MONTREAL, QUE: SATURDAY MAY 26, 2012. — Protesters march on Rue Jean Talon in Montreal, opposing Bill C-31, the federal governments legislation changing rules governing immigration Saturday, May 26, 2012. (Peter McCabe / THE GAZETTE )
Photograph by: Peter Mccabe , THE GAZETTE
MONTREAL – They didn’t give their itinerary, they were definitely more than 50 and many wore masks.
The multicultural group waved banners, banged on pots and pans, and shouted slogans in French, English and Spanish against Bill C-31, which has come to be known as the Refugee Exclusion Act by critics.
The Protecting Canada’s Immigration Act, as it’s officially known, aims to deport so-called bogus refugees more quickly, clamp down on human smugglers and require certain visa holders to turn over biometric data.
After the Bill came under fire, Canada’s minister of immigration, citizenship and multiculturalism, Jason Kenney, this month proposed some amendments.
A person will no longer automatically lose permanent residence status in Canada once conditions in his or her country of origin improve, but critics say that the law still gives the immigration minister enormous discretionary powers to remove a person’s status.
Originally, Bill C-31 would have allowed Canada to detain refugees without review for up to a year if they were smuggled in on, say, a ship. That period has now been shortened to 14 days. But the bill still contains a rule that would force legitimate refugees who arrive through a smuggling operation to wait five years before becoming permanent residents and being able to sponsor family members.
The demonstrators also object to what they call “double punishment” – non-citizens who face deportation after being convicted of a criminal offence.
Despite the breaches of sections of Bill 78, the law recently passed by Premier Jean Charest’s government, police quietly and happily led the march in whichever direction it decided to go.
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