Monday, July 26, 2010

The Slide Into Despotism

It's no big secret that the HarperCon$ have two sets of standards - the ones they insist that everyone else be held to and the standards that they hold themselves to. What most Canadians don't realize is how perilously close to the reality of various despotic regimes things are getting.

In the last couple of weeks, a few things have happened that deserve to be brought to our collective attention.

First up is Vic Toews gettin' all tough on prisoner transfers from the US.

For more than 30 years a matter of routine procedure, the Conservatives decided last year to get tough on Canadians who want to serve their sentences for crimes committed in other countries on home soil.

While all applications for transfers were rubber stamped in 2004 to 2005, the Harper government approved little more than a quarter of such applications between January and September 2009.

Why? Because the Conservatives are all about "gettin' tough on crime" ... or so says Vic Toews:

“Canadians want to know their communities are safe from serious violent criminals,” Toews said in an e-mail response to inquiries about the diplomatic note from the U.S. and the government’s stance on offender transfers.

Remember, we aren't talking about repatriating prisoners to turn them loose; just repatriating them to serve their sentences in Canada. Hardly something that means that they constitute any kind of threat.

But it's Mr. Toews handling of these cases that should cause a lot more distress:

Under the current legislation, the public safety minister can only reject applications on the basis of national security, namely terrorism-related threats, as well as a person’s affiliation with organized crime.

But lawyers argue the Conservatives have been misinterpreting the law. They have successfully appealed a number of decisions and B.C. lawyer John Conroy is even considering a class-action mandamus — a judicial writ — that would compel Public Safety Minister Vic Toews to make decisions on cases that have sat on his desk for as long as two years.

He's letting these cases sit and rot for two years? Somehow, I doubt that there are very many of these cases to begin with, much less enough to justify letting them sit around collecting dust for years at a stretch. Mr. Toews is just being malicious.

Second up, we leave Vic Toews and his "gettin' tough on criminals" nonsense to find Jason Kenney playing games with immigration law in this country:

According to Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, those applying under the Federal Skilled Worker or Canada Experience classes are able to choose to either take an International English Language Testing System or Test d'evaluation de Francais, or provide sufficient documentation demonstrating language proficiency.

But on June 26, Kenney gave "ministerial instructions" that only applications filed with a completed standardized language proficiency test will be processed, effective immediately.

"Ministerial Instructions" is nothing more than the government changing the rules without modifying legislation. We should be very concerned about this, for it is hardly the first time that the HarperCon$ have taken refuge behind closed doors instead of implementing their agenda openly.

David Matas, a spokesman for the bar association and a Winnipeg-based immigration lawyer, said this arbitrary change violates the rights of applicants, many from native English- or French-speaking countries who can easily prove their language skills without taking a test.

"This was done in an underhanded sort of way, because the law which says you don't need language testing remains. The government hasn't repealed the law, they've just given instructions not to process applications which don't have testing results," said Matas. "To me, that is an abusive way of going, for the government to get what they want without going through the proper procedures."

What else is this government going to do to undermine legitimate rights and process? How much more power are these clowns going to take to themselves, and take out of the legitimate legislative process?

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