A simple means of boosting the flow

September 16, 2015   ·   0 Comments

WE SUSPECT that a lot of Canadians are inclined to the view that it really doesn’t matter how many Syrian refugees we accept, since the flood is so great.

At present, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has committed his government to bringing in 10,000 refugees from Syria and Iraq over a four-year period, but NDP Leader Tom Mulcair says his party, if elected, would bring in that many by the end of 2015 and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has called for the admission of 25,000 in the same period.

However, even Mr. Trudeau has been outdone by a former chief of defence staff who says security concerns can be dealt with while bringing in 50,000 refugees by Christmas.

Rick Hillier, who led the Canadian Armed Forces from 2005 to 2008, says Canada has the capacity – and should have the resolve – to accomplish the feat.

Mr. Hillier says he understands the need to screen for terrorists who may try to enter Canada under the guise of refugees, but said in an interview, “we’ve got to stop being frightened by our own shadow.”

He says that if we I agreed merely to take in orphaned children, women who are on their own, single-parent families, or families in general, it would be easy to find 50,000 people who need to be relocated and who present no security threat.

We agree. However, we don’t see anything of the sort happening without some pretty dramatic changes in approach.

The fact of the matter is that Canada’s immigration system has changed over the years from one that welcomed pretty much anyone and had no difficulty admitting 60,000 or so “boat people” who fled Vietnam rather than live in a Communist state.

Back then, there was good reason to sus- pect that some of the new immigrants are what now are labelled as “economic refugees,” people who pose as refugees in hopes of making it to a more prosperous part of the world, such as Germany in Europe or Can- ada and the United States in North America.

But is it really likely that there are any significant number of such individuals currently enduring the hardships of life in refugee camps in Turkey or Lebanon? We think not.

Mr. Hillier says 50,000 is the minimum number that should be considered and that the federal government should organize a meeting with the provinces, cities, churches, community groups, the RCMP, Immigration Canada, Foreign Affairs and the military to get things started.

But as we understand the current situation, no number of such meetings will accomplish much unless ways can be found of getting around the enormous volume of red tape that has reduced the current flow of refugees to a mere trickle.

A huge part of the problem can be traced to language issues and the fact the decision-making is by bureaucrats in Ottawa who see their main function as one of keeping out any applicant who cannot prove he or she will be a good, law-abiding citizen.

As we see it, the appropriate Canadian contribution to solving the refugee crisis would involve sending perhaps 20 Ottawa-based employees of Citizenship and Immigration Canada to at least a couple of refugee camps accompanied by some reliable translators.

There, each team member would interview at least 10 individuals or families per day five days a week, with the aim of clearing at least 1,000 applications per week. Assuming that on average the applications would be by a family of three, that would mean clearing about 3,000 persons a week, or 30,000 in a 10-week period.

Under such an arrangement, all those refugees would be government-sponsored but could then be “adopted” by churches, service clubs, municipalities or individual Canadian families, thus avoiding all the bureaucratic delays now involved in private sponsorships.

While there obviously would be no guaran- tee that none of those admitted to Canada would become criminals or even terrorists, the likelihood would be much less than what we have been witnessing among young Canadian muslims who have been radicalized in mosques or on the Internet.

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