'Walking past the hundreds of stately Somali refugees lined up outside the gates of the UN High Commission for Refugees here in Nairobi -- men in tidy shirts and slacks, women in baby blue, fuchsia or copper chadors -- the pasty face of Jason Kenney floats into my mind.In Kenney's world only the tidy shirts and slacks need apply. Unless of course you're a tidy shirt and slacks wearing Muslim. His department has made it clear "No Muslims!" (Harperland)
Later, watching the images of the nearly 400,000 starving Somali women, children and men crammed into the Dadaab refugee camp on Kenya's border with Somalia, there he is again, forcing his way into my imagination: Jason Kenney, Canada's minister of immigration and xenophobic rhetoric ....' (1)
Astonishingly, Kenney has been able to redefine the term "refugee" as "queue jumper," "illegal alien," or his favourite xenophobic term: "terrorist."
Fortunately for Peter Van Loan, someone like Jason Kenney was not immigration minister when his family fled Estonia after it fell to the Soviets. They were able to avoid arrest and execution, when given asylum in Canada. Or as Bruce Cheadle reminds us of Vic Toews.
There's a global recession and Canada's economy is not immune. Shiploads of strange, foreign refugees — economic migrants and oppressed minorities — have been landing on our shores, fleeing civil war, economic upheaval and famine. No one is certain how they can be assimilated and there are concerns about criminals, subversives and agitators in their midst. "If (their) ... government is threatening to deport them ... it is probably because they refuse to obey the laws of the country, and we should have full information regarding the facts," one mainstream advocacy group objects.The year was 1929 when migrant Mennonites were fleeing deportation to certain starvation in Siberia under Stalin. Fortunately for Toew's Ukrainian refugee parents and grandparents, they were able to find safe haven in Canada. Those queue jumping, illegal alien terrorists.
However, today Toews refers to those like his parents and grandparents as "customers". From his June 2011 press conference he explained the reasoning behind his mistrust of potential "smugglers". "What we're trying to do is to put a big question mark in the minds of the potential customers. About the prospect of quick family reunification and we're trying to say to them that you, even if you get asylum status in Canada, it won't necessarily be permanent. We believe that those doubts seeded in the minds of potential customers will significantly depress demand and the price point ..."
"No one is certain how they can be assimilated and there are concerns about criminals, subversives and agitators in their midst." The "customers" of the Toews family perhaps? Just as fortunate for them, Vic was not yet in the picture and indeed there would not have been a Vic at all if Kenney was running the show in 1929. At least not in this country.
In an unprecedented move, Jason Kenney has presented legislation that will create "safe" lists. Bill C-31 would also block claimants from so called “safe” countries from appealing a negative decision to the new Refugee Appeal Division and it would eliminate a provision that called for a committee of experts to decide which countries would be placed on the safe list. It also ultimately gives the Kenney full discretion over the yet-to-be-established safe list.
Where's our Nazi spotter Larry Miller? It's a dangerous thing when one man can make and control a list that determines the fate of entire groups of people.
One country on Kenney's list is Czechoslovakia, and concerns the Roma of that country. Those queue jumping terrorists need to stay home. After all, as he points out, Czechoslovakia is a democratic country and champion of human rights.
Or are they?
According to Canwest European Correspondent Peter O'Neil:
A ghastly arson attack that has left a two-year-old girl fighting for her life contradicts Canadian and Czech government assertions that an exodus of Roma refugee claimants to Canada is driven by economics, rather than fear of persecution, say members of the Roma community here. ... They say they face a constant threat of neo-Nazi attacks and hateful demonstrations, where marchers head into Roma communities and call them "parasites," organized by increasingly sophisticated organizations such as the far-right Workers' Party.Does this sound like a country committed to human rights?
"We are afraid for our lives," said Martin Duna, 31 ... "We are worried that Hitler is coming back." ... Duna's reference to Hitler, who sent Roma, as well as Jews and homosexuals, to extermination camps during the Second World War, isn't as extreme as it may sound ... Czech municipal politicians have won nationwide public praise for evicting Roma from apartments to live in metal containers in city outskirts; and human-rights groups have reported involuntary sterilizations of Roma women from the late 1960s to as recently as late last year. Growing neo-Nazi violence, as well as discrimination and even segregation in areas such as health, housing, education, criminal justice and employment, have been reported in numerous publications issued by the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the U.S. State Department and Amnesty International.
And how does someone like Jason Kenney qualify as the supreme keeper of lists and authority of what constitutes oppression?
He has a high school education, dropping out of prep school at a time when that prep school, St. Ignatius was accused of running a cult. He made headlines in San Francisco for his attacks on the gay community. He challenged the Pope Paul because he opposed the Iraq War. He established the Christian Coalition in Canada, a group determined to take North America back to the time of the Reformation.
Or according to one of Kenney's teachers the '50s. Not the 1950s but the 1550s.
He has had no job outside of politics, running a pyramid scheme called the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, inspired by Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform. Much of his time was spent traversing the country forcing politicians to sign a pledge not to raise taxes. Mike Harris signed Kenney's pledge. Enough said.
This new legislation is nothing more that a power trip by a narcissistic nincompoop.
I can't wait to hear what Larry Miller thinks of all this. Maybe I'll give him a call.
1. In Africa, It's Sickening to See Tories Play Refugee Politics: Here at the bleeding edge of the Somali crisis, I can't shake the face of Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, by Cam Sylvester, The Tyee, July 20, 2011