The new law would give the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration the power to deny entry, for three years, to anyone seeking temporary residence in Canada if it would be "justified by public policy considerations" to do so. The text of the law does not say what would be a valid "public policy consideration" or who would decide what is "justified." However, the federal government has given indications in the past that it would implement its immigration policy with a view to bolstering its support for military aggression abroad. In March 2009, Jason Kenney (still the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) banned British MP George Galloway from entry into Canada on the grounds that he had provided "material support" to the elected Hamas government in Gaza. That ban was put in place to punish Galloway for contributing to the delivery of humanitarian aid that was desperately needed by the people of Gaza to recover from the attack by Israeli forces earlier that year. Conversely, when former U.S. President George W. Bush visited Calgary in March 2009 and then Toronto in May 2009, the Harper government ignored the demand of thousands of protesters who insisted that Bush be banned from Canada or arrested for his role in war crimes and the endorsement of torture. The same is true of Bush's Vice-President Dick Cheney when he visited Canada in 2011.
Not only would the proposed law allow the Minister to declare a person to be inadmissible based on undefined "public policy considerations" but it would also give the Minister the power to allow a foreign national to enter Canada even though that person would be otherwise inadmissible for reasons of national security, commission of war crimes or connections to organized crime. Under the proposed law, the Minister can override these concerns "on his own initiative" if satisfied that it would not be "contrary to the national interest" to do so. The government backgrounder for the law suggests that "the Minister could use this explicit authority to facilitate the entry of a head of state who would otherwise be found inadmissible" because to do so would not be "contrary to the national interest."
Although no example is given of a head of state or any other foreign national known to be a security threat, a war criminal or a gangster, who should thus be permitted to enter Canada, the clear implication is that the ministerial prerogative will be used to supersede Canada's obligations to uphold international treaties it is a party to that prevent such persons as George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Bill Clinton and other imperialist warmongers from entering the country. As Gail Davidson of Lawyers Against the War pointed out at the time of Bush's 2011 visit to Canada, Canada is a signatory to an international treaty banning torture, and that means the federal government is obliged to deny the former U.S. President entry into Canada. "If he does enter Canada, then the government has the obligation to prosecute him when he's on our soil," she added. Thus, one aspect of Bill-43 is to entrench Canada's position in support of U.S. imperialist aggression and provide Canadian territory as a safe haven for U.S. war criminals.
An important point to remember is that the Harper government and its Ministers are themselves implicated in war crimes for Canada's participation in the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan -- including torture -- and for the bombing of Libya, for which they have never been held to account. When considered in light of the Harper government's own criminality, Bill C-43 is revealed as part of international attempts to exclude war crimes committed by NATO and its member countries from being prosecuted. Canada is bringing its laws into conformity with the aim to permit warmongers and criminals from these countries free rein while those from countries deemed to be enemies of the state are expelled.
Bill C-43: Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act
As part of the ongoing series of anti-immigrant, anti-social measures that the Harper government has railroaded through Parliament in the last year, Minister of Immigration Jason Kenney introduced the barbaric Bill C-43, the Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act in the Parliament on June 20. In speaking to the press on this new legislation he is proposing, Minister Kenney stated that his proposed new law is aimed at "bringing transformational change to this country's immigration system." He said that these changes are firstly to "fill significant labourer shortages" and meet "economic needs quickly and efficiently" and secondly, to "safeguard the integrity and security of our immigration system."
He points out that Bill C-43 will serve the latter purpose by "closing the loopholes that allow individuals found inadmissible" to remain in Canada long after "their welcome is worn out." Once again he informs Canadians that this new law is proof positive that the Harper government is "committed to the safety and security of Canadians." Kenney arrogantly tabled this retrogressive bill two days after demonstrations were held in fourteen cities across Canada demanding the withdrawal of Minister Kenney's retrogressive measures that will deny large numbers of refugees and protected persons in Canada the right to basic health care.
One of the main elements of Bill C-43 is to reduce the length of jail time served by an immigrant or refugee as a condition of appealing a deportation order. Currently, for crimes that result in being jailed for less than two years, an immigrant or refugee can appeal their inadmissibility to the Immigration Appeal Division. In his presentation to the press, Minister Kenney suggests that too many people who have committed "serious crimes" are being sentenced to two years less a day, thus paving their way to an appeal to the Immigration Appeal Division, extending their stay and exploiting the largesse of Canadians, when they should be deported immediately. Under Bill C-43, the bar is raised. Any jail-time more than six months will result in deportation orders being served to "foreign nationals" without appeal.
