Cotler, Kenney don’t see eye to eye on Immigration bill

May 8, 2012 | Linda Zlatkin – Correspondent

Cabinet Minister Jason Kenney Cabinet Minister Jason Kenney

MONTREAL – This year, as Canada celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Canadians are much better off than before it was adopted.

There have been many positive changes and transformative effects on our laws and on our lives, as Mount Royal MP Irwin Cotler pointed out when he spoke to the public recently at the Community Resource Centre in Côte-des-Neiges in Montreal on the dramatic changes to our immigration and human rights systems.

“There is now less discrimination against vulnerable groups such as racial and religious minorities, aboriginal people, disabled people and gays and lesbians,” he said.

“If 30 years later, you go and ask these Canadians if their rights are better protected now than they were then, the answer will be invariably yes,” said Cotler. “But they will also rightfully add that much still needs to be done to make Canada a more just and inclusive society.”

However, there are many concerns and challenges when it comes to immigration, he said, especially since Canadian citizenship is a hot commodity.

A spokesperson for Jason Kenney, citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism, minister, made reference to a recent survey commissioned by the Historica-Dominion Institute that found that 53 per cent of adults in the 24 top international economies would immigrate to Canada if they could.

“However, not surprisingly, Canada is a prime destination for criminal smuggling rings and illegal immigrants,” said Kenney’s spokesperson. “Minister Kenney recently introduced Bill C-31, a bill designed to protect Canada’s Immigration System Act. This is currently being debated in the House of Commons to tackle immigration fraud.”

According to Kenney, the current system enables bogus refugee claimants to access generous taxpayer-funded benefits such as health care and social assistance, costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars each year. The proposed reforms address the fundamental shortcomings of our asylum system, and will put an end to the exploitation and abuse of Canadian generosity and goodwill.

Cotler is not feeling optimistic though.

“Bill C-31…is a flawed bill – that all expert testimony has characterized as ‘littered with charter violations’ and in breach of our international legal obligations,” he said. “That will not reduce immigration fraud. Indeed for all that the government espouses cost-cutting and immigration backlog-reduction as goals, C-31 will not achieve either of these objectives, and will end up doing more harm than good, including being the object of sustained constitutional challenges.”

Cotler also said that those who traffic in persons, or who otherwise engage in fraud, are not themselves targeted by this bill, which its harshest consequences for refugee claimants, who are doubly victimized – first by the smugglers – and then in the absence of protection under the legislation.

He added that an underlying presumption of the bill is that all persons from certain countries are indeed “bogus applicants.” This is not the case and the bill will prejudicially affect those with bona fide refugee claims.

However, from Kenney’s point of view, “the proposed reforms will repair our broken asylum system by stemming the flood of baseless applications and put in place a process that can ensure a fast and fair determination of legitimate applications.”

Kenney also plans to introduce legislation to combat marriages of convenience, or marriage fraud.

“We must respect the integrity and value of Canadian citizenship,” he said.


Concervative Government condemns Israel Apartheid Week

Ottawa, March 6, 2012 –

The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, issued the following statement on ‘Israel Apartheid Week’:

Like many Canadians I am concerned with the rise of anti-Israel activities on campuses across Canada, culminating in the so-called ‘Israel Apartheid Week’ (IAW), which is often promoted in a manner that disregards the rights and safety of Jewish students and professors.
Universities are meant to offer an environment in which academic discourse can take place freely. Jewish faculty and students have the right to engage in this debate without feeling the need to conceal their identity, or to self-censor.
The irony of this week cannot be overlooked. While singling out the only liberal democracy in the Middle East for condemnation, the organizers of IAW ignore Bashar Al-Assad’s brutal slaughter of his own people and the suppression of basic human rights throughout many countries in the Middle East.
Debate over Israeli policy is legitimate and encouraged through academic dialogue. Israel, as the only liberal democracy in the Middle East, encourages such free exchanges of ideas. However, there is a point at which well-intentioned debate is overrun by hatred and intolerance; creating a toxic environment that prevents meaningful dialogue on important issues from taking place.
The organizers of Israel Apartheid Week use the cover of academic freedom to demonize and delegitimize the State of Israel. In reality, this week is nothing more than an unbalanced attempt to paint Israel, and her supporters as racist. This week runs contrary to Canadian values of tolerance, mutual respect, and understanding.
As Minister for Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, I call on all Canadians to reject anti-Semitism and all forms of racism, discrimination and intolerance, which are unacceptable and completely contrary to Canada’s fundamental values.
Source: http://www.jasonkenney.ca/news/statement-by-minister-jason-kenney-condemning-israel-apartheid-week/

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