TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 14, 2012) - Earlier this month, Mr. Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration, and Multiculturalism, decided not to renew a contribution agreement between Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and Palestine House Cultural and Educational Centre (Palestine House). As a result Palestine House will no longer provide settlement services or language instruction to newcomer Canadians. Mr. Kenny did not provide any convincing explanation for his decision.
Palestine House has been providing CIC funded settlement and language instruction services to Canadian immigrants of all walks of life for nearly two decades. The dedicated teachers, settlement workers, childcare workers, and administrative staff have served the community of newcomer Canadians with integrity, professionalism, and compassion. Mr. Kenney's decision mostly hurts those newcomer Canadians who will no longer be able to rely on Palestine House services to help them integrate successfully into Canadian society.
The decision is not based on the efficacy of the services provided. It is part of a concerted effort, if not a campaign, led by Mr. Kenney and the Conservative Government, of targeting Canadian organizations that act or speak in support of the basic human rights of the Palestinian people. In this silencing campaign any group that speaks favourably of Palestinians or their rights is automatically tagged as a supporter of extremism.
"It was made clear in correspondence to Minister Kenney that Palestine House categorically denounces all forms of terrorism or extremism. Our positions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are in line with universal values of human rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In fact, they are very close to the positions of the Government as stated on its website" Mr. Samir Jabbour, a spokesperson on behalf of Palestine House said.
He added: "Once again, Minister Kenny and the Harper Government prove to Canadians that they are solely led by their ideological biases. Rule of ideology, not the rule of law, is the actual policy that this Government follows."
Palestine House is the largest organization representing Palestinian Canadians in Canada. It has repeatedly expressed support for the Palestinian people and all oppressed peoples of the world, including Canada's First Nations.
"This decision which has left about 20 people jobless is motivated by discrimination. Despite the damage done to newcomer Canadians by this misguided decision, we are unwavering in our position in support of the Palestinian people and their human rights. Mr. Kenney and his decision will never silence us or stop us from serving our community" added the spokesperson.
We urge Minister Kenney to reconsider his decision and urge all concerned Canadians that support Palestine House to freely express support for the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people to make their views known to Minister Kenney directly and through their local MPs.