Peter Kent's article "The Truth About Canada's Immigration System" published in the Huffington Post March 6, 2014, has left me quite shocked, beginning with the headline itself.
We have two very different systems according to the Canadian laws that persist even under the Harper government. One for immigrants who want to come here for a better life and to boost Canada's economy and one for refugees to whom we have international protection obligations. Mr. Kent's opinions are directed to refugee matters, however, the headline points to a basic failure to understand the distinction.
I have known Peter Kent for many years. He is in fact my MP in Thornhill. We have talked often, most recently this past week at the CJPAC Action Party. Imagine then my surprise when he chose instead of trying to prove his point with facts simply attacked me directly. Now I'm a big boy and Peter can disagree with my position about refugee matters, but why the need for a personal attack? Doesn't this prove my original point that the government prefers to insult rather than debate?
But let's refocus on the facts. Peter refers to the government's commitment to resettle refugees. He actually means privately sponsored refugees. The track record for government assisted refugees is poor. And the privately sponsored refugee process takes a minimum 2.5 and up to 5.5 years. This flies in the face of a December 2011 meeting commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Refugee Convention, in Geneva, Switzerland where the Canadian Minister of Citizenship and Immigration announced: "We pledge to increase the number of refugees we resettle by 20 per cent." It is in fact according to the Canadian Council for Refugees "the second lowest number resettled in over 30 years." (See link above.)
Peter further indicates that the new refugee law does not deter people from seeking protection in Canada. However, Minister Chris Alexander himself recently boasted that claims from Hungary are down by 97 per cent, proving that people have indeed been deterred.
Perhaps, instead of providing distractions, Peter would like to explain his government's lack of commitment to human rights. Last month, the Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard University published a study entitled "Accelerating Patterns of Anti-Roma Violence in Hungary." The report concludes that extremist violence against Roma has risen, the government response is inadequate, and this lack of protection has emboldened perpetrators of hate crimes.
Bad enough that our government pretends this isn't happening, but what does the report say about anti-Semitism? Here's an example "The Jobbik Party's anti-Roma and anti-Jewish rhetoric and actions have become increasingly virulent in recent years in Hungary, bolstered by organized paramilitary groups, extremist organizations, and private individuals."
Even more worrisome is the report's conclusion that "Barbara Harff, expert on genocide prevention, shows that in pre-genocidal situations we see the emergence of vigilante groups, increased police brutality, increased military involvement in civil affairs, increased human rights violations and ideological encroachment on judicial decisions."
Hungary is safe for Jews and Roma? Only this week in the Canadian Jewish News, a fellow Huffington Post writer, Avrum Rosensweig wrote poignantly of a Jewish Roma family from Hungary who escaped with their lives following an almost fatal beating by neo-Nazi thugs. Today they are in sanctuary here in Toronto, our government refusing to recognize the danger they and their six-year-old daughter Lulu (also injured in the attack) face if they are deported.
If the government truly cares about the Jewish community, both in Canada and abroad, we will need more than a "million dollar photo" in Jerusalem. We will need a commitment to protecting human rights.
ALSO ON HUFFPOST:
M.I.A (Ms. Arulpragasam): Grammy winning rapper/musician M.I.A, first left Sri Lanka as a refugee from an ongoing civil war, when she was nine, and moved to a housing project in London.
Albert Einstein: In 1933, Einstein, a prominent German scientist, was accused of treason by the Third Reich. He then sought refuge in the United States.
Sigmund Freud: The founder of psychoanalysis, Freud had to flee to London at 84, after having lived in Austria for 79 years, when Hitler's army attacked Austria, proclaiming union with Germany.
Henry Kissinger: A German-born American diplomat, Nobel Peace Prize winner and the Secretary of State in the Nixon Administration, Kissinger moved to New York with his family in 1938 after fleeing Nazi persecution.
Madeleine Albright: Albright was a refugee whose family fled Czechoslovakia, first from the Nazis and later from the Communists. Albright, though, went on to become the 64th United States Secretary of State in 1997 after unanimous confirmation by the U.S. Senate. She was also the first female Secretary of State.
Gloria Estefan: Born in Cuba, the pop icon fled with her family to Miami, Florida, during the Cuban Revolution.
Anne Frank: Anne and her family moved to Amsterdam in 1933 after the Nazis gained power in Germany, and were trapped by the occupation of the Netherlands, which began in 1940.
Karl Marx: The famous philosopher was expelled from Paris at the end of 1844. He moved to Brussels where he was permitted greater freedom of expression than any other European state.
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