Open letter: discourse on refugees and migrants in upcoming elections

Conflict-related food insecurity Action Against Hunger

To the leaders of all federal political parties,

We are writing because we are concerned about how refugees and migrants in Canada may be characterized during the upcoming federal election campaign.

We welcome thoughtful discussion on complex issues related to migration, and recognize that there are many legitimate perspectives.

We are also conscious that refugees and migrants are easily victimized in political debates. In many countries around the world, especially during election campaigns, refugees and migrants have been talked about in ways that insult their dignity and humanity, contribute to xenophobia and racism, and are frequently grounded in distortion and misinformation.

We believe that every leader, every candidate, and every political party, has a role to play in preventing this from happening in Canada. We therefore ask you to engage in discussions about migration in ways that recognize:

  • Our shared humanity,
  • That Canada finds opportunity through diversity,
  • That refugees strengthen our communities,
  • That refugees help build our economy,
  • That Canada has legal obligations to respect and uphold the human rights of those fleeing persecution

We believe that how we respond to refugees, and how we talk about vulnerable migrants, is an important part of our collective identity.

We want to be a country that welcomes refugees, that respects the dignity and human rights of vulnerable migrants, and that treats them fairly.

We know Canadians value compassion, equality and safety for all.

In the upcoming federal election campaign, we call on you to demonstrate your leadership by respecting these principles and speaking out when they are undermined by others.


Canadian Council for Refugees
Amnesty International Canada
The Canadian Council of Churches
Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers
Action Against Hunger Canada
Action for Healthy Communities
Alberta Association of Immigrant Serving Agencies (AAISA)
Anglican Diocese of BC
Anglican Diocese of Niagara
Anglican Diocese of Qu’Appelle
Anglican Diocese of Saskatoon
Beacon of the Freed
Canada Tibet Committee
Canada Without Poverty
Canadian Council for International Co-operation
Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East
CARE Canada
Carrefour d’Action Interculturelle
Catholic Social Services
Central Alberta Refugee Effort (C.A.R.E.)
Diocese of London Inland Protection of Refugees
DisAbled Women’s Network (DAWN) Canada
Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers
Egale Canada
Embarkation Law Corporation
Feminist Alliance for International Action Canada
Golden and Golden Law, Darcy Golden, Barrister and Solicitor
Human Rights Watch
Immigrant Services Calgary
Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria
International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group
Journey Home Community Association
KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives
Manitoba Association of Newcomer Serving Organizations (MANSO)
Matthew House Refugee Reception Services, Toronto
Mennonite Central Committee
Mosaic Newcomer Family Resource Network
Multicultural Family Resource Society
Nobel Women’s Initiative
North End Sponsorship Team (NEST)
PINAY (Filipino Women’s Organization in Quebec)
Rainbow Refugee Association of Nova Scotia
Refugee 613
Refugees for Brockville
Rideau Institute
Romero House
Sanctuary North
Saskatoon Open Door Society Inc.
Service d’aide aux Néo-Canadiens
Sojourn House
Somali Canadian Women and Children Association
Southern Alberta Language Assessment Services
Syria-Antigonish Families Embrace (SAFE) Society
The Centre for Spanish-Speaking Peoples
The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (Anglican Church of Canada)
The United Church of Canada
Tides Canada
Vancouver Island Counselling Centre for Immigrants and Refugees
Victoria Coalition for Survivors of Torture
West Kootenay Friends of Refugees
YWCA Prince Albert