Thank you for addressing your questions to all candidates. You are raising specific problems and your questions are objective and straightforward, which demand direct action from the government. They reveal the necessity for workers and people, regardless of national origin, to be empowered so that everyone, by dint of being human, can participate in society where the rights of all are upheld. When all four incumbent MPS from the HRM voted unanimously on March 21st for the war on Libya in Parliament - without any consultation whatsoever with either their local organization or Haligonians - how credible are the claims of these parties that they care about immigrants from foreign lands, friendship and equality amongst peoples, and the rights of all?
* The Chaudhrys are a family of five living in Halifax, Nova Scotia and are facing an imminent deportation order to Pakistan, where they face imprisonment, violence, or death. They have lived in Canada for 8 years, and their 3 Canadian and American-born children have never been to Pakistan. They are currently waiting for the results of their Humanitarian and Compassionate application. If elected, what measures would you take to assist the Chaudhry's and others who seek residency on Humanitarian grounds?
TS: The Chaudhry and hundreds of other families should be granted residency immediately. As MP for Halifax, I would fight politically for a process of conferring citizenship immediately after a person takes up residence in Canada, discarding present requirements based on residency, knowledge of an official language or the politics, history and geography of Canada, etc. Many other measures can be taken, e.g.,the election of citizenship committees by people themselves whose duty it should be to welcome new citizens to the country - the fraternal welcome No One Is Illegal has extended to the Chaudhry and other families on behalf of Haligonians.
The state discrimination against the Chaudhry family illustrates that Canadians need to set their sights on a nation-building project that would include developing new arrangements. The Program of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada (see mlpc.ca) states: "In order for the people to exercise their sovereignty and govern themselves, there is an immediate need to: PROCLAIM A NEW AND MODERN CONSTITUTION. This new and modern constitution must enshrine the rights and duties of all citizens without any discrimination on the basis of language, race, national origin, religion, gender, lifestyle, ability, age, wealth, sexual orientation or on any other basis." A new Citizenship Act is also needed which would provide the enabling legislation which guarantees that this conception of citizenship is protected by the state. This is the rule of law.
Canada has no citizenship act which applies to all, and there is no law which lays down the rights and responsibilities of citizenship as the fundamental law of the land. Arbitrary considerations continue to determine what makes a "desirable Canadian," instead of rights and duties applicable to all on the basis of their membership in the body politic, irrespective of whether they acquire citizenship by birth or through naturalization. A modern constitution which begins with the fundamental law on rights and duties of citizens will go a long way towards uniting Canadians and eliminating division.
* According to the Vancouver Sun, hundreds and possibly thousands, of Canadian-born children are being denied access to the most basic services - a home, food, health care and schooling. They are being denied these necessities because their fathers abused their immigrant mothers, their mothers fled the relationship, and the fathers then reneged on promises to sponsor the women for permanent residency. If elected, how are you planning on addressing the proposed introduction of a conditional permanent residence period of two years or more for spouses and partners sponsored as part of the family class or spouse or common-law partner in Canada class category who are in a relationship of two years or less with their sponsor at the time of sponsorship application?
TS: This mediaeval practice must be terminated. According to this definition, a "desirable Canadian" is one who submits to Harper's definition of "Canadian values" - see his "study guide" for new citizens called "Discover Canada - The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship." So as to leave no doubt, this guide is imbued with racist admonitions to new immigrants to leave their "barbaric" ways behind when coming to the "civilized world."
The racist concept of "conditional relationships" must be rejected, as any other consideration based on gender, life style, national origin, etc.
This concept also reflects the outmoded thinking that the family and not society can be the guarantor of individual well-being and rights. Social programs should be guaranteed for all, from the moment one is born to the time one dies - or from the moment one takes up residency in Canada - according to the standard of living that society is able to provide.
* One of the objectives of Immigration and Refugee Protection Act is to facilitate family reunification. This allows Canadian citizens or permanent residents to sponsor close family members for immigration to Canada, including spouses, partners and dependent children. According to an Access to Information request provided to the Canadian Migration Institute, targets for family class sponsorships are increasingly lower - 2011 targets are below both 2010 and 2009. How would you and your party support family reunification?
TS: Family reunification is supported on the basis of our program outlined above. The facts cited and your question are an indictment of the high ideals proclaimed in the preamble to such laws. They also indict the political parties of the rich who are vying with each other as to who will be the best defender of "Canadian families"! They are saying that it is the responsibility of the family, not the society, to care for its members, whether it is providing a life of dignity and security for seniors or the care and education of children. But wait! When they come to families of immigrants, they have another standard: split your family according to your wealth. This obsolete outlook suits the interests of the owners of capital for whom immigration is being reduced to existing temporary foreign workers program, the live-in caregivers program and the temporary agricultural worker program - or a privilege granted to those with capital.
* 2008 marked the first time in Canadian history that we as a country admitted more foreign workers than permanent residents to our country. Despite this increase, temporary workers not only lack status but are denied protection, services and access to information on their rights. If elected, what will you do to ensure temporary foreign workers have their rights fulfilled?
TS: Who benefits? Irving and other monopolies. I have seen seven woods workers from Mexico being forced to live in two bedrooms in a small rural shack near New Germany, NS. The owners of capital then turn around and promote that they are doing the jobs Nova Scotians refuse to do. Their aim is to pit worker against worker and drive down the overall wages and working conditions. Workers must have a say-so in deciding their future. Workers are answering this attack across Canada by affirming that An Injury to One is and Injury to All!
