Immigration minister introduces bill
OTTAWA — The government has introduced a bill it hopes will deter refugee fraudsters from mooching off Canada’s economy and social services, but will also inform legitimate refugees of their legal status more quickly.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney hopes the new refugee system will be up and running in a year. But opposition critics have already signalled that the $600-million bill won’t enjoy an easy ride.
“These changes would result in faster protection for those who need our help and quicker removals of those who do not,” Kenney said after capping off almost a year of bill preparations and consultation.
He faced some concern from his cabinet colleagues about the bill’s cost, but was eventually able to convince them that the reform was well worth it.
“This is a very significant investment,” he acknowledged, but contended the government’s willingness to devote well over half a billion dollars to refugee reform at a time of tight budgets shows the Conservatives’ dedication to improving the system.
Officials said the reforms will cost $540.7 million over five years to implement. It will require another $85.4 million a year to keep the new system running.
Claimants wait an average of 19 months for a full hearing. That will drop to just 60 days under the new system, Kenney said. Similarly, the existing system takes about 4.5 years to deport a failed claimant. The reforms aim to cut that time to about 18 months.
Doubts raised about witness
GATINEAU, Que. — Capt. Robert Semrau’s court martial has been told one of those accusing him of a battlefield execution in Afghanistan was a “fairly erratic guy.”
Maj. Steven Nolan has testified an Afghan soldier known as Rolling John came and told him: “Capt. Rob no good. . . . Capt. Rob boom boom Taliban.”
Semrau, 36, faces second-degree murder charges for allegedly firing two rounds into the chest of a badly wounded and disarmed insurgent after an October 2008 ambush in Afghanistan.
Under cross-examination, Nolan agreed he encouraged military investigators to interview Rolling John but cautioned them that they may or may not trust him because he’s a “fairly erratic guy.”
Nolan testified there is a lot of “prejudice” among coalition forces against Afghan National Army soldiers and that he was trying to “culturally sensitize” Canada’s National Investigation Service before they interviewed the Afghan witness.
Semrau’s lawyer, Maj. Steve Turner, attempted to get Nolan to concede there is a problem of drug use in the Afghan army but the witness would only say Afghanistan has a cultural issue of drug use and the ANA is trying to change that culture.
Child-porn probe goes global
BRAMPTON, Ont. — A Toronto-area child-pornography arrest has led to a sweeping investigation uncovering 73 suspects in 20 countries, police said.
The investigation began last November with the arrest of a 29-year-old man in Brampton on child-pornography and sexual-assault charges, police said.
That probe went global, culminating in police gathering evidence against the 73 suspects.
This kind of offence knows no bounds in the Internet age, police said.
“While the Internet has evolved and shown its potential to assist society is endless . . . we need to remember that there are people out there whose use of the Internet will destroy the lives of our children and their families,” said taff Supt. John Nielsen.