Yukon government has a duty to speak to Ottawa about federal refugee rules: NDP

The Yukon NDP Caucus is calling on the Yukon Liberal government to formally ask the Government of Canada, on behalf of Yukoners, to raise its 1,000-person cap on privately-sponsored Syrian and Iraqi refugee families and suspend a federal immigration regulation in response to the United States’ stoppage of its asylum program.

The regulation, known as the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement, makes it impossible for asylum seekers to apply for Canadian refugee status if they were travelling to the U.S. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) has launched a national campaign calling for its repeal in the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump’s weekend suspension of his country’s refugee program.

Following Trump’s announcement, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gained international acclaim by tweeting support for robust refugee programs, saying “to those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you.” However, Canada’s immigration minister has since said that the government has no plans to increase the number of refugees Canada will accept, nor will it accede to the CCLA’s request to suspend the bilateral agreement.

 “Almost exactly one year ago, Yukoners enthusiastically welcomed our first Syrian refugee family to Whitehorse. We are united in our belief that people deserve a fair shot at life,” said Yukon NDP Leader Liz Hanson. “There are several families in Yukon who want to help by sponsoring Syrian families in need. The Yukon government has a duty to be Yukon’s voice in Ottawa when the federal government falls short.”

The Trudeau government has placed a 1,000-person cap on privately-sponsored Syrian and Iraqi refugees arriving in Canada for 2017 – a program for which there were so many applications that the government has already stopped accepting requests. The Yukon Liberal government must call on Trudeau to follow through on his commitment to support people being turned away by the U.S.

“Yukoners are speaking out: we need to reject Trump’s hate and racism by opening our borders to the people fleeing conflict in Iraq and Syria. Premier Sandy Silver should be front and centre in asking the federal Liberals to update our immigration policies,” added Hanson.

“Actions speak louder than tweets.”