Young refugees resettled in Canada thank Jason Kenney. Photo: CIJnews
Posted by: Ilana Shneider
On October 6, 2015, Minister of National Defence and Minister for Multiculturalism Jason Kenney spoke at The Good Shepherd Chaldean Church in Toronto in front of a crowd of several hundred Christian from Iraq and Syria.
Before Kenney took to the podium, three former refugees shared their stories and thanked Canada for its generosity in taking them in – a young boy from Iraq, a man from Vietnam who spent years languishing in a refugee camp in Thailand, and a young woman from Syria who lived through the civil war and arrived in Canada just 2 weeks ago.
Kenney talked about Canada’s special standing in the world. “Canada is a country of hope, freedom, security, peace and opportunity for immigrants who are lucky to call it home” he said. And this is why in the past 10 years, Canada has taken in a staggering 2.5 million new immigrants, among them nearly 250,000 refugees from around the world, including a family from Syria which landed in Toronto just in time for Minister Kenney’s speech.
Kenney confirmed that the expedited refugee claims program now enables genuine refugees to be processed in as little as 3 months as opposed to 2 years before the program was overhauled. Many of the new refugees can now be sponsored by the local communities, organizations and extended families who opened their hearts and their wallets to welcome the most vulnerable people from war-torn Middle East.
He also reminded those present that it was the previous Conservative Government which launched a special program and opened Canada’s doors to 60,000 Vietnamese boat people between 1979 and 1983.
Canada is a country which is made up of immigrants, Kenney said. It is made up of Jews who escaped the pogroms in the 19th century, Ukrainians who fled Stalin’s famine, Holocaust survivors, Hungarian and Czech refugees from the Soviet invasion and Vietnamese boat people, among many others.
Following in the footsteps of millions of immigrants from all over the world, tens of thousands of Armenian, Syrian and Chaldean minorities – ancient communities who are the indigenous people of ancient Mesopotamia – are now being welcomed to Canada. “All those people who experienced tragedy, oppression, violence and strife did not forget what they experienced. Instead of bringing with them revenge, bitterness and resentment, they brought a desire to integrate, live peaceful lives and continue to make Canada the great country that it is today.”
Since 2009, Canada has welcomed over 23,000 Iraqi refugees – the largest refugee resettlement program in Canadian history since 60,000 Vietnamese boat people were welcomed to this country. The federal government is now fast-tracking 3,000 Syrian refugees and has pledged to bring another 20,000 as soon as they can be processed.
Kenney said that even though Canada’s refugee program is one of the most generous in the world, it won’t be possible to take in millions of internally displaced Iraqis and Syrians. Large scale resettlement would require participation of other countries in the region. Even though Turkey and Jordan have done a commendable job by opening their borders to millions of Syrian refugees, Kenney slammed the wealthy Gulf countries for refusing to accept even a single refugee from war-torn Syria and Iraq.
Kenney promised that, if re-elected on October 19, the Conservative Government will do its utmost to take in the most vulnerable people and will continue to provide humanitarian relief to those in need. However, humanitarian aid alone is not the answer. The root cause of the refugee crisis must be addressed, and this is the reason the Conservative Government is taking part in the US-led international coalition which is degrading the genocidal terrorists of ISIS, a mission which both the Liberal and NDP oppose.
“We will try our best to bring victims of terrorism to Canada” Kenney said. “You have our word that as long as the Conservative Government is in office, we will ensure that people whom we bring to this country will be genuine refugees who desire to be peaceful, law-abiding Canadians, but we will not bring to this country the cancer of violent extremism”.