CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

David Matas with Ilana Simon

Toronto, Summerhill Press, 1989. 336pp, cloth, $24.95
ISBN 0-920197-81-7. CIP

Grades 11 and up/Ages 16 and up
Reviewed by John D. Crawford.

Volume 18 Number 3
1990 May

This book argues for more generous treatment of refugees. There is recognition that cases in which people have claimed refugee status without ostensible grounds have generated adverse public opinion in Canada. The solution to this latter problem is seen to be more efficient determination of refugee cases. It is suggested that the proper policy for the Canadian government is one in which applicants for refugee status be given the benefit of any reasonable doubt, and it is implicit in the text that the onus of proof be placed upon the government on the basis that claimants are handicapped in many respects in presenting their cases adequately.

An early chapter correctly describes the racist character of early immigration policy in Canada. The book then criticizes the present system as overly complicated and unfair to claimants. It then suggests improvements to the system designed to introduce greater compassion and efficiency and to enhance the respect Canadians have for their society.

Closing the Doors can be commended for presenting a good argument in favour of a more open policy towards refugees. It directs attention to obvious defects in the present system and argues effectively for a more considerate policy. It perhaps omits describing the difficulties the Canadian government would have in implementing such a policy without giving the appearance of condoning queue-jumping by so-called refugees unable to secure entry under existing immigration regulations. However, it is unarguable that the policy towards legitimate refugees should be made more efficient and humane, as this book clearly shows.

John D. Crawford, Marigold School, Victoria, B.C.
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