Veteran Canadian journalist criticizes Harper’s policy on refugees

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 19 June 2013, 22:46 GMT]
Karl Nerenberg, a veteran journalist with over 25 years of experience, came down sharply on Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s policy towards refugees. In an article published on alternative news site on Tuesday, Nerenberg, giving examples of refugees from Syria, Sri Lanka and Hungary, criticized the Harper government’s approach to refugees for being ‘inconsistent’ and ‘stigmatizing’. Giving the examples of the Tamils from the island, he opined Harper’s position on holding the CHOGM in Sri Lanka was in contrast to his government’s policy towards Tamil refugees. He further alleges that the new refugee law in Canada gives the Ministry of Immigration “untrammeled power” to pursue a discriminatory policy.

Excerpts from Karl Nerenberg’s article on titled “Harper's policy on vulnerable refugees is wildly inconsistent -- and cruel” follows:

Karl Nerenberg
Karl Nerenberg
“Immigration Minister Jason Kenney boasts that Canada is very generous when it comes to refugees -- or, more precisely -- government-sponsored, resettled refugees.”

“The Immigration Ministry's website puts numbers on that generosity.”

“It says there are over 10 million refugees in the world (most in wretched refugee camps, which the web site fails to mention).”

“Of these, about 100,000 are resettled each year. By 2013, the Immigration Ministry says, "Canada will resettle up to 14,500 refugees and other vulnerable persons a year"”

“This number, the Minister boasts, makes of Canada one of the leading refugee-resettlement countries in the world.”

“Canada is much less favourable, however, to refugees who arrive on these shores uninvited and unsponsored.”

“Sri Lankan Tamil refugees are a case in point.”

“Not too long ago, the Prime Minister decided to boycott the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Sri Lanka because of the poor human rights record of that country’s majority Sinhalese government.”

“Yet, just a few years ago, when Tamils fleeing that same oppressive Sri Lankan regime arrived in Canada, in two over-crowded boats, Harper's ministers called them queue jumpers, bogus refugees and "irregular arrivals." The Conservative government then locked them up.”

“The Harper government vowed to do everything possible to stop any potential influx of desperate people similar to the Sri Lankan Tamils who floated in on those leaky boats.”

“Jason Kenney's new refugee reform law, which the government introduced after the Tamil boat people came here, places significant sanctions on these notionally "irregular" arrivals.”

“Here again, the government is anything but consistent.”

“Definitely no little minds afflicted by those demon hobgoblins, here.”

“The Harper government has also moved to completely choke off any refugee flow from countries it deems "safe."”

“During the minority government period, the opposition parties agreed to a reform that would establish a so-called "safe" countries list.”

“That provision would give government officials the power to deal with asylum seekers from those designated safe countries much more expeditiously than other refugees.”

“However, in the law passed during the Harper minority, determination of which countries were actually safe was to be made based on tangible and verifiable evidence together with the analytic work of human rights experts.”

“Once he got a majority, Harper's Immigration Minister scrapped that carefully designed system, with its checks and balances.”

“Instead, a new law now gives the Minister of Immigration the nearly untrammeled power to determine the safe country list, arbitrarily.”


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