Groups gathered in solidarity against deportations this Saturday amidst the downtown bustle of Formula One. Organized by Cité sans frontières / Solidarity City, the crowd consisted of initiatives such as Solidarity Across Borders, Mexicans United for Regularization and No One Is Illegal-Montreal, which met at Carré Bethune on Guy and de Maisonneuve Ouest.

“We want an end to detention and end to all deportations and an end to double punishment of migrants and status for all. We want respect,” a demonstrator said to the crowd as Aretha Franklin’s respect played over the speaker system.

The demonstration tackled several issues related to deportations, including changes to the temporary migrant workers program and education for immigrant children.

“Right now they’re cutting refugees that are entering the country by over half. There’s a new temporary migrant worker program that says you can come here to work temporarily but then you need to leave, and you can never come back, and you can never live here permanently,” Malek from Solidarity Across Borders said.

According to Solidarity Across Borders, last year saw over 350 000 people come to Canada in the Migrant Worker Program – most of which were women – which is more than any other type of migrant allowed to enter the country.

“[The government] also cut family reunification. And get this, between 9000 and 15 000 migrants and immigrants, including children, are detained in this country right now, for months [and] even years on administrative grounds,” Malek continued.

Though the demonstration complied with by-law P-6, demonstrators temporarily defied their given route, moving up from Ste Catherine to Sherbrooke Street. Eventually demonstrators turned back on route, ending with a picnic at Carré Philips.

“[These] policies reflect a state and policies that are running scared. They’re scared of migrants, because every migrant that comes here is a threat to everything that this country was founded on,” said Malek.

“Everytime [the government] sees a migrant in [Canada], they know it’s a threat. They’re a threat to imperialism, to white supremacy, and […] to colonialism. We’re not going to stop coming.”

With a Canadian passport becoming increasingly harder to get for some and harder to keep for others and seemingly arbitrary deportations happening all the time, something needs to be done. From June 1st to 15th,  the Status for All Coalition is hosting Anti-Deportation Days to support the regularization of all non-status migrants.

The Coalition is comprised of Solidarity Across Borders, Mexicans United for Regularization, and No One Is Illegal-Montreal among others. According to the event page, the week of activities organized oppose “deportations, detentions and double punishment”.

Such activities include migration and the mining industry workshop, uprising and uprooted: refugees in the Syrian struggle in photo and image, and a Status for All Demonstration & Picnic.

Check out Forget the Box this Sunday for a report on the Status for All Demonstration & Picnic, and for the full list of events, visit


Mohamed Harkat’s hearing last week at the Supreme Court of Canada wasn’t just held behind closed doors, but was, for the first time in the 138 year history of the Court, held in a secret location known only to those directly involved to the proceedings. The reason given for this unprecedented, undemocratic and arguably unconstitutional measure: national security!

Harkat is the latest refugee to be subjected to the security certificate system introduced by the Liberal government and used extensively by the Harper regime since they came to power in 2006. He has been under house arrest for over 11 years now, fighting the government’s attempts to deport him in court.

The crown alleges that he was a member of an Al-Qaeda sleeper cell and that the evidence against him is very strong. The trouble is, in the security certificate process, CISIS, other intelligence agencies and the Minister of Immigration are not obliged to reveal the details of their case, only a summary of it. As Mr. Harkat’s lawyers argue, this violates Mr. Harkat’s rights under the Charter (specifically the right to fair trial in section 11(d) and section 6).

What’s at stake here is much greater than the fate of one man, however tragic that fate might be. At issue are fundamental questions of Canadian justice and common law.

According to the crown’s position, there is a different and lower standard of proof being applied against Mr. Harkat than the normal one applied to Canadian citizens. As a result, what would typically be inadmissible evidence in court because it was obtained illegally (say by torture) is acceptable in these security certificate trials. In 2007, the Supreme Court actually ruled against this type of evidence in the Charkaoui case.

Harper’s amendments to the system are hardly reassuring. The so called “Special Advocates” who will be appointed by the State to test the quality of evidence against the accused are constrained by the rules surrounding this type of hearing which prevent them from even sharing what they have seen with their clients.

If the tragic case of Maher Arar has taught us anything, it is that government ministers cannot be trusted to make the right decision in cases involving deportations and Security Certificates. It is absolutely imperative that precautions be taken to ensure that their judgments be made accountable to Parliament and the public by eliminating secret trials.

The Harper government must comply with the recommendations of Amnesty International and the Special Senate Committee on the Anti-Terrorism Act and repeal the provisions in Immigration Refugee Protection Act that enable ministers to deport non-citizens to countries where they run the risk of being tortured on the basis of obscure evidence.