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RSS FeedsLooming election turns up the heat on refugees
(The Star Religion)


19 may 2019 14:00:11

Looming election turns up the heat on refugees
(The Star Religion)

The House of Commons standing committee on finance got a passionate earful last week from one of Canada’s most knowledgeable refugee experts, who wanted to know precisely why the Trudeau government was suddenly taking a harder line on asylum seekers at the very moment the numbers entering Canada were falling.On paper, the “anti-refugee” provisions buried in the 392-page omnibus budget bill, C-97, won’t impact many of the people still walking to Canada in search of asylum. Even by the government’s estimates, fewer than 1,000 refugee claimants this year are likely to be diverted into a new process — a significantly less robust one, critics say — that will decide their fate without a full and formal hearing before the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB).But the tweaks nevertheless enabled the prime minister and his cabinet to abruptly signal a very different kind of virtue — an unmistakably rightward shift on the fear-fraught question of refugees, targeting what Border Security Minister Bill Blair described as “asylum-shoppers.” University of Toronto professor Audrey Macklin isn’t buying it. In testimony before committee on Tuesday — and in a followup interview with the Star — she blasted the changes as nothing more than disingenuous pre-election pandering to potential Liberal voters gripped with unwarranted border worries.The proposed tweaks to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act would, among other things, change the eligibility requirements for certain claimants who previously made a claim in another country (i.e., the U.S.), regardless of whether their case had been heard elsewhere. Such claimants would then be diverted to a new process that critics say weakens the basic rights of asylum seekers.“This is what centrist governments in Europe have tried, and it’s a losing game,” said Macklin. “When they find themselves confronted by xenophobic appeals to ang ...
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