This article was originally published on Oct. 21, 2016 on Rabble.
My organization has joined in the sponsorship of 9 different Syrian refugee families. Some of the files were submitted as early as 2015; all have been approved; yet not a single refugee has arrived. There are thousands of sponsoring groups in Canada in a position identical to ours.
In case the Trudeau government didn’t notice, the Syrian civil war is far from over; ditto for the Syrian refugee crisis. Many of these sponsored families struggle in hardship and uncertainty – some still in refugee camps – as they await word on their resettlement. Canadians are justified in asking: What is Canada’s long-term plan for Syrian refugees?Read more
This article was originally published on Oct. 12, 2016 on the Huffington Post.
Over thirteen years ago, the excitement was palpable. In early June, 2003, Air Canada was about to launch its inaugural non-stop flight from Montreal to Beirut. Thousands of Lebanese-Canadians had bought their tickets for the summer, delighted to avoid tiresome layovers in Europe on the way to visit friends and family.
But then, inexplicably, the Canadian government pulled the rug out from under Air Canada. Citing “national security” issues, the government rescinded the airline’s license to fly non-stop to Beirut – a license that it had granted only months before. In addition to the disappointment and frustration of airline executives, Lebanese-Canadian ticketholders were enraged.Read more
This article was originally published on Sep. 16, 2016 on the Huffington Post.
Normally, political party conventions end with leaders trumpeting their satisfaction with their party’s progress and accomplishments. Not so last month with Canada’s federal Greens.
Barely able to wait for the doors to close on August’s 3-day convention, Green leader Elizabeth May publicly and harshly criticized a key outcome of the convention. At issue was the passage of a resolution calling for the party to adopt the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. BDS is a tactic to pressure Israel to respect the human rights of Palestinians.
“As leader, I am disappointed that the membership has adopted a policy in favour of a movement that I believe to be polarizing, ineffective and unhelpful,” May announced on the evening the convention closed.Read more
This article was originally published on Aug. 31, 2016 on Rabble.
Elizabeth May should apologize to Green Party members. May’s behaviour since the Green Party convention a few weeks ago has not only left the public deeply confused, but also humiliated party members.
No matter how you turn it, at issue is the passage of a Green resolution supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. At its core, this movement seeks to pressure Israel to respect the human rights of the Palestinians. The three demands BDS are 100% aligned with international law and with existing Canadian foreign policy. Despite its non-violent and democratic approach for a peaceful resolution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, some like May will have none of it.Read more
Dear Mr. Trudeau
Given that the House of Commons yesterday passed a motion calling the government “to condemn any and all attempts by Canadian organizations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS movement, both here at home and abroad,” I anxiously await your condemnation.
Although I regret that I have not had the opportunity to promote the BDS movement abroad, I have done my utmost to promote it in Canada. I note that you are required to condemn “any and all” attempts to promote BDS, so I will list as many of my attempts as I can think of below.
Before I jump into my list of transgressions, however, I thought you might want to know a bit about the BDS movement. Surprisingly, I don’t believe its official, stated objectives were ever actually mentioned during the parliamentary debate on the motion. I simple oversight, I suspect.
For decades, Canada’s will to assist refugees and offer safe haven to people in need of refugee protection from all over the world enhanced the country’s image as a humanitarian leader. In 1986, the UN Nansen Refugee Award went to the people of Canada,[i] the only country to have received the award as a nation. Thirty years later, Canada can only dream of such an honour once again. Long gone are the days when “Canada” went hand in hand with “humanitarian,” “diplomatic,” “non-interventionist” and “environmentalist.” Canadians need a reality check.
According to Geraldine Sadoway and Andrew Brouwer, two refugee lawyers in Toronto, “Canada has been closing every possible avenue of access for refugees,”[ii] often in concert with other wealthy OECD countries. Canada’s actions have been both quiet and systematic, they explain, driving asylum seekers “into the hands of smugglers who are reaping profits at the expense of the lives of desperate people.”[iii]Read more