Catholic Bishops Reject Conservative Government’s Proposed Law

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Lots of opposition to Conservative government’s proposed law

Conservative Stephen Harper

Image source from World Economic Forum on flickr

The Conservative government has tabled an anti-human-smuggling law that has met widespread disagreement.  Bill C-49 was opposed by the Parliamentary opposition parties, the Greens, the Canadian Bar Association, and the Canadian Council of Refugees.  In addition, a group of religious leaders, led by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, has expressed their dissatisfaction with the controversial proposed legislation.  These religious groups include the United Church, the Anglican Church, the Christian Reformed Church in North America, the Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Council of the Muslim Community.

Religious groups write letter to Conservative government

In a letter written to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, the religious leaders claim that the law would deny the rights of refugee claimants.

“References by representatives of your government to ‘bogus’ refugee claimants undermine Canada’s obligations to refugee protection and question the credibility of refugees fleeing persecution and seeking to have their rights recognized,” the letter stated.

Conservative government’s proposed law punishes human smugglers

The government seeks to increase penalties on people that are responsible for smuggling in illegitimate refugees.  However, the refugees themselves would be subject to stricter measures to validate their legitimacy.

Under the proposed legislation, detention centres would be built to house refugee claimants for as long as a year until they get a hearing.  If they do get a chance to plead their case for release in front of a refugee panel, they could be detained for even longer.

For refugee claimants whose initial application was rejected, the number and length of appeals would be reduced.  Currently, a claimant can have has many as nine appeals, which could take as long as twelve years, until an unsuccessful claimant may be deported.

Kenney defended the proposed legislation on behalf of the Conservative government.

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