Immigration is a basic fact of Canada, as old as the country itself. Indigenous peoples were the first inhabitants of our land, followed by generations of newcomers who came in search of peace and prosperity. This continues to the present day with the arrival of immigrants and refugees from around the world. Newcomers are a source of strength for Canada. Everything in our history shows this to be the case. Diversity is a source of insight, ideas and energy that deepens our ability to solve problems and to engage with the world.
The high level of cooperation between Canada and the United States over many decades has deeply intertwined our two countries and preserving Canada's long-held partnership with the United States will no doubt be at the top of Prime Minister Trudeau's to-do list in Washington. But he must be clear in sharing the message that mutual observance and commitment to upholding human rights must be at the very centre of the special bond between Canada and the United States. Worryingly, President Trump has so far given much reason to believe that regard for human rights is not high on his own to-do list.
Citizens clearly want to have a debate about immigrants and refugees. Some are worried, some are scared. Some are racists, but some actually aren't. We in Canada can certainly have such a debate, but not in the way Trump is doing it - or the way in which Kellie Leitch and Kevin O'Leary want to do it.
Canadians cannot support dissent against Trump without supporting dissent here, especially when it makes you uncomfortable. If Black Lives Matter or Idle No More, leave you feeling defensive, ask yourself why? Seek out voices from underrepresented communities and listen to what they have to say. By encouraging people to speak out against our own injustices, we show resistance to a president who ignores injustice.
In stark contrast to what has been taking place in Canada, the Trump administration has moved quickly since taking office to enact xenophobic, racist and anti-immigrant policies. With only a week in office, Trump has signed his name to two separate executive orders that will severely affect the lives of immigrants and refugees.