Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Either the Liberals Suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement, or They Are Complicit With Trump

"We can no longer trust that refugees in the United States will have access to a fair process. We must institute a process for rapid review and approval of refugee applications to Canada. Banning people because of their religion is fascist behavior. The NDP will say NO to these racist policies. The NDP calls for immediate action and for the Liberal government to stand up to the fascist, Donald Trump."

- Thomas Mulcair, NDP Leader
What the emergency session on refugees and the American Muslim Ban reveals is a deeply cynical Liberal government, obfuscating, resting on their laurels, and churning out vacuous self-congratulation, all while abandoning refugees when it is most important to stand up for them. The Liberal Government of Justin Trudeau is, apparently, content with tokenism, symbolic gestures, tweets, and their own odious self-satisfaction.

The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) requires “the he continual review of all countries designated as safe third countries” and that “the conditions that led to the designation as a safe third country continue to be met.” The United States is no longer a safe country for refugees and asylum seekers, the conditions that led to it being designated as a safe country are not currently being met. The United States under Donald Trump, particularly with respect to his vile and racist Muslim Ban, does not “respect human rights” nor does it “offer a high degree of protection to asylum seekers.” The United States is not according fair and due process to refugees and asylum seekers, it is neither respecting human rights nor affording a high degree of protection to those who most need it, and it is not a Safe Third Country.

If Justin Trudeau and his Liberal cronies, particularly immigration minister Ahmed Hussen, do not lift the cap on private sponsorship of refugees, streamline and accelerate refugee application processes, and, most importantly, suspend the Safe Third Country agreement – as the United States has violated its core precepts – then they are hypocrites and cowards. This abdication of the responsibility to uphold and champion human rights and immigration is loathesome and shameful, and the Liberal Government must act now to put their words into action or be forever labeled as liars and showboats. It is one thing for Trudeau to pat himself on the back at his dog and pony show 'townhalls,' it is another for him to mouth vacuous platitudes about vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers while simultaneously acting in a manner which betrays and harms them. His quietude, complacency, hypocrisy, and failure to stand up to Donald Trump will do immeasurable harm to Canada's reputation, and safety.

Two hundred Canadian law professors have written to the Immigration Minister demanding an immediate suspension of the Safe Third Country agreement. This would allow these refugees and asylum seekers to apply to Canada should they be turned away from the United States during this extraordinary period of tumult and xenophobia. The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, too, has urged Trudeau and the Immigration Minister, Hussen, to immediately suspend the agreement.

Either the Liberal government of Justin Trudeau suspends the Safe Third Country agreement with the United States for its failure to meet the conditions that led to its designation, or Trudeau's government is complicit with and implicated in Donald Trump's odious and reactionary politics. As the NDP's Jenny Kwan asked in the House of Commons emergency session, "will we be bystanders, or will we stand up for those facing hate and descrimination?"

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