The Toronto Star has uncovered a questionnaire used by RCMP officers at a border crossing in Quebec that appears to question migrants on their religion and values. Included in the questionnaire are inquiries about how the respondent feels about women who do not wear the hijab, their opinion about ISIS and the Taliban, what religion they practice and how many times they pray per day. Notably, the questionnaire appears to be directed towards Muslims as only Muslim religious practices and terrorist groups with predominantly Muslim members are mentioned.
The questionnaire was presented to individuals crossing at Roxham Rd near the Quebec town of Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, an unofficial border crossing that has seen increasing numbers of refugee claimants wishing to cross from the United States into Canada. The ‘Safe Third Country Agreement,’ which would normally prevent refugee claimants who arrive in the United States from crossing into Canada before applying for asylum, contains a loophole for individuals entering at unofficial border crossings. Quebec has seen a significant increase in border crossings since 2016.
The RCMP stated that an increase in “irregular migrants” lead to the creation of the questionnaire, which was intended to help streamline processing at the border. Though the survey was conducted by the RCMP, answers were entered into RCMP databases which could be shared with the Canada Border Services agency.
Mitchell Goldberg, President of the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, drew comparisons to the values test proposed by Conservative MP Kellie Leitch, stating “the job of the RCMP is to protect national security, not to issue a value test and that’s all I can call this.”
The questionnaire is no longer in use: the spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale told Toronto Star reporters that the version of the guide in question has been suspended. However, civil rights advocates remain concerned, arguing that the document is part of a larger problem in the mindset of Canada’s security services towards Muslims.
For more information or to see a copy of the questionnaire, click here.
This blog post was written by a CCLA-PBSC RightsWatch student. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCLA or PBSC.