Thursday, August 20, 2009

Jason Kenney Wages War on the European Union

The above video shows Jason Kenney stumbling through an interview concerning his controversial decision to demand that immigrants coming to Canada be able to speak either English or French. When he gave that stupid smile and said it was so they could talk to their neighbours, I wanted to smack him. I've lived in my house for more than 20 years and still don't know half my neighbours.

You also see him mentally rooting through his bag of Conrad Black big words hoping that he doesn't appear as stupid as he actually sounds.

However, his latest fiasco demanding that Czechs and Mexicans obtain visas before coming to Canada, may be his worst action yet, because he has now made us enemies of the European Union. Travellers were once proud to display a Canadian flag on their backpacks or luggage, but not anymore.

The Harper government has assumed the role of the Bush Administration, making us the most unwelcome country in the Western world. And Jason Kenney may be the new Conservative leader if Harper is forced to resign. Yikes.

'Visa war' feared as EU threatens retaliation
Push for asylum system overhaul 'likely to backfire'
By Mike Blanchfield and Marianne White,
Canwest News Service
July 16, 2009

The Swedish presidency of the European Union threatened retaliatory action toward Canada on Wednesday over new visa requirements for Czech citizens, as broader government plans to overhaul the refugee system drew widespread criticism.

Critics and experts said Canada has sparked a "visa war" that could harm its trade ambitions with the European Union and its NAFTA relations, because of the new visa it announced Monday for citizens of the Czech Republic and Mexico.

Sweden, which holds the rotating EU presidency, said Wednesday it favours a retaliatory visa on Canadian tourists visiting the 27-country bloc.

While forcing Canadian tourists to get a visa for Europe would be a major change, the EU's review process could take months, and is far from a done deal.

Still, remarks Wednesday by Sweden's Migration and Asylum and Policy Minister Tobias Billstroem stand in sharp contrast to Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney's Assurances To Canwest News Service a day earlier that European retaliation was not at all likely.

"As the presidency of the EU, we are in favour of this reciprocity," Billstroem told Agence France-Presse.

Kenney said Canada reluctantly imposed the new visas because refugee claims from Mexico and the Czech Republic have skyrocketed in recent years.

Kenney also said Canada's asylum system needed a major overhaul to reduce delays and abuse. Mexico and the Czech Republic have become the top two countries sending refugee applicants to Canada.

"We need to streamline the system to provide faster protection for real victims of persecution, while showing bogus claimants to the door much more quickly. Until we're able to come up with reforms along those lines, unfortunately, the visa policy becomes our only recourse," Kenney said. (Brian Mulroney's baby)

Janet Dench of the Canadian Council for Refugees said Kenney is using proposed reform as a "political football" to position the government in the lead-up to a possible fall election.

"One wonders:Why would he be coming forward in saying he's going to introduce what would necessarily be very controversial legislation that would have little chance of getting through a minority Parliament?" Dench told Canwest News Service.

She said that, although some changes should be made to the refugee system, it is fundamentally very sound.

"The problem is not in the system, but in the failure of the government to appoint enough board members to avoid a backlog," Dench said.

"Kenney's shock-treatment approach to fixing Canada's refugee-claimant system, which is widely perceived to be broken, is likely to backfire, because the same well-orchestrated lobby of immigration lawyers and domestic ethnic groups who oppose reform of the current system have mobilized to criticize his attempt," said Fen Hampson, director of the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs in Ottawa.

"We're going to get into a visa war, because the Mexicans are going to turn around and do the same thing to us," Hampson added.

Liberal Foreign Affairs critic Bob Rae said the Conservative government's " mishandling" of the visa issue would hurt Canada's trade ambitions with the EU and its economic partnership in NAFTA with Mexico.

"This latest diplomatic misstep can only harm Canada-EU free-trade negotiations and the upcoming security and prosperity summit with our NAFTA partners," Rae said in a statement. "It's just another example of how the Conservatives are ruining our trade relationships, costing Canadian jobs, and further eroding our international reputation."

In May, with the help of the Czech government that then held the EU presidency, Canada began formal talks on a free-trade pact with the European bloc. Next month, Prime Minister Stephen Harper meets his Mexican and American NAFTA counterparts, presidents Felipe Calderon and Barack Obama, at the "Three Amigos" summit in Mexico.

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