Musings —09.04.2015 07:36 AM—
- First things first. Lots of commentary this morning on the issue of refugees and immigrants, for very good reasons. Lots of the commentary seems to be steeped in emotion, however, and not so much facts. So, courtesy of CBC, here are some facts, published months before the current crisis. What you will see there is a mixed bag: wherever you are on the issue of accepting new people to this country, the Conservative government has done some things that are good, and some things that aren’t.
- Another important preliminary point: the NDP lied. As I told a Sirius radio host yesterday afternoon, Vancouver NDP MP Fin Donnelly knew – or, at the very least, should have known – that the family he was formally trying to get into Canada wasn’t the family he would later claim he was formally attempting to get into Canada. It wasn’t Aylan Kurdi’s family, full stop. The papers he “personally” handed to the Immigration Minister said that: they identified a different family. When Donnelly saw those (global) headlines yesterday morning, the ones that screamed that Canada’s government had denied entry to Aylan’s family, Donnelly had an obligation to correct the record. He didn’t. That means either he was lying, or he was recklessly indifferent to the truth. Either way, he should be kicked out of the NDP caucus. (And the Ottawa Citizen should correct the record. But won’t.)
- No one else is clothed in glory on this issue, either. The Syrian refugee crisis has been a crisis for a long time – I wrote about it two years ago, in fact, and was mad at Justin Trudeau for talking only about marijuana, and not the Syrian crisis. Two years ago last week, I wrote: “[The Syrian crisis and its impact on children] are the things that matter. Those are the things that should be dominating the public agenda. Those are the things that, to put a fine point on it, we have yet to hear about from Justin Trudeau, who aspires to be prime minister of Canada, for Pete’s sake.” The media haven’t paid much attention to the issue, either: as one panel recently heard,“the invisibility of immigrant voices in media breeds misconceptions.” And the Conservatives? Well, they’ve had Chris Alexander running the issue for them, and he is arguably the worst immigration minister we have had in a long time. The evidence is pretty conclusive.
- Will we sensibly solve this issue during an election? Don’t be ridiculous. Immigration/refugee issues, as I wrote in Web of Hate, have been a playground for political manipulation for many years. Says just one academic: “Research shows that evaluations of multiculturalism were influenced by the way categories of immigrants are defined. This suggests that distinctions made in the media, in policies, and by politicians, between, for example, ‘real refugees’ and ‘fortune seekers’, can have important implications for intergroup relations in culturally plural societies. Hence, it should not come as a surprise that politicians tend to manipulate these categories to gain public support in elections.”
- Bottom line? The political manipulations will continue, and all the political parties will engage in them. The image of Aylan will fade from memory. The electorate will move on to the next big story. But the crisis wrought by Assad and ISIS – and which has been happening for years – will continue.