One of my favourite quotes is from U.S. President John Kennedy. He said: “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.”That is a question every person in Canada should reflect upon as we watch the disastrous human tragedy unfolding before our eyes in Europe as millions of innocent people flee the wrath and pure evil of both ISIL and the despotic regime in Syria.
As the chaos unfolds and world politicians sit by dimwittedly, wringing their hands and passing the buck, thousands die tragic and horrible deaths. To complicate matters, the United Nations and other world “leaders” have shown no stomach or courage to use all the tools at their disposal to combat and destroy ISIL and the Syrian regime and to bring them to justice at the International Court in The Hague. The Saudi, Egyptian, Turkish and Jordanian governments are allowing the carnage to continue while the Western countries, including Canada, have shown little appetite to do anything significant to help.
The victims, of course, are the innocents. Consider the heartbreaking case of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, whose lifeless body washed up on a Turkish beach on September 2nd. He died along with his brother, Ghalib 5, and mother Rehan as they were trying to escape the civil war in Syria by paying smugglers for a dangerous boat trip from Turkey to the Greek Island of Kos. The boys’ Canadian aunt, Fatima Kurdi, who lives in Coquitlam, B.C., was heartbroken as she described how their father tried to save Aylan and Ghalib when the rickety ship they were on flipped in the Mediterranean, plummeting everyone into the water and his family to their deaths. Kurdi had been desperately trying to sponsor other members of the Kurdi family to come to Canada.
Canadians are angry that Canada is not showing more compassion as this tragedy unfolds. We can and must do more. Immigration Minister Chris Alexander has proven in spades that he is a bureaucrat and not a leader. When there is war and death and genocide and families are fleeing in terror, the most important focus should be on doing the right thing and not focusing obsessively like Alexander does on doing the right paperwork….Agh. Alexander has the full authority and discretion under the Immigration Act as the Immigration Minister to allow anyone into Canada on compassionate and humanitarian grounds. In years past, this instrument has been used to allow over 10,000 people into Canada per year. Yet he dithers. Mulcair and Trudeau both would pull Canada out of supporting the military mission against ISIL and the Assad regime. They are Chamberlain-esque in their desire to appease rather than confront and defeat pure evil. Canada needs to show its spirit of generosity and accept more migrants and get them here quickly while meeting our military commitment to work with coalition forces to repel ISIL and the Assad regime. These are not incompatible objectives. The only way to stop the migrant crisis is to stop ISIL and Assad.
If only Canada had an Immigration Minister who had some of the talent, skill, compassion and leadership qualities of Ottawa’s great former Mayor, Marion Dewar. In 1979, Dewar led Project 4000, in which Ottawa residents sponsored 4,000 Vietnamese, Cambodian and Laotian refugees. Ottawans overwhelmingly opened their doors, wallets and hearts to the “boat people.” If Ottawa could take 4000 people, surely Canada can take 40,000. Marion Dewar simply did it and people followed. People will follow if someone trustworthy will lead. As a nation of immigrants, we should all remember when seeing the suffering of those migrants that there but for the grace of God, go I.