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