Migrante Canada: Challenge to Trudeau

Community Opinion & Analysis Nov 24, 2017 at 3:59 pm
PM Trudeau

PM Trudeau

Fulfill your commitment to protect human rights worldwide, including those of refugees and migrants

Filipino immigrants and migrant workers in Canada are challenging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to fulfill his reaffirmed commitment “– as individuals and as a country – to the protection and promotion of human rights worldwide,” including refugees and migrants, “regardless of status.”

Trudeau is in the Philippines for the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit being held from Nov. 13-16.

Subsequently, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Ahmed Hussen will be in Beijing, Nanjing, Shanghai and Manila from November 15 to 20 to tour immigration operations and recognize the processing of a record number of permanent residence this year.

Canada is currently positioning itself in the Asia-Pacific region following the uncertainty surrounding the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). When the Trump administration reportedly demanded on Oct. 15 that Canada end its system of supply management, which fixes prices for dairy, eggs and poultry by protecting Canadian producers from foreign competition, Canada is eyeing the Asia-Pacific as new market. In September, in fact, the federal government opened exploratory free-trade talks with ASEAN and last year it named an ambassador for the region.

While in the Philippines, Trudeau could choose to give attention to the human rights violations and the exploitation of natural resources the greedy Canadian mining companies commit. Since 75 percent of the world’s mining and exploration companies are based in Canada and 40 percent of global mining capital is raised on the Toronto Stock Exchange, it’s undoubtedly that Canada is the world leader in this industry. Hence, mining interests also influence international aid, dictate the activities of our foreign diplomats and prescribe the conditions of our multilateral investment and “free trade” agreements.

This hunger for profit, in the guise of development, not only has brought abominable conditions of poverty and suffering to the great masses of people in these countries but also has actually claimed lives. There’s a reason why Canadian mining companies are dubbed “among the worst human rights offenders” on the planet.

Indigenous peoples are left with no lands to till as these mining companies thieve their ancestral domains. Those who stand against these mining companies are likely to be harassed, if not killed, by the companies’ ruthless private armies. In the case of TVI Pacific Inc. that operates an open-pit gold-and-silver mine in Mindanao in the southern Philippines, the Canadian company has hired a paramilitary security force that has contributed to militarization of the area. These hired security personnel have cleared people from the mining area and engaged in violent confrontations with protesters.

Canada must develop and implement credible accountability mechanisms for the human rights violations that Canadian mining companies have committed against the people and the exploitation of the environment.

Meanwhile, those who could not bear to see their families die in hunger are forced to leave their lands, to either work in crowded urban centers or be slaves in foreign countries, at the expense of their families.

Canada actually benefits from this “modern-day slavery,” being at the top three destinations of Filipinos overseas. No less than Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), said that “Canada has benefited tremendously from immigration, as it contributes to economic prosperity, diversity, and our nation’s strong cultural fabric” and that “immigration is key to our future success.” Hussen even confirmed, “an increasing number of people we select for immigration are already here – temporary foreign workers, international students. These are excellent candidates for permanent residency because they’ve already formed an attachment to Canada.”

Yet, are these all just empty recognition? If the TFWs are indeed among the selected ones for immigration, why not grant permanent residence upon arrival?

Hussen also announced the government’s new multi-year immigration levels plan. This aims to build upon the current plan for 300,000 permanent residents in 2017 by increasing the number of new permanent residents welcomed to Canada over a three-year period, beginning with an increase to 310,000 immigrants in 2018, 330,000 in 2019 and 340,000 in 2020.

Unfortunately, the majority of the increase will still be in economic programs. While IRCC projects to bring in 1 million new immigrants in 3 years, the proliferation of temporary foreign worker program continues as well.

Migrante Canada will keep an eye on how the Canadian government will carry out the global compact for migration when it meets with its counterparts at the United Nations in New York. Canada must go beyond the “managing migration” but talk about the drivers of migration in that meeting.

We call on the Canadian government to act upon it’s commitments to the protection of human rights, of migrant rights, being a country built by immigrants and by the sacrifices of migrant workers.

Tess Agustin,