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Assessing Refugees Before the Fact

There seems to be a growing attitude amongst the general society in Canada that our acceptance of immigrants in some sort of act of great kindness or benevolence and we have far exceeded the proposed limits of generosity ever intended. This can not be further from the truth. Canada is a signatory to the 1951 Convention relating to the status of refugees; we are obligated under international law to protect refugees from persecution. We have an even stronger moral and ethical contract to afford protection and the most basic of humane standards to the most vulnerable and oppressed in the world. We cannot stand behind our pious proclamations of “the true North, Strong and Free,” we cannot continue to condemn human rights abuses and practices in other countries, we cannot sit on our moral pedestal if we ourselves are not willing to bear the brunt of protection of those who seek refuge from often unimaginable conditions or circumstances.

Lately, actions by the Federal Government in relation to the eligibility criteria or refugees seem to be running in the direction of disregard masquerading as an attempt to close so called “holes” in our system. Now, the harbouring of those whose actions are suspect or of those who are by means of deception are fraudulently accessing the very sanctity of refuge surely puts the system into disrepute and we must be vigilant about safeguarding the integrity of out system but it seems we have crossed the line.

As of late there has been the restructuring of the entire notion of a “safe-country”. Messrs. Harper and Kenney have now taken it upon themselves to somehow be able to arbitrarily asses in hindsight the exacting individual conditions of specific events yet to occur in a wide host of countries around the world. The general consensus is that if a nation holds democratically run elections, has an independent judiciary and has a solid human rights record than there is no possible way for a legitimate refugee to come from these countries. Furthermore, the entire claim of the refugee can be conveniently wrapped up in 45 days without any need for appeal on the part of the claimant.

I find it more than a bit hypocritical of Mr. Harper to make these assertions particularly when even Canada itself has come under scrutiny itself with its treatment of its native peoples, several events that have shed border line criminal activities in the collection of evidence by its national police force and the suppression of research funding in this country that could lead to critique of the current government. Furthermore, Mr. Harper himself uses the process of appeal at every opportunity to overturn decisions that are not favourable to his ideology as in his mind the judiciary is often tainted. I wonder how the judiciary can only be wrong when he is involved but never wrong when it is able to kick someone out of the country.

If Mr. Harper and Mr. Kenney are such possessed with the skills of great prognostication as would be needed in such an arbitrary assessment in the future tense their skills might be of more electrifying use at the county fair.

Toward a better refugee-determination system

Andrew McLennan
Immigration Program Student at Ashton College
under the tutelage of Jose Godoy Toku

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