Tories Want To Quickly Throw Out Those Who Come To Canada And Seek Refugee Status

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New Democrats believe that the new policy would lead to discrimination because guidelines could be based on the “whims” of the minister.

OTTAWA – Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and his equally anti-immigration leader Stephen Harper sure work over time to find anything and everything they can do to make immigration so tight that only the wealthy can find a welcome mat in Canada.

Harper and Kenney’s latest fight is to overhaul Canada’s refugee system in order to stop thousands of refugee claims from “safe” countries. This essentially means that if you made it to Canada, fleeing dire circumstances from your native land that you will no longer be able to seek refugee status in Canada.

Harper said that Canada has the world’s most “generous” immigration system, and that it is subject to abuse under the current guidelines.

“We continue to see thousands of people coming from safe, democratic countries making refugee claims in this country. That is not acceptable to Canadians,” he said.

But the proposed legislation reverses some key concessions the Tories made with the opposition two years ago in order to pass the Balanced Refugee Reform Act through a minority Parliament.

Interim NDP Leader Nicole Turmel accused the government of breaking a promise while speaking in parliament Wednesday.

“Why destroy all the good, non-partisan work that was done on refugee reform?” asked Turmel.

While Harper also referenced the recent immigration changes, he said that more needs to be done to address the backlog of immigration claims.

“Some changes were made in the last Parliament that have been helpful, but are clearly not sufficient to deal with this issue,” he said.

Earlier, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said that it takes about 1,000 days for the Immigration and Refugee Board to review a claim filed by someone from a democratic rights-respecting country.

That would be reduced to 45 days under the proposed changes.

“We’re sending a message today: If you do not need Canada’s protection we will give you access to our fair asylum system and then send you home quickly. You will not be able to remain in Canada for years, using endless appeals at the expense of Canadian taxpayers,” Kenney said.

But the New Democrats believe that the new policy would lead to discrimination because guidelines could be based on the “whims” of the minister.

Those who file refugee claims from unsafe countries and legitimately require protection will have their claims heard faster, and will be granted access to an appeal system not available to those from safe countries.

In fact, 23 per cent of refugee claim submissions last year were filed from the EU — an increase of 14 per cent over the previous year.

More refugee claims were filed from the EU in 2011 than from Africa and Asia. And virtually all of them were either rejected by the IRB, or abandoned by the claimant, Kenney said.