Monday, April 19, 2010

The Refugee Bill

I do not like Jason Kenney’s Bill C-11.

Refugee claimants, who already have enough problems under the Canadian system, will have an even harder time under the changes he has proposed. Certainly the system has been abused by some claimants over the years, but this does not mean that all claimants should be penalized. Many legitimate refugee claimants’ lives are hanging in the balance and, for this reason, we owe it to them to give them a fair hearing.

The government has failed to fill the refugee board adequately to deal with refugee claimants. Now they are using the backlog this has created to make it even more difficult for legitimate asylum seekers to find refuge in Canada.

I am frustrated and angry with the way Kenney is referring to refugees regarding this issue. He refers, for example, to refugee claimants’ who do not meet the refugee criteria as “abusers.” This serves to darken Canadian perceptions of these individuals and stigmatizes all refugees. Not only that, but just because an individual does not meet the refugee criteria, does not mean the hardships that they face in their country of origin are somehow illegitimate.

Bill C-11 would deny some refugee applicants based on their nationality, rather than on their individual cases. The government would decide which countries are democratic and liberal enough not to have a refugee problem. This, I fear, would be a politically motivated decision, and would ignore human rights abuses committed by Canadian allies. Many countries that most people would consider safe still remain dangerous places for certain ethnic minorities and for gays. These individuals should not be pushed aside, not if we want to be just.

Currently, many refugees who are initially rejected appeal for reconsideration on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. There are, after all, certain aspects of a refugee’s case that are not taken into account in the refugee system. I know several refugees who have done this, and, yes, their appeals were warranted. Bill C-11 would block refugee claimants from this appeal, and leave them without this important recourse.

Please, if you have any objections to Bill C-11, write to your MP.

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