Immigration minister promotes refugee reforms

Dave Bartlett
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Jason Kenney on cross-Canada tour

Federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney was in St. John's Monday to begin a cross-Canada tour to promote proposed changes to the refugee system he introduced in the House of Commons last week.

The reforms include:

faster protection for legitimate refugee claimants;

to settle more people to Canada from various United Nations recognized refugees camps;

Federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney was in St. John's Monday as part of a cross-Canada tour to discuss proposed changes in immigration legislation on how refugees apply for asylum. - Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

Federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney was in St. John's Monday to begin a cross-Canada tour to promote proposed changes to the refugee system he introduced in the House of Commons last week.

The reforms include:

faster protection for legitimate refugee claimants;

to settle more people to Canada from various United Nations recognized refugees camps;

to make the process more fair to immigrants, who find their cases delayed by people who file false refugee claims in an attempt to jump the immigration cue.

"Giving protection to refugees is a key part of Canada's humanitarian tradition," Kenney told The Telegram. "We want to build on that (but) at the same time we need to fix some very serious problems in our asylum system."

Kenney said there are two kinds of refugees.

The first are people who live in refugee camps and are victims of war, ethnic cleansing or persecution and can't return home.

According to Kenney, one of every 10 people relocated from these camps come to Canada, with only the United States taking in more.

The reforms propose to increase that number by 20 per cent.

Last year 150 of those refugees came to Newfoundland and Lab-rador.

Kenney said the Association of New Canadians in St. John's would be getting extra funding to help integrate more of those people here.

The second group of refugees come to Canada seeking asylum.

Currently, those people face a gruelling process to get their claims approved or denied.

Kenney said part of the refugee system is broken, as there are 60,000 people waiting for a decision.

Getting a hearing can take up to 19 months and the full process could take years by the time all administrative appeals have been heard.

People making false refugee claims have clogged the system, Kenney said.

"Unfortunately, Canada has be-come a destination of choice for many false claimants who want to abuse our generosity," he said.

"Because the system is so cumbersome and slow, they can often stay for four or five years or longer before they've exhausted all appeals and are removed from the country," Kenney said.

"This acts as kind of a perverse incentive for more people to come as false asylum claimants."

He said 60 per cent of asylum claims are found to be fraudulent or are withdrawn.

According to Kenney, Canada has the third-highest number of asylum claimants in the world - more than the United States.

The reforms will also bring in a new appeals process for refugees who feel their original claim was turned down in error, Kenney said.

Kenney said only a handful of asylum claimants come to Newfoundland and Labrador, and it's not as acute a problem here as it is in other parts of the country.

He said the proposed changes have been supported by the Canadian Bar Association, immigration lawyers, academics and many newspaper editorials.

He said only two or three interest groups, a few lawyers and the federal NDP are opposing them.

Kenney said officials in his department have been working on the changes for years and the federal Liberals seem to be in support of the reforms so far.

Megan Morris is the director of programs with the Association of New Canadians in St. John's.

The association also met with Kenney Monday.

"We're certainly pleased with the reforms," she said.

Morris said in the past, some refugees who came to this province had to wait years for their claim to be heard.

She hasn't heard any details yet about the additional funding the association may get because of the proposed changes.

dbartlett@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Jason Kenney on cross-Canada, House of Commons, United Nations The Telegram Newfoundland and Lab Canadian Bar Association

Geographic location: Canada, St. John's, United States Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • Patrick
    July 02, 2010 - 13:35

    All immigration to Canada should be immediately halted! With the exception of those individuals who are educated and/or skilled with a fluent interpretation of the English language that have NO criminal record. I'm sick and tired of my tax dollars being used to support unemployable immigrants who cant even speak proper English. Having lived in several provinces since I left school I have seen first hand what these first generation Canadians contribute to our society-NOTHING!! They come here and suck off the system,commit crimes, isolate themselves from society and generally take up space and waste oxygen. White Europeans came to this great land in the 18th and 19th century's and the country flourished. We established one of the most prosperous and industrious nations in the world. I have a major problem with those who come here to take advantage of a nation that was forged by hard work, integrity courage and honesty. Over 2 million Canadians fought in the Great War and World War Two, with over 60,000 dead in WW1 and close to 50,000 dead in WW2 to defend the very land that their fathers and grandfathers had settled. Hundreds of thousands have served since and many have died to defend Canadian values. Take a look at the Military today- over 93% of current CF members are Caucasian. If these people want to come here they should have to serve a compulsory three years in the Military to earn the right to call themselves a Canadian. My Great Grand Father was an Irish immigrant who fought in WW1, my grandfather fought in WW2 several members of my family, including myself are serving members of the Military. WE are Canadians by birth and by legacy. Our families have earned the right to live here- Shouldn't they? Being a Canadian is not a right-its a privilege.

