Ottawa urges Algerians to leave Montreal church

Ottawa, Quebec immigration ministers to review fate of more than 1,000 Algerians fighting deportation

Federal Immigration Minister Denis Coderre says he needs more time to review the case of an Algerian family fighting deportation from the sanctuary of a Montreal church.

Coderre had promised to make a decision by this weekend. But he told reporters Saturday that he needed to talk his provincial counterpart, Remy Trudel.

In the next few days, the two men will also discuss the fate of more than 1,000 other Algerians who have been denied refugee status.

"We're talking about a common solution between the government of Quebec and the government of Canada," Coderre said.

Ottawa stopped deporting Algerians five years ago because their homeland was considered too dangerous, but it resumed the practice earlier this year.

Mourad Bourouisa and his wife Yakout Seddiki were among hundreds of people from the northern African country who applied to stay in Canada but were turned down.

The couple has a two-year-old son, Ahmed, who was born in Quebec. The three were scheduled to fly back to Algeria from Dorval Airport last Sunday, but they never showed up. Instead, they sought refuge at Union United Church.

The couple said their lives would be in danger if they were to go back to Algeria. They're afraid to return to a country they believe is still plagued by civil conflict and ongoing terrorist attacks.

Bourouisa and Seddiki are asking to stay in Canada on humanitarian grounds.

Coderre urged the family to leave the church and "go back to their life and wait" until a decision is made.

"In any case, we don't conduct negotiations in a church," he said. "I am asking the family to leave. There will be no arrest warrant, and there isn't even any deportation process organized at this time."

Despite Coderre's assurances, Rev. Darryl Gray said the family has decided not to leave.

"The family has indicated that they want to stay here until such time as there is a definite response, and what we hope to be a positive response," Gray said.