The situation in Syria has developed into the worst refugee crisis in recent memory, with approximately ½ of the population displaced from their homes. Out of a total population of 23 million in 2014, there are now over 4,000,000 who have fled the country and over 7.5 million within the country. There have also been approximately 250,000 killed in the conflict.
Stephen Harper’s response to this tragedy has been even worse than previously thought. The Globe and Mail has the details.
The Prime Minister’s Office directed Canadian immigration officials to stop processing one of the most vulnerable classes of Syrian refugees this spring and declared that all UN-referred refugees would require approval from the Prime Minister, a decision that halted a critical aspect of Canada’s response to a global crisis.
The Globe and Mail has learned that the Prime Minister intervened in a file normally handled by the Citizenship and Immigration department in the months before dramatic images of a dead toddler brought the refugee crisis to the fore. The processing stop, which was not disclosed to the public, was in place for at least several weeks. It is unclear when it was lifted. At the same time, an audit was ordered of all Syrian refugees referred by the United Nations in 2014 and 2015.
The Prime Minister’s Office asked Citizenship and Immigration for the files of some Syrian refugees so they could be vetted by the PMO – potentially placing political staff with little training in refugee matters in the middle of an already complex process.
The government has consistently said that they are focused on protecting Canada from an influx of terrorists, but there has been no evidence to suggest that is any problem whatsoever. Harper has also suggested that most of the refugees are well off and not in need of assistance. It was only after photographs of Alan Kurdi’s body washed up on the shore that more resources were assigned. Of course, this happened in the middle of our election campaign and the cynic in me suggests that otherwise, he would have continued to ignore the situation.
In addition to that, he has indicated that his solution to the crisis is to send increase the Canadian military presence, not assist the refugees, but to intercede on behalf of General Assad despite his record of war crimes. The various rebel groups are also guilty, but more bombs are not the answer.
Here are some pictures of what the refugees are fleeing, and what Harper wants to increase.
Harper continues to distract voters from the issue of his abysmal record and intentions for these victims by focusing on women wearing the niqab and his racist “Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act“. The niqab has already been settled in court with another win for human rights and a loss for the CPC and an increase in violence against Muslim women.
Last Tuesday, just days after the federal leaders’ French language debate inflamed passions about the niqab, two teenage boys set upon a pregnant Muslim woman on a Montreal street, grabbing her headscarf and knocking her to the ground. Now we learn that a man accosted a Canadian-born, niqab-wearing mother out with her young daughters at a Toronto mall, blocking her way and driving his elbow into her.
This is not the Canada I want.