Here’s what MP Mike Morrice has to say about the “disappointing” response
On Aug. 16, almost three months after Petition e-4268’s presentation, the Canadian government released their long-awaited response.
Petition e-4268 called on the federal government to extend the right to claim asylum in Canada to transgender and nonbinary folks around the world experiencing discrimination on the basis of their identities.
In March of this year, parliamentarian Mike Morrice sat down with the Martlet to discuss Petition e-4268, for which he was the supporting Member of Parliament. At the time, he was preparing to present the petition to the House of Commons at his earliest opportunity, which came on May 29.
The petition had a historic 160 000 signatures at its time of presentation.
Activist Cait Glasson, the petition’s organizer, said that the petition sought to provide folks from the United States access to refuge in Canada while trans eliminationist laws run rampant.
Glasson explained that as it stands, this opportunity is slim because of the Safe Third Country (STC) agreement, which designates the States as a nation that “respect[s] human rights and offer[s] a high degree of protection to asylum seekers,” meaning that residents of the U.S., in most cases, cannot make an asylum claim to Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB).
The federal response from August details the Canadian government’s existing immigration policy, and explains their partnership with Rainbow Road (an organization that advocates for LGBTQ+ asylum-seekers), but does not promise any legislative change.
In a recent interview with the Martlet, Morrice said, “I’m disappointed with the response, and that it doesn’t seem to recognize that more needs to be done for trans and nonbinary folks from other countries, in particular the U.S. ”
The coveted but rare success of asylum seekers is the issue at the heart of both Morrice’s disappointment and the original work of the petition.
The government’s response emphasizes the existing right for any person to claim asylum in Canada, so long as the individual has a “well-founded fear of persecution or is at risk of torture, or cruel or unusual punishment” and is “not able to access protection from their country of origin.” However, it does not address Morrice’s central concern — the slim likelihood of a claimant actually being granted asylum.
“It’s possible to claim asylum, but it is extremely unlikely that a person is successful in doing so,” says Morrice. “What’s the point of a right if it’s almost impossible to claim that right?”
Although the government’s response to the petition did not acknowledge the STC agreement, according to Morrice it is more crucial that the government did not attempt to change any of the IRB’s guidelines when it comes to evaluating claims from trans or nonbinary American asylum seekers.
Morrice says that he and Glasson wanted to see a shift in the IRB from a “presumptive no” to a “presumptive maybe” to increase the likelihood that trans and nonbinary individuals might be granted asylum.
“The continued approach from the Government of Canada [is] to have an extremely unlikely scenario where grounds for asylum would be granted … to a trans community member,” Morrice explains.
All the while, the United States becomes an increasingly dangerous, hostile, and threatening place for transgender and nonbinary folks to call home, says Morrice, emphasizing the need for “more advocacy.”
Morrice says that he and Glasson are still collaborating to further the work of the campaign, but are now extending their concern to Canadian folks targeted by emerging anti-trans rhetoric or legislation.
While Morrice was disappointed by the Canadian government’s response to his and Glasson’s petition, those involved in the plight of Petition e-4268 are not ready to back down.
More on the status of the petition soon.