today, april 8: greet jason kenney in winnipeg, hear war resister joshua key

In Winnipeg? Downtown at lunchtime today? Join people of peace and conscience for an information picket about the Harper Government's proposed overhaul of Canada's refugee process, which threatens the most vulnerable people among us.

War resister Joshua Key, co-author of The Deserter's Tale will address the gathering.

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Jason Kenney's Refugee Reforms “Unbalanced”: Groups to picket Kenney's April 8 visit to Winnipeg

WINNIPEG, April 7, 2010 – Three Winnipeg organizations will hold an information picket outside of the Fort Garry Hotel this Thursday to tell Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to take his planned refugee reforms back to the drawing board.

Kenney, whose talk is entitled "Balanced Refugee Reform", will be speaking to the Canadian Club at noon on Thursday, April 8, 2010 at the Fort Garry Hotel. In the view of Peace Alliance Winnipeg, the Canada-Palestine Support Network (CanPalNet) and Canadians for the Inclusion of LGBTT* Rights, Kenny's reforms are unbalanced and guaranteed to cause hardship to many refugee claimants.

“Kenney's so-called reforms create two streams of refugees and drastically limit protections available to refugee claimants,” said CanPalNet spokesperson Erin Bockstael. “Under the Conservatives, unsuccessful refugee claims have increased by 56%. Unless he changes course, we anticipate tragic consequences for many refugee claimants.”

Earlier this month, Habtom Kibraeb, an Eritrean refugee, committed suicide in Halifax from fear of a pending deportation. In December 2008, a 24-year-old woman was deported to Mexico, where she was murdered months later. She had applied for asylum in Canada twice. This tragedy occurred while Kenney was imposing visa requirements on Mexicans, claiming they were bogus.

Kenney's immigration policies have angered the LGBTT* community. Over the past year, Kenney appointed a known anti-gay activist to the Immigration and Refugee Board and deliberately removed references to LGBTT* rights from a newly revised study guide for immigrants applying for Canadian citizenship.

“We see a future where the rights of the human person, without regard to sexual or gender identity, are recognized,” said Sean Gee of Canadians for the Inclusion of LGBTT* Rights. “Unfortunately, Mr. Kenney's immigration policies do not reflect this goal.”

“Peace Alliance Winnipeg is very concerned about the erosion of human rights under the Conservatives,” said PAW Chairperson Glenn Michalchuk. “Kenney's refugee reforms are part of an ugly, recurring pattern of disrespect for basic rights and freedoms.”

The Conservative government has cut funding to community groups for their involvement in pro-Palestinian efforts, barred British MP George Galloway from entering Canada because of his opposition to the occupation of Afghanistan, instituted immediate visa requirements for Czechs and Mexicans, and overseen unprecedented immigration raids in workplaces and women shelters in Ontario.

Kenney has made inflammatory comments about getting tough on immigrants and “fake” refugee claimants. He is currently the subject of a Federal Court inquiry on whether such public statements have interfered with the independence of the Immigration and Refugee Board.

Peace Alliance Winnipeg is committed to developing a broad movement for peace in our city. It organizes actions and educational events to promote an understanding of the events which are shaping our world.

CanPalNet includes Canadians of all backgrounds who support the human, democratic and national rights of the Palestinian people. It aims to change the policies and actions of the Canadian government so that these come to support the rights of the Palestinian people.

Canadians for the Inclusion of LGBTT* Rights believes that the rights of the LGBTT* person and those of all people should be protected and recognized without discrimination. “LGBTT*” is an acronym that refers to people who define themselves as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Two-Spirit, or *Unidentifying.

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