The day was dominated by the outrage across Canada over our failure to respond to the refugee crisis. I have become friends with an amazing woman who lives just outside my riding, but I work for her and her extended family as though she was a constituent. We managed to get two young Syrian men to Canada who had escaped Syria to Jordan. Their wives had made it to Canada ahead of them. It was a struggle to get them here, but at least they were out of Syria and able to apply. For most of the Syrian refugees with links to Canada they cannot get themselves in a position to be helped. I have had family members of my Syrian friend actually get out of Syria and, with their children in the backseat of their car, have made it to the gates of the Canadian embassy in Beirut only to be turned away by security at the gate. Despite repeated attempts to get an interview or begin the process, the family headed back over the border to Syria. It is a nightmare.
We have tried from my constituency office to match up qualified refugees with groups allowed to sponsor them under the complicated and bureaucratic process set up under Stephen Harper. It’s as though the Conservatives think there are lovelyrefugee waiting rooms around the world. “Take a number, we’ll get to you when we can...” To get a sense of the hurdles to sponsor a Syrian refugee go to the Immigration Canada website. Here is the “take a number” paragraph: “Considerable time can pass between the time an application is made and the time the refugees arrive in Canada. The selection process for these refugees can fluctuate with the volume of applications received at the visa offices. Processing times in each visa office for the past 12 months are available online. Sponsors are encouraged to consult this link regularly to help them plan for the arrival of sponsored refugees.”
Sponsoring organizations must prove financial ability to cover all the costs for an extended family for a year. All family members, even those not coming to Canada, must be listed and the sponsors able to cover all costs.
There is no compassion. There is no sense of urgency. This is NOT how Canada responded in the past. This is not the same system that welcomed the “boat people” of Vietnam. We need to get rid of this Conservative administration and start being Canada again.