There continues to be fallout from Harper’s comments in Mexico about how it’s the fault of our refugee system that there are so many “bogus” claims that it requires visa restrictions for Mexicans and Czechs visiting the country. One of the first was Janet Dench from the Canadian Council of Refugees, who said that Harper had some nerve to call the system broken when it was his government that broke it by not making appointments to the IRB – and she has the Auditor General’s report to back that up.
But in the midst of this, Immigration minister Jason Kenney says that he’s planning on introducing reforms to the system in early autumn, and among those reforms would be the ability to fast track those claims from countries declared to be “safe.” But this was actually one of the concerns raised by Dench in the story I recently wrote on the immigration issue, saying that the assumption then becomes that any claims from “safe” countries are bogus, even though a lot of queer claims from those countries are very valid. This is an issue that is going to need a lot of time and genuine consultation to deal with, but I fear that this will become a wedge issue in an autumn election.
Another group of refugee claimants that Kenney considers “bogus” are the Iraq war resisters, and one of them just won a reprieve of several months in her bid to stay in Canada. It seems the judge ruled that her previous assessment contained no meaningful examination of her claims of facing persecution for her views on the war upon her return to the States. And given that the Minister’s views are well known on the issue, one has to wonder if IRB members aren’t being encouraged to try and decide the fates of these resisters based on said views.
In an op-ed in the National Post, Liberal MP Scott Brison talks about the importance of our relationship with China, and how Canada could better partner with them as part of their clean infrastructure programmes that they’re implementing in response to stimulus spending. And while he says that the current visit to China by Jim Flaherty and Mark Carney are a good first step, the government should be doing more to engage China rather than insult it.
The NDP have started framing their campaign narratives already by casting Michael Ignatieff to the right, talking about his “books on torture” and his support for the war in Iraq (never mind the first bit is out of context and the second was because he thought it could help the Kurdish people, whose plight he was familiar with). This in advance of the NDP’s convention in Halifax this weekend.
In the matter of that Toronto woman stranded in Kenya, the government is apparently dragging their feet in issuing her new travel documents so that she can return to Canada as soon as possible. Her lawyer wants the government to foot the bill for her flight home – after all, they’ve admitted that they screwed up when they declared her an impostor and destroyed her passport. Hopefully they’ll pick up the pace, but I also hope that her experience will translate into a wake-up call for the rest of Canadians that this government does not have their best interests at heart if they find themselves in trouble abroad – and apparently even more so if they’re from a visible minority.
And finally, because I just found this to be a bit on the odd side, this picture was sent out by the PMO regarding Mexican scholarship recipients who will be studying in Canada. And this is the photo they chose? What’s with the two on the right looking completely zoned out? And why is the sole female student so…cuddly with the Prime Minister? It all just looks a bit weird.