Ottawa has launched an unprecedented billboard campaign in the Hungarian city of Miskolc, home of many Roma refugees, trumpeting Canada’s rapid expulsion of failed asylum seekers.
Since last week, the Canadian government has erected six billboards in Hungary’s fourth largest city, proclaiming: “Those people who make a claim without sound reasons will be processed faster and removed faster.”
The $3,000 ad campaign, another attempt to curb the inflow of Roma refugees to Canada, has already created uproar among the Roma community here and there.
In media interviews, Miskolc Mayor Akos Kriza, a member of the governing conservative FIDESZ party, said he was outraged, not because of the billboards’ unwelcoming tone, but because Canada is expecting his city to take back the failed refugees.
“Canada cannot send anyone back to Miskolc,” Akos was quoted in one Hungarian news article. “I will not yield on this point!”
Aladar Horvath, founder of the Civil Liberties Foundation in Hungary, said the campaign will provide further ammunition for ultraright conservatives to justify their racist attacks on the Roma.
“This is unfortunate,” Horvath told the Star from Budapest. “People are angry, disappointed and sad because Canada shows the same discrimination like Hungary.”
…The government said the campaign is to raise awareness of Canada’s new asylum system and to deter abuse. It is part of a broader public education outreach through the use of Internet tools, web banners and a pop-up message that appears on targeted users’ computer screens.
“Virtually all Hungarian asylum claims are abandoned or withdrawn by the claimants themselves, or determined to be unfounded by the independent Immigration and Refugee Board,” said Kenney’s spokesperson Alexis Pavlich.
“Canadians have no tolerance for those who abuse our system and seek to take unfair advantage of our country at great expense to taxpayers.”