Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Peter Van Loan's Tyranny Strips Canada of Diginity

With the stage being set for war, the small Republic of Estonia declared neutrality, not wishing to take sides in any conflict.

However, a month before the Invasion of Poland that precipitated World War II; Adolph Hitler and Joseph Stalin signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, which was a treaty of nonaggression between Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

This sealed the fate for the Estonian people, as they soon fell under the Soviet sphere of influence. Mass political arrests, deportations, and executions followed, as Stalin's scorched earth philosophy was inflicted on the country.

Peter Van Loan's mother and grandparents fled during this horrible time, and were among three thousand Estonian immigrants, given asylum in Canada.

You would think that this would make Van Loan more empathetic to people who share the plight of his ancestors, and yet the opposite appears to be true.

He seems to enjoy the suffering of others, and this man who has been called the 'king of the cheap shots', has exchanged barbs for barbed wire, as he carries out one of the most aggressive anti-immigration policies this country has ever seen.

Along with his cohort, Jason Kenney, he has instilled fear into thousands of refugees, seeking freedom from tyranny and oppression. Under Kenney's temporary permits plan, many are forced to work in sweatshop atmospheres, without protection. They know they can't complain or they'll be shipped out.

This is Canada?

Workplace Raids and Citizenship and Immigration Canada's Trickery

To top off this (Jason Kenney's) vicious policy shift, immigration enforcement teams (Canada Border Services) carried out the largest workplace raids in Canadian history in Southern Ontario on April 2-3, 2009. These U.S.-style attacks (even as they are being phased out by the Obama administration) were used to arrest refugee claimants, live-in caregivers, temporary workers and non-status people who have fallen outside of the strict and official compliance with immigration regulations.

A worker who dropped out of status when she left the employment of a sexually abusive boss was arrested in the raids. Though she is part of a pending criminal investigation against her employer, the fact that she was working outside the terms of her employer-dependent visa means she was scheduled for deportation on 19th April which was only stopped by community and labour mobilization.

In an illegal move, 41 of the nearly 100 arrested were tricked into signing waivers that removed their right to a PRRA hearing and a chance at protection from deportation, and promised a quick return to Canada and are being deported on Sunday, 19 April, at last count, 29 had been removed and many more were awaiting travel documents. It is extremely doubtful that these migrants will ever be allowed back into Canada.

These workplace raids target temporary foreign workers who have now become the new majority in the Canadian immigration system. The number of non-permanent workers entering Canada every year almost equals landed immigrants. Pablo Vivanco, Public Relations officer for the Chilean Canadian Cultural Association – Salvador Allende noted:

“Latin Americans, who are among the millions of immigrants who come here to work and build a life have been among the most targeted by Canada's immigration officials... Just as they want other workers to accept concessions around job security, this government wants to force people looking to come to Canada for precarious employment to work under the slave-wage temporary worker programs.”

Latin Americans and other workers who come to Canada have been hit by a global farm and food crisis that has driven millions of people off their lands and from their homes in the last few years. As that crisis is joined by finance capital's meltdown, displaced and made-displaceable migrants are seeing their already precarious position attacked, their families targeted and their humanity devalued. Contrary to Kenney's pronouncements of the government's concern for immigrant welfare, Marco Luciano of Migrante Ontario reported that:

“In our experience it is the caregivers that are punished and deported. In 2007 alone there were reportedly 13,000 Filipino migrants that came to Canada through the Live-in Caregiver Program. That same year our organization, Migrante, was faced with over 20 cases of the death of the migrant, and many agency exploitation and deportation issues. In these cases we were not able to get support from the Canadian and the Philippine governments. Minister Kenney's government treats migrants like rags that they would throw away when they're done with them.”

The unprecedented workplace raids of April 2nd and 3rd are part of a larger tactic of fear and intimidation. Enforcement is targeting immigrants more intensely now during this economic crisis. The ramping-up of pressure and tactics to find and deport non-status people is crossing lines that even fast-and-loose immigration officers have not crossed in the past. In January, a non-status man was detained after the enforcement officer posed as his lawyer (“Illegal immigrant nabbed after agent allegedly posed as his lawyer” Globe and Mail January 17th).

Canada Border Services Agents have even gone in to schools to detain children of undocumented migrants, which was responded to by the “Education, Not Deportation” campaign led by No One is Illegal-Toronto, and resulted in the Toronto District School Board adopting a new ‘don't ask, don't tell’ policy. The policy remains to be fully implemented. “Enforcement is going into women's shelters to detain people, and enforcement officers are posing as community workers to enter low income housing,” says Macdonald Scott, Certified Immigration Consultant, Carranza Barristers and Solicitors. “Just weeks ago, Border guards tried to force their way in to a shelter to arrest one of our members.”

Scott who works with the migrant justice group No One Is Illegal-Toronto adds, “Now more than ever, people need to take a stand.” Regarding this increase in enforcement in the last four to five months Amina Sherazee, a lawyer who represents many facing removal said: “Not only has there been an increase in deportations but also people are given very little time between the day they receive notice of deportation and the removal date in order to make it harder for them to use the courts to stop their removal.”

Sultana Jahangir, Executive Director of the grassroots South Asian Women's Right Organization also similarly observes:

“Our organization watches the community very carefully. Recently we have observed increasing enforcement which has caused us to lose some very influential and community-minded immigrants from our community. As well, we have found that the harassment and enforcement increased very suddenly. We have lost our friends, and our family members as well as our neighbours.”

Public Safety Minister Van Loan Gets Into the Act

Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan is the man responsible for Immigration Enforcement, and his agents are busy kicking out families and keeping working people from the Global South out of Canada, in particular keeping out people of colour, working people, women, LGBTTTQ and disabled people. Enforcing this exclusion exacerbates sweatshop like conditions for the approximately 200,000-500,000 people living and working without status in Canada.

Migrants, poor and working people and those classified as ‘low skilled’ have always been the last hired, first fired. Temporary work programs mean greater corporate profit at huge human expense and a worker population that can be removed at an employer's whim. These programs compromise the struggle of all workers for decent living and working conditions.

Kenney's sophisticated media machinations attempt to lull immigrants into a false sense of security,
and the two-track citizenship system (permanent vs. temporary) has contributed to a weakening of worker solidarity on citizenship grounds, requiring a broad collaborative fight backed by all members of the Left. The fear mongering about non-status people ensures that the hundreds of thousands of people living without status will work for low wages, pay large sums of taxes to support the under-funded social services but will remain fearful of accessing them.

Non-status people and temporary workers have become the ultimate cash cow. Community organizers and union activists can begin to combine efforts to challenge the division of people based on arbitrary citizenship documents. Capitalism's crisis is being downloaded on to those it perceives as the weakest – poor and working people – and it is essential that all of us combine our voices to say this is not our crisis, and we will not pay for it.

When you look at Jason Kenney and Peter Van Loan, it's hard to imagine they could be so Stalin-esque. Pudgy little twits who sound more like Daffy Duck or Sylvester the Cat, then any powerful dictator. Maybe those are the ones to look out for. Blustering, 'poke a stick and run' mama's boys can fly under the radar, because we too easily dismiss them.

We'd better start paying attention.

More Postings on Peter Van Loan:

1. Peter Van Loan and Jason Kenney Play Pass the Buck

2. Peter Van Loan Puts Public at Risk to Deflect Tory Incompetence

3. If Obama Can Exorcise Bush's Evils We Need to Exorcise Those of Kenney and Van loan

4. So Why Did Peter Van Loan Sit on the RCMP Report Until After the Vote?

5. Peter Van Loan Says Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, AGAIN!

No comments:

Post a Comment