  • Politically Incorrect
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    As I was saying about unsubstantiated fears... On what do you xenophobes, (sorry for the honesty) base these assumptions, especially you Bruce? In many cases, Canada has been responsible for supporting and arming the regimes from which these people are escaping. This is simply ignorance founded on nothing but tired stereotypes and bigotry. I imagine you lot wouldnt be howling so loudly if these refugees came from the British isles. What gives you the right to determine that the door should close behind you or your ancestors?

  • Manuel
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    I think Jason should worry about people at home first. There are hundreds of thousands of people in dire need here in Canada. Yet this man wants to bring people over from another country to help them instead of helping us first. So it is safe to say Jason doesnt care about us only other countries. He wants to help them and not us. Is this why he was put in OUR government? To help other people from other countries before any help is offered to the people who pay his salary.

  • b
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    Manuel is correct.

  • J
    July 02, 2010 - 13:28

    First off let's cancel any and all Welfare and welfare programs.

    Second, we have enough issues to worry about within our own country. Close the borders til we sort it out.

  • LeftyZealot
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    I agree Manuel. We need a policy that stops these people from coming to our shores. Oh, wait, we had one: 'None is too many.' Good times, good times...

  • Thomas
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    Bryce says: ''There's 38000 deported immigrants walking the streets that we can't even find.''

    Well, Bryce, if they're deported, it's not an issue is it? That's about as stupid as saying ''If we are going to spend millions of dollars on immigrants lets spend it to try and settle them in the countries where they now reside.'' Do you even know the difference between refugees and immigrants???

    Maybe you should enroll in an ESL class.

  • well
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    Manuel I agree with you 100%.
    Sad to say that these people are treated alot better then the citizens that live here. They all live alot better then you and me

  • mothertoall
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    I can see we have a bunch of Native Americans here. Unless you're Inuit, where the hell do you think you all came from? Clark? Mugford? Immigration.

  • Heather
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    The last time I was in Pearson airport I was hard pressed to find someone working there who spoke English; and they were down right rude. I, a born and bred Canadian felt like the minority. An uncle of mine who has been the superintendant of an apartment complex in Scarborough for over 40 years is now the only born Canadian living in his building. Another thing that annoys me is how Canada is expected to conform and respect the beliefs and customs of immigrants but we should not dare expect the same from them.

  • Paul
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    Despite high unemployment it is still argued that we need immigrants due to an aging population and low birth rates. The idea is that it will get worse later. I suppose there is some truth to that. That being said we need to we sure we bring in people who will help the country, people with skills and people who will fit in, not people who will just be a drag on the rest of the country or are unable or don't want to fit in. We have enough of those already. But sometimes unskilled labour is what we need as some jobs people in Cdn will not do, especially for the price. Also lets get rid of other immigrants sponsoring in their old folks and criminal siblings. Another consideration is voting. Some countries only allow people born in the country to vote. At least they will have spent their life in the country and hopefully have been exposed to what Cdn is, although our history classes tend to downplay any history. Next would be to put a rider in that if convicted of any serious crime within say 10 years that deportation is automatic, no matter why/where you came from.

  • Brad
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    Allowing the immigration of more refugees when our unemployment levels are at their worst is downright stupid. This will bring down average wages(which in Newfoundland are already well below par), as these people are used to having nothing and will work jobs for way less than we can afford. Big business loves it, and they are the ones pressuring government into allowing more immigration. Why not take some of the money put into immigration and put it into the homeless situation we have across Canada right now. Our days of being friendly and helping the world have to stop, how often can you give and give and not receive anything in return? We should close the borders until we have our own affairs in order.

  • Disgruntled
    July 02, 2010 - 13:17

    I agree Canada should look after its own first and there are lots of us. Want to help someone - help the Seniors who are in dire straits?

    Im not entirely against all refugees, but a lot of these people come into the country and cause lots of crime. Besides all that, wheres the money coming from in all this. Where are the jobs coming from?

