Due to the heated political atmosphere from which the initial promise emerged, with Trudeau's Liberals keen to position themselves in stark contrast to Harper's Conservatives, I feel that the massive attention this has garnered from both sides -- both of acclaim and censure -- has been greatly exaggerated. With all the rhetoric from proponents and opponents, we forget that this is a simple act of charity.
I'm scared that we will somehow fail the people we sponsor, or that they will be ungrateful and not very nice. I suppose I'm slightly concerned that they will actually be bad people. And I'll admit I'm a little scared (possibly irrationally) of the remotely possible Fundamental Islamification of Canada. I feel, incidentally, that I should be allowed to express these fears without being called a racist or xenophobe. But most of those are small, imaginary fears, and what refugees from Syria are fleeing are big, real fears.
The new light in which his decision is inevitably being seen after the despicable acts in Paris makes it important to revisit the issue, which is bigger than the press sometimes lets on. Because Trudeau's decision is not a political one. On the contrary, it is cultural. His decision to stop bombing speaks to what can only be seen as a fulfillment of national identity. Even before Paris, it seemed that nothing in the world could divide Canadians as definitively as their opinion of whether Canada should be dropping bombs in the Middle East.
Never mind that Trudeau has already attracted admiration from several world leaders, improved foreign relations and made good with his promise to aid Syrian refugees,. Never mind that he's only been Prime Minister for less than two months and has been actively working for the change that he promised. No, no, let's talk about how he and his wife hired a NANNY.
I couldn't help but ache for the families that do not have a warm home to come home to. The families who have had to leave their entire lives behind to be shelled to oblivion while they risk their own lives to give their children a future. These people are human beings struggling to simply stay alive and are risking everything they have ever known in order to do so.
I learned the news from internet sites -- the Bataclan was not very far from me. I know that spot. I discovered that one of the shootings was on Charonne Street. I looked up the address: 92 rue de Charonne, la Belle Équipe restaurant. My address: 125 rue de Charonne. Brent ordered me not to go outside.
Differences are what enrich our lives and make Toronto the fabulous, unique, successful city it is. Xenophobia (a fear or hatred of strangers and foreigners) has no place in a city built upon these differences. It threatens the very core of who we as Torontonians are. It is also what motivated the horrific and unacceptable attack in which a woman was beaten and robbed by two young men. They tore off her hijab and told her to "Go back to your country."
The cruelty of ISIL is matched only by its shrewd assessment of the West. The masterminds of the Paris attacks were keenly aware of the seething anti-Muslim bigotry that bubbles just below the surface of our society. ISIL's attack on Paris was intended to invoke psychological and emotional pain, intended to threaten the very ideals we presume to be fighting for. It was intended to confirm for these refugees that they cannot escape the long-reaching arm of ISIL; that even if their children have escaped the blades of ISIL's swords, they will not escape the West's leveraged hatred in what is becoming a two-front war against these victims.
As is usually the case in the rush to war, this chorus of angry voices ignores the messy and uncomfortable reality of the situation. They propose a course of action that would put Canada in greater danger, strengthen its geopolitical foes, involve a far greater sacrifice than Canadians are willing to make, and fail to improve the situation in Syria or Iraq.
I've been told that we care too much for the people of Paris. That our outpouring of sympathy ignores the fate of other countries, that we are too selective in our grief. We find it so easy to stand with our old ally, while places like Beirut and Nigeria burn. We are hypocrites for caring so much about France. But it's false.
The coordinated killings that rocked Paris over the weekend are an unspeakable horror. But we must not allow the horrific nature of this atrocity to drag Canada back into the racism, Islamophobia and war-mongering that characterized our last government. The burden to hold firm on the change that we demanded in the October election is jointly shared between Canadians and our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Unfortunately, there is a stubborn quality to the Prime Minister's current commitment to meet his election promise of admitting 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by Christmas. There is an easy solution to this current impasse between the facts on the ground today and an election promise made months ago. Set a reasonable timeline and follow the responsible policies of the American government.