Saturday, June 18, 2005

One Too Many Refugees in Vancouver?

After a seven-year fight to remain in Canada, Renee Boje has finally been ordered to return to the United States. The Vancouver resident had claimed refugee status because she feared she would suffer "cruel and unusual punishment" at the hands of U.S. authorities who charged her with a drug offence eight years ago.

A refugee is generally considered to be a person who is afraid to return to his or her country for fear of persecution. A California police officer who charges a grow-op suspect is simply upholding he law – not persecuting someone. The same goes in Canada.

Whether a law is fair or not cannot be determined by an individual. If Renee Boje insists on growing pot, she should move to a place where marijuana cultivation s legal. Otherwise, she should be prepared to do time. That seems like such a simple concept. I wonder why it took seven years to figure it out. Even now, Renee Boje is still in Vancouver. Hmm, could there be something wrong with the Canadian immigration system?


B.C. Conservative MP Gurmant Grewal has been cleared of wrongdoing in two investigations launched after he tried to get Ottawa-bound passengers at the Vancouver airport to carry a package for him.

Premier Campbell has unveiled his new cabinet in Victoria, with half his 46-member Liberal caucus receiving cabinet posts.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Persecution" is something that's relative to the laws of the country in which a refugee seeks asylum. That's the whole point.

The entire concept of refugees (and, indeed, our entire legal system) is moot if you remove the comparative step - it's the question "would Canada's understanding of Human Rights allow this person to be treated in the same way that they will likely be treated if deported to their home country?" that's important.

In this case, clearly, politics interfered - the powers that be decided that while they were happy to grant asylum to draft dodgers, those with drug offences aren't welcome. But let's be clear about it - it has absolutely nothing to do with a California cop "just doing his job."

I agree with you that there's something wrong with the Canadian immigration system - but I'm thinking the other way. We deport far too many people in contravention of our stated commitments to international and our own human rights laws.

11:31 AM  
Blogger Ken Gardner said...

Hi Anonymous,

Thanks for your input.

I agree that the laws of the relevant asylum granting country must be compared to those of the other country to determine whether a claim fits into the refugee category.

As far as I know, however, drug laws in the United States are not too much unlike ours. I don't think someone convicted of managing a grow-op in California would be treated a lot worse than she would be in British Columbia.

I'm not an expert in drug laws, though, so I could be wrong.

You are probably right about too many people being deported. On the other hand, there are a lot of people who should be deported who aren't. You can see some of them selling drugs at the corner of Dunsmuir and Seymour any day of the week. How about convicted Nazi war criminal Michael Seifert, who lied about his Nazi past to get into Canada?

If the Canadian government could use more common sense when determining who can and cannot immigrate to Canada, we would have a much, much better country. In fact, that one relatively simple accomplishment could make this the greatest, most respected country on the planet.

7:43 PM  

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