(This column was published in the North Shore News on Sept. 26, 2001)


Liberals' refugee policy a load of falafel

By Leo Knight

THE events of the past two weeks have been tumultuous to say the least. While some areas of life have returned back to some degree of normalcy, I find it somewhat difficult to dwell on the routine.


But, then again, the government of that man who currently occupies 24 Sussex Dr. is an embarrassment to all Canadians. Some things never change.


Last week, for example, as stories kept emerging about the Canadian connections to the hijackers and Osama bin Laden's network, Jean Chrétien kept denying the reality. This at a time when two Algerian brothers, residents of Richmond and named in the statements given by Ahmed Ressam to the FBI as part of his Canadian support network, went running to the RCMP wanting help because they claimed the Americans wanted to kill them.


What kind of nutty country is this?


Well, it seems to keep getting nuttier.


Many Canadians were angry last week when the prime minister failed to go to New York to demonstrate this country's support following the tragedy on Sept 11. CKNW's Rafe Mair did a whole show on the subject and listeners were treated to the largest outpouring of venom ever directed at a politician I have ever heard.


There was much speculation as to the reason why President George W. Bush failed to mention Canada in his historic speech to the U.S. Congress. Most centred on Chrétien's decidedly lukewarm show of support for our embattled cousins to the south.


But my sources in Ottawa tell a different tale. In the aftermath of the terrorist attack on New York, Washington asked the government of Canada to tighten up the borders and close the holes in the refugee process. Canada apparently declined, suggesting the status quo was sufficient.


You see, for years now the Chrétien government has been warned, time and again, that the refugee process, as it is applied in Canada, is being used by the world's flotsam and jetsam to gain a toehold in the West and easy access to the U.S.A.


Yet, despite the warnings from CSIS, the RCMP and the U.S. Department of Justice, just to name a few, for Chrétien and his lapdogs, it's business as usual. There are currently over 16,000 failed refugee claimants who have not reported for their deportation and have simply disappeared in the woodwork and nothing changes. Despite the destruction in New York and the thousands killed, including, I might add, scores of our country folk, and the specific request of our friend and neighbour, it remains situation normal.


Last week it was reported that 20 or 30 of those passengers diverted to Canada in the wake of the attack on America, had applied for refugee status. They were on their way to United States, the land of the free and the home of the brave, but somehow finding themselves in Canada by sheer happenstance, suddenly they are persecuted refugees?


The way our refugee laws are applied by this government and its patronage appointees on the Refugee Review Board, if Osama bin Laden managed to find his way here, he could simply put up his hand and say, "I'm a refugee. The United States of America wants to kill me and my home country, Saudi Arabia, has renounced my citizenship. I'm homeless, stateless and persecuted."


He'd qualify for a Social Insurance Number, welfare and the legal counsel of his choice. He could open up a falafel stand on Lonsdale Avenue and tie up the system with appeal after appeal for years. The only thing the Americans could do is attack us (unlikely) or conduct a black-op kidnapping (also unlikely, but less so). That is the way in the Federal Republic of Jean.


Small wonder Bush overlooked Canada in his speech to Congress. Falafel anyone?







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