Colonial Nova Scotia was built on the basis of enslavement and conquest. The migrant workers program is in contempt of modern society and modern relations between human beings and must be eliminated. The MLPC has published on its website (mlpc.ca) its policy on Migrant Workers. We state: "Slavery is slavery. It cannot be reformed, it must be abolished. It is not possible to reform a program where workers are indentured and tied to an employer, and the temporary foreign workers' program should be restricted to providing work permits for genuinely short-term employment, such as academic exchanges.
"Permanent resident status must be granted to both migrant workers and undocumented workers on the basis of Status for All! and by affirming that No One is Illegal!
"Illegal activities such as those practiced by the brokers to whom many temporary foreign workers have become indebted must be ended and violators punished.
"Immigration and citizenship must not become the domain of the monopolies. Far from it, citizenship must be given a modern definition consistent with the rights which belong to all people by virtue of being human. A new and modern constitution which guarantees people's rights by virtue of their being human, regardless of any consideration, is the requirement of our times."
This is what I stand for. I advocate similar policies with regard to international students.
* Security certificates have been increasingly used by the government to detain permanent residents and foreign nationals in Canada on the basis that they are suspected to have links to terrorism. In a number of recent decisions Canada's courts have been highly critical of Security Certificates. Both the Federal and Supreme Court of Canada found that they have been used to violate an individual's rights to fundamental justice and due process and have been used to keep individuals detained on misleading and unverified evidence. If elected, would your government maintain the Security Certificates provisions in the IRPA? What changes would you propose?
TS: On October 31, 2003, myself and my colleagues organized the first demonstrations in Halifax to oppose security certificates as part of the National Day of Action. In 2005 I published an online dossier to inform Nova Scotians of this practice (http://www.shunpiking.com/DOST/dostindex.htm). I stand with the families of those being unjustly detained and the thousands of Canadians who have condemned "Guatanamo North."
When arbitrary powers are exercised by a government and its officials on behalf of a ruling elite and laws conditioned upon the latter's values and interests, no one is safe. This draconian process whereby the government is prosecutor, judge and jury, where trials are held in secret, and "evidence" supplied to the judge by CSIS but kept from the defendant, is in contempt of any modern concept of the rule of law and must immediately be abolished. It is the hallmark of dictatorial regimes. A rule of law worthy of the name is based on the premise that the law applies to everyone equally and that nobody can be above the law. To call impunity rule of law is self-serving, just as Canada has a definition of "terrorism" and "national security" that is self-serving. Despite the rulings by these courts, laws are deliberately written so that they are "Charter proof."
The use of the security certificate to persecute national minorities and others who are fighting for their rights must be ended by involving all Canadians to demand
(a) that those currently imprisoned under the security certificate be released immediately or be charged with concrete crimes and evidence presented in accord with fundamental justice and rule of law;
(b) that the use of secret certificates be scrapped as an unacceptable and gross violation of an individual's fundamental rights.
Canadian law makes no distinction between citizenship and nationality, an important development of the 20th century. Ensure that ideological and political considerations must not be a basis for granting or depriving citizenship to anyone and provide compensation to all who have suffered at the hands of the political police.
Under no circumstances must freedom of conscience be impinged. The fact that the Canadian state can disregard the fundamental rights of people through the arbitrariness of the security certificate shows that anyone can be targeted with impunity. If one section of the polity can be so lawlessly attacked, so can others. The state agencies routinely criminalize those such as at the G7 and G-20 protests who oppose the wrecking of the social fabric, annexation, predatory wars and occupation by Harper and the big powers. Recently Harper's minister, James Flaherty, publicly denounced protestors as "un-Canadian."
Only the united struggle of the Canadian people can end the lawlessness, arbitrariness and state terror and provide the security of the people of Canada with a guarantee.
* According to documents released by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Canadian citizen Abousfian Abdelrazik was jailed, tortured and beaten while on a visit to Sudan - all at the recommendation of Canadian Security and Intelligence Service. Despite never being charged, and eventually being released of all suspicion by Sudan, Abdelrazik was placed on the UN 1267 list, which imposes a travel ban, an arms embargo and a total asset freeze on individuals. Abdelrazik was then repeatedly denied travel and entrance to Canada. A Federal Court judge eventually ordered the government to repatriate Abdelrazik, and in 2009 he returned home to Montreal. However, he has been unable to return to a normal life because his name remains on the 1267 list and he is unable to accept any material aid (including a salary or health insurance). The delisting process for the UN 1267 list requires a vote by the UN Security Council. Support from the Canadian government is absolutely essential if Abdelrazik's name is to be removed from this list so his life can return to normal. What would you and your party do to support the removal of Abdelrazik's name from the 1267 list?
TS: Guarantee the inviolable right to domicile to all citizens. Under no circumstances should Mr. Abdelrazik or anyone else be forced to live in exile or deprived of citizenship. All extradition treaties must be reviewed to make sure they do not deprive a citizen of his or her rights, especially on the basis of political considerations which may underlie those treaties. All such treaties should be put to a referendum.
The needed reforms you refer to in your questions necessitate empowerment, i.e., democratic renewal. If Canadians and residents wage an organized political fight to establish a People's Canada, individual and collective rights will be guaranteed for all and a dignified and secure future established for the Canadian people. I call on everyone to join in.
To signify your support for the principle of defending the rights of all, I encourage your supporters to vote Marxist-Leninist or for any other small party.