As well, immigrants or refugees who have been found by the state to be convicted of a crime in a foreign land which carries a sentence of at least 10 years in Canada will be deported without the right to appeal.
Another provision in the bill is that refugees and landed immigrants who have been found by the state to be a "security risk" or who have committed "human rights violations" or engaged in "organized crime" outside of Canada, will face immediate deportation and have no access to appeal to the Minister for relief on Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds, as is currently the case. At the same time, the legislation will enable the Minister to "facilitate the entry of a head of state who would otherwise be found to be inadmissible if the Minister was satisfied that the decision was not contrary to national interests." In other words, war criminals such as former U.S. President George W. Bush, British Prime Minister David Cameron, and U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and others will be welcome in Canada although international law demands that they be arrested and brought to trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
In addition, the new legislation will only take into consideration "national security and public safety" and no other consideration such as Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds to determine the fate of a person who has been deemed inadmissible.
Already, the immigration system in Canada is inhumane, arbitrary and punitive. As is widely known, suspect and tainted "intelligence" collected by the Canadian Border Service, the CSIS, and the RCMP about various individuals through all kinds of means, including torture, enables the state to arbitrarily designate people as "criminals" who are then rounded up for deportation. The Harper government has added defamation to this. This practice permits a Minister to defame an individual who is then condemned on his or her say-so, without any due process or proof required. Bill C-43 is aimed at entrenching such arbitrariness under the fraud of protecting the safety and security of Canadians. When the basic right to asylum and due process can be arbitrarily dismissed, no one is safe or secure.
According to information presented on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website, the new law will enable the Minister "to deny temporary resident status for up to three years on the basis of public policy considerations." The example given to illustrate the point is that "the Minister could use this authority in the case of a foreign national who promotes violence against a religious group." Thus, under the anti-hate legislation, the Canadian state would target any political or social justice activist or Muslim who supports the just struggle of the Palestinian people on the basis that this or that individual is anti-Semitic and/or is promoting violence against Israel and Judaism.
Furthermore, the new regulations will deny the entry into Canada of "a foreign national" who has a family member who has been deemed "inadmissible" on grounds of "security, human or international rights violations, or organized criminality." The thrust of this provision is to target organizations and nations that the Harperites target as supporting "terrorism" and to deny them and their kin entry into Canada.
Currently, if an immigration officer in Canada or abroad has found that an immigrant or refugee has "misrepresented" their case to get into Canada, there is a two-year waiting period before being allowed to apply again. Under Bill C-43, this has been extended to a five-year ban from applying for status, and once admitted, a five-year waiting period before being granted status.
In the name of "strengthening program integrity" Bill C-43 will impose new regulations on those who are facing deportation or who are subject to a security certificate that go beyond restrictions imposed by the courts in order to "ensure more consistent monitoring and control of such individuals." This is another example of political interference in the judicial process where the victim may have a modicum of protection.
Finally, Bill C-43 would change the inadmissibility of "foreign nationals or permanent residents on security grounds for any act of espionage against any democratic government, process or institution to "any act of espionage against Canada or contrary to the interests of Canada." This change has serious consequences. Since "interests of Canada" means the interests of the rich and their governments, this legislation would provide the Canadian state with broad powers to criminalize political dissent amongst immigrants and refugees and arrest and deport those who stand up for their rights, such as those who participated in the G8/G20 actions two years ago in Toronto as well as those who are standing up for their rights with the students of Quebec. Not only that, this law opens the door to criminalize naturalized citizens who are born in other countries and have lived in Canada for many years, on the basis of participating in political activity "contrary to the interests of Canada."
Bill C-43 has little to do with guaranteeing the "safety and security of Canadians," and everything to do with establishing a police state. Police and ministers are given alleged public authority to commit serious violations of civil rights in the name of opposing crime and defending national security. Citizenship rights and rights of permanent residents mean nothing because they can be removed through defamation. In addition to all the other changes being made to Canadian laws, these changes add to the dangers the people face at the hands of governments which pay the rich. Once arbitrary powers of defamation are protected by the state, anyone who authorities deem is not worthy of being called "Canadian" can be removed or condemned to various penalties without any possibility of holding these authorities to account. It is very worrisome indeed.
Private Member's Bill Would Militarize Citizenship
As has become known, the Harper government has made sweeping changes to many Canadian laws by slipping them into omnibus bills. It has the habit of disinforming Canadians as a matter of course. This means that it operates in a manner that makes sure Canadians are unaware of the significance of what is going on and, in any case, are not able to hold the government to account because the system which linked them to the political power through party representation no longer functions.
