It is unfortunate that the plight of Syrian refugees has become an election issue of some significance as Canadians approach their October 19 date with federal General Election poll clerks and deputy returning officers.
Unfortunate that each of the three parties hoping to form the next government in Ottawa is attempting to score political points, and to gain votes in the process, based on what they would do for Syrians seeking refugee status here should Canadians award them sufficient seats in the House of Commons.
Unfortunate that the government hoping to gain re-election, the Conservatives, doesn’t simply go ahead and fast-track their own proposal to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees each year for two years because they are still in the position to do so during the campaign period, rather than holding out this promise as something voters can look forward to as long as the Conservatives form the government.
Unfortunate because, as genuine political refugees from Syria are drowning themselves in the Mediterranean in an effort to get to Europe and beyond, their plight becomes a prominent plank in every political party’s platform.
We are a nation capable of taking this on and doing so with expediency.
The photo of the dead refugee child, Aylan Kurdi, whose body had washed upon a Turkish beach early last week, and whose aunt in Canada had been hoping the family would be able to join her here, has clearly had a direct impact on the political will in this country. This has been evidenced by Canadian citizens rallying to the issue and by the reaction from the political camps hoping to woo votes on the topic.
Prime Minister Harper, were he to immediately authorize the fast-tracking of the immigration of, for example, Syrian refugee families with some family connection in Canada, and if Canadians could have hard evidence that such an action was actually taking place, this would gain quick political capital for the party he leads and hopes to bring back to form another government.
Justin Trudeau, the Liberal party leader, has at least called for an immediate meeting of the three national party leaders to thrash out a policy on Syrian refugee resettlement to Canada, giving their plight priority over partisan politics. His request for such an undertaking, so far, has gone unheeded, likely because the other parties may think that agreeing to such a meeting could be viewed as a vote-getter for the Liberals for initiating the process.
So nothing gets done.
The election is almost six weeks away. There are many other things to discuss on the hustings, but the Syrian refugee issue will now remain a priority among voters, and parties’ positions on the topic will certainly sway many votes.
How simple it would be for the prime minister to simply say, right now, “let it be so,” speed up the immigration process and claim some political glory in the process.