Gurpreet Singh: Activists rally in Surrey against Bill C-24

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      Close to 150 people showed up at the rally against controversial Bill C- 24 in Surrey on Saturday (July 5) evening.

      Jointly organized by the Radical Desi and People’s Voice, the demonstration in Holland Park was well-attended by the supporters of different groups of social-justice activists from diverse ethnic backgrounds.

      Speakers were unanimous in their opposition to the bill that was recently passed by the Conservative government and empowers Immigration and Citizenship Minister Chris Alexander to revoke citizenship.

      A prominent human-rights lawyer, Josh Paterson, said the bill will be challenged in the courts. He told the crowd how it discriminates against people of colour.

      Participants from different immigrant communities—including Indians, Pakistanis, Iranians, and Latin Americans—raised their hands in the air to reject the bill.

      Among the key speakers was the indigenous female activist Cecilia Point from the Musqueam Indian band, who showed her solidarity with the immigrants on behalf of the First Nations.

      Others who spoke were the People’s Voice editor Kimball Cariou, Harsha Walia of No One Is Illegal (who is also part of the Radical Desi editorial team), and Karla Lottini, a Mexican journalist who had to fight for refugee status in Canada.

      In addition, COPE's Imtiaz Popat,freelance journalist Lakbhir Khunkhun from the East Indian Defence Committee, Gurmel Gill from the Taraksheel Society, and Bhupinder Malih from South Asian Review spoke out.

      A Sikh activist, Kuldeep Singh Sekhon from the Guru Granth Sahib Satkar Committee, organized a similar protest against Bill C- 24 in Abbotsford last week. He was another speaker at the event. 

      At least two elected officials, NDP MP Jinny Sims and NDP MLA Harry Bains, were present. While Sims has consistently opposed anti-immigrant laws in Parliament, Bains is critical of the temporary foreign workers program that encourages businesses to hire temporary foreign work force to avoid giving them permanent residency and full rights.

      Fire This Time, the Mamta Foundation, and Fraser Valley Peace Council also brought their contingents to the rally to show their support. 

      The special Komagata Maru centenary edition of Radical Desi was also released at the event by a prominent Punjabi historian Sohan Singh Pooni, who has authored books on the history of radical South Asian activists. Copies of the Komagata Maru edition of People’s Voice were also distributed by organizers. Later, the participants held a brief march and chanted slogans against the Conservative government. 

      Gurpreet Singh is a Georgia Straight contributor, host of a program on Radio India, and a founder of Radical Desi. He's working on a book tentatively titled Canada's 9/11: Lessons from the Air India BombingsHe has a Facebook page called We Are All Untouchables!!! 

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      Jul 6, 2014 at 11:53am

      As as a fifth generation Canadian and voter, I agree with C-24.

      Jack Shaw

      Jul 6, 2014 at 12:29pm

      Of course you will as you have nothing to fear since your ancestors were born here and because you are a racist, exactly the kind if people harper I trying to please.


      Jul 6, 2014 at 1:03pm

      Ibitz if you think the passage of time makes you better than anyone else then you have bothing to offer this country other than your share of mediocrety.

      A voice from the Valley

      Jul 6, 2014 at 2:58pm

      PM Harper, has to acknowledge the people that built this country and stop catering to the other races of persons that have come to Canada to only financially rape this country for their own gain. A good example of PM Harper's problem is how he treats the seniors and the military Vets by not providing enough funding for them and then he taxes the seniors and Vets to death. Shame on you Mr. Harper!


      Jul 6, 2014 at 4:19pm

      My understanding of the bill is that it only applies to people who have been unsuccessful in their refugee claims. So it would follow that they wouldn't be able to access government programs. The government should be doing more to expedite their removal not saying "your not allowed to be here but since you are your not going to get free dental and eye wear anymore" what a stupid but typical Canadian reaction.


      Jul 7, 2014 at 8:12am

      A better analogy to compare this bill is to that of a police officer issuing a speeding ticket. Current laws allows the defendant to challenge the ticket in court. But in the case of Bill C-24, it's giving the police officer the power to issue a speeding ticket without any challenges. So if the officer thinks you're guilty, you are guilty. PERIOD. Proof is not even needed because the victim can't voice it anywhere.

      Con Men

      Jul 7, 2014 at 9:26am

      Citizenship and the power to confer and/or strip it should never be in the hands of any Politician.

      It should always reside with the Judicial branch, the Courts with due process.

      Unless of course you are a die hard Communist or extreme far right wing Conservative.

      @Con Men

      Jul 7, 2014 at 12:17pm

      Are you a wing nut of some sort? Canadian Citizenship was created in 1949. By the Politicians in Parliament. Good for you for thinking an unelected judiciary should control who gets citizenship, rather than elected politicians. Democracy is just a crazy idea! The people are too stupid to accept "activist" values, so they should be ruled by an unelected junta that "gets it", right?


      Jul 7, 2014 at 1:17pm

      This bill does not come from Harper, but its part of the security perimeter deal measures. Canada has lost credibility so C-24 is a compromise short of imposing a US Visa on ALL Canadians in order to secure the Northen US Border. Nothing to do with Canadian "Citizenship" as we know it.

      "Opponents oppose something"

      Jul 9, 2014 at 12:43am

      Wow, speakers were UNAMIMOUS in their opposition to Con policy?!? At a rally opposing Con legislation?!? That Is news! I also heard that every speaker at a pro-teacher rally spoke out in support of teachers whilst at an anti-pipeline event there was unanimous opposition to pipelines!