Another way it is achieving these sweeping changes is by completing its agenda with Private Members' Bills.
On May 30, Calgary Northeast Conservative MP Devinder Shory tabled Private Member's Bill C-425, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (honouring the Canadian Armed Forces). Like other Conservative Private Members' bills, this one is consistent with the Harper government's overall pro-war agenda and attempts to violate the basic rights of Canadians in the interests of U.S. imperialism and the monopolies it represents.
Instead of ensuring that citizenship can be obtained on an equal and objective basis for permanent residents, if passed, the amended Citizenship Act would fast-track applications from permanent residents who sign a minimum "three-year contract with the Canadian Forces and have completed basic military training." The bill would specifically require the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism to reduce by one year the requirement of time spent as a permanent resident to become a Canadian citizen for those who join the Canadian Forces.
Such measures would put great pressure on immigrants and permanent residents to join the Canadian Forces to be used as cannon fodder in wars of aggression so as to speed up their citizenship process. It may also be used as a measure to demand permanent residents show their allegiance to the Canadian Armed Forces in order to get citizenship, while all those able bodied who do not join, will be marked as disloyal or not worthy of citizenship.
Of significance to all Canadians, the bill would amend Section 9 of the Citizenship Act so that a citizen who is found to engage in an "act of war against the Canadian armed forces" will be deemed to have made application to renounce their Canadian citizenship or be deemed to have withdrawn their application for Canadian citizenship.
The use of the term "Canadian armed forces" instead of "Canadian Forces" in relation to carrying out an act of war may be deliberate. This change of terminology may be significant as more Canadian armed forces are serving directly within the U.S. military on missions which are not openly joined by the Canadian Forces. This opens the door to strip citizenship from any Canadian who dares resist U.S. aggression or is captured by U.S. forces, similar to the case of Canadian Omar Khadr, on the basis that Canadian armed forces are operating within the U.S. military. Not to mention that this would likely be used against any Canadian who is caught by Canadian Forces in military actions abroad.
Speaking to the Bill, Shory stated: "This bill is much more than another pathway to integration. It also signifies the deep respect the people of Calgary Northeast hold for Canadian citizenship and for the brave men and women of our Canadian armed forces."
Blackmailing permanent residents into joining the Canadian military in order to speed up citizenship applications is clearly not aimed at breeding respect for Canadian citizenship or the Canadian armed forces for that matter but this is not addressed by either Shory or those supporting the bill. It is self-serving and unconscionable to have Canada's Parliament used in such a medieval manner.
Canadians should resolutely oppose such measures which pressure the most vulnerable in society into military service and which create conditions to impose civil death on those who resist U.S. imperialism.
The Identity Concealed by Concealment of Identity Act
On May 14 the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights presented its report on Bill C-309, the Concealment of Identity Act to the House of Commons. The legislation was introduced on December 5, 2011 by Conservative MP Blake Richards as a Private Members' Bill. It makes it an indictable offence to conceal one's identity during a riot. It also makes it an offence to wear a mask or disguise to hide one's identity in an "unlawful assembly" without a "lawful excuse." What is taking place in Quebec with Bill 78 is an example that, if passed, the Concealment of Identity Act can be applied anywhere the Canadian state declares legitimate political protest illegal using exceptional circumstances as the excuse. Furthermore the caveat without a "lawful excuse" is likely to enshrine the double standard whereby the police can "legally" hide their identities, whether as agents provocateurs carrying out illegal activities legally or when covering their faces to tear gas or pepper spray a crowd. The entire thing is to penalize any act of civil disobedience with draconian penalties to discourage anyone from voicing their opposition to anything the government does.
The maximum penalty for concealment of identity in a riot would be 10 years imprisonment, while for concealment in an "unlawful assembly" would be a maximum of five years imprisonment and/or a maximum fine of $5,000. Whether a mandatory minimum sentence would be imposed for violating the new law according to the measures contained in the omnibus crime bill recently passed by the Harper government also requires investigation.
On May 6, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Rob Nicholson announced that the Harper government would provide its full support for Bill C-309. In expressing the support of the government, Nicholson stated: "Our Government is committed to the safety and security of all Canadians. Destructive and reckless behaviour damages communities and should not be tolerated." The report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights on the bill will now be debated in the House of Commons at third reading and likely passed.
