Jason Kenney Confronted and Disrupted in Montreal

Syndicated from No One Is Illegal – Montréal

At least 50 protesters, in an action called by No One Is Illegal-Montreal, were able to
surround Kenney in the Arts Building as he tried to enter the private event. For about
one-minute, Kenney was asked about the report in today’s Toronto Star that a Mexican
woman, who twice tried to apply for refugee status to Canada, was found murdered in
Mexico. Kenney brushed off the question and didn’t answer.

Kenney was also asked explicitly about his party’s blocking of a refugee appeals
division, and again he didn’t answer.

When Kenney was told by a member of No One Is Illegal that his policies scapegoat
migrants and pander to racists, Kenney replied (with a hint of sarcasm): “I plead guilty,
I’m a racist.” At that point, Kenney’s handlers and security pushed through protesters to
get Kenney inside the venue.

For the next hour and more, protesters chanted and made noise to disrupt the event
from outside. The protest was partially a teach-in as demonstrators gave speeches
about Kenney’s track-record, highlighting in particular:

– the murder in Mexico of Grise, a woman who twice tried to claim refugee status in
Canada but was refused

– the Conservatives continued refusal to implement a refugee appeals division;
– the recent treatment of Sri Lankan migrants who are currently detained in British
– Kenney’s introduction of visas for Mexicans and Czechs while falsely misrepresenting
their refugee claims as bogus;
– Kenney’s role in US-style mass raids on migrant workers in Ontario this past April;
– Kenney’s unapologetic defense of Israeli war crimes in Gaza and Lebanon;
– Kenney’s attack on free speech by preventing the entry of George Galloway into
– Kenney’s involvement in cutting the funding of the Canadian Arab Federation (CAF);
– Kenney’s proposed changes to the status of migrant workers, which makes their
situation more precarious;
– the trend under Kenney and the Conservatives to push migrants into temporary worker
– Kenney’s defense of Conservative policies justifying rendition to torture and security
– the lifting of the moratorium on deportations to Burundi, Rwanda and Liberia, while
making it harder for other migrants to make refugee claims;
– Kenney’s record of comments that pander to racists, by inaccurately portraying
migrants as abusive of the immigration and refugee system.
– and more (!).

Members of Solidarity Across Borders, active in support work with local migrants facing
removal, also spoke to the day-to-day reality of deportation and detention in Montreal,
citing examples of local individuals and families fighting for status, in defiance of
removal orders.

At one point, two members of Conservative McGill – Gregory Harris and Derek
Beigleman — began chanting “We love Kenney, we love Kenney.” Protesters stayed
silent for at least a minute, and then asked the Conservatives about their view on the
murder of Grise, as well as Conservative immigration and refugee policies that allowed
the tragedy to happen. The two Conservatives laughed throughout the narration of
Grise’s deportation and eventual death.

During the picket, protesters also spoke in solidarity with No One Is Illegal Vancouver’s
picket today demanding the release of Sri Lankan migrants who are currently detained
after arriving in Canada last Sunday, as well as this evening’s migrant justice assembly
by No One Is Illegal-Toronto.

No borders, no nations, stop the deportations!
— No One Is Illegal-Montreal

Oops! Conservative MP staffer hits ‘reply all’ by mistake

By Andrew Brett

You may have heard about the cases of Suad Hagi Mohamud, Faraz Siddiqui, or Abousfian Abdelrazik. All Canadian citizens who were recently detained overseas, and received little help from the Canadian government to get back home. In some cases, Canadian consular officials actually worked against their interests. To help bring attention to the increasing trend of the federal government “disowning” Canadians abroad — especially if they happen to be Muslim and of colour — the Canadian Arab Federation and a students’ union at the University of Toronto organised a panel discussion featuring these individuals as speakers.

After receiving an invitation to the event, an assistant for Conservative MP Bob Dechert accidentally hit “reply all” and sent [an] e-mail back to the organizers, denouncing the panel speakers as “hostile.”

