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C-4 is a bill that would change our current immigration and refugee protection law.

Below is a description of some of the changes proposed by Bill C-4.

C-4 could lock up people regardless of age, gender… or innocence.

  • Bill C-4 would give the Minister power to designate a group of persons entering Canada.  Every person in a designated group must be locked up – men, women and children, the elderly and the disabled – even where there is no concern that the individuals present a danger or threat of any kind.
  • Our current immigration law already has plenty of protections for Canada’s security and immigration needs – including the ability to lock people up.  The big difference is that under our law as it stands now, people cannot be detained without a reason – such as that the person is a danger to the public, or is unlikely to appear for a proceeding, or even if the officer is not satisfied of the person’s identity.
What Bill C-4 adds is the mandatory requirement that people in a designated group be locked up even where there is no danger or threat.

C-4 would take away protections normally given to people in detention.

  • Our constitution mandates that anyone taken into detention of any kind should be brought quickly before a judge to confirm whether the detention is lawful (and necessary and fair).  This right is known as habeas corpus.
  • Under our existing immigration and refugee law, a person who entered Canada and is detained has the right to see an independent decision-maker within 48 hours of being locked up.
  • But under Bill C-4, a person in detention would not be allowed see an independent decision-maker to determine if the detention is necessary or fair for at least 12 months.
Click above to watch the Stop C-4 video

Who is really punished under Bill C-4 – and is this fair?

  • Bill C-4 says that its goal is to “prevent human smugglers from abusing Canada’s immigration system” – but almost none of its provisions have anything to do with smugglers (who in any case are usually not in Canada).  Human smuggling is a serious issue that requires enforcement resources and co-operation with foreign governments.
  • Most of the provisions in C-4 target the people who are trying to escape grave danger, and are looking for safe haven.
  • People who are trying to escape torture, death, sexual violence, persecution and war are often not in a good position to get their documents in order.
  • This is well understood, and it is the reason that according to international law, if refugees escape and enter a new country without the correct documents, they should not be punished for this.

Is Bill C-4 legal?

  • No.  It violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (ss. 7, 9, 10 etc.) which is part of the Canadian Constitution. Our constitution is the supreme law in this country – everyone in Canada has to follow it – including the government.
  • C-4 also violates several international covenants and treaties to which Canada is a party, including many of the most important international conventions on human rights and civil rights: the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (s. 9), the International Convention on the Status of Refugees (s. 31), and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Is this everything there is to know about Bill C-4?

  • Bill C-4 also denies people in a “designated group” other rights normally given to refugees.  For example, Bill C-4 requires that people in a designated group whose refugee status has been accepted by the government would still not be allowed to obtain travel documents or apply to become a permanent resident for 5 years. This could, for example, keep a parent apart from his or her young children for many years.
  • Refugees are not the only victims of Bill C-4.  This Bill would make it possible to jail a permanent resident if the officer suspects that the person is inadmissible on grounds of criminality.

What can I do? Is it too late?

  • Bill C-4 has not yet passed.  If enough Canadians tell the government about their concerns – that this bill is unconstitutional and un-Canadian, maybe it never will become law.

More resources:

>> Say No to Anti-Refugee Bill C-4

Information, facts and other resources related to Bill C-4 and CCLA’s work on immigration and refugee issues

>> Ten Things You Need To Know About Bill C-4
>> CCLA’s Letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper re: Bill C-4
>> CCLA’s letter to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney re: Bill C-4
>> Canadian Council on Refugees

Additional information and resources on Bill C-4 and the CCR’s ongoing campaign

>> Canadian Bar Association Statement

CBA says Bill C-49 denies rights of refugee claimants

Take action:

  1. Tell everyone who might also want to know and get involved
  2. Share the video with all your friends and ask them to do the same.
  3. Write to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews, and Minister of Immigration Jason Kenney – and tell them that C-4 does not belong in Canada:

You can copy and paste the text below into an email or letter to Prime Minister Harper – just add today’s date and your name. You can also modify the text to send a copy to other officials, or to make the message more personal.

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper

Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2
Fax: 613-941-6900

E-mail: pm@pm.gc.ca

The Honourable Jason Kenney

325 East Block
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
P. 613-992-2235
F. 613-992-1920

E-mail: jason.kenney@parl.gc.ca

The Honourable Vic Toews

Suite 306, Justice Building House of Commons
Ottawa. Ont. K1A 0A6
Ph:(613) 992-3128
Fx:(613) 995-1049

Email: Toews.V@parl.gc.ca

(add today’s date)

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, P.C., M.P.

Prime Minister of Canada

Re:     Bill C-4

Dear Mr. Harper

Canada’s history with respect to immigration and refugees is not perfect.  From the “Chinese Head Tax” to the Canadian government’s refusal to admit a boatload of Jewish people fleeing Hitler’s Germany – a refusal that forced the MS St. Louis back to Europe where many of its passengers perished in the Holocaust, we have much to regret.

Indeed, you yourself have expressed a sense of responsibility for the passengers on the St. Louis, and a fundamental ethical obligation to help people in desperate situations fleeing for their lives.   In your letter to the conference “The St. Louis Era: Looking Back, Moving Forward” you described the refusal of these refugees as a “dark chapter in Canadian history” and stated:

“This avertable tragedy, a stain on our nation’s legacy of tolerance and pluralism, strengthens our commitment today to uphold human rights and to protect individuals fleeing persecution or displaced by conflicts.”

Today, I am writing to you to let you know that I am very concerned that if passed into law, Bill C-4 will lead Canada into another dark chapter.  History will continue to judge Canada on the way in which it treats victims of international crisis.

There are serious potential rights violations in Bill C-4.  It violates our constitution and violates international law. We ask you to withdraw it.


(add your name)