OTTAWA — One of the few voices in Canada railing against a Conservative crackdown on Roma asylum seekers is among 60,000 Canadians to receive the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.
Recognized for her service to her community, Roma Community Centre executive director Gina Csanyi-Robah couldn’t help but take a shot at the government in a statement Thursday.
While I am very grateful to be recognized for the work I have done, I would be happier if Jason Kenney and the Harper government recognized that countries such as Hungary and the Czech Republic are not ‘safe countries’ for the persecuted Roma minority, and to stop inadvertently condoning these human rights abuses that are taking place in parts of Central and Eastern Europe,” she said, days before Bill C-31, the government’s controversial omnibus refugee bill, is set to clear the House of Commons.Among a myriad of other controversial measures, the bill seeks to designate certain countries as “safe,” non-typical producers of refugees and fast-track applicants under the belief they are not bona fide claimants.
While the list is a work in progress, Kenney hasn’t minced words, suggesting Hungary would be on top given all the “bogus” Roma claimants it produces.
He’s argued Roma are arriving at Canadian airports in droves yet often abandon their claims prematurely, fail to show up for hearings or are rejected because they don’t meet the criteria.
Meanwhile, Csanyi-Robah emerged on the political scene earlier this month to urge a Commons committee examining Bill C-31 to reconsider some of the provisions. She argued the persecution of Roma in Eastern and Central Europe is real and well documented and that their acceptance rate before all this “racist” anti-Roma rhetoric started was actually quite high.
In her statement, Csanyi-Robah said she’d prefer a return to the bill’s predecessor that called for an independent panel of experts to be responsible for putting the list together, rather than a “bias elected official such as Minister Kenney.”
Third reading of the bill is expected as early as Friday with the vote deferred to Monday.
A “day of action” against Bill C-31 and recently announced cuts to heath services provided to refugees is expected to take place across Canada on June 18.
The Diamond Jubilee medal is administered by the Governor General’s office and honours Canadian citizens and permanent residents who’ve made a “significant contribution” to the country, their province or community.
According to the Roma Community Centre, Csanyi-Robah was nominated by Ontario NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo’s constituency office.
She’s poised to receive her medal on June 13 during a ceremony at the Lithuanian Hall in Toronto.