Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney was in Burnaby, B.C. this week. The minister told the crowd gathered at the Executive Hotel that his immigration crackdown — from marriage fraud to human smuggling and what he called the “abuse of Canada’s generosity” — is not driven by ideology or racism.
“One thing that is unique about Canada is that this is the only developed democracy in the world in which there is no serious or organized anti-immigrant or xenophobic sentiment in our public discourse,” he told a crowd hosted by the Burnaby Board of Trade and the Immigrant Employment Council of BC. “I want to keep it that way.
For one of the activists outside the speech, Kenney’s claims of no serious xenophobia in Canada were hard to stomach. Citing the case of refugee claimant Veronica Castro, who was beaten to death in Mexico this April five weeks after her deportation from Canada, Lee Williams said Kenney is hypocritical.
“We’re talking about immigrants coming here, people of colour exploited for labour, being sent out of the country, denied status, who cannot have their spouses come over, who can’t have access to health care. I’m curious to know how that’s not xenophobic,” said Williams, a member of the migrant justice organization No One Is Illegal.
Williams claimed she was inexplicably blocked from attending the event, despite having registered for the $35 reception on Wednesday. The Burnaby Board of Trade insisted it had no record of her registration, leading some activists to suggest attendees were being politically screened by Kenney’s office. Another activist was dragged out of the hotel lobby by her arms and legs after she was denied entry to the talk and refused to leave the building.