Last week we saw Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander unveiled his government’s newest racist rhetoric with the “Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act.” Now this isn’t the first time the Conservative government has appealed to xenophobic dog whistle politics for votes, but it is a part of an increasing attempt to use immigrant communities as scapegoats for tactless political gain. Despite there already being laws in place to deal with polygamy, this new bill would amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to make permanent and temporary residents deportable if they practice polygamy in Canada. This bill is just another flank in the cruel and unusual treatment of immigrants and refugees in Canada.
This is not to say that Canada’s immigration system has ever been ideal or humane (from the head tax on Chinese immigrants to ‘none is too many’ [among many examples]), but this increase in unashamed racist rhetoric from the government is alarming. By creating resentment in the Canadian population to the ‘dangerous stranger in our midst’, the Conservatives are maliciously denigrating a large class of people who come here as refugees for cheap political gain despite the very real and negative impact on these communities.
Yet, as a country we have also crafted a false narrative and selective history suggesting that we have welcomed persecuted persons and immigrants with open arms. A federal government website, “A History of Refuge,” showcases centuries of asylum-seekers, from Quakers to Rwandans, and Canada’s Nansen Refugee Award in 1986, in contrast to the actual state of refugee and immigrant politics today.
The reality is that many articles continue to point out how Canada (under the current and former governments), “detains people indefinitely in jails on no charge – often with limited access to family, legal counsel and third-party monitoring agencies. And the 220-odd people in immigrant detention in Ontario jails lack even the most basic check on their wellbeing: The Canadian Red Cross has been prevented from ensuring their detention’s in line with international norms and human rights.”…