Friday, September 18, 2015

Who Is Harsha Walia and Why Is She Saying All Those Terrible Things About Prime Minister Stephen Harper?

She's a keffiyeh-wearing "migrant justice activist" who wrote a book entitled Undoing Border Imperialism and who co-founded the Vancouver branch of No One Is Illegal

Impressive credentials, no?

Well, maybe not to you and me, but impressive enough to a reporter, who, in a report about a Winnipeg anti-racism conference, included a link to Harsha's upcoming workshop in that city. So now everyone's invited to "A Village Without Borders," including all us "right-wing fascists" (as Harsha refers to those of us who don't share her politics).

Speaking of which/whom: Prime Minister Stephen Harper comes in for some harsh words from Harsha. As she sees it, he isn't letting in nearly enough displaced Syrians, a response she calls

...absolutely inadequate. Because...the numbers are staggering. We're in the largest mass displacement on the planet since World War II with upwards of 60 million people displaced around the world. And there's a, with the specific numbers of 10,000, which is already unclear how many exactly Harper is going to accept and how immediate that is, one of the main concerns with that of course is that there is currently in Canada a ceiling for the number of refugees who can come to Canada under the refugee resettlement program. 
One of the main concerns with Harper's announcement is that, and it's already a vague announcement to begin with, but one of the main concerns is that it's unclear whether those 10,000 are on top of the existing ceiling or whether that announcement is going to be subsumed within the existing ceiling, which of course would then mean that refugees who are trying to be resettled form other countries, particularly parts of Africa and parts of the Middle East would then not be able to come to Canada. So it would mean that Harper's actually not really making an additional announcement of anything, it would just be within the existing numbers.

And another thing that's really concerning which we heard in the clip that you shared is you know, when Harper really plays up and into this idea of refugees being terror threats. This is something that we've seen particularly under this government consistently. When the boat of Tamil refugees came, the two boats in 2009 and 2010, one of the first things that the government said and really spread in mainstream media was the idea they were all terrorists, they're a part of the Tamil Tigers, and this included women and children.  
And so there's been a really--not just under this government, but particularly under this government there has been a linking, a really problematic, stereotypical linking of refugees as being a terror threat, which really hinders the ability of refugees to come to Canada. It affects the way in which the public views refugees. It means refugees are stuck in years and years of red tape around security screenings, and it also means that the government is going against every international standard to essentially say we're going to prefer minorities from the Middle East who are not Muslim. And so there's an explicit prioritization of preference under this government for, for example, Christian Syrians over Muslim Syrians, and other minorities who are non-Muslim. And so that has also been part of Harper's announcements at different times when it comes to Syrian refugees.  
So all of this is really troubling and deeply inadequate, and also deeply discriminatory...
Maybe to her, and maybe to many of those attending the 'Peg's anti-racism thingamajiggy. But if Canada can "discriminate" in the sense of exercising discernment and vetting these Syrians before allowing them in, it will be better--and safer--for us all.

No comments: