The leader of the opposition Liberals, Michael Ignatieff, apparently could not resist the opportunity provided by the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Haiti to make political points. About a week ago, Ignatieff, while referring to Haiti, said he wanted “to put the politics aside.” Yesterday, politics was back in action with the chief Grit calling for exceptional immigration measures for the Caribbean nation.
According to the Liberal.ca Web site, if Ignatieff had his way our government would:
- Enlarge the concept of family for those directly and personally impacted by the earthquake to allow Canadians with relatives in Haiti to sponsor their their adult siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews for immigration;
- Allow Temporary Resident (visitor) Visas on a case by case basis so relatives can be brought to Canada by family temporarily while their applications are processed;
- Allow sponsorship to begin on the spot in Haiti, rather than forcing Canadians to first return home to Canada to start the paperwork; and,
- Provide additional federal resources for a new settlement services agreement with the Government Quebec, as the home to 95% of Canada’s Haitian community.
Haiti is the hot issue of the past week, so to come across as relevant, the Leader of the Opposition has to throw these ill-conceived notions out to capitalize on the situation. For decades, Canada has led all nations in its generosity when it comes to accommodating refugees. But surely there is a limit.
For one thing, do we really want to promote de-population of Haiti? And if we open our doors so wide to immigration from that nation, what about other nations where day-to-day life is about as miserable as it can get? Darfur comes to mind, as does Burundi, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo—do we extend similar immigration policies to them?
Rather than a policy to de-populate, I believe we should concentrate on providing on-the-ground food, medicine and shelter and on rebuilding the country. And, yes, that’s pretty much what our government is doing.
We are on the right track in Haiti, let’s not get sidetracked by spurious policy suggestions from the almost irrelevant Michael Ignatieff.
Relax Mr. Ignatieff, PM Stephen Harper has this one covered.
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© 2009 Russell G. Campbell
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