Read the full article at the Toronto Star: Ottawa’s bogus refugee bill
Toronto Star 2012/02/22
Audrey Macklin and Lorne Waldman
Jason Kenney, the minister of Citizenship and Immigration, knows who the real refugees are. Or at least he knows which ones are “bogus”: refugee claimants from Mexico or Sri Lanka or Hungary are bogus. Bogus refugees include those who use smugglers to overcome the barriers to lawfully reaching countries like Canada which, by signing the refugee convention, have promised not to send back persons fleeing persecution.
... Kenney made his views clear to voters by highlighting the issue of “bogus claims” in the last election. And he made them known to the members of the Immigration and Refugee Board — the decision-makers who are tasked with determining individual cases based on the evidence, and whose reappointments depend on Kenney’s opinion of them. And just to be sure that his views were respected, he took the unprecedented step last year of telling the justices of the Federal Court to stop thwarting his efforts to reform refugee policy by holding government officials legally accountable for their actions.
Now, with a majority government in hand, the minister proposes to change the law to make reality bend to his vision. There is no longer a need to treat refugee claimants with basic dignity, or to provide them with a fair opportunity to tell their story. Why bother, since the minister has already determined for all of us that they are bogus?
All refugee claimants will have 15 days from the moment they arrive to submit a written application (in English or French) setting out the elements of their refugee claim. If they cannot find an interpreter, a lawyer or a trustworthy person who can assist them, they will miss the deadline and be deemed to have “abandoned” their refugee claim. No need to worry that a refugee might be sent back to persecution because she missed an impossible-to-meet deadline, because the minister knows she is a fraud anyway.
Remember, neither the minister nor we know with any certainty if a person is a refugee until that person has had a fair opportunity to present his or her case before an independent and impartial decision maker. The minister has done an excellent job of relentlessly vilifying refugees, and of encouraging us to believe that he “knows” that they are all bogus by the fact of their arrival. Don’t believe it.
Audrey Macklin is a professor of law at the University of Toronto. Lorne Waldman is president of the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers.