by Candice Malcolm
May 25, 2016
It’s been nearly six months since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Immigration Minister John McCallum rolled out their Syrian refugee program.
During this time, despite all their self-congratulatory applause, not a week has gone by without some terrible news story coming out about Syrian refugees in Canada.
This week’s news is perhaps most troubling.
According to a CBC report quoting a Toronto non-profit organization that works with the Arab community, “every week, one Syrian woman comes forward to say she’s the victim of domestic abuse.”
Every week, in Toronto alone. And that’s just the women who come forward.
Many refugees in violent relationships will suffer in silence.
While domestic violence happens everywhere, in some parts of the world it may be considered permissible to abuse one’s wife and children. Anger and violence may be a part of everyday life.
But that behaviour isn’t welcome, or allowed, in Canada.
We should have been, and should be, unequivocal on this point.
We should have told every refugee coming into Canada that cowardly practices like domestic abuse are illegal and not tolerated here.
Instead, the Trudeau government rushed to bring over Syrian families, including, clearly, some men prone to domestic violence, without asking if they could adapt to our society.
When it comes to refugee resettlement, Trudeau’s policy is actually preventing many Canadians from volunteering and helping Syrian newcomers integrate into our society.
Naomi Buck, a freelance writer featured in the Globe and Mail this week, worked with her neighbours in Toronto to raise over $50,000 for Syrian refugees. They jumped over all the bureaucratic hurdles to qualify for private sponsorship.
But now, six months after they submitted their application, the Syrian family Buck was matched with has still not arrived in Canada.
This is a common story across the country.
Volunteer groups are paying rent on empty apartments because the refugees they sponsored are stuck overseas.
Meanwhile, some refugees that are here — mostly brought through the government sponsorship program – are also being neglected.
While waiting for her matched family to arrive in Canada, Buck began volunteering with a government-sponsored family.
She was saddened by the way these refugees were living.
As she wrote in the Globe, the family spoke no English, had no food, no medicine and very little furniture in their apartment. Rather than being aided by a government resettlement agency, Buck discovered this family didn’t even have a contact number for their case worker. Basically, they’d been abandoned.
Buck’s group enrolled the family in language school and the children in summer camp. They brought the family to a food bank, library, shopping mall and doctor’s office.
They donated household items, helped pay bills and assisted one family member in getting a job at a local restaurant.
This is the important and invaluable role that volunteers like Buck play.
But instead of helping Canadians and matching refugees with volunteers, McCallum and Trudeau stubbornly continue to prioritize refugees under their flawed government sponsorship program.
For Trudeau, it is not a question of how many refugees we can reasonably resettle. He has decided it will be 50,000.
But when it comes to the way these refugees integrate, the quality of life they have in Canada and whether they truly become Canadian, the Trudeau government is missing in action.
Trudeau can brag about his refugee program on the world stage all he wants.
At home, it’s becoming clear he’s letting many Syrian refugees down.