Originally published Jan. 31, 2017 at http://signalhfx.ca/emergency-meeting-at-the-house-of-commons/
UPDATE, Jan 31, 2017, 11:05 pm AST
On Friday night, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning travel to the United States for citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia. Some Haligonians want Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to speak up against the ban.
The executive order has drawn a lot of criticism in the U.S., giving rise to multiple protests at airports across the country.
The international community has also been vocal with many foreign leaders openly condemning the travel ban.
Canada’s response so far has been more subdued. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted this Saturday afternoon
Vancouver East’s MP Jenny Kwan has been critical of Trudeau’s response and, in a conference today, said that “words are not enough.”
She is the one who requested the emergency meeting. Kwan says that the meeting will hopefully push the federal government to be more proactive and clarify what the travel ban means for Canadian citizens.
One of the issues that will be debated tonight is the Safe Third Country Agreement. It has been in effect since 2004, and prevents refugees in the U.S from asking for asylum in Canada.
Lee Cohen, a long time immigration lawyer in Halifax, thinks the executive order issued Friday is “outrageous, dangerous and extremely worrisome.”
Cohen has a lot of experience helping clients immigrate to Canada and is getting calls from Americans trying to renounce their U.S. citizenship.
He says that Canada should do everything it can to help anyone trying to get asylum here.
“In this current time of crisis, when genuine refuges who are currently in the United States and fearing that they may be removed from the States, they absolutely should have access to Canada and to have access to Canada unrestricted,” he says. “The safe third country rule must go.”
“The purpose of the rule is to discourage people from asylum shopping and to seek asylum in the country they are located, if it’s a safe country,” says Cohen.
Since Sunday, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association has been asking Canadians to contact their member of parliament to push Canada to act on the U.S. travel ban and abolish the Safe Third Country Agreement.
Many Canadians took them up on that opportunity and Allison Lindsay is one of them. She hopes others in Halifax will do the same.
“I think it’s a great thing to get out and to rally and to stand together with communities,” she says. “But unless you put (on) that pressure and let those people that represent you know what your thoughts are, then they can’t speak for you.”
Lindsay says that she likes the initial response from Trudeau and the federal government, but hopes Canada will be more proactive and condemn Trump’s executive order.
“I hope to continue to see Canada and especially Justin Trudeau really take a hard stand against this, not be bullied and continue to provide shelter and refuge to those who need it,” she says.
The debate will take place at 8:30 p.m. Atlantic time. It can be viewed on C-PAC and on the web at: http://www.cpac.ca/en/.