MONTREAL - Hundreds of people from Algeria held a rally Saturday, pleading with Ottawa not force them to return to their homeland.
In April, the federal government announced it would start deporting Algerians who've been denied refugee status.
Ottawa had suspended the practice in 1997 because it considered the country in northern Africa too dangerous.
Although the federal government continues to warn Canadians not to travel to Algeria, it's decided that men, women and children originally from there can be sent back.
The move has Algerians facing deportation angry and frightened.
"It's a country where there isn't peace," said one woman at the demonstration in Montreal. "Mass killings are going on, on a daily bassis"
'These people are being used'
Organizers of Saturday's rally think Ottawa has decided to resume deportation as part of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's plan to increase economic investment in Africa.
"Nothing has changed in Algeria except that the Canadian government wants to do business with them, and these people are being used," said Viviane Barbot of the Quebec Women's Federation.
"Definitely, they are going towards death if they are sent back to their own country," she warned.
One couple who've been in Montreal for the past seven years have been told they must go back to Algeria within a week. But because their two-year-old son was born in Canada he will not be deported against the family's will.
"It surprised me," the father said. "I [didn't] think any Canadian would tell me that."
Immigration Canada acknowledges that the new policy is hard for Algerians facing deportation. But each case will be decided on an individual basis, federal officials say.
Within the next two months, Canada is expected to send more than 250 Algerians back home.cbc.ca/stories/2002/10/12/algerians_021012E-mail this article