No One Is Illegal Confronts Minister Kenney Again!

Posted by admin on Nov 17th, 2009

On November 14, 2009, No One Is Illegal-Vancouver (Coast Salish Territories) activists, supporters, and allies confronted Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney at the University of British Columbia. Kenney was invited to speak to the UBC Campus Conservatives but did not receive a warm welcome, as his talk was continuously disrupted by a barrage of questions and confrontation regarding Canada’s racist immigration policy. There was a heavy presence of security and police at the event, in anticipation of alleged ‘security threats’ and ‘disruptions’ based on a tip that NOII-Van had called allies to mobilize around Kenney’s arrival.

As soon as Kenney entered the room he was immediately challenged about his claim that ‘there are no legitimate refugee claimants from Mexico’ in light of the murder of Grise, a 24-year old twice denied as a refugee in Canada and subsequently murdered upon her deportation to Mexico. He was further questioned about his repressive record of increased immigrant detentions and lower numbers of accepted permanent residents and refugees. In response, he maintained his lies (contrary to his own Department’s statistics) by stating that the number of immigrants Canada is accepting is on the rise.  One woman loudly screamed “Human Rights Abuser” into his face, visibly jarring him.

During the event, security and the RCMP removed one No One Is Illegal member from the building, who was subsequently detained and searched for “causing a disturbance”, and then arrested for “swearing”. Police eventually released the individual and no charges were laid.

Throughout the event, Kenney showed his propensity for manipulation, avoidance, and straight-out lies in response to any form of critique. When asked why he believed that immigrants should have to be fluent in the (colonial) languages of English and French if Canada is supposed to be “multicultural”, Kenney alleged that he had only stated a need for “vague familiarity” and that the direct media quote was incorrect. When asked what his government was doing to end decredentialization of immigrants, he responded it was “a provincial problem” and when asked about the treatment of the 76 Tamil men that recently arrived on B.C. shores and remain in ongoing detention (except one), Kenney responded it was the police’s business and he was sure they were acting appropriately. And when reminded of a sarcastic comment he had made earlier in Montreal, saying “yes, I’m a racist”,  Kenney quipped that he was not racist because he had housed an Indian family in his basement (!).

Over the past year, activists have been confronting and disrupting Kenney, ensuring that he knows that wherever he goes, resistance will follow!  In the face of escalating attacks on immigrants and refugees through increased detentions and deportations, constant inflammatory and racist remarks, immigration raids, and significant repressive policy changes, we assert No One Is Illegal!

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Top Ten List of Reasons to be Concerned About Jason Kenney (from event callout)

10. Kenney’s entrance into Canadian politics was through heading the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation, a neoconservative lobby group who denies climate change, calls for the end of government programs such as job training or the promotion of multiculturalism, and wants to deny EI to women who have had abortions.

9. In 2009, Kenney barred popular British Member of Parliament George Galloway from entering Canada because of his opposition to the occupation of Afghanistan. (Even the media thought this one was crazy – ban a UK MP when Canada’s still technically under the monarchy?). Oh, and also, Kenney was one of the leading supporters in the Canadian House of Commons of the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

8. Kenney is responsible for appointing a failed Conservative candidate and known anti-gay activist to the Immigration and Refugee Board, the body of political appointees that has complete discretion over who has the right to stay in Canada and who just isn’t “good enough”. Kenney has also failed to implement the long-promised appeals division of the IRB, meaning the system with an atrociously low acceptance rate still has no avenues of appeal.

7. Kenney is unapologetic in his defense of Israeli war crimes and has strong connections to the Zionist lobby. Kenney pulled Canada out of the 2009 Durban World Conference Against Racism, arguing discussions on Palestine were “promoting” racism not stopping it, even *before* apartheid state Israel itself had pulled out. Despite national outcry, in 2009 Kenney also cut funding to the Canadian Arab Federation due to its involvement in pro-Palestinian efforts. Kenney regularly refers to Canada’s largest Arab-organization as terrorist and anti-semitic. In response to protests organized by CAF during the Israeli massacres in Gaza, Kenney said, “The ideals these terrorist organizations preach are abhorrent to the fundamental values of the Canadian people and of all civilized peoples”.

6. In April 2009 Kenney oversaw the largest immigration raid in recent Canadian history, which went largely unreported. Executing unprecedented US-style tactics, Canadian Border Services Agency officers stormed into factories and farms in Ontario and detained over 100 non-status and migrant workers. In an illegal move, 41 of them were tricked into signing waivers that removed their right to a hearing and many have now been deported.

5. In the latest implementation of severe restrictions on entering Canada, in July 2009 Kenney announced immediate visa requirements for Czechs and Mexicans. Despite the fact that both countries have refugees arriving to Canada fleeing well-documented persecution, Kenney raised ongoing rhetoric about migrants taking advantage of the system and the need to build the walls of Fortress Canada even higher.

4. At a recent Town Hall meeting in Calgary, Kenney went on his usual tirade about refugees who “abuse” the system. When speaking of an elderly Muslim man who has been facing deportation for 19 years, an audience member yelled “Hang Him!” and Kenney laughed, grinned, and kept on talking.

3. In June 2009, a 24-year old woman was murdered in Mexico after having tried twice to claim refugee status in Canada and being refused. Deported to her death, when confronted with the news of this tragic event last month Kenney sarcastically replied, “I plead guilty, I’m a racist”.

2. Kenney and the Conservatives have been responsible for pushing the Canadian immigration system, already fraught with all sorts of discriminatory measures, into one where Canadian citizenship is largely out of reach and low-income migrants are pushed into categories of temporary workers. Denied the rights and privileges available to other Canadians, migrant workers struggle in precarious conditions, are subject at any time to deportation, and are brought in to do the exploitative, dirty work of the country that no one else is willing to do. This is the immigration system Kenney dreams of.

1. Awarded the “Best MP of the Year” by his fellow MPs, this 41 year old is poised to become the next Prime Minister of Canada. Concerned? You should be.

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