By Wayne Litke
It constantly amazes me how a person’s words or message — stated as simply as possible — can be misunderstood or misconstrued. It seems to be a challenge that every one of us deals with us when we communicate verbally with others or receive information through various media and technological devices.
A recent example that comes to mind is our premier’s request to the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to not rush plans of landing 25,000 Syrian refugees in Canada by the end of the year. I thought Brad Wall’s request was not a hotheaded or ignorant request. On the contrary, it was logical based on the logistics involved and the fact that Trudeau’s humanitarian mission was an election promise and did not involve formal consultation with the immigration department and the creation of a mutually-agreed upon plan.
The idea of living up to election promises is to be commended, but not at the expense of bypassing immigration requirements or being less than thorough because of an impending politically-imposed deadline. Maintaining public safety should be the top priority of any government. It is definitely the top priority in France now after bloody terrorist attacks occurred in Paris and shocked the world. In fact, there is a massive concern about the future safety of civilians in all European countries that have accepted refugees. A few bad – very, very bad apples have made life more challenging for fellow countrymen who are also immigrants, but do not hold extremist viewpoints.
Despite the carnage in Paris, a surprising number of people including other premiers took exception to Mr. Wall’s request to not rush or take shortcuts during the process of accepting Syrian refugees.
I hate to say it, but it is a fact that criminal elements have been allowed to enter Canada when our immigration system was apparently working well. Therefore it is a no-brainer that careful pre-entry scrutiny and follow-up is required of all immigrants from the mid-east and other countries where terrorism or illegal activity has a stronghold.
Am I a hate-spewing redneck for making such a statement? Is our premier and other individuals who have also made such requests driven by racist ideology? It might appear so by print and electronic coverage of small but vocal protesters who use the media to further their agendas and label proponents of public safety as uncaring, insensitive and opponents of humanitarian work.
Sadly, the rush to fulfill Trudeau’s mandate on schedule has not allowed time for adequate consultation with civic leaders of towns who were asked (or told) to accept refugees. As a result, several communities have refused to accept Syrian refugees and that is truly unfortunate. In reality, every community should accept some refugees, but language, housing, employment and cultural challenges make that pretty well impossible on such short notice (which I am sure our prime minister is learning).
A somewhat similar situation occurred in the late 1970s when large-scale Vietnamese immigration occurred. Altogether, about 55,000 people known as boat people landed in Canada, of which 50,000 arrived over a two-year period.
I had opportunity to work with one of the Vietnamese immigrants who, along with his family, was sponsored by a local Mennonite church. Communication was a challenge, but I learned he was an entrepreneur who was black-listed by the communist government for trying to earn extra cash by rebuilding and selling small engines, predominately marine or motorcycle engines. I cannot recall his name for sure, but he arrived with basically nothing but his family and the clothes they were wearing. I still see images of him eating very simple lunches that largely consisted of rice.
The Vietnamese immigrants arrived at a time of economic downturn and many of them struggled with the climate, cultural changes and finding lasting and meaningful employment. That sounds similar to the impending immigration situation, except the communist party of Vietnam was not sending out extremists to commit acts of terrorism in countries that accepted refugees.
Terrorism will never be eliminated until the issues that cause social unrest are rectified, particularly adequate employment and feeling appreciated or valued.
In light of that, it should be absolutely clear that an appreciation for freedom and national security does not make a person or government radical or cold-hearted. Vision and considering consequences of actions should not label anyone as uncaring or insensitive.
I would encourage residents who have concerns about potential terrorism in Canada or stumbling blocks to immigration to write or email their MLA, premier and prime minister. Thanks to the sacrifice of others, we are free to express our opinions and our leaders need to know what the majority of citizens value in this great land.