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August 13, 2010

The People vs. Jason Kenney

The Canadian Charger

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Referring to the current Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, the immigration-advocacy group "No One is Illegal" organized a number of creative actions across Toronto-with simultaneous events in Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal, Halifax and Winnipeg-to increase public awareness of Kenney's record as one of the most repressive immigration ministers in Canadian history.

On July 24, despite heavy rainfall, dozens of people gathered at Toronto’s Dufferin Grove Park to participate in the “National Day of Action: the People versus Jason Kenney (and everything he stands for).”

The National Day of Action in Toronto featured a soccer game in which one of the goal “posts” was a giant portrait of Kenney, complete with speech bubbles displaying slogans like “Exploiting migrant workers is my job” and “I plead guilty. I am a racist,” and a goalie wearing a giant paper Kenney head-mask.

The game ended with a group photo, where all participants gathered around the Kenney portrait to give it “the finger” in unison.

“The purpose of events was to reject Kenney’s agenda and connect with communities, encourage them to join grassroots movement for justice for all,” said Ryan Hayes of NOII.

Prior to the soccer game, members went around dense areas of Toronto like Dundas Square and St. Jamestown with a Jason Kenney “mascot” or “head puppet.”

This was accompanied with heavy leafleting and verbal denunciations of Kenney’s record as minister. One of the points highlighted is the increasing number of deportations under Kenney’s auspices, with a reported “75 deportations a day.”

Indeed, the minister has gained a notorious reputation among many civil-society organizations.

In addition to having cut funding for immigration and settlements organizations like the Canadian Arab Federation, Kenney is increasingly seen as staunch supporter of “imperialism and colonialism,” disallowing dissidents like British MP George Galloway into Canada, and pulling Canada out of the Durban World Conference Against Racism due to the conference’s apparent bias against the state of Israel.

This is not the first time that a group like NOII has demonstrated against Jason Kenney.

The minister has had several of his talks interrupted by NOII activists, and has mentioned the work of NOII many times. In fact, according to Hayes, Kenney even used his Twitter page to ask for a copy of a poster that Vancouver activists made of him.

“Kenney is definitely listening,” says Hayes, “but the only way that we can make him act is by…taking back our communities through campaigns like ‘Sanctuary City’ and ‘Status for All’.”

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