Member Of Parliament for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan
December 08, 2015

Welcoming refugees in a responsible and effective manner

We need to be welcoming refugees in a responsible and effective manner. What refugees in the region want, even more than to come to Canada, is to have a country which is livable again.

What is the real reason for the government's planned non-response to an unfolding problem of violence against the innocent? It has yet to give any explanation for its planned withdrawal other than the clearly very thin arguments already mentioned. I do not think its response would have satisfied my grandmother or any other refugee of past or present conflicts. I do not think it will satisfy the 25,000 we may eventually take, and it certainly will not satisfy the millions who will be left behind.

   At the root of this practical question is a moral question, a question about the kind of people we are and about whose lives we think are worth fighting for. Neville Chamberlain, the arch defender of appeasement, said in 1938:

How horrible, fantastic, incredible it is, that we should be digging trenches and trying on gas-masks here, because of a quarrel in a faraway country between people of whom we know nothing...

   “People faraway of whom we know nothing”. At the time, my grandmother was just 8 years old.

   On this side of the House we believe that the lives of the people of Iraq and Syria matter. The lives of the 25,000 we may eventually take and of the millions who will be left behind matter. It is not important how far away they are, they share a common humanity with each of us. What is implicit and consistent across many different contexts in the statements of the appeasers, the non-interventionists, and of those mealy-mouthed inbetweeners who pursue the same policies without giving their reasons is the implication that those in the immediate path of an evil power do not matter enough for us to bother getting involved. Even, if to our shame, we wish to look away, the menace still spreads.

   After World War II many people said of the Holocaust “if only we had known we would have done more”. When it comes to Daesh, we know. We have genocide in progress, live broadcast over the Internet. We would not be worthy of the name civilization if we chose to do nothing about it. No good person likes a fight but the lives and security of Yazidis, Christians, Kurds, Turkmen, Shia Muslims and other groups in the path of Daesh, the 25,000 we may eventually take, and the millions left behind are worth fighting for.

   It is a great honour to serve in the Parliament of such a great nation. I quoted Neville Chamberlain on his case for disengagement so I will balance that out with a quote from Winston Churchill who said, “The price of greatness is responsibility”. I urge the government to take that seriously. The price of greatness is responsibility. We are and we remain a great nation, a nation that need not come back because it never left. When it comes to doing its part, a nation that has never before turned away from responsibility.

 


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