    In Nfld we have no jobs for our own, let alone the refugees and immigrants.
    Nfld should look after its own. 150 people immigrated of these people. What are we doing in all this, allowing all the Nflders to go to Alberta to get jobs.
    We have it all wrong. The situation needs to be fixed, so that our children can stay home and grow with their parents and grandparents.

  • JK
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    It don't matter they can immigrate a million people here a year and by the next year they will all be gone anyway. They only use Newfoundland as a stepping stone to somewhere better anyway. Even they know they can get paid better on the mainland, and after one snowy, cold winter they'll want out anyway.

  • Politically Incorrect
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    Kenny is playing on unsubstantiated fears of illegal immigrants (before it was gays.) He characterises refused applications with fraudulent requests. So, for instance, a refugee from Israel say, will be refused as our government does not recognise human rights abuses from an ally, even though the refugee escaping very real persecution is passed off as a fraud. On top of this, he is blaming the slow process on the very people who are harmed by it. As for Morris of the Association of New Canadians, she knows who writes the cheques.

    But Harper and Kenny (and Ignatieff) know full well that their anti-refugee tirade will play well to their followers.

  • Chris
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    Lets put the brakes on all of these immigrants. enough is enough. The majority of them take from the system rather than give. As for the immigrants who have obtained canadian citizenship if they break the law kick them out and send them back from where they came never to get in again.

  • Tom
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    I'm shocked at Manuel Clark... He doesn't seem to understand the role of the cabinet.

    Here's a lesson. Jason has the immigration portfolio. He helps people from all around the world come to Canada to escape persecution. Every country in the world has their own 'Jason' doing the same thing as it is the decent thing to do - rescue people from dire situations, war, poverty or torture for their beliefs.

    This Manuel, is why Jason doesn't appear to help Canadian citizens directly, he is helping us indirectly by opening our eyes to diversity and showing it makes us a stronger people. It might teach people like you to show some respect to people less off than you.

  • PRIDE
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    This is shocking to here what in the name of God is the goverment trying to do tom us these people get enough now how about born and raised people here we are the mirnority here people not them and we have to take a stand and fight the Goverment on this cause if you don't now you wish you did in the end no jobs for us cause they have first pick our children will go hungry before those people would cause there helped by the Goverment why don't the Goverment go to the Airport or on the warf when the NEW COMMERS arrive and say welcome and help yourself to what ever you want it's just as well Newfoundlanders have got to fight this and have some guts.

  • steven
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    I say no more immigrants for thew next 10 year. We need to lower our unemployment rate. Screen immigrants prior to coming to Canada. Those landing on our shores are deported immediately!

  • Bryce
    July 02, 2010 - 13:08

    BEWARE...BEWARE...BEWARE...Another 14000 immigrants a year coming to a slum near you or creating a new slum at your expense.What are these politicians thinking or should i say drinking.Lets put the brakes on immigration until we clean up the mess we already have.There's 38000 deported immigrants walking the streets that we can't even find.Every year thousands of immigrants,many of them illegal, come to our shores, live on the welfare system for life,produce thousands of children in dysfunctional families,creating slum communities in the inner cities of Toronto, Monrteal and Vancouver, infested with booze, drugs. guns and prostitution, These people add nothing to Canada.It's time to put an end to this thrash immigration system.There are thousands of good bona fide immigrants just waiting to come to Canada that will add to the growth and prosperity of our country, not tear it apart.If we are going to spend millions of dollars on immigrants lets spend it to try and settle them in the countries where they now reside.We do not have to try and bring every refugee or immigrant to Canada.When a company hires new employees they interview and select the best workers that are going to add value to the company.Immigration is no different.Remember it was Pierre Trudeau and his merry socialists that created this immigration mess. It's time to clean it up.

  • Patrick
    July 01, 2010 - 20:25

    All immigration to Canada should be immediately halted! With the exception of those individuals who are educated and/or skilled with a fluent interpretation of the English language that have NO criminal record. I'm sick and tired of my tax dollars being used to support unemployable immigrants who cant even speak proper English. Having lived in several provinces since I left school I have seen first hand what these first generation Canadians contribute to our society-NOTHING!! They come here and suck off the system,commit crimes, isolate themselves from society and generally take up space and waste oxygen. White Europeans came to this great land in the 18th and 19th century's and the country flourished. We established one of the most prosperous and industrious nations in the world. I have a major problem with those who come here to take advantage of a nation that was forged by hard work, integrity courage and honesty. Over 2 million Canadians fought in the Great War and World War Two, with over 60,000 dead in WW1 and close to 50,000 dead in WW2 to defend the very land that their fathers and grandfathers had settled. Hundreds of thousands have served since and many have died to defend Canadian values. Take a look at the Military today- over 93% of current CF members are Caucasian. If these people want to come here they should have to serve a compulsory three years in the Military to earn the right to call themselves a Canadian. My Great Grand Father was an Irish immigrant who fought in WW1, my grandfather fought in WW2 several members of my family, including myself are serving members of the Military. WE are Canadians by birth and by legacy. Our families have earned the right to live here- Shouldn't they? Being a Canadian is not a right-its a privilege.

