From No One Is Illegal - Montreal:
Subject: Jason Kenney disrupted and confronted over two days in Montreal
-> Jason Kenney is disrupted and confronted over two days in Montreal
-> Kenney intends to bring in Refugee Appeals Division to distract from previous and upcoming attacks on migrant rights
MONTREAL, Friday, March 19, 2010 -- Conservative Citizenship and Immigration (CIC) Minister Jason Kenney was confronted and disrupted, over two days, during a visit to Montreal for the Metropolis Conference.
Today, two migrant justice and Palestine solidarity organizers were able to enter an elevator with Jason Kenney and his entourage as he prepared to make a policy address at the Sheraton Hotel. Immediately, the community organizers confronted Kenney about his pandering to racists and bigots in Canada with his comments and policies. They highlighted the prejudging of refugee claimants (such as recent claimants from Mexico, Sri Lanka and the Czech Republic) as well as highlighting two cases where a failed refugee claimant was murdered in Mexico, while another claimant committed suicide to avoid a deportation.
[More info about Grise, the Mexican woman who was murdered, is here.
More info about Habtom Kibraeb, an Eritrean refugee who committed suicide in Halifax is available here.]
Kenney was heckled all the way into the hotel ballroom, where he was intending to address a large group of conference participants. He was ushered away to a back room, and the two organizers (involved with the People’s Commission Network and Solidarity Across Borders) proceeded to address the gathering conference participants for up to 5 minutes. At various points, some members of the attentive audience applauded. Kenney’s attacks on immigrant rights, Palestine solidarity organizations, as well as his pandering to homophobes and racists were highlighted in some detail.
Later, other protesters also entered the ballroom. One protester succinctly expressed, as he was being expelled: “We won’t put up with this racist bullshit, fuck Jason Kenney!”
According to security officials, Kenney refused to come into the conference hall until any other potential protesters were removed from the ballroom. However, many participants in the Metropolis conference itself were intending to question Kenney vigorously.
Today’s disruption builds on a picket against Jason Kenney yesterday, at the same conference. Migrant justice, anti-racist, queer rights, feminist and Palestine solidarity organizers united together for a speak-out denouncing Kenney’s track-record. Members of groups such as the Migrant Workers Support Center, Dignidad Migrante, No One Is Illegal-Montreal, Solidarity Across Borders, Immigrant Workers Center, the Féderation des femmes du Québec, GRASPÉ-McGill and several Palestine solidarity organizations addressed the picket, including curious conference participants.
During the picket, some community organizers were able to enter the hotel. The picket and disruption were described accurately as follows in a Canadian Press report:
“Kenney's speech to the Montreal conference was interrupted briefly by a protester accusing the minister of racism. Kenney was confronted by a group of activists who accused him of harbouring extreme right-wing values. The same group confronted Kenney during his visit to Montreal in the fall. They accused him of a variety of affronts: limiting refugee rights, taking a one-sided approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and working to keep references to homosexuality out of Canada's citizenship guide.
At a demonstration before the speech they chanted, "Racist, sexist, anti-gay; Jason Kenney go away.""
[The original article is linked here.]
While Kenney was being confronted at the Sheraton today, he remained silent, except to mention to the protesters, as an aside, that a Refugee Appeals Division (RAD) would be announced soon. This division was supposed to be implemented back in 2002, under the Liberal government, but has been delayed by successive governments.
Kenney’s upcoming announcement is cynical. His previous policies have made it more difficult to claim refugee status, and upcoming policy changes will make it that much more difficult. Kenney's policies have made it more difficult to even enter Canada to make a refugee claim. The RAD is being implemented at a moment when even initiating a claim is harder to do. Montreal-area migrant justice organizers urge vigilance, because Kenney’s announcement is a seeming concession to NGO and church groups who have asked politely for a RAD for almost a decade. Meanwhile, Kenney is intending to bring in even more regressive changes to immigration and refugee policies. In contrast groups like Solidarity Across Borders will continue to campaign and organize for a comprehensive regularization program for all non-status migrants, while supporting migrants who face deportation and detention.