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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Will Canada become European? Accepts Syrian refugees

Many fearful Americans are supporting an extremist position about making Syrian refugee immigrataions into the US even more onerous than it is already. Yet, our friendly Canada neighbors are moving forward with accepting 25,000 of them.  

Eventually, as Canada accepts the refugees from Europe, the numbers will impact the nation's North American culture. 

Moreover, nothing will prevent Canada's good Syrian citizens from entering the US, after they becine naturalized Canadian citizens! 

In the absence of evidence about Syrian involvement in the November 13th attacks on innocent people enjoying a Friday evening in Paris, the possibility of a terrorism connection has fueled American right wing extremism against allowing desperate refugees, who are fleeing the evil Assad regime, from entering the US. 

On the other hand, Canada is supporting the refugees, by allowing them to enter without unusually special considerations. Is it possible the Canadians' welcoming culture will align North Americans with Europe? Afterall, Iceland is located in the North Atlantic and is already European. Canada could conceivably become the fiscally solvent alternative to Greece in the European Union. Couldn't it?

Scott Simon's Weekend Edition on National Public Radio aired this report about the Canadians:

Syrian refugees in Vancouver, Canada report on NPR Weekend Edition

Mohammed Alsaleh came to Canada a year ago, after being tortured in Syria by the regime of President Bashar Assad

Now, the 26-year-old sits in a Starbucks in Vancouver, dressed in blue scrubs from his nurse's aid training and he recalls the shock of arriving in this peaceful, rainy city.

"I was saying to myself, 'What did I do?' " he laughs.

The newly elected liberal government in Ottawa is pushing ahead with a plan to let 25,000 Syrians into Canada by the end of the year — a stark contrast to the U.S., where the past week has seen Congress and governors, mostly Republicans, opposing the arrival of Syrian refugees.

When he first arrived in Canada, though, Alsaleh didn't know a single person in the whole country. He wondered how he'd survive, being so alone."

But that changed the next day," Alsaleh says. "The Canadians, I can tell you, they are the most friendly population in the whole earth."

Canada is generous with its refugees, offering free medical care, subsidized language classes and stipends. When they arrive in Vancouver the first stop for refugees after the airport is at the "Welcome Center" — a lobby in a special hostel for refugees downtown.

Pretty soon, this room is going to get a lot more crowded.

"We're talking about 25,000 refugees coming to Canada in a matter of weeks," says Chris Friesen, of the Immigration Services Society of British Columbia

His organization alone will go from processing 900 refugees a year to maybe 3,000 — just in the next six weeks.

He's scrambling to find places for all of these people to sleep.

"We've developed — you know, it's sort of like the Air-bnb on steroids," he says. "We're doing a housing registry for refugees."

And offers of spare rooms and basement suites are streaming in. 

A real estate developer has offered free apartments.

"You know, I've got a lot of self-imposed bruises, because I'm pinching myself here. After 10 years of negative discourse on refugees, suddenly they've become sexy — everybody wants a refugee!"

What's the difference between Canada and the U.S., where President Obama's controversial plan to welcome 10,000 Syrians is still just a fraction of the numbers arriving in Europe? 

Well, one big factor is that Canada already had its election — before the attacks in Paris.

During the fall campaign, refugees got a lot of sympathy, partly because of that famous photo of the little boy who drowned on his way to Europe. It turned out, his family had applied to come to Canada — and had been denied. 

The boy's aunt lived in British Columbia, and Canadians saw her on TV, weeping over his death.

The Liberal Party's Justin Trudeau promised to bring in 25,000 Syrians, and now that he's prime minister, he says he's sticking with that plan — though his government hasn't yet released the details of how it will work, and there are some rumblings that the deadline will slip. The Paris attacks have had an effect on the public: One newspaper poll this week showed that a majority of Canadians now oppose fast-track resettlement.

Brad Wall, the premier of Saskatchewan, raised the possibility that rushing things could let a terrorist slip in.

"Usually, one miss out of 25,000 would be acceptable for government or for business, or for almost any organization," Wall said on CTV earlier this month. "I don't know that it is in this instance."

Still, this is Canada. Unlike some of the governors south of the border, Wall said he had no intention of trying to block the refugees from his province.

As a Maine Writer footnote -the ambitious Syrian refugees will undboutedly move quickly to become Canadian citizens and obtain their legitimate passports. After they're naturalized, nothing will prevent these new Canadians from entering the US.  Moreover, as the Syrians adapt to their Canadian nation, there will undoubtedly be cultural changes resulting from their assimilation. As the Syrians becomme prosperous and repay their adopted nation, they may well consider changing the culture to be more like Europeans than North Americans. 

It's possible.

Nevertheless, the result of bringing 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada is a wonderful Canadiann contribution to the humanitarian effort to help the desperate people who  are fleeing Syria and Iraq by the millions. Americans who oppose bringing in a mere 10,000 people are responding to unfounded fear and the governors who are cowardly about admitting these desperate people in their states should never call themselves Christians.  

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