Election Digest: Week 5

Nothing’s going to happen until after Labour day they said. Well we’re at the half point of the campaign, and it hasn’t been as boring as promised

1. A picture changes everything: 3-year old Alan Kurdi’s body_85366006_afp_body washed up on a Turkish beach after the boat he was travelling in with his family capsized.  The image captured a Turkish soldier carrying the body away from the beach. The Canadian connection? Alan’s aunt lives in British Columbia, and had plans to bring an older brother over, and then Alan’s family.  The older brother’s application had been denied.

2. The politics of a picture: Thomas Mulcair, and Stephen Harper both react with humanity.  Mulcair reflecting on his experience as a grandfather, Harper on when his son Ben was that age.  Trudeau responded with a request for a meeting between himself, and the other two. A request that has since been declined by Stephen Harper

3. Promises Made I: The Liberals and N.D.P. are both calling for Ottawa to increase the number of immigrants/ refugees to Canada.  The Liberals want an additional 25000 refugees, and have promised to dedicate $100 million this fiscal year to processing refugee claimants.  The N.D.P. want another 46 thousand refugees by 2019, with an additional 10 thousand coming by the end of this year.  N.D.P believes their plan will cost another $74 million this year, and $63.8 million/ year until 2019 for another 9000 refugees each year.   The Conservatives meanwhile believe a partial answer lies in military action against ISIS.

3. Promises made II: The N.D.P. promises what they describe as a moderate corporate tax hike, although how much remains unknown.  The current rate stands at 15%.  The Liberals focused on stopping violence against women promising $40 million to renovate Women’s shelters. Conservatives focused on economics announcing Burlington Ontario would be the centre of an effort to create new products for the manufacturing industry.  If re-elected the Conservatives have promised $30 million/ year beginning in 2016 for 5 years.

4. Candidate moves: This week the Conservatives let two of the Toronto-area candidates go.  Jerry Bance was let go following a revelation that he urinated in a mug while working as an appliance repair man in 2012.  Meanwhile Tim Dautaud was axed following confirmation that he was in fact the YouTube “Unicaller” responsible for videos of prank calls.

Meanwhile in Milton…

1.Raitt lays down the gauntlet: Conservative candidate Lisa Raitt officially opened her campaign office.  She told a room packed with supporters she would be the first M.P. for Milton

2. Liberals promise University: The federal Liberals promise to bring a post-secondary campus to Milton.  Post-secondary education is a provincial responsibility.  The most candidate Azim Rizvee could do if elected is to lobby for infrastructure money to help with its construction.

3. N.D.P.: Local theme for the campaign: #HopeforMilton.  Learn more about Alex visit the website.  He announces the campaign song: “We’re all In This Together by the Sam Roberts’ Band.

To come: With Labour Day behind us, the campaigns get serious.

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Syrian Refugees: It’s not only Canada’s Problem

By now everyone has seen those tragic pictures of little Alan Kurdi lying dead on the beach face down, or of the Turkish official gingerly carrying him away.  People would need to have hearts of stone not to be sad, or angry enough to cry out at the injustice of it.  To shout at the government, or reach into our wallets to help.

The helplessness of the situation is compounded by the fact if the Kurdi family had made it to Canada as had been the family plan this might not have happened.  Instead it might have been a different family that suffered; a different child brought out of the water.  We can torture ourselves with that line of thinking, but it doesn’t change anything.

Instead let’s look forward.  As often-quoted yesterday Canada helps 1 in 10 refugees.  Taking it up to the thousands: for every 100 thousand refugees Canada helps 100.  According to Citizenship & Immigration’s website Canada has plans to re-settle 10 thousand Syrians by 2017.  Should that number be higher? Given the circumstances probably yes.  But it has to be matched with resources, and answered with another question: Are there enough Canadians (individuals, families, charities)  to support increased numbers?  If we do more it has to be something that blends compassion and practicality.

Canada isn’t entirely to blame on this one.  Terry Glavin wrote a column in the Ottawa Citizen yesterday.  He uncovered some interesting information including that the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) doesn’t register asylum seekers in Turkey.  Turkey for their part doesn’t issue exit visas to people without documentation (passports, declarations from the UNHCR).  Families like the Kurdi’s arrive with nothing  and aren’t granted exit visas by Turkey.  It’s inconsistencies like that which need to be fixed as well.

The best way to make the tragedy count for something is to fix this.  But Canada can’t act alone.

Interested in learning more about how you can help? Visit Lifeline Syria’s website.