Monday, October 1, 2012

Censorship of immigration debate in Canada

Very Canadian.  Censorship as a means of expressing disapproval is childish -- like sticking your fingers in your ears.  One would have hoped that the Canadian parliament was more mature than that

The right for MPs to say and discuss almost anything they want is one of the central privileges of Parliament, but a couple of divisive debates over the past week tested the thresholds of dialogue in the House of Commons.

In one case, two spokespeople from the Canadian Immigration Forum were barred from speaking at the Commons immigration committee Wednesday because content on their website was deemed offensive -- including an interview with Canadian white supremacist Paul Fromm.

Madi Lussier, one of the two witnesses from the Canadian Immigration Forum not permitted to speak to the Commons committee, wiped away tears as she expressed her frustrations. The group's website is mostly an aggregator of articles on different issues touching on immigration, but divided into provocative sections with names such as "Chinafication" and "Arabization."

She has advocated a moratorium on immigration for 50 years, and warned that "European" values might be at risk of disappearing in Canada.

NDP MP Jinny Sims was the first to argue against the group appearing. She said there are certain lines that cannot be crossed when allowing groups to testify at committee hearings.

"Well, I think (the website) definitely reflects the views of a white supremacist," Sims said.

"We live in a diverse country, and a very inclusive country, and for a parliamentary committee to give due deference to both perspectives at an immigration committee, I think would not do this Parliament very proud."

Conservative MP Rick Dykstra, parliamentary secretary to the immigration minister, said that once the opposition began lumping his party in with the views of the witnesses, it became impossible to have a rational discussion about their testimony.

"Once you stir the dust up to the point you can't see anymore, you've got to clear the room, and I think it was the right decision to make," said Dykstra.

But Arthur Schafer, director of the Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics at the University of Manitoba, says it's disappointing that the committee did not allow the Canadian Immigration Forum to appear.

"Every point of view -- however ugly and obnoxious most Canadians might find it -- should be allowed to be aired in hearings before our parliamentarians," said Schafer.

"I think it's important, for example, that they understand the passionate racism that exists in some quarters in Canada and understand the reasons and justifications that such people give."


Australia: More Sri Lankans head home instead of Nauru

This is all credit to conservative leader Tony Abbott, who insisted on Nauru re-opening

Sri Lankan men leaving Christmas Island for Colombo last week. They were followed by a second voluntary group yesterday.

Sri Lankan men leaving Christmas Island for Colombo last week. They were followed by a second voluntary group yesterday.

A SECOND group of Sri Lankan men left Christmas Island yesterday, having chosen to return to Colombo rather than be sent to Nauru while their claims for asylum are processed.

"Regular transfers to Nauru and more Sri Lankans returning home is further proof that people smugglers only sell lies and make false promises about what awaits people in Australia," the Minister for Immigration, Chris Bowen, said.

"People in immigration detention can request their removal from Australia at any point in time."

The men included two from Nauru, 20 from Christmas Island and six from mainland facilities including Villawood and Yongah Hill, Mr Bowen said.

Authorities intercepted another two asylum seekers boats on Friday, carrying a total of 133 people, all of whom have been taken to Christmas Island.


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