reasons for rejoicing, reasons for activism: the quiet death of bill c-49

...and speaking of victories, there was a huge one in December that I don't think I properly acknowledged: Bill C-49 appears to be dead in the water.

Bill C-49 was the so-called anti-human-smuggling bill that was, in reality, an anti-refugee bill. It was vehemently opposed by the Canadian Council for Refugees, Amnesty International Canada, leaders of a half-dozen faith groups, and every human rights group you can think of. I wrote about Bill C-49 here and here.

At first reading, then Liberal immigration critic Maurizio Bevilacqua acted as Immigration Minister Jason Kenney's publicist, praising the bill from the floor of the House of Commons as if his political life depended on it. Which indeed it did. I have it on good authority that Bevilacqua cut a deal with the Conservatives, trading his support of C-49 for their endorsement in his campaign for mayor of Vaughan. So much for serving the public.

But in early December, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff actually did some leading, and announced that the Liberal Party would oppose the bill. I can't confirm whether or not the Conservatives have actually dropped the bill, but it seems very unlikely that it will go forward.

Lives have been saved - innocent people kept out of prison - families able to remain intact - because this bill did not become law. This would not have happened without citizen activism.

The next time you wonder if Parliament ever responds to public pressure, please remember Bill C-49. It doesn't always work, but you never know until you try. Gandhi said it best: "You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing, there will be no result."

Two related articles well worth reading: from Hans Smedbol in Digital Journal, Despite Ministers' claims, Canada's Bill C-49 likely toast, and from Jason Kenney vs the Catholic bishops by Jim Cresky, in Embassy.

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