  • Politically Incorrect
    July 01, 2010 - 20:23

    As I was saying about unsubstantiated fears... On what do you xenophobes, (sorry for the honesty) base these assumptions, especially you Bruce? In many cases, Canada has been responsible for supporting and arming the regimes from which these people are escaping. This is simply ignorance founded on nothing but tired stereotypes and bigotry. I imagine you lot wouldnt be howling so loudly if these refugees came from the British isles. What gives you the right to determine that the door should close behind you or your ancestors?

  • Manuel
    July 01, 2010 - 20:20

    I think Jason should worry about people at home first. There are hundreds of thousands of people in dire need here in Canada. Yet this man wants to bring people over from another country to help them instead of helping us first. So it is safe to say Jason doesnt care about us only other countries. He wants to help them and not us. Is this why he was put in OUR government? To help other people from other countries before any help is offered to the people who pay his salary.

  • b
    July 01, 2010 - 20:19

    Manuel is correct.

  • J
    July 01, 2010 - 20:16

    First off let's cancel any and all Welfare and welfare programs.

    Second, we have enough issues to worry about within our own country. Close the borders til we sort it out.

  • LeftyZealot
    July 01, 2010 - 20:14

    I agree Manuel. We need a policy that stops these people from coming to our shores. Oh, wait, we had one: 'None is too many.' Good times, good times...

  • Thomas
    July 01, 2010 - 20:14

    Bryce says: ''There's 38000 deported immigrants walking the streets that we can't even find.''

    Well, Bryce, if they're deported, it's not an issue is it? That's about as stupid as saying ''If we are going to spend millions of dollars on immigrants lets spend it to try and settle them in the countries where they now reside.'' Do you even know the difference between refugees and immigrants???

    Maybe you should enroll in an ESL class.

  • well
    July 01, 2010 - 20:13

    Manuel I agree with you 100%.
    Sad to say that these people are treated alot better then the citizens that live here. They all live alot better then you and me

  • mothertoall
    July 01, 2010 - 20:13

    I can see we have a bunch of Native Americans here. Unless you're Inuit, where the hell do you think you all came from? Clark? Mugford? Immigration.

  • Heather
    July 01, 2010 - 20:06

    The last time I was in Pearson airport I was hard pressed to find someone working there who spoke English; and they were down right rude. I, a born and bred Canadian felt like the minority. An uncle of mine who has been the superintendant of an apartment complex in Scarborough for over 40 years is now the only born Canadian living in his building. Another thing that annoys me is how Canada is expected to conform and respect the beliefs and customs of immigrants but we should not dare expect the same from them.

  • Paul
    July 01, 2010 - 20:01

    Despite high unemployment it is still argued that we need immigrants due to an aging population and low birth rates. The idea is that it will get worse later. I suppose there is some truth to that. That being said we need to we sure we bring in people who will help the country, people with skills and people who will fit in, not people who will just be a drag on the rest of the country or are unable or don't want to fit in. We have enough of those already. But sometimes unskilled labour is what we need as some jobs people in Cdn will not do, especially for the price. Also lets get rid of other immigrants sponsoring in their old folks and criminal siblings. Another consideration is voting. Some countries only allow people born in the country to vote. At least they will have spent their life in the country and hopefully have been exposed to what Cdn is, although our history classes tend to downplay any history. Next would be to put a rider in that if convicted of any serious crime within say 10 years that deportation is automatic, no matter why/where you came from.

  • Brad
    July 01, 2010 - 19:59

    Allowing the immigration of more refugees when our unemployment levels are at their worst is downright stupid. This will bring down average wages(which in Newfoundland are already well below par), as these people are used to having nothing and will work jobs for way less than we can afford. Big business loves it, and they are the ones pressuring government into allowing more immigration. Why not take some of the money put into immigration and put it into the homeless situation we have across Canada right now. Our days of being friendly and helping the world have to stop, how often can you give and give and not receive anything in return? We should close the borders until we have our own affairs in order.

