Episode #18- Conservatives to require visas while denying human rights abuses: Part 2

Our guests are Eddie Huesca of Fuerza/Puwersa (a migrant justice advocacy group); Drew Garvie of Young Communist League-Guelph; and Ryan White, a Toronto-based employment lawyer. In Part 1 they talked about the implications surrounding the recent re-imposition of visa requirements on people of Mexican and Czech-Roma descent. These requirements were implemented to specifically target individuals seeking refugee status in Canada and are intended to block the large flow of Mexicans and Czech-Roma people into Canada.

In Parts 2 & 3, discussion broadens into the larger context of the Canadian immigration system and its recent trends, looking at some important issues being faced by people working under migrant worker programs and non status people.

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BACKGROUNDER:

There’s no shortage of issues for migrating individuals who have little say over often-deplorable working and living conditions once in Canada. It’s important to continue to educate the public about the hardships these people face in Canada, and they seem to increase with the leadership of Jason Kenney (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration).

On July 13, 2009 Kenney effectively slammed the door on migrants and refugees from Mexico and the Czech Republic, building on the Conservative government’s horrible track record of regressive immigration policy and enforcement. The Canadian government announced that within 48 hours all Mexicans and Czech-Roma people coming to Canada would need (=are forced to apply for) tourist visas to enter Canada. This move will ruin the chances of an untold number of asylum-seekers fleeing racism, violence and persecution to live a life of peace and dignity in Canada. In stating that the refugee claims from these countries are “bogus and illegitimate”, the Conservative government has shown its contempt for the due process granted to claimants under the Refugee Protection Act, which is supposed to consider the individual merits of each case. Kenney’s strategy is to provide only one legal option for poor and working-class racialized migrants to Canada: entering Canada through exploitative temporary worker programs where participants are denied labour and democratic rights. These regressive policies are based on the view that immigrants only have value as economic commodities while their humanity is ignored.

Kenney was able to make this move by his use of the arbitrary and centralized powers granted to him by Bill C-50, which was passed under general condemnation by immigrant communities last year. Under that law, the Minister of Immigration is now able to set quotas on the category of person who can legally set foot in Canada. This includes setting quotas on countries of origin. Setting quotas represents a critical shift in Canadian policy toward exclusionary legislation that has precedents in the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1923, the Order in Council of 1911 prohibiting the landing of any immigrant belonging to the Negro race, and the "None is too many" rule applied to Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe during the Second World War. Recent moves by the Conservative government have been steps back towards these racist policies and many critics are drawing parallels between Kenney's efforts to limit refugee claims to the "None is too many" strategies of the past.

This is self-serving in the extreme, since our government continues to ignore the serious human rights abuses that many people face in Mexico and Czech Republic and doesn't want to actual discuss or spend any money on addressing such abuses within our refugee system. Unfortunately this is not out of character for these guys.

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migrantmatters@gmail.com

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