Isn’t this political interference?

Good ol’ Jason Kenney. Always the nice politico with kind words for little old ladies, soccer moms and anyone else eligible to vote. The “target audience”, one might say.

To Jason and the rest of the Harperites, the immigrant population is an important part of this group.  It is reckoned that by capturing the hearts and minds of Canada’s immigrant communities, then the Promised Land of Majority Government is within reach.

So it is no surprise to me that one of Harper’s chief lap dogs was in a Hogtown Chinatown grocery store yesterday to offer moral support to a grocer that is facing charges including kidnapping, forcible confinement and assault after he collared a shoplifter who came back to his Toronto store. The guy was pretty sick of losing a considerable amount of his inventory to those folks who advocate the 5 finger discount method of pricing, so he took matters into his own hands.

Whether or not you agree with taking the law into your own hands is moot. What is relevant is that a Minister of the Crown, in a blatant attempt to gain political brownie points, has broken one of the key tenets of our judicial system and interfered with a case that is before the courts.

Afterward, the minister said he didn’t want to interfere in a court case. But he offered sympathy to merchants of shoplifting. He said Mr. Chen, who arrived as a refugee in 1991, is an exemplary newcomer to Canada and a victim of crime.

But he HAS interfered. Just by showing up and expressing support for the shopkeeper, he has in essence thrown out the principal that politicos shall NOT interfere or APPEAR to have interfered.

Funny thing is that this is by no means the first time that JK has been accused of political interference. Reported in the Embassy Magazine on July 22, 2009;

Jason Kenney has compromised his position as immigration minister by repeatedly slamming the validity of various refugee claims and blatantly undermining the independence of Canada’s refugee tribunal, legal and immigration experts, including former IRB chairman Peter Showler, are charging. Over the past several months, Mr. Kenney has publicly declared asylum claims by U.S. war deserters to be “bogus,” accused would-be Mexican refugees of systematically abusing the system, and questioned the legitimacy of refugee claims by Roma from the Czech Republic.

As above, it matters not if you agree with the move to impose the added conditions to Czech refugee claimants; it’s not the point.

The Minister of the Crown is responsible for the way that his or her department carries out business and interprets and acts upon policy directives. It is therefore correct to reason that if the Minister is expressing a strong opinion about a particular issue that is relevant to the department, the department will likewise follow that course in its actions. An institutional bias is introduced.

Peter Showler, a former chairman of the IRB and director of the Refugee Forum at the Human Rights Research and Education Centre at the University of Ottawa, said Mr. Kenney has absolutely introduced institutional bias into the refugee board’s decision-making. He said Mr. Kenney’s comments have caused a “significant amount of damage” to individual refugee claimants from Mexico and the Czech Republic, as well as to the judicial process.

“I am not aware of a single previous minister of immigration who has made such remarks, who has intruded on the judicial process in this way; not one,” Mr. Showler said. “This is extraordinary and I think he has overstepped the line, and I think the courts are going to tell him that he’s overstepped the line.”

This interference is unprecedented and must not continue if we Canadians hold an independent and non-political judiciary and immigration system to be an important part of our society.

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