Do the math: Canada has a compassion problem.
The Syrian-Iraqi refugee crisis is one of the worst of our lifetimes, and the numbers and practice of how Canada is responding are so confusing that it’s drawing no public engagement. What we do know is that 1,100 Syrian refugees have been allocated to be sponsored by the end of this year in Canada through 85 “sponsorship agreement holders.” Immigration Canada has yet to respond to an appeal by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for 100,000 Syrians to be resettled, and there is no numerical plan yet in place for how Canada intends to respond to this crisis in 2015.
In Parliament, no one seems to notice that while we posture over military action, our moral leadership is muted. Gone are the days when MPs of all stripes jockeyed to address human suffering. In 1979 and 1980, the plight of many hundreds of thousands of Southeast Asian “boat people” refugees was near the top of the agenda, and Canadians responded by sponsoring almost 70,000, winning the UN refugee agency’s Nansen medal for our efforts. But today, while more than three million Syrians languish in refugee camps in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, nobody is debating in Parliament how many we’ll sponsor.
Martin Mark, of the Catholic Office for Refugees in the Archdiocese of Toronto, is one of the persistent ones with his numbers lined up, at least for now. For the entire archdiocese, the federal government allotted 130 refugees to be rescued from the genocide devastating Iraqi and Syrian Christians.
There are more than 40,000 places of worship in Canada but now is when we will find out whether these communities can put action behind their beliefs. Mark Blumberg of Global Philanthropy reports that faith groups have increased overseas aid philanthropy 300 per cent since the boat people crisis, but we may be sorely out of touch with what it means to bring a refugee crisis into our suburban and rural homes today.
Source: The Globe and Mail
Colin Singer Commentary:
There is ample evidence which confirms the restrictive, enforcement minded policies under Canada’s Tory government. Humanitarianism and compassionate are not synonymous with practices shown by the current or former immigration ministers.