My heart goes out to the hundreds of thousands of Syrians who have been forced to flee their country with little more than their lives and the clothes on their backs, and sometimes not even that. Accordingly, I support our government’s Syrian refugee resettlement plan a hundred per cent.
Weeks after the Oct. 19 election, Prime Minister Trudeau insisted he’d bring in 25,000 refugees by Dec. 31 even though experts told us such a plan was not advisable. Now that there is no need for adolescent one-upmanship, however, and while there is an abundance of political capital available to the new Liberal government, cynical politicians like Immigration Minister John McCallum can claim the Grits always intended to “get it done right” and ignore the fact his party had made a promise almost everyone knew they could not keep if, in fact, they intended to do it right.
The disingenuousness of the Liberals notwithstanding, helping 25,000 refugees is the right thing to do. At least, that the way I see it. In fact, I’d like to see Canada admit ten times that number of Syrian refugees, spread over an appropriate timeframe, say 18 to 24 months, and with the appropriate amount screening to weed out potential decease carriers and security risks.
According to Government of Canada’s Facts and figures 2014 – Immigration overview: Permanent residents, in 2014, Canada allowed 260,404 immigrants into the country and had similar numbers enter for over a decade before that. If necessary, why not cut that number by half for two years and replace those potential immigrants with Syrian refugees? They, after all, are in desperate need of a new home. Sweden, a country with less than a third of our population is expected to take in 190,000 refugees this year. We are a country of immigrants and need to step up and do more.
According to the World Refugee Survey 2008, Syria hosted approximately 1,852,300 refugees and asylum seekers—this in a country with a population of under 20 million. Most had come from Iraq (1,300,000), but others came from Palestine (543,400) and Somalia (5,200). Now it is time for us to help the Syrians.