I would like to take the opportunity to provide insight on Canada’s generous asylum system and clear up any misconceptions raised in Bernie Farber’s piece entitled “Canada Fails the Test of a Good Society” (Huffington Post, March 3, 2014). The piece fails to mention Mr. Farber’s close ties to opposition parties and the fact that he was once a candidate for the Ontario Liberal government whose misguided policies he now defends regularly. His partisan attempts to discredit our government’s reforms to Canada’s once-broken asylum system are shameless and predictable. Mr. Farber’s assertion that “...people who face persecution could be deterred from coming to Canada because of the negative campaign against refugees” is false and irresponsible to the many thousands of genuine refugees who are granted Canadian protection each year.
Certainly, the article fails to communicate fundamental truths about Canada’s asylum system. Canada continues to have the most fair and generous immigration system in the world. We accept 1 in 10 resettled refugees - more than almost any other country – and have increased resettlement funding by 20%. Our sensible new asylum reforms were implemented in an effort to provide faster protection to those who need it most because our government believes that genuine refugees in desperate need of Canada’s protection should not be stuck in a queue for years, behind those with unfounded claims who seek to defraud the system and abuse Canada’s generosity. Mr. Farber mentioned Hungary – that is, sadly, just one example of a democratic, developed country that prior to our reforms was a leading source of bogus, abandoned and withdrawn asylum claims.
Our government is committed to helping genuine refugees settle, integrate, and succeed here in Canada, which is why we have implemented a multi-year targeted resettlement plan. By assisting specific populations over a few years, we will be able to focus our efforts, maximize our resources, and provide faster protection to those who need it most. This approach will help Canada to improve refugee outcomes as communities will be able to better plan for arrivals with shared needs. Our government is committed to upholding Canada’s long-standing humanitarian tradition to offer protection to some of the world’s most vulnerable people.
Canadians who are truly concerned about the welfare of refugees will recognize that Canada’s new asylum system provides faster protection to genuine refugees. Moreover, in order to maintain Canada’s tradition as a global humanitarian leader, Canadians must have faith in the integrity of our system. Our recent reforms achieve both objectives despite falsehoods propagated by partisan critics, including Mr. Farber. His false claims that others are misleading the public with misinformation would be laughable if the topic wasn’t so serious and if his hypocrisy wasn’t so deep.
Hon. Peter Kent, P.C., MP – Thornhill
Chair, House Standing Committee on National Defence