  • Disgruntled
    July 01, 2010 - 19:57

    I agree Canada should look after its own first and there are lots of us. Want to help someone - help the Seniors who are in dire straits?

    Im not entirely against all refugees, but a lot of these people come into the country and cause lots of crime. Besides all that, wheres the money coming from in all this. Where are the jobs coming from?

    In Nfld we have no jobs for our own, let alone the refugees and immigrants.
    Nfld should look after its own. 150 people immigrated of these people. What are we doing in all this, allowing all the Nflders to go to Alberta to get jobs.
    We have it all wrong. The situation needs to be fixed, so that our children can stay home and grow with their parents and grandparents.

  • JK
    July 01, 2010 - 19:54

    It don't matter they can immigrate a million people here a year and by the next year they will all be gone anyway. They only use Newfoundland as a stepping stone to somewhere better anyway. Even they know they can get paid better on the mainland, and after one snowy, cold winter they'll want out anyway.

  • Politically Incorrect
    July 01, 2010 - 19:52

    Kenny is playing on unsubstantiated fears of illegal immigrants (before it was gays.) He characterises refused applications with fraudulent requests. So, for instance, a refugee from Israel say, will be refused as our government does not recognise human rights abuses from an ally, even though the refugee escaping very real persecution is passed off as a fraud. On top of this, he is blaming the slow process on the very people who are harmed by it. As for Morris of the Association of New Canadians, she knows who writes the cheques.

    But Harper and Kenny (and Ignatieff) know full well that their anti-refugee tirade will play well to their followers.

  • Chris
    July 01, 2010 - 19:50

    Lets put the brakes on all of these immigrants. enough is enough. The majority of them take from the system rather than give. As for the immigrants who have obtained canadian citizenship if they break the law kick them out and send them back from where they came never to get in again.

  • Tom
    July 01, 2010 - 19:47

    I'm shocked at Manuel Clark... He doesn't seem to understand the role of the cabinet.

    Here's a lesson. Jason has the immigration portfolio. He helps people from all around the world come to Canada to escape persecution. Every country in the world has their own 'Jason' doing the same thing as it is the decent thing to do - rescue people from dire situations, war, poverty or torture for their beliefs.

    This Manuel, is why Jason doesn't appear to help Canadian citizens directly, he is helping us indirectly by opening our eyes to diversity and showing it makes us a stronger people. It might teach people like you to show some respect to people less off than you.

  • PRIDE
    July 01, 2010 - 19:44

    This is shocking to here what in the name of God is the goverment trying to do tom us these people get enough now how about born and raised people here we are the mirnority here people not them and we have to take a stand and fight the Goverment on this cause if you don't now you wish you did in the end no jobs for us cause they have first pick our children will go hungry before those people would cause there helped by the Goverment why don't the Goverment go to the Airport or on the warf when the NEW COMMERS arrive and say welcome and help yourself to what ever you want it's just as well Newfoundlanders have got to fight this and have some guts.

  • steven
    July 01, 2010 - 19:44

    I say no more immigrants for thew next 10 year. We need to lower our unemployment rate. Screen immigrants prior to coming to Canada. Those landing on our shores are deported immediately!

  • Bryce
    July 01, 2010 - 19:43

    BEWARE...BEWARE...BEWARE...Another 14000 immigrants a year coming to a slum near you or creating a new slum at your expense.What are these politicians thinking or should i say drinking.Lets put the brakes on immigration until we clean up the mess we already have.There's 38000 deported immigrants walking the streets that we can't even find.Every year thousands of immigrants,many of them illegal, come to our shores, live on the welfare system for life,produce thousands of children in dysfunctional families,creating slum communities in the inner cities of Toronto, Monrteal and Vancouver, infested with booze, drugs. guns and prostitution, These people add nothing to Canada.It's time to put an end to this thrash immigration system.There are thousands of good bona fide immigrants just waiting to come to Canada that will add to the growth and prosperity of our country, not tear it apart.If we are going to spend millions of dollars on immigrants lets spend it to try and settle them in the countries where they now reside.We do not have to try and bring every refugee or immigrant to Canada.When a company hires new employees they interview and select the best workers that are going to add value to the company.Immigration is no different.Remember it was Pierre Trudeau and his merry socialists that created this immigration mess. It's time to clean it up.