Canada, historically, has always known itself to be a nation of immigrants and refugees. All of us — with the exception of our First Nations, whose leadership are gathered this week in Toronto to select a national grand chief — have come here from somewhere else. If we’re being honest with ourselves, we must acknowledge that much.
It’s a strength, too. Our diversity, and our willingness to welcome others seeking a new and better life, is one of the things that makes us great. We’ve collectively made Canada the best country on earth by welcoming newcomers. Not by turning them away. As such, the United Nations has consistently ranked Canada as one of the world’s best nations.
Jason Kenney doesn’t agree with any of that, or he doesn’t understand any of that. In the Harper government, Kenney is the minister charged with making Canada less hospitable to those from afar. He’s good at it.
Whenever the Conservative government gets in trouble or seems adrift, Kenney can be counted on to offer up some mean and miserly new policy, a bit of dog-whistling to quiet the conservative core vote. Thus, his recent plan to deny basic health benefits to refugees.
Kenney’s anti-refugee bill, C-31, will kill basic medical coverage provided to refugees and asylum-seekers. As such, it persecutes those who have mostly come here to escape persecution. It is a distinctly un-Canadian bit of viciousness, one that will see diabetics denied insulin, heart patients denied life-saving medications and high-risk pregnant women unable to get the treatment they need. The Canadian Medical Association says it will see children held in detention centres with their mothers.