• Borukh

    Gina Csanyi-Robah’s detailed review of the efforts she has made to change Minister Jason Kenney’s twisted unrealistic perspective on the plight of the Roma (and the Jews) of Hungary is both laudable and enligfhtening. As a Canadian-born person of Hungarian-Roma descent, her laudability is completely understandable and to her credit. Her activities, which have yielded no change nor modification of the minister’s (and the Harper government’s) position is despicable. She prepared materials, arranged for Kenney to meet individuals with direct experience and knowledge of the situation, and discussed the condition in Hungary for Roma with him when he visited the Roma Community Centre in Toronto on Oct. 30, 2011. This was LONG before the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) terms were changed by Order In Council (no discussion in Parliament!) in May, 2012, and the passage of Bill C-31 at the end of June, 2012. Her efforts were to no avail, even after further contact with Conservativ e (and other) MPs by testifying before the respective House of Commons and Senate committees who were then reviewing Bill C-31. Further, when the list of designated safe countries, a list that is completey in the hands and at the discretion of the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, was announced by Jason Kenney on Dec. 14, 2012, Hungary was on it. What does this narrow single-mindedness tell us about Mr. Kenney and his boss, Prime Minister Steven Harper? And what does this tell us about Canadian Friends of Haifa University and the University of Haifa itself for awarding Mr. Kenney an honourary PhD last fall, as they said in their publicity materials that the university “is proud to confer the degree of Doctor of Philosophy… upon Jason Kenney, in appreciation of his revered leadership as Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism”? Those in the Canadian Jewish community who support Harper, Kenney and the rest of these single-minded politicians ought to be ashamed of themselves! They know that the Jews of Hungary are facing the very same fascist forces there as are the Roma, and yet they hail Harper, Kenney, et al. as heros worthy pf honour and respect, with no regard to Jewish values and concepts of social justice.

  • Peter

    There is no doubt that Hungarian Roma would have better lives here in Canada – but that can be said for almost all peoples from all around the world. Canada has one of the highest standards of living on Earth. Nobody disputes this. Unfortunately, that is not grounds for refugee status.

    ” Talk of bogus refugees, organized crime, taking advantage of social benefits, and safe democratic European countries has drowned out the truth that people ought to know. ”

    Well, lets step back a moment, shall we? The vast majority of refugee claims by Hungarian Roma HAVE been bogus, they HAVE been the result of organized crime and human-trafficking, they HAVE been taking advantage of social benefits – and even IF their claims of oppression in Hungary are legitimate (which is a very difficult stretch – but for argument’s sake, let’s concede that they are) – then as European citizens, they ARE entitled to settle anywhere in the EU and enjoy full social benefits and programs. The last point alone should disqualify them from entry into Canada as refugees. The reason that they DON’T settle elsewhere in Europe is that no european country recognizes their refugee claims.

    I encourage all immigrants to come to Canada and build a better life for themselves. But I encourage it through the proper channels, and I support Canada’s system of immigrant screening. The author refers to a “small yet significant number of Roma refugees from Hungary who are politicians, engineers, journalists, teachers, and police officers”. No such group exists – at least not legitimately. But again, even if they did – I would be the first to encourage them to apply for landed immigrant status through the normal channels.

    Nobody disputes that life would be better for these people in Canada. That is not grounds for claiming refugee status here.

  • Borukh

    Your comments about those who are seeking a better life in Canada should
    be applying as immigrants in the regular acceptable manner are well
    taken, Peter. However, this is about Roma people fleeing very bad
    conditions in Hungary and other eastern European countries and seeking
    refugee statusd here. They must prove their satatus under the terms of
    the UN Convention on Refugees. If you are correct about “the vast
    majority of refugee claims by Hungarian Roma hav[ing] been bogus” then
    this will all come pout in the hearings. BUT it is very clear that the
    conditions in Hungary for Roma (and for Jews) are terrible. These
    conditions are NOT “a very difficult stretch” as you suggest. They are
    very well documented. I don’t know where your claims of “organized crime
    and human-trafficking” come from, but if they are true (and I doubt at
    the least the extent to which you state them to be the case), then it
    will come out as a result of the hearings.

    You are also clearly
    not in touch with the situation regarding prejudice and violence against
    Roma in European countries as a whole. If you were, you’d understand
    why they want to leave Europe altogether, just as Jews did for so many
    decades! Do you hav e direct first-hand knowledge of the situation for
    and the condition of Roma in Europe? Have you read the reports of the
    widely lauded European Roma Rights Centre on their Web site? This NGO
    has been working for over 15 years on the problem of prejudice and
    violence against Roma across Europe. The European Commision has
    published many reports and documents about the plight of the Roma people
    across the countries of the EU – check their Web site too. On Oct. 26,
    CNN World (CNN.com) published a long report titled “Europe’s Roma
    discrimination shame” that reviewed the situation across Europe which
    said, “Anti-Roma feeling in many European countries still translates
    into
    official policies that result in segregation of Roma from the rest of
    society, deepening and exacerbating their existing poverty and
    marginalization. In some instances discrimination bubbles over
    into racist violence, when hatred espoused by extreme right-wing parties
    is acted out by youth mobs and vigilante groups”. Closer to home,
    Chris Selley said in an article published in the National Post on Oct.
    12, 2012: “The violence and discrimination the Roma face in Europe is
    visceral and entrenched in a way that has no analogue in modern Canada.”