CAF News Release: Response to Mr. Jason Kenney, M.P.

February 24, 2009

The following News Release by the Canadian Arab Federation is in response to Immigration Minister, Jason Kenney’s threats to cut funding to newcomer service agencies served by the CAF.

By these latest actions, Mr. Kenney shows that his government will use the threat of funding cuts to silence any voices it deems dissenting, especially those that dare to be critical of Israel’s policies toward Palestinians, its egregious human rights violations, and its illegal occupation of Arab lands.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 19, 2009

Response to Mr. Jason Kenney, M.P.

The Canadian Arab Federation (CAF) finds it deeply regrettable that Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Jason Kenney, has threatened to cut funding to newcomer service agencies served by the CAF and has used the remarks made by CAF’s president, Khaled Mouammar while Israel was committing war crimes in Gaza, as an excuse to malign and intimidate Arab and Muslim communities who have suffered and continue to suffer from marginalization, threats and the muzzling of their voices.

We note with disappointment that this most recent attack on the CAF is part of a campaign waged by Mr. Kenney who has targeted and systematically vilified the CAF. In January 2008, Mr. Kenney smeared and stereotyped the Arab community during one of his exchanges with a Liberal MP in the House of Commons, and he described CAF as a racist organization in a speech in Bucharest Romania in June 2007. Mr. Kenney’s most recent attack on CAF came just 3 days ago at an anti-Semitism conference in London, England where he labeled the CAF and Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC) as groups that promote anti-Semitism. This characterization is slanderous and untrue on a number of levels. The CAF works with many Jewish anti-Zionist groups on a variety of projects. Furthermore, Arabs are a Semitic people, so Mr. Kenney’s unfounded allegations and intimidating threats against the CAF misrepresent the organization and our community and work to inflame and divide Canadians. .

Since 1992, CAF’s settlement programs have demonstrated a solid record of success that is available for any interested party to examine and review. These programs are thoroughly audited and have been praised for the efficiency and dedication with which they are implemented. Threatening to cut funding for these programs is a form of indiscriminate and collective punishment upon people who require these services. We wonder what motivated the Minister to issue this threat. If it stems from a disagreement with our position on certain political issues, we strongly believe that this constitutes an infringement on our freedoms and rights as guaranteed by the Charter. We have consistently sought to empower our community to speak its mind and participate fully, openly and unabashedly in the Canadian democratic process. Mr. Kenney’s comments serve to set this endeavour back. Is the muting of our voices is now a condition for receiving funding and support from our government? This is a matter of grave concern to all agencies providing language and settlement services to immigrants and newcomers.

Mr. Kenney’s comments, whether intentionally or unintentionally, perpetuate negative sentiments towards Arab and Muslim Canadians. These come directly after the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) released a report stating that “Canada should strengthen its domestic violence laws and stop religious discrimination against Muslims…and do more to improve the welfare of its Aboriginal citizens”.

We call upon the Harper government to adopt a zero tolerance approach to expressions of Islamophobia and Arabophobia (the latter of which is a form of anti-Semitism), in the public arena. The government must recognize Islamophobia and Arabophobia for what they are, pernicious evils that must be exposed, confronted and repudiated whenever and where ever they appear, evils so profound that they are ultimately a threat to us all.

The CAF will continue to provide its services to all Canadians and expects that funds will be unchanged for programs that we have implemented with excellence. The CAF will not be intimidated into silence and will defend the rights and freedoms of our communities as protected under the Charter. We will continue to combat racism and uphold the rights of racialized groups and human rights in Canada and abroad, as well as to vigorously expose the serious human rights violations perpetuated by Israel against the Palestinian people and its illegal occupation of Arab lands.

For more information, please contact:

Mohamed Boudjenane
CAF Executive Director
416-493-8635 x 23  ed@caf.ca

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www.caf.ca

Established in 1967, the Canadian Arab Federation is a national, non-partisan, non profit and membership-based organization.  CAF represents Canadian Arabs on issues relating to public policy.

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Deputy Minister Wernick gives Algonquins the slip, disparages efforts to end Indian Affairs’ illegal meddling in their governance

August 12, 2008

IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Deputy Minister of Indian Affairs gives Barriere Lake Algonquins the slip, disparages their efforts to end Indian Affairs’ illegal meddling in their governance

Ottawa, ON / – On Friday, August 8, Algonquins from Barriere Lake and their supporters protested at the home of Deputy Minister of Indian Affairs Michael Wernick. They hoped a delegation could meet with the Deputy Minister, but he slipped out of his house just before the Algonquins arrived and told a journalist he was “disappointed” by the Algonquin’s tactics.

“He’s disappointed we were in front of his house,” says Marylynn Poucachiche, a Barriere Lake spokesperson. “Compare that to our disappointment about Indian Affairs’ illegal meddling in our internal affairs and their violation of our constitutionally-protected rights to customary governance.”

“Deputy Minister Wernick shouldn’t feel disappointed,” added Norman Matchewan, a youth spokesperson for Barriere Lake. “He should feel ashamed that he allows this behaviour of Indian Affairs to continue.”

The Barriere Lake Algonquins are demanding that the Government of Canada revoke its illegal decision of March 10, 2008, to recognize as Chief and Council members of a minority faction not selected according to Barriere Lake’s customs nor supported by a majority of the community, and to respect the outcome of a new leadership selection process in accordance with Barriere Lake’s Customary Governance Code.

Instead of meeting Barriere Lake’s demands, Pierre Nepton, the Associate Director of the Quebec Regional Office of Indian Affairs, has suggested further violating their leadership customs by imposing an Indian Act electoral governance system on the community, which would be a direct violation of Barriere Lake’s constitutionally-protected Aboriginal Rights.

The Algonquins also want the Government to uphold signed agreements with the community, dating back to the 1991 Trilateral Agreement, a landmark sustainable development, conservation, and resource co-management process praised by the United Nations and the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. Canada walked away from the agreement in 2001.

Last month, members of Barriere Lake gathered for multi-day protests outside the office of Minister Lawrence Cannon and the Department of Indian Affairs in Gatineau.

“We’ll leave politicians and bureaucrats alone when the Department of Indian Affairs treats our community fairly, honours its agreements, and stays out of our business,” concluded Matchewan. “Until then, we’re not going to stop protesting.”

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Photos of the action (for tif files, please get in touch): http://barrierelakesolidarity.blogspot.com/2008/05/occupation-barriere-lake-algonquins-in.html

Media Contacts:

Marylynn Poucachiche, Barriere Lake spokesperson: (819) 435 – 2142

Norman Matchewan, Barriere Lake youth spokesperson: (819) 435 – 2142


For background see
a submission to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues: http://barrierelakesolidarity.blogspot.com/2008/04/canada-quebec-condemned-before-un.html

Collectif de Solidarité Lac Barrière

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www.solidaritelacbarriere.blogspot.com
barrierelakesolidarity@gmail.com