January 18th, 2020

Canada should be welcoming displaced people

By Letter to the Editor on May 30, 2019.

According to the UN Refugee Agency, 31 people are displaced from their homes every minute and 52 per cent of the world’s refugees are children. Despite knowing this, the Liberal party is quietly trying to close Canada’s borders.

Buried deep within the Liberal budget lies a tangled mess of policy that will devastate the lives of tens of thousands.

$1.1 billion is set aside for border enforcement and the removal of “irregular border crossers.” The Liberals are creating policy that would effectively deny entrance to any person seeking refugee status in Canada.

An individual who had a denied refugee claim anywhere else in the world, would not even be allowed to apply for refugee status in Canada. The innate cruelty of this policy is astounding.

Refugees denied asylum by any country for any reason could not even attempt to apply for refugee status in Canada.

Currently, an asylum seeker who has been denied asylum by another country is legally entitled to a refugee hearing. They are only allowed the hearing if they are physically in Canada when they apply. This is not a loophole or mistake in our immigration system. For those with no other avenues of survival, crossing the border to claim asylum is a human right.

Displacement promises to be the new normal as climate change shifts global landscapes. Immigration and refugee policy in Canada must change to reflect our changing world. It is not realistic, compassionate or humane to create policies that will only increase human suffering.

As we watch our neighbours within Canada displaced by fires and floods every year, we see that loss of home can happen all too easily. If we want strong supports for ourselves (and well we should), we cannot also deny that support to others. Our strength comes from pulling together, not from building walls to keep ourselves apart.

Canada has a choice in the coming years, a choice to lead the way in welcoming displaced people.

Shandi Bleiken


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