Friday, September 17, 2010

Jason Kenney's Tyranny is Giving Canada Another Black Eye Abroad

For two days, April 2 and 3 of 2009, Canada Border Services carried out the largest workplace raids in Canadian history.
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 .. .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. (1)
These raids were authorized by Jason Kenney and Peter Van Loan, who while opening the door to migrant workers to provide companies with cheap labour, also made sure that they behaved and were the right "type".
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.” (1)
Jason Kenney is a master of spin, sending out press releases suggesting that he is doing wonderful things for immigrants and ethnic communities, while in the shadows, creating a closed door policy with Gestapo like treatment of refugees and temporary workers.

He has also got himself involved in areas of immigration, that go well beyond his portfolio. Embassy Magazine published an article in March of this year: Federal Court asked to rule on Kenney's refugee claims.
Last June, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney publicly questioned the legitimacy of refugee claims made by Roma coming from the Czech Republic, saying they faced no real risk of state persecution. Only a few weeks earlier, Mr. Kenney had described asylum claims by US war deserters as "bogus," and accused Mexican refugee claimants of systematically abusing the Canadian refugee system. The next month, the Canadian government imposed visa restrictions on visitors from both the Czech Republic and Mexico.

... Members of the IRB are responsible for hearing refugee claims, analyzing the evidence of each case, and ultimately approving or rejecting the claim. The IRB is an independent agency, however, the immigration minister decides on who is appointed and re-appointed. "It seems he is stating the outcomes he would like to see in these cases," Mr. Berger said. "This, in my view, challenges the appearance of impartiality of the board." (2)
And Jason Kenney specifically targeted the Roma from the Czech Republic:
Last June, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney publicly questioned the legitimacy of refugee claims made by Roma coming from the Czech Republic, saying they faced no real risk of state persecution.
And yet, according to 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."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. (3)

Jason Kenney has no education beyond high school, and his only work experience has been with right-wing groups like the Canadian Taxpayer Federation, and the Fraser Institute, who have fought against immigration or money going to multiculturalism, which Stephen Harper himself referred to as a "weak nation strategy".

And our new closed door policies and abusive treatment of temporary workers, is gaining international attention.
Hundreds of Guatemalan migrant workers and their community allies marched through Guatemala City to the steps of the Canadian embassy on Wednesday, to protest the abusive treatment of migrants under Canada's Temporary Foreign Workers program. The workers at the protest had been fired and repatriated for defending their labour and human rights while working in Canada. UFCW Canada, the Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA), Global Workers Justice and a number of other Guatemalan and international organizations also participated in the demonstration, and joined in the call for a complete review of the Temporary Foreign Workers Program because the federal government program fails to provide migrant workers with legal protection or access to the justice system even when the workers are mistreated. (4)
This is a pattern now, and Canada that was once seen as a fair and democratic country is now being viewed as an unwelcoming and oppressive nation. Many Canadians travelling abroad now sew American flags to their caps and back packs, we have become so reviled. (5) Protesters defaced our flag in London because of our inaction on climate change. (6) There were talks of throwing us out of the Commonwealth. (7)

When will we decide we've had enough?


1. Jason Kenney's Doublespeak Exposed: Tories Unleash Canada Border Serviceson Migrants
By S.K. Hussan and Mac Scott, The Bullet, April 22, 2009

2. Federal Court asked to rule on Kenney's refugee claims: A Toronto-based lawyer is alleging the immigration minister might have interfered in the IRB's decision making, By Anca Gurzu, Embassy Magazine, March 10, 2010

3. SAVING ROMA: Roma, once known as Gypsies, face discrimination, attacks in Czech Republic, By Peter O'Neil, Europe Correspondent, Canwest News Service, May 11, 2009

4. Migrant Workers Protest at Canada's Embassy in Guatemala: Migrant Workers in Guatemala Raise Their Voices to Denounce Abuse and Exploitation Under Canada's Temporary Foreign Workers Program, UFCW, September 1, 2010

5. Canadian mining firms face abuse allegations, Toronto Star, November 22, 2009

6. Climate 'activists' deface Canadian flag and brag about it, By Kelly McParland, National Post, December 15, 2009

7. Canada Might be Kicked Out of the Commonwealth, By Rie Jerichow, November 27, 2009

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