accepting more refugee sponsorship applications. Current targets mean just 7,500 Government Assisted Refugees and 16,000 Privately Sponsored Refugees can be admitted to Canada in 2017. That number must increase. The Canadian government must also reverse measures that limit private refugee sponsorship so that communities can do more to help with resettlement.
– Helping those stranded now by, on an emergency basis, offering asylum to all those who – despite having passed a two-year rigorous screening process – are being denied entry to the US.
– Withdrawing from the Safe Third Country Agreement, which bars anyone entering Canada from the US from claiming refugee status. The US cannot be considered a “safe” country for refugees, and Canada must ensure all would-be claimants know they can safely apply at our border.