Opposition to Harper Government's Anti-Social Agenda
Health Care Professionals and Advocates in Toronto Oppose Health Care Cuts to Refugees
On June 18, thousands of doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, medical students, community health care advocates and concerned citizens across Canada participated in demonstrations in cities from coast to coast, including Toronto, Hamilton, Kitchener, Windsor and Ottawa in Ontario, to oppose the Harper regime's plan to implement changes to the Interim Federal Health Program. This program is responsible for providing health care to refugee claimants, re-settled sponsored refugees, and to other "protected persons." The anti-social measures proposed are part of the overall anti-social offensive of the Harper dictatorship against the Canadian people and will come into effect on June 30, 2012. They are being justified in the name of "efficiency" and preventing refugees from "abusing" Canada's health care system. These proposed changes will affect refugees who are already in Canada, and those about to come from a Designated Country of Origin (DCO), which according to the government are "countries that do not normally produce refugees, respect human rights and offer state protection." For example, France and Hungary, which target and abuse the Roma, would be considered DCO countries.
This broad and arbitrary designation of DCO is being used by the Minister of Immigration and Citizenship, Jason Kenney in a self-serving way to justify state-organized attacks against the most vulnerable and traumatized section of the Canadian people and to stir up racist hysteria against refugees.
More than 500 people protested in Toronto at the Citizenship and Immigration Canada office on St. Clair Avenue which also houses an Interim Federal Health Program unit. Many wore their medical scrubs and carried signs which upheld the right of all Canadians including refugees to Canadian standard health care as a matter of right. The protesters condemned the Harper government and Immigration Minister Kenney for attacking the most vulnerable people and demanded that the proposed changed to the Federal Health Care Program be withdrawn. Pedestrians and motorists gave their enthusiastic support for the action.
Dr. Philip Berger, one of the main organizers of the event and Head of Family Medicine at St. Michael's Hospital, called the cuts the "most vicious and meanest" attacks on refugees. He pointed out that under the proposed changes refugees who arrive in Canada requiring medical attention will remain sick. He denounced Minister Kenney for spreading the disinformation that refugees currently get better health care benefits than Canadian citizens and permanent residents, and that the proposed changes to the Interim Federal Health Program will bring health care provided to refugees in line with that provided to the rest of Canadians. Among other things the proposed changes will deny refugees insulin and other medications and health care will only be provided to them when it is "urgent," "essential" or "a public threat."
It is clear these measures are aimed at all the Canadian people. An injury to one is an injury to all, therefore the attacks on refugees which deeply affect the kind of society Canada builds, concern all Canadians. A public health nurse pointed out, "Refugees are part of us, the Canadian people. Their health care is the health care of all Canadians. It is unacceptable to target refugees with these punitive measures. It cannot be justified."
Furthermore, the fact that Kenney said that what refugees have is being brought in line with what all Canadians have means that all Canadians can soon expect to receive what he is offering the refugees. It seriously undermines the health and well-being of all the Canadian people and further realizes the program of the Harper government to make the privatization of health care a de facto affair.
The speakers at the Toronto rally called on everyone to
write their local MP to demand that these retrogressive measures be
withdrawn and to inform their friends about the measures and to call on
them to resist these brutal attacks on refugees by the Harper regime.
Government's Racist Promotion of "Culturally Driven Violence Against Women"
The Harper government keeps immigrant communities under the most vicious, racist pressure to ghettoize these communities and to isolate immigrants from the rest of the Canadian people. Not a week goes by without another inflammatory anti-immigrant initiative from Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. In this campaign of intimidation and marginalization of immigrants, an important role is being played by Harper's Minister for the Status of Women
Since taking over as Minister for the Status of Women two years ago, Rona Ambrose has been demonizing and vilifying immigrant communities under the banner of her alleged concern about preventing "honour killings" and "culturally driven violence against women." According to Ambrose, immigrants from the countries of southern Asia as well as immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries have defective cultural values and intervention by the Canadian state is required to impose superior "Canadian values" on these immigrants when they come to Canada.
The Harper government, along with the media, has singled out and sensationalized horrific murders of women of South Asian background and blamed the "cultural values" of certain immigrant communities as being responsible for these terrible crimes. Minister Ambrose is dispatched around the country to exploit any such tragedy to push the government's wrecking agenda. On one occasion last year, the irrationality of the Harper government was once again revealed when Ambrose went so far as to declare that the government was working on a law to make "honour killing" a separate Criminal Code offence. Killing and murder are already identified and accounted for in the Criminal Code. What happens to a society when things like the Criminal Code are used to promote state-organized racism against immigrant communities is the serious issue the government and monopoly media do not discuss.
