The feds’ fear of the stranger
What’s happening to the Canadian soul? Where has our federal government stashed it?
Bill C-10, an omnibus crime bill recently passed, was overwhelmingly criticized by professionals of all backgrounds, religious leaders and vast numbers of “average Joes.”
Here is an example of one of the laws found in Bill C-10. If your daughter has six marijuana plants, she can go to jail for six months. A drug dealer with 200 plants can also be sentenced to six months. A judge can no longer look at extenuating circumstances such as prior convictions.
Studies have shown mandatory minimum sentences don’t work (see the New York Times editorial at http://nyti.ms/J6sPo0). Texas, a state not known for its compassion, told our federal government that our laws, including minimum sentencing, are too harsh. Texas would know. Our ideologically driven government refuses to listen. Why?
Bill C-31, an omnibus bill on Canada’s refugee system, exists to crack down on bogus refugee claimants. The bill says “regular arrivals” or “smuggled migrants in large numbers” can be detained for 14 days and then a review takes place. If the individuals are kept incarcerated, then there is a six-month review. This wording was only amended after a public backlash. Initially Bill C-31 stated refugees could be detained for one year without review. What?
New Democratic Party immigration critic Jinny Sims said this about Bill C-31: “What we have heard overwhelmingly from witnesses is that the bill will do nothing to prevent human smuggling, while punishing refugees.”
In a recent Toronto Star article by Harold Troper, Dr. Joseph Wong and Joy Kogawa, they stated, “Not only does this bill run contrary to the tradition of humanitarianism so many Canadians are proud of, it returns Canada to the days when racism and xenophobia were part of our official immigration policy.”
There’s more federal disappointment.
As of June 30, refugees with chronic diseases such as hypertension, angina and diabetes will be denied medical care. Dr. Mark Tyndall, head of Infectious Diseases at the Ottawa Hospital said: “This new refugee health-care policy violates my ethical obligations as a physician. It is unethical and a disgrace to Canadian society.”
Tyndall continued: “I have never met a refugee who came to Canada because they wanted better health care.”
Michael McBane, the executive director of the Canadian Health Coalition, said about this law: “The dismantling of one of the oldest parts of Canada’s public health-care system – health care for displaced persons who arrived in Canada following World War II – is symptomatic of the Harper government’s approach to health care. ‘Cut and run’ is their motto, and changing the hearts of Canadians from compassion to contempt is their goal.”
Immigration Canada is going to designate certain countries as “safe.” If you come from a “safe” country, you cannot claim refugee status. Hungary, home to many Roma, will no doubt be a safe place, yet according to Amnesty International, the Roma are mistreated by Hungarian nationals. Nevertheless, the Roma will be refused entry into Canada.
There is a Jewish value that stands taller than most others. It says, we must take care of the stranger. The Jews on the SS St. Louis knew that this wasn’t a Canadian value during the World War II. Their boat was turned back to Europe, sending most to their deaths. In the 1970s, the “boat people” from Vietnam were taken in by prime minister Joe Clark’s Canada and “the stranger” was once again embraced by our country.
Our government is reversing so much of the love we have learned. Where have they stashed our soul?
This column appears in the May 24 print issue of The CJN