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PRESS RELEASE NO. 12
Determined to Find Reason for Visa Refusals
Promises to Pursue Matter with Canadian Government
WINNIPEG, Canada, 23
July 2003 - The government leader of the Canadian province hosting
the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Tenth Assembly has vowed to get
to the bottom of a controversy surrounding the refusal of visas to
dozens of international participants in the event.
"We’re going to
follow this up with the federal government and the group here to
make sure that whatever went wrong won’t go wrong again,"
said Manitoba Premier Gary Doer in an interview after bringing
greetings to the LWF meeting this morning.
"This is something we’re
going to have to manage as a country a lot more carefully in the
As of last night, 51
individuals, including delegates and visitors, had not received
visas from the Canadian government to attend the 10-day LWF Assembly
in Winnipeg, the capital city of the province of Manitoba. Of those
people, 27 were from India alone. All affected delegations are from
Africa and Asia, which have some of the poorest nations on earth.
The visa issue has cast a
cloud over the LWF conference, which has as its theme "For the
Healing of the World."
Doer said the Manitoba
government will seek more facts from federal immigration officials
about why so many LWF participants have so far failed to receive
"We’re not in
possession of all the information. We’re going back to the federal
government to find out who made the decisions, why they made them
and what this means for Canada."
Doer said his government
tried to intervene on participants’ behalf when it learned about
the visa problem. It managed to get some denials reversed but not
all, he said.
Manitoba has played host
to a number of international events, including the 1999 Pan-American
Games, and has never experienced a situation such as this before,
according to the Premier.
"Is this a
post-September 11 reality? I’m not sure. We didn’t seem to have
this problem with the last international body I spoke to."
Doer expressed concern
that the current visa problem could set a bad precedent for future
international events, such as the 2010 Winter Olympic Games which
were recently awarded to Vancouver, British Columbia.
"Canada hosts a lot
of events. We can’t have international bodies coming to our
country and having some of their people left behind without a
perceived reason for doing so."
The Assembly last night
agreed to hold a public demonstration on Tuesday, July 29, to
protest the Canadian government’s failure to approve the
Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) is taking place
21-31 July 2003 in Winnipeg, Canada, under the theme "For the
Healing of the World." It is being hosted by the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC).
There are around 820 men, women and youth participants in the Tenth
Assembly including 380 delegates from the
133 churches with full membership and three associate members. The Assembly is the highest
decision-making body of the LWF, and meets normally every six years.
Between Assemblies, the LWF is governed by its Council that meets
annually, and by its Executive Committee.
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