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Is Canada blocking Roma passengers related to CETA implementation?

Are Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) ‘liaison officers’ at European airports now blocking Roma passengers from various countries entering Canada after the Trudeau government eased travel requirements for Romanians and Bulgarians last week in order to secure the approval of those governments for the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)?

The Toronto Star reports, “Since the end of last year, advocates and lawyers say a slew of Roma passengers from Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia — all currently visa-exempted countries — have reported being stopped from boarding flights to Canada via transit points in England, Poland, Belgium and Germany.”

That article adds, “The federal government denies that it is to blame. Ottawa says that while it provides assistance and advice to airlines, it’s ultimately up to the airlines themselves to decide who boards flights to Canada, and that all travellers coming to the country are subjected to scrutiny and can be denied entry. Airlines found to have carried an improperly documented foreign national to Canada will be fined up to $3,200 per passenger and are liable for additional removal and medical costs, according to the government’s manual on the obligations of transporters.”

1- Why did the Harper government impose visa requirements on Romania in 2009?

Maclean’s has explained, “Canada [says it] imposed the visa on [Romania and other countries] to stop an influx of bogus refugee claimants among ethnic Roma applicants.”

2- Why would Roma refugees flee Romania and other countries?

In its 2015/16 report on Romania, Amnesty International says, “Roma continued to face systemic discrimination and were targeted with hate crimes, including excessive use of force by law enforcement officials. Anti-Roma sentiment continued to be frequently expressed in public and political discourse.”

3- Why is the Trudeau government easing the visa restrictions?

In June 2016, the Canadian Press reported, “Romania’s prime minister [Dacian Ciolos] says he’s hopeful the visa spat between his country and Canada will be resolved soon — because otherwise, his country may not support the Canada-EU free trade deal.”

4- What might be happening now?

In September 2014, Maclean’s reported, “John Manley, head of the influential Canadian Council of Chief Executives, [says] more needs to be done at European airports to block bogus refugee claimants from actually boarding flights for Canada. This could including closer tracking of travel documents used to board airliners, Manley said in an interview.”

5- Has this happened before?

In October 2015, the CBC reported, “Canada-bound Hungarians with valid travel documents have been interrogated at Budapest’s international airport and denied permission to travel by unidentified officials dozens of times in recent months. …The airline [Air Transat] said Canadian officials have recently been present in Budapest to screen passengers about the purpose of their planned trips to Canada. …[Canada Border Services Agency] spokesperson Line Guibert-Wolff [says] the CBSA has ‘liaison officers’ who help airlines ensure passengers are properly documented.”

The Toronto Star article notes, “Gina Csanyi-Robah of the Canadian Romani Alliance [wonders] if the renewed reports from Roma travellers [being stopped] have anything to do with the planned removal of the visa requirement for Bulgaria and Romania.”