This morning, I woke up to an article published by the Toronto Star’s own Thomas Walkom. A man infinitely more qualified than most to write about the political environment around the world, especially than myself. However, Walkom’s column disturbed me. In fact, it downright pissed me off.
He spoke of how our new Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, was letting us down by altering his plan regarding the 25,000 Syrian refugees he hopes to bring into our country.
Ottawa’s decision to back away from its ambitious refugee pledge reveals two things about Justin Trudeau’s new Liberal government.
First, it is willing to change its plans when faced with stubborn reality — in this case, the sheer logistical difficulty of processing 25,000 Syrian refugees and bringing them to Canada by the end of December.
Such practical flexibility is usually commendable.
But the backtracking on this file also confirms what some critics had long said about Trudeau’s refugee promise — that it was always impractical.
Herein lies the problem. Trudeau, according to Walkom, would be commended for his frugality and practical decision. He would be. Only if members of the general public and his constituents hadn’t told him first that this was likely not very practical. Sorry, Trudeau. No brownie points for you. Instead, we’re going to try and throw you under the bus yet again, and this time it’s because certain people are pulling a pedantic “toldja so!” and throwing a tantrum.
This, Walkom says, “casts a shadow over Trudeau’s other bold campaign pledges. Were they as badly thought out as this one?” As if Trudeau were the first Prime Minister to ever reevaluate his pledges, and carry it through in the most practical means possible.
He reevaluated his initial plan, evidently, after the Bataclan shootings in Paris on Friday, November 13th. He decided that, given the nature of those events, and the loudly voiced concerns of the public, that, perhaps, greater precautions were necessary. He decided that he owed it to his people to be even more cautious than he’d initially planned. And here we are, reprimanding him for his concern for his people.
According to Walkom, this one decision is enough to call into question Trudeau’s entire campaign platform, and every pledge he’s made to our people since he was elected. Frankly, I don’t recall Harper coming under such microscopic scrutiny until it was too late. So I fail to see the justice in this kind of attack.
According to a poll through the National Post just following the Paris attacks, some 53% of Canadians felt that the timeline was too short to safely meet all the necessary precautions when bringing in and processing such a large number of refugees.
Immigration Minister John McCallum said on the matter “I have always said that we need to do these things right, and I think Canadians agree with that. […] Canadians said: ‘Yes, act quickly, but make sure you do things right.’ … So that is what we are doing.” They are listening to their people, and acting accordingly. And our media chooses to take that opportunity as a means to behave like petty school children in the sandbox.
The Liberals, [Trudeau] said, wanted to reassure anxious Canadians that the refugees would be properly screened.
That’s not what the government was saying just a few days ago when it insisted that security had always been top of mind. Nor does it jibe with polls that suggest opposition to resettling Syrian refugees, which has long been strong, changed little after Paris.
Security had always been top of mind. In the wake of the Paris attacks, Trudeau has likely realized that everything that can be done must be done to reassure the public that they are his number one concern. Whether or not the polls changed before or after the events of November 13th. An event like that is all the public needs to go into a fear-fueled-frenzy regarding the admittance of such a large number of refugees. So he and his cabinet made the judicious decision to prolong their ambitious plan by a mere two months. And they find themselves under heavy fire and scrutiny for putting their people first.
This is nit-picking. It is childish, and unnecessary. It helps nothing, and only feeds a vitriolic air of panic and doubt that permeates our daily lives as it is. We look for minute infractions in order to feel better about our original opinions on matters, and this is no exception. So Trudeau had been told previously that this was an overly ambitious plan. So what? He and his cabinet made the judicious decision to admit their goals were unreasonable, and did their due diligence in changing their plan, and publically admitting theirs would not have worked. And here’s The Star, scrutinizing an act that Walkom himself admitted “Such practical flexibility is usually commendable.” But because Trudeau had been previously scrutinized, such leniency and understanding goes out the window. Shame.