Other countries have seen governing parties whip up anti-refugee sentiments in order to win votes. On the eve of Australian elections in 2001, finding themselves down in the polls, John Howard’s Liberals created a panic over the arrival of asylum seekers, and won the elections on the strength of the public backlash.1
In the current context of a minority government in Ottawa, controversial legislative change of the sort proposed by the Minister presumably has little chance of being passed, especially if an election is called. Then why is it being proposed? Is the goal to exploit a backlash against refugees for partisan political gain?
For a brief account of this ignoble episode, visit http://www.safecom.org.au. Most of the asylum seekers in question were eventually recognized as refugees, although they spent years in detention on the island of Nauru first.