Imtiaz Popat: We can’t solve refugee crisis by narrowing it to just Syrians

Canada needs to entirely overhaul refugee policies

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      Europe is welcoming refugees from all over the Middle East and Africa, not just Syria. This a global crisis, not just a Syrian crisis. While European governments are talking refugees from all over the Middle East and the Africa, we are ready to accept a handful of refugee from Syria only.

      However, Stephen Harper’s response has reframed this issue as a Syrian-only crisis so as to avoid taking responsibility for a failed refugee policy his government has had since he has been prime minister. Harper says that going to war against ISIS will resolve our refugee crisis. The fact is that many of the refugees are fleeing from the Syrian and Turkish governments that are being supported by the Canadian government. So we are in fact creating these refugees, but actually keeping refugees from coming to Canada.

      We are have not only taken fewer refugees under Stephen Harper; we have made it more difficult for them to come. While European countries welcome all refugees with open arms, we have built prison cells in our airports to lock up refugees as soon as they arrive, including children, like we did with refugees from Sri Lanka arriving to our shores in boats not so different than how they are arriving in Europe now.

      In fact, all governments including the provincial government have failed refugees by cutting funding for legal aid to pay for lawyers to help the refugees with their hearing process as well as funding for English as a second language to help with refugee settlement. Now the B.C. government wants to fund settlement for Syrian refugees only.

      Refugees coming to Canada in fact pay more tax to Canada than millionaire migrants in all sorts of fees and taxes, according to a CBC report. So the Harper government is making money off these poor refugees. They have in fact downloaded responsibility for refugees to private sponsorships where individuals are having to pay thousands of dollars to support these refugee families. Government-sponsored refugees who come to Canada through the United Nations process have to pay back the money the government pays for the airline ticket, causing serious hardship for these refugee families who make very little money as even English language training programs have been cut.

      If our governments are serious about helping refugees with tears in their eyes then they need to overhaul our entire refugee policy and have all the levels of governments work together to make that happen.

      Imtiaz Popat is a community TV and radio host, filmmaker, and social advocate. He is a member of the Coalition of Progressive Electors executive.



      Oh yes

      Sep 10, 2015 at 4:32pm

      All those poor people around the globe should be encouraged to walk, swim, paddle, pay smugglers; whatever it takes to abandon all those shitty countries.
      Bring them all. Carte blanche. And stop making them wait so some stupid government can check and see if they're terrorists. We all know terrorists don't want to come here. I mean highly unlikely anyway. Or so I hear.
      And bring them in all at once. No acclimatization necessary.
      Brilliant. Let Jihadi Isis have the middle east. It isn't like they're losing anyway.

      Gah. social activists my ass.

      Pro Human Beings Negative on Corporate Backed Govts.

      Sep 11, 2015 at 3:48pm

      This is a made in the UK, Canada, US & EU Refugee crisis backing genocidal Dictators like ASS ad.

      Of course we need to take in Refugees and more than just 10k a year.

      Canada can easily take in as many as Germany 40k + per year.

      Canadian Demographics are similar to Germany basically the White people are getting elderly.

      Not enough young people to keep the Economy going.

      We need both Immigrants & refugees to MATCH ageing Demographics of the boomer's.

      Arab Countries.

      it's despicable that Countries like Saudi Arabia don't take in refugees this is not because of their people but a function of the Dictators again propped up by our Governments.

      The Arab Countries can and ought to be pressured or we ought to demand a boycott of their Oil etc if they don't take at least 2:1 Refugees we take.

      In the meantime we can sponsor families etc to come to Canada & elect a new Government to ensure Human values trump Corporate Foreign interests.

      Know your stuff

      Sep 12, 2015 at 4:22am

      "Not enough young people to keep the Economy going."

      Hardly. Technology is replacing jobs much faster than anyone foresaw.
      And Screw Germany. They'll be a bankrupt mess in ten years. It costs $35,000 dollars per year to settle a refugee here.
      The unthinking hysteria over this is the same phenomenon that saw people in Britain wanting to tear down the monarchy because Diana got herself killed in a car accident. The fervour dissipates rather quickly when common sense returns.

      Alex Chiu

      Sep 13, 2015 at 2:06am

      Failing refugees or your own people.

      Which one is more important?

      One's own tribe or own people has always been more important than outsiders. It's hardwired into us as human beings.

      Defy nature, and pay the consequences...our brains have changed much less than you think.

      Imtiaz Popat

      Sep 13, 2015 at 8:58pm

      Our people is mostly a land of refugees apart from the indigenous peoples. Even they welcomes us without any conditions. So we are taking care of our people and our traditions. Canada has always welcomed refugees. But the Harper government has been closing the doors for immigrants and refugees.


      Sep 13, 2015 at 11:36pm

      If you go back far enough, every country was settled by others at one time or another. Mostly by war. No one was giving it away. The natives here were just caught at a disadvantage; not having weapons and all that. I'm pretty sure they'd have shot a big hole through my ancestors if they could have. And so they should have. BUT THAT WAS HUNDREDS OF YEARS AGO.
      The sanctimonious, holier than thou internet lecturing by people who live in lala land doesn't really add up to anything. You don't represent any majority and aren't speaking for anyone but yourself.


      Sep 15, 2015 at 3:51am

      There are an awful lot of other countries in the world.
      India could take in lots and they'd benefit from the diversity. Vietnam is doing well now, who's demanding room from them?