HM Minister of Citzenship Jason Kenney is one of my favorite people. He is smart and fearless. It is great to see Jason take on amnesty international. Amnesty has decided to forget political prisoners in regimes like Cuba and concentrate on Canada. I used to support amnesty, now I think of them as a leftist front organization.
Jason Kenney strikes back
Paul Wells on why the immigration minister waded into a fight with Amnesty over war criminals, and was in the right
Some stories are so odd nobody knows how to handle them. I don’t know how else to explain why Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s extraordinary public feud with Amnesty International has attracted so little coverage.
Here’s a senior Conservative minister departing from the Conservatives’ normal bland talking points and unleashing a written broadside against a critic. And Kenney’s sparring partner wasn’t a predictable target. It was the Canadian branch of Amnesty, one of the most revered human rights organizations in the world. But that didn’t stop the minister from calling Amnesty’s concerns “poppycock,” “sloppy and irresponsible” and “self-congratulatory moral preening.”
Here’s what the fuss was about: last month, Kenney and Public Safety Minister Vic Toews released the names and photos of 30 fugitives who’d evaded immigration authorities since being found inadmissible because they’re believed to be complicit in genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes. In short, the ministers were asking the public to help track down fleeing war crimes suspects. The public has stepped up: since the ministers’ announcements, six of the 30 men have been apprehended and three of those six deported.
Amnesty’s two Canadian heads, Alex Neve and Béatrice Vaugrante, wrote Kenney and Toews to “express their concern” about all this. Deporting the men—simply kicking them out of the country—“fails to ensure that such individuals will in fact face justice,” they wrote. “All the deportation guarantees is that the person concerned will be removed from Canada.” What’s worse, the deportees might face “torture, extrajudicial execution or enforced disappearance” if they went home. Finally, Neve and Vaugrante worried about “the fact that these individuals’ faces and names have been so widely publicized,” which could do them “reputational harm.”
Too bad, Kenney replied. Dripping with sarcasm, his letter wondered whether the despots in Iran and North Korea have so thoroughly cleaned up their acts that Amnesty has nobody left to criticize. Why is the NGO “squandering the moral authority accrued” in its campaigns against real tyrants, he wondered, and instead “targeting one of the most generous immigration systems in the world”?
The deportation orders against the 30 fugitives were issued “after formal proceedings during which these men had the right to be represented by counsel,” he wrote. There’s no way Canada could “conduct full-blown trials, at the cost of millions of taxpayer dollars, to prosecute every inadmissible individual for crimes committed in distant countries, often decades ago.” The government’s ﬁrst duty is to ensure that these people can’t find a cozy haven in Canada. “Your calls for more time, more process, more deference and more protection for war criminals and serious human rights violators . . . come across as self-congratulatory moral preening,” Kenney concluded.
Neve and Vaugrante wrote another letter to Kenney, repeating the concerns raised in their first, a little more delicately this time. But Kenney had left his mark....