To buy tickets to the October 10th event, visit www.caf.ca

Finally Justice Prevails for Adil Charkaoui

The Canadian Arab Federation (CAF) would like to congratulate Adil Charkaoui on the decision made by Federal Court Judge Danièle Tremblay-Lamer who issued an order today to lift all conditions of the security certificate and is soon to be completely revoked. Mr. Charkoui has been held on a Security Certificate since 2003 which required him to wear an electronic monitoring device at all times, post bail and an order that he not associate with certain people. Security Certificates allow for CSIS to keep the evidence secret and present it to judges and ministers in secret hearings which is a gross violation of civil liberties. CAF is thankful that, although delayed, justice has prevailed in the case of Mr. Charkaoui. CAF was one of the interveners with the supreme court in 2007 when the court struck down the security certificate provision in Canada’s immigration law as unconstitutional because of the security hearing process.

This decision comes a day after Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin’s stated that “The fear and anger that terrorism produces… may lead governments to curtail civil liberties and seek recourse in tactics they might otherwise deplore … that may not, in the clearer light of retrospect, be necessary or defensible”. This has been the case with the treatment of many Arab and Muslim Canadians including Maher Arar, Adil Charkaoui, Abousfian Abdelrazik and the three men included in the Iacobucci internal inquiry: Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad Abou-Elmaati and Muayyed Nureddin.

CAF also supports Abousfian Abdelrazik as he sues the government and Foreign Minister, Lawrence Cannon, personally for $ 27 million in compensation after he spent nearly six years in prison or forced exile while his attempts to come home were thwarted. “CAF calls on the government to publicly apologize to Adil Charkaoui, Abousfian Abdirazik and Suad Hagi Mohamud and compensate them accordingly” added Khaled Mouammar CAF president. CAF also believes that all those who have been wrongfully detained should receive compensation and public apologies from the Canadian government. CAF Executive Director Mohamed Boudjenane added “In light of recent developments with Mr. Charkaoui’s case, the cases of other Security Certificate victims should be assessed immediately. Justice delayed is justice denied and it is time people get their lives back.”

UN Fact Finding Mission finds strong evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the Gaza conflict; calls for end to impunity

NEW YORK / GENEVA – The UN Fact-Finding Mission led by Justice Richard Goldstone on Tuesday released its long-awaited report on the Gaza conflict, in which it concluded there is evidence indicating serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law were committed by Israel during the Gaza conflict, and that Israel committed actions amounting to war crimes, and possibly crimes against humanity.

Download the rest of the report here.

Dark side of Great White North

Mail & Guardian Online

The case of Brandon Huntley, the white South African recently granted refugee status in
Canada, has stirred much debate about the politics of racism, persecution and refuge in
both Canada and South Africa.

“That a Canadian court could take this seriously boggles the mind,” South African
commentators Herman Wasserman and Sean Jacobs write of Huntley’s claim in
Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper.

Their probing article situates for Canadian readers the South African context of
Huntley’s case. They contrast his mobility and ability to find refuge with the fate of
Skhumbuzo Douglas Mhlongo, who tragically killed himself after frustrating and futile
attempts to obtain an identity document from callous officials.

A reading of the Canadian context suggests still another set of contrasts and divides,
and some disturbing directions in Canadian immigration, refugee, citizenship and
foreign policy — a far cry from a previous era that prompted some South African exiles
to dub Toronto “a place to run to”.

For one, Huntley’s case makes a striking counterpart to that of Suaad Hagi Muhamud, a
Canadian citizen whose sorry saga when she visited Kenya was also prominently
featured in the Canadian media recently.

