Meeting people in droves at the Saanich Fair is a great way to get a sense of what is on peoples’ minds on the Labour Day weekend in my riding. And for the first time people are concerned about how we can step up to help Syrian refugees. I was asked to start an on-line petition as is happening in Iceland, campaign to open up our own homes and for churches to take in more families. I am heartened by the compassion of so many Canadians.
No one (except Stephen Harper) believes we help refugees by bombing one side in an ongoing civil war. The truth is the refugees are not escaping ISIS. They are escaping a war that has been raging for four years while the world stood by and did nothing. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is a brutal dictator. You never hear Stephen Harper mentioning him. That’s because ISIS is engaged in a war to depose him. ISIS is one of a number of violent quasi-military forces allied against al-Assad, but ISIS is also a lunatic fringe religious cult. Al Qaeda operatives and al-Nusra are more or less with ISIS in opposing al-Assad. Hezbollah supports al-Assad. Can anyone imagine Canada wants any of these factions to be victorious? In the middle are the suffering and desperate innocents.
To get more refugees to Canada, we start by revoking all the changes made to Canada’s refugee laws under Harper. We need to accelerate the process, including by sending military planes or vessels to help get people to safety. We should work with the United Nations and allies to place a no fly zone over Syria, work for a cease-fire and an end to hostilities. We need to assist in the on-going drought, one of the pre-conditions to the crisis. Syrian refugees don’t want to leave Syria. They are escaping a violent conflict. When it ends many will want to go home. Humanitarian responses must include the quest for peace.