Recently, Ambrose made a highly publicized appearance and held a press conference at the launch of a book on culturally driven violence against women written by Aruna Papp and Barbara Kay. Ms. Papp operates a private consulting business that trains police and other agencies on cultural violence issues. Ms. Kay is a National Post columnist. The Papp-Kay book, Unworthy Creature: A Punjabi Daughter's Memoir of Honour, Shame and Love, was released on May 15.
The media event around the book launch was used as a bully pulpit against immigrant communities. Ambrose lectured on the need to protect Canadian values from barbarism allegedly being brought in by immigrants: "In Canada all girls and women are equal to men under the law and have the right to live free from violence and abuse. Aruna Papp demonstrates that the barbaric practices associated with 'honour' motivated violence have no place in Canada, and that we must reject them using clear language of freedom and equality. I commend Aruna Papp and Barbara Kay for drawing attention to these acts of violence committed in the name of 'honour' with their new book." Ms. Papp joined in saying, "I hope that my book will encourage community leaders from all countries where gendered inequities flourish to break the silence on, and the cycle of, honour-motivated abuse."
This is the second appearance by Ambrose at a media event for the release of an Aruna Papp publication. In 2010 Ambrose attended the media release of "Culturally Driven Violence Against Women: A Growing Problem in Canada's Immigrant Communities," a report written by Ms. Papp for Frontier Centre, a private research institute supported by wealthy donors.
The main evidence presented by Papp in her 2010 study was a 1999 Statistics Canada survey that she claims showed "the highest prevalence of domestic violence against women was found in the homes of immigrants from developing countries." From this and personal anecdotes she concluded that violence against women in Canada is culturally driven.
Papp ignored the fact that the highest prevalence of poverty can also be found in the homes of immigrants from developing countries. It is a well established fact that, while violence and abuse is found across all strata of society, it is the poor who are most vulnerable to this violence. Poor women are often trapped in abusive situations because they don't have the financial means to escape that other women may have. Underfunding of shelters, housing and other social programs means poor immigrant women have nowhere to go and no way out. They are left to fend for themselves as domestic abuse escalates into violence.
At the media release of Papp's 2010 study, Ambrose hailed this work and called on women's groups across the country to submit proposals and funding requests to Status of Women Canada to develop the government's cultural violence campaign. Since then, the Harper government has cancelled Citizenship and Immigration Canada funding for women's groups providing language, job training and other settlement services to immigrant women and re-funded the same organizations through Status of Women Canada to promote the issue of "culturally driven violence against women."
The clap-trap about culturally driven violence serves the government's racist pressure to ghettoize immigrant communities and to isolate immigrants from the rest of the Canadian people, but does nothing to solve the serious problem of crimes against women. Violence against women is a serious problem in Canada as it is throughout the world where these crimes are committed in a multitude of cultural contexts.
One context for violence against women in Canada is the Canadian state's colonial subjugation and genocide against First Nations, which continues to this day. There is currently an investigation underway by the United Nation for the stubborn refusal of governments at all levels in Canada to take action on the disappearance of as many as 3,000 First Nations women across the country in the last few years. Another context is the widespread prevalence of domestic violence in Canada, which results in the murder of 75 women by their spouses every year. There are also 24,000 assaults on women by their spouses reported to the police annually and many more are not reported.
The Minister for the Status of Women declares that in Canada all girls and women have the right to live free from violence and abuse, but words are cheap. When it comes to concrete measures to ensure this right, the government fails in its duty. Shelters, housing and other supports required by women and children facing abuse and violence are underfunded. The same is true when it comes to funding concrete measures for ensuring the right of immigrant women to full participation in Canadian society.
The government blames the culture of immigrant communities for the problems women face. But the government itself is a force for retrogression in these communities, failing to uphold its responsibilities to immigrant women on a massive scale. This is reflected in, among other things, the shamefully low labour-force participation rates and employment rates among women in South Asian and some other immigrant communities compared to Canadian standards. This outcome is not a cultural factor but a result of government underfunding of child care, ESL, job training, education and other services women need. Government irresponsibility is the cause of the poverty, dependence and isolation which makes many women in immigrant communities vulnerable.
Immigrant women have brains of their own and know what they and their families need to live a decent life in a modern society. They need the government to do its duty. What they do not need is condescending saviours like Ambrose and her coterie attacking their communities with racist hysteria about "culturally driven violence." Ambrose, the Harper government and all of the bankrupt politicians serving the rich can be seen for what they are: forces for retrogression and backwardness and a block to progress for immigrant women and all of Canadian society. A new world is trying to be born where the rights of all are guaranteed and realized. Immigrant women stand with the vast majority of the Canadian people who are struggling to bring this new world into being.
Read The Marxist-Leninist