Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The First Test

...of Tory moderation, now that they've got their majority, will involve the reintroduction of Bill C-49 (or whatever new name it is given):

The Conservatives intend to reintroduce their controversial anti-human smuggling bill when Parliament resumes, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said on Wednesday.

Now, the previous version was a mixture of decent law--cracking down the actual human smugglers behind operations like the  MV Sun Sea--and pointless gestures at toughness like detaining refugees who arrive by  ship in particular for periods of time beyond that of typical refugees.

And one of the strange things about the bill is that, on October 22nd when news of it was first made public, Jason Kenny and others in the government were quick to tout the support it had recieved from within the Tamil community, especially from the Peel Tamil Community Centre, a mysterious organization that did not seem to exist until October 22nd

In subsequent interviews,  Balan Ratnarajah, the man behind the P.T.C.C, claimed  that he had met with CPoC representatives and told them that his support for the bill hinged on these more extreme elements being removed from the final product.  And indeed he was assured that they would be.  In fact, word of Mr. Ratnarajah's deal with the Harper government circulated widely in the local Sri Lanken news outlets.  Here is probably the most thorough account of his meeting with Jason Kenny.  A brief extract:

“A member of our government in exile [LTTE] visited to Malaysia recently and reported to us that the situation on refugees in Malaysia is worst. Although UNHCR granted refugee status to those 4,000 to 5,000 Tamil people the Malaysian government has not provided anything to them yet. So we addressed this issue to the Canadian Government and we have been assured that it will be taken care of. "

So: will Mr. Ratnarajah have his demands honoured, and will those portions of the bill that penalize boat-people over-and-above other migrants be pulled from the legislation?  Or, on the other hand, now that those "very ethnic" voters have cast their ballots, will their concerns be ignored going forward?

As an aside, you might note that the "government in exile" that Mr. Ratnarajah claims to represent is glossed in the above passage as the LTTE, which is of course an abbreviation for the Tamil Tigers .  This is an interpolation on the part of whoever wrote up the transcript of Mr. R.s account of his meeting with Kenney.  More precisely, Mr. Ratnarajah ran and was elected to the first Transnational Constituent Assembly of Tamil Eelam (PTGTE) for district 3 (Western Ontario), and while some have  suggested a connection between the Transnational Assembly and the Tigers, this doesn't seem to have been particularly well established.

1 comment:

WhigWag said...

And an ironic development on this file is that there are now boatloads of imperiled LIBYAN refugees fleeing a war-torn, oppressive region, seeking asylum. But if this Bill goes through, we'd have to put them in jail, er, holding for a year if they arrived here... even though, thanks to this same gov't, we're now involved in a war ON those people's behalf.