Weekly Bulletin – 2004, February 12

The Scandal at the Department of Public Works vs. The Ongoing Scandal Of Refugee Claimant Abuse

Dear Prime Minister Martin:

For the past few days, members of Canada's parliament have been looking carefully at $100 million of federal government money funnelled to Quebec communications agencies by officials in the Department of Public Works. There is no doubt that the people who perpetrated this fraud should be brought to justice. Especially noteworthy is the revelation by Canada's Auditor General that this mis-use of public money had gone on for 4 years. But the additional question that has to be asked is this , “Has this campaign focused on the much more fraudulent and much more long-term money wasters in the federal government?”

An example is the in-Canada refugee claimant program. According to James Bissett, former Executive Director of the Canadian Immigration Service, Canada spends between $2 billion and $3 billion per year on people who arrive at our borders to claim refugee status. Although news reports tell Canadians of the arrival of noteworthy groups of refugees, most Canadians are unaware that , averaged over a year, between 80 to 100 people per day are making refugee claims here. Many of the reasons cited such as claims based on spousal abuse are gross extensions of the definition of the word “refugee”. This $2 to $3 billion is a massive annual expenditure and the abuse of the term “refugee” extremely fraudulent but it has received neither the parliamentary nor the media examination being given to the current Department of Public Works scandal.

The vast majority of Canadians want to help refugees. They support the legitimate federal program in which about 10,000+ real refugees are selected from refugee camps in many parts of the world and resettled in Canada. Most Canadians would also favour a Canadian initiative to donate much more to UN programs to assist genuine refugees and help them to return to their home countries. But Canadians do not want to see the refugee claimant program used by organized human smuggler gangs and individual fraud artists as an alternative door into Canada.

Immigration Watch Canada supports the following corrective actions to stop the regular annual hemorrhaging of billions on false refugee claimants:

(1) Returning the definition of the word “refugee” to the original UN meaning

(2) Establishing an administrative civil servant level to deal with claimants and replace the current quasi-judicial system which allows claimants a lengthy and costly appeal process

(3) Establishing the “safe third country” principle which would disallow people who have come from safe countries to apply for refugee status. These people comprise a large percentage of claimants.

(4) Removing failed claimants from Canada

(5) Substantially increasing the pittance which Canada currently gives to real refugees who are languishing in refugee camps around the world.

Immigration Watch Canada believes that these measures would break the cycle of huge numbers of fraudulent refugee claims being made in Canada and save all 3 levels of Canadian governments billions of dollars annually. Mr. Bissett states that about 500,000 claims have been made since 1989. If the current Department of Public Works scandal merits a public inquiry, the refugee claimant abuse of Canadian taxpayer money deserves even more attention.

Dan Murray
Immigration Watch Canada