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The real threat is Harper-icism


November 23, 2011

Prime Minister Stephen Harper declared that “the major threat [to Canada] is still Islamicism” while Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, and Vic Toews, Minister of Public Safety, were hard at work over the summer months padding the Conservative’s shameful record of attacking immigrants. They went on a witch-hunt for ‘war criminals’ by releasing the names and photographs of thirty men residing in Canada. None of these men had ever faced trial for crimes against humanity or war crimes; however, their applications for asylum had been denied because of suspicions they had engaged in such crimes. These allegations were the pretext for deportation of at least four of the men and even caused a foreign ambassador to express surprise that one of his countrymen was wanted for such crimes. Meanwhile Kenney allowed real war criminal Dick Cheney—partly responsible for the Iraq War that killed a million people—to freely enter and leave Canada.

Kenney’s office then announced the creation of a tip line for members of the public to report any immigrants they suspect of “false representation, fraud or knowingly concealing material circumstances in the citizenship process.” We already know the kind of people who are going to be ratted out by racist busybodies for ‘jumping the queue’—those who would look out of place at a Conservative Cabinet photo-op.

And with Kenney’s and Toews’ re-introduction of ‘Human Smuggling’ Bill C-4, which among other things proposes the mandatory detention of migrants for twelve months, the message the Canadian government is sending to newcomers is clear: you’re not welcome in ‘our’ country.

Resources are being squandered on detention, investigation and policing at a time when the immigration waiting list is already sitting at 900,000 cases and citizens can wait years to be allowed to sponsor their spouses back home, and even longer to sponsor their parents, to join them.

But once they do make it here, racialized immigrants will be facing many of the same problems Canada’s Indigenous people currently face, including disproportionate surveillance and incarceration. And with the Conservative’s omnibus crime bill, things aren’t going to get any better. The bill will double the budget for policing, expand prisons, enforce mandatory minimum sentences, and focus on punishment instead of rehabilitative programs—all at a time when crime rates have been declining steadily.

This bill is based on a bankrupt US model which both crime victims and legislators in that country admit doesn’t work and will not meet any of the Harper government’s dubious claims to prevent crime or help victims. What it will do is waste billions of dollars on the construction of new state-of-the-art prisons, and the employment of more police, lawyers, prison guards etc., with most of the costs being downloaded onto the provincial and territorial governments.

While increasing the Corrections budget, Harper’s Conservatives will also continue throwing away billions of dollars on their imperialist interventions in Afghanistan, all under the guise of ridding that war-torn nation of ‘Islamicism.’

The anti-war movement responded with the slogan “Islam is not the enemy, war is not the answer.” Solidarity is essential to fight the real “major threat”: war, racism austerity and the climate change.

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