Skip to content

UPDATE: Harper prioritizes ‘free trade’ with Europe over refugee rights

The Harper government is prioritizing a trade deal with Europe over the rights of persecuted peoples to seek refuge in Canada. parliamentary reporter Karl Nerenberg writes, “C-31 (which Parliament passed last spring) denies (the) right of appeal to refugee-claimants from countries designated as ‘safe’. …On December 15 Canada will almost certainly declare that Hungary is a safe ‘Designated Country of Origin’. That designation will mean asylum seekers from Hungary will face an extremely foreshortened process and will have almost no chance of being accepted as refugees in Canada. …Hungary is, currently, the main source of Roma refugee claimants to Canada, and until not too long ago the Immigration and Refugee Board tended to view these claims favourably. …The government and its supporters claim Hungarian Roma who fear persecution or violence from an ever-growing army of extremists can move to any of 28 countries in Europe. Sadly, that is not quite true. …Hungarian Roma, for instance, can de-camp and move to another EU country if they wish. But, if they do not find work in that other country, they’ll most likely be kicked out after three months. …(And) of late, race hatred in Hungary has been aimed not only at the 800,000 Roma but at that country’s more than 100,000 Jews. …(That has prompted some surprisingly blunt comments from Jason Kenney, but) the government has already telegraphed that it wants to name all European Union countries as safe. To do otherwise would put a major spanner in the works of the current Canada-Europe Trade Agreement negotiations. …There can be almost no doubt that the minute Canada bestows the honour of ‘safe’ country on present-day Hungary there will be defiant cries of victory from that country’s violent militias and legions of admirers of 1930s and 1940s style Fascism.”

Nerenberg’s full column can be read at Related Council of Canadians campaign blogs can be read at

Note: This evening I watched the 2009 Tony Gatlif film ‘Korkoro’ (Alone). “Based on an anecdote about the Second World War by the Romani historian Jacques Sigot, the film was inspired by the true life of a Romani who escaped the Nazis (in Vichy France) with help from French villagers, and depicts the rarely documented subject of Porajmos (the Romani Holocaust).” For more about the film, which I highly recommend, please see