Thursday, June 01, 2006


A speech by Canada's Immigration Minister Monte Solberg was abruptly cancelled Wednesday when a group of hecklers besieged him in an Ottawa church.

About a dozen protesters began shouting as Solberg took the podium during the annual meeting of Citizens for Public Justice, a group that lobbies on behalf of refugees.

The demonstrators, who called for an immediate moratorium on all deportations, surrounded Solberg at the podium, and then blocked his exit from the front door of the Christ Church Cathedral on Sparks Street.

With police help the Minister managed to make it to his car which was also blocked for a bit by those nasty protesters.

The following news and information comes from the blog Delete The Border.

Canadian Immigration Minister flees as speech is disrupted by immigrant rights protesters

May 31, 2006, OTTAWA -- Canadian Immigration Minister Monte Solberg fled the Christ Church Anglican Cathederal just seconds after beginning a scheduled speech this evening. He left abruptly after being directly confronted about his government's policy on deportations, and lack of action on regularization, by immigrant rights protesters from Ottawa and Montreal.

Monte Solberg was due to address the Annual Meeting of Citizens for Public Justice on the theme of "Welcome the Stranger: Becoming Neighbours". At least a dozen members of Solidarity Across Borders and No One Is Illegal-Montreal came to Ottawa to attend the speech, and were joined by immigrant rights allies in Ottawa.

Solberg began his speech alluding to the evening theme when a member of Solidarity Across Borders stood up to denounce his hypocrisy. Others present began speaking about neighbors and friends who had been deported, despite pleas made directly to Solberg and his government colleagues.

The policies of the Conservative government -- who support the "Safe Third Country Agreement", oppose an appeals division at the Immigration and Refugee Board, have increased spending on police and border enforcement, and have refused to consider a regularization program for non-status migrants -- was also highlighted during the heckling. Several protesters referred to the arrest of children in Toronto-area schools by deportation agents of the Canadian Border Services Agency (the responsibility of Public Security Minister Stockwell Day, a colleague of Minister Solberg).

As some demonstrators spoke out, others passed out a flyer prepared for the occasion entitled "Why we are protesting!" to the assembled audience, many of whom were upset that Solberg's speech had been effectively disrupted. The flyer included facts about Monte Solberg, Immigration Canada and the Conservative government. Banners that had been used during the recent Status for All National Day of Action for Immigrant Rights were also displayed throughout the intervention.

Solberg immediately left the venue, searching for his limousine. The entire way he was surrounded by protesters, who vented on Solberg for recent deportations, as well as to press for an immediate moratorium on all deportations.

Throughout the barrage by demonstrators, Solberg remained silent, except for one comment: "The police will take care of this."

Solberg was able to enter his limo, but it was blocked for at least 15 minutes before the arrival of Ottawa-area police. One of the many slogans, in English and French, by the protesters was: "Immigrant rights under attack, what do we do? Stand up and fight back!"

The police presence didn't stop the protest, as unprepared police officers arrested a few demonstrators who were promptly un-arrested. Eventually, more police came and cleared a path for Solberg's limo to depart the scene

--> Photos from today's disruption are linked at:

--> The flyer passed out during the disruption ? "Why we're
protesting" -- is linked at:

--> A Photo Essay about the May 27 STATUS FOR ALL National Day of
Action for Immigrant Rights is linked at:

--> The text of the flyer passed out in Montreal on May 27 is linked at:



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