Her identity was questioned by Kenyan authorities on the basis of the size of her lips as
they scrutinised her passport photo. The Canadian High Commissioner’s office in
Nairobi, without evidence or investigation, continued the humiliating treatment by
concurring with the Kenyan authorities that Muhamud was an imposter and annulled her

After a nightmarish bureaucratic run-around, Muhamud was allowed to return to Canada
late last month — having endured almost three months in limbo in Kenya, eight days in
jail and enforced DNA testing, which only confirmed her identity and her Canadian
citizenship. Muhamud’s case can also be compared with that of Brenda Martin, a white
Canadian citizen who was whisked back to Canada on a private plane after problems in

Indeed, there have been a number of high-profile cases of Canadian citizens in trouble –
– almost all of them people of colour abandoned abroad. Most famously, Maher Arar
was seized by the United States with Canadian complicity and, through the notorious
“rendition” process, spirited clandestinely to a secret detention facility in Syria where he
was tortured. Arar was eventually the focus of a remarkable public inquiry, government
apology and settlement. Such cases have encouraged an anxious Canadian national
conversation about racism, immigration and citizenship.

Undaunted by these human rights violations, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper
encouraged the imposition, two months ago, of stringent visa requirements on Mexican
and Czech nationals (the latter aimed at Roma people) on the grounds that they are the
producers of bogus refugee claims. Huntley’s case thus also contrasts sharply with
Mexican refugee claimants — victims of police brutality and/or of extreme gender and
homophobic violence — who have been told to relocate within Mexico to safer
communities rather than settling in Canada.

The Huntley case should also be contextualised. The conservative Canadian
government aggressively supported the Bush administration’s wars despite profound
dissatisfaction among Canadian citizens. In addition, the Canadian government was the
first, after Israel, to boycott the United Nations’s Durban Review Racism Conference
recently held in Geneva. This decision was made without consulting organisations
representing people in Canada most affected by racism, such as immigrants and
indigenous people.

These communities have decided nonetheless to act on racism despite their
government’s abdication. The Canadian Arab Federation (CAF), which provides
services and advocacy for a large number of immigrants, has found its funding cut on
the grounds that the CAF is “anti-Semitic” because of its support for Palestinian rights
and criticism of Israeli state policies.

But the CAF’s record in fighting all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism, is
impeccable — attested to by many community organisations, including progressive
Jewish groups — and the government’s punitive action is being challenged in the courts.
Other areas of comparison also exist. Huntley is, reportedly, an “illegal”, having
overstayed his worker’s permit. Besides Huntley, the detention and deportation of
“illegal” workers, overwhelmingly people of colour, appear to be increasing — as is the
organising to stop such removals. Meanwhile, the numbers of those coming on
temporary worker permits — permits offering few or no pathways to permanent
residence in Canada — continue to grow exponentially and now exceed those entering
as permanent residents.

In the context of such restructuring of Canadian citizenship, immigration and refugee
politics, one can ask: would Huntley have been granted refugee status had he not been
white? Some of the discussion around Huntley’s case suggests what Australian
sociologist Ghassan Hage calls “fantasies of white supremacy in a multicultural nation” –
– except that we are also seeing the anxious reassertion of the whiteness of Canadian
citizenship through moves that produce stratified labour, civil and political rights for
everyone else.

And although editors and mainstream pundits in Canada and South Africa want to
debate the distinction between the “bogus” and “real” refugees in this case, the actual
debate needs to be about a system of global capital that increasingly operates by
constraining the movement of workers, the better to secure their exploitation.
French academic Étienne Balibar, highly influenced by the campaigns of the sans
papiers, calls the contemporary geography of migration control “global apartheid”. For
the majority of the world’s poor, their countries provide no real refuge from poverty,
discrimination or exploitation. And the refugee systems of the global north, including
Canada, are increasingly restrictive.

A transnational, multilevel political fight for the right of free movement for all (not just the
wealthy or the white, not just for capital but also for workers) — and linked to social,
labour and political rights of all regardless of citizenship status — can provide a way to
reframe this debate.

In this connection, the anti-xenophobia and migrant campaigns on the ground, in both
Canada and South Africa, together with ongoing (if differing in scale) struggles in both
contexts for basic social services, for the means of life and for refuge, can provide us
with hope for a renewed politics and a more humane world.

Dr Cynthia Wright teaches at York University, Toronto, and is co-editing a special issue
of Refuge: Canada’s Periodical on Refugees. Salim Vally is a member of the South
African Association of Canadian Studies, was a visiting lecturer at York University last
year and is now based at the University of Johannesburg