Toronto, Vancouver and Hamilton have become "Sanctuary Cities." So have 37 cities in the United States. It's time for Montreal to join the movement.
The horrific crime that took six lives in Quebec City last Sunday night is a wake-up call for us all. No longer can we pretend that there is no Islamophobia in Quebec. Unfortunately, hate-mongering goes on daily. Sometimes in an open, heinous and criminal fashion, as witnessed at the Quebec City Mosque. Other times in a more hidden fashion, under the guise of a debate on face-coverings in public.
Can anyone deny the toxic climate created by President Trump's "Muslim ban" or the repeated xenophobic utterings of his far-right henchmen? Is it pure coïncidence that this hate crime occurred during a weekend saturated by media reports of Trump's Islamophobic executive order?
We need more than solidarity messages
As shown by the resistance movements south of the border, actions speak louder than words. Trump's blatantly racist move is not only decried publicly, but also challenged by spontaneous mass gatherings at U.S. international airports, by courageous federal judges in Brooklyn and Massachusetts and by the mayors and city councils of New York, Los Angeles or Boston.
A "Sanctuary City" movement is gathering steam. Local authorities in 37 major cities -- amongst them New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Miami and Seattle -- have stated that they will refuse to abide by Trump's executive order and will protect undocumented immigrants from federal officials.
Make Montreal a Sanctuary City
Prime Minister Trudeau has stated that Canada welcomes refugees. The Federal Minister of Immigration has confirmed that thegovernmentt will grant temporary residence permits to people stranded by the U.S. President's sudden ban on immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. Quebec Premier Couillard has solemnly declared "the whole world is watching. It's time that we showed who we really are." Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre has added: "it's time we said it loud and clear: instead of building walls, we must build bridges".
Let's move from words to actions by making Montreal a sanctuary city. Let us take in those that are stranded in Canada's international airports. Let's denounce Trump's xenophobic exeutive orders or wall-building and open our city to Syrian refugees and those fleeing the terrible Middle-Eastern wars. Let's grant undocumented immigrants access to municipal services and demand that provincial and federal authorities do the same Let’s reaffirm unequivocally that Montreal stands against all forms of racism and xenophobia.
Montreal broke new ground when it adopted the "Anti-Apartheid and Nuclear Free Zone Policy" in 1987. In the sixties, our city welcomed thousands of young Americans who refused to serve in Vietnam. In 2003, hundreds of thousands marched in our streets to protest the U.S. war in Iraq.
Today, we must adopt a strong stand that will clearly show our willingness to live together and celebrate diversity.
Toronto, Vancouver and Hamilton have already adopted sanctuary city policies. It is high time that Montreal does it as well.
Let's show our solidarity and make Montreal a sanctuary city in 2017.
Co-wirtten by Donald Cuccioletta, President of Alternatives and Michel Lambert, Executive Director of Alternatives
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