MONTREAL — Two hundred people marched here Sept. 18 under the slogan “Status for all,” calling on the Canadian government to grant permanent resident status to all undocumented migrants in the country. The action was part of a cross-Canada mobilization.
Some carried signs demanding “No to detentions and expulsions,” in response to Ottawa’s border cops who daily hunt down immigrant workers the state considers illegal, holding them prisoners in so-called detention centers for weeks, months, even years, with the ultimate aim of deporting them.
Katy LeRougetel, Communist League candidate for Quebec’s National Assembly in the east-end Montreal constituency of Anjou-Louis-Riel and member of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers union, joined the protest in solidarity. She asked fellow marcher Mamadou Konate why he had decided to wage a public fight when presented with a deportation order. “If we don’t go public, who will?” he said. “We are 500,000 undocumented people in Canada.”
“The Communist League campaigns against all deportations,” LeRougetel told him. “In the bakery where I work, workers come from all over the world. Defending immigrant rights is essential for uniting workers to fight together against the bosses’ attacks. It is a life-and-death question for our unions.”
Konate said he faces an immediate threat of deportation back to the Ivory Coast, where his life could be in danger because of his activities against government policies there.
He has been in Canada for six years, has a work permit and worked several jobs before he answered the Quebec government’s appeal for help to deal with the disastrous impact of the pandemic among the elderly. The 41-year-old worker contracted COVID-19 while working in a long-term care seniors home.
LeRougetel and fellow CL candidate Felix Vincent Ardea, a Canadian National Railway conductor and member of the Teamsters union running in the constituency of Marquette, were told by election officials they both are on the ballot in the upcoming provincial elections. They had turned in more than 300 signatures of working people supporting their right to be on the ballot, well over the requirement.
“This means that working people will now have a working-class voice in these elections,” Ardea told the Militant.