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Nov 12, 19

Fight Against the Laval Migrant Prison in Quebec Continues to Heat Up

In so-called Quebec, the struggle against the construction of a new migrant prison in Laval, which is slated for completion in 2021, continues. The migrant prison would become the third in Canada, alongside other similar prisons in Vancouver and Toronto. As in the United States, the construction is taking place against a backdrop of rising far-Right and anti-immigrant political parties like the PPC, and a push by the State to attack Muslims, refugees, and migrants through new legislation.

Recently in Quebec:

[R]acist sentiment in the province has only intensified since Legault’s government passed two controversial laws last June: Bill 21 and Bill 9. The former bars some public-sector workers, including teachers and police officers, from wearing religious symbols on the job, while the latter allowed the government to throw out some 16,000 immigration applications and impose a “Quebec values” test on would-be immigrants.

Currently the Canadian State is pushing to expand its migrant detention prisons due to the increased amount of refugees and migrants being held in other facilities. Canadian migrants can also be held indefinitely while they wait for their cases to be tried before a court; this includes young children.

According to an anti-prison campaign website, Stop the Prison:

In 2016 the federal government announced the construction of a new migrant detention center in Laval. This prison, which is anticipated to hold up to 158 migrants, is intended to be built on Correctional Service of Canada grounds, right beside Leclerc prison, and is slated to open in 2021. While the Liberal government is attempting to spin this project as a more humane way to detain migrants, we call it what it is — a prison, and know that this is simply prettier window dressing on a violent system of imprisonment and deportation, one that keeps people locked in cages while tearing apart families and communities. We want a world without prisons or colonial borders, a world where people, not states, can decide how they can move and where they can stay. Stopping the construction of the Laval Immigration Detention Centre is one step in the struggle to tear down migrant prisons everywhere.

Disruptive mass public actions and acts of nighttime sabotage have been ongoing. This has included everything from rowdy street marches which have targeted firms involved in Laval’s construction, to days of action which have seen outreach events and protests, noise demonstrations, mobilizations against fascist groups, and blockades of the construction site. In the past month, various sabotage actions have also taken place. During the recent climate marches as one report wrote:

Borders and prisons are colonial impositions on these territories, systems fundamentally about domination and control. As Canada continues to invest billions into extraction, those feeling the brunt of the crisis here continue to be Indigenous peoples. Whether its pipelines forcibly installed across Indigenous territories, mining or logging companies operating in Indigenous territories without consent, or the envrionmental devastation caused by refineries built right next to reserves, Indigenous communities are consitently on the frontlines, experiencing the harmful effects of extractivism, as well as leading the resistance to it.

It is for these reasons and more that Stantec and the Guy-Favreau Complex were targeted by people participating in the climate march. The buildings were hit with green paintbombs and spraypainted with “Bienvenue aux migrants” (Welcome migrants). In the Guy-Favreau Complex, the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada holds detention review hearings daily, often resulting in the prolongation of a migrant’s imprisonment. Stantec is an engineering consulting firm involved in the construction of the new migrant prison in Laval.

This new prison is part of Canada’s false solution to the threat posed by climate change, an attempt to further intensify its border infrastructure, to keep out those it continues to displace. The real threats to the earth and the people who live on it are capitalism, the destruction of the environment, and the politicians who, without fail, will continue to defend these systems while scapegoating those displaced by them.

We believe it is necessary to push far beyond making requests of politicians, and toward directly challenging the role Canada is playing in the global crisis. We hope that the climate struggle can broaden its tactics, deepen its analysis, and continue to build links with ongoing struggles against white supremacy, settler colonialism, and border imperialism.

Other actions have also targeted companies profiting from Laval’s construction. This has included graffiti campaigns and even the torching of a truck belonging to the company which is operating as the general contractor for the project. A communique posted online on Montreal Counter-Info wrote:

By accepting to be the general contractor for the new Laval migrant detention center, Tisseur Inc. made a grave mistake. On the night of October 26th we decided to make our contribution to the struggle against the system of borders and prisons in all its forms. We set fire to a truck on the banks of the Lachine Canal, on the site of another Tisseur project. We’re not done.

For continued updates on resistance to Laval prison, check out Montreal Counter-Info and Stop the Prison. Also check out this longer article in Commune.

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