Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

1st Session, 37th Parliament,
Volume 139, Issue 66

Thursday, November 1, 2001
The Honourable Dan Hays, Speaker

Immigration and Refugee Protection Bill

Explanation of Support

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, yesterday the chamber passed Bill C-11, the act respecting immigration to Canada. Some senators may have wondered why I would rise to support this bill.

Honourable senators, my greatest fear is that Canadians will lose faith in the security of their immigration system, say that “enough is enough” and close the doors that have stood open to people like me and my family, offering hope and refuge for so long. If Canada’s doors had been closed to my family, we may not have survived.

Honourable senators, since being sworn in just over a month ago, I have been greeted warmly by all of you. My arrival here, however, has also come on the heels of the terrible events of September 11. I have heard my fellow Canadians and my colleagues in this chamber say that now is the time to question the way we do things. I have heard them say that a new era of security is upon us. I have heard refugees unfairly judged as beggars, thieves and terrorists. The horrid events of September 11 have nothing to do with our Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board policy.

Honourable senators, my family and I did not choose to leave my home country of Uganda and come here with nothing. When I came to Canada with nothing but my newborn baby in my arms and a husband who had escaped detention by the Ugandan army, it was not because I chose to do so.

We do not choose to become refugees. It was not my choice.

We did not chose to leave our dreams and aspirations behind in Uganda — Idi Amin did. We did not choose to leave our home — Idi Amin did. We did not choose to become refugees — Idi Amin did. All of these choices were made for us and thrust upon us. I will continue with this at another time.

Honourable senators, the next time we speak of refugees in this chamber or elsewhere, we will remember that those who get themselves into trouble with the law and threaten our security are a minority. Perhaps we can remember that most refugees are hard-working people who seek nothing more than to rebuild their lives and our country, Canada. I hope we can remember the importance of that distinction.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!