Ifind it curious how selective our new Liberal government in Ottawa is when it comes to discrimination. It is “simply unacceptable to discriminate against refugees who practise certain religions,” said the current federal minister of immigration, etc., John McCallum as reported by CBC News in December 2014. What a difference a year makes. Earlier this week, that same minister released a refugee resettlement plan that seems to discriminate based on gender.
Is gender-based discrimination somehow more acceptable than religious discrimination? Or is it simply that Liberal values are so flexible that they can accommodate whatever policy decision Liberals believe is expedient. I favour the latter explanation.
Last December, we learned the Conservative government was seeking to give priority in its Syrian refugee resettlement plan to refugees from Syria’s religious minorities. The Conservatives were, apparently, responding to reports of Yazidis, Assyrian Christians and other religious minorities being marked for extermination and women and children sold into sex slavery by Daesh (ISIL).
In other words, PM Harper and his government seemed to be responding to reports that, for this segment of those at-risk in Syria, it is not just a question of compassion, but rather it is a simple matter of life or death, for Daesh seems intent on destroying these groups—in effect, committing genocide. And while Daesh might be murdering individual Muslims, it is not trying to destroy the Islamic faith.
But that was unacceptable to Mr. McCallum and his party.
This element of the recently announced immigration plan is receiving some push-back from the opposition, and especially from NDP leader Thomas Mulcair. Mulcair is reported to have said in Ottawa on Monday:
We do not believe it is appropriate to make a vast generalization about a category of refugees and exclude them ahead of any processing because of who they are.
“That’s simply wrong.”
Time will tell, of course, just how the resettlement plan rolls out. Those cagey Grits are well known for leaking tidbits of draft policy to see how they are received in the media, and then trueing up the final version of their policy to suit public taste.