Hard to know what to believe about the Liberal’s refugee rush other than, they’ll bring large numbers of Syrian refugees to Canada as fast as they can -- to hell with whether it’s good for Canada, our local communities or the refugees themselves.
The more I find out about how they’re handling this file, the more convinced I am that it’s just about fulfilling an ill conceived election promise so they look good.
Yesterday, I reported the shocking revelation from Martin Bolduc of the Canada Border Services Agency who testified at the Commons Public Safety Committee that “very few” of the refugees we’ve brought over came from those “squalid” refugee camps we heard so much about.
If you thought those coming for a better life were living in camps and needed to get here fast, you’re not alone. That’s the argument Liberals made to justify the rush.
Health Minister Jane Philpott made comments about bringing refugees from camps when she and other Ministers visited a site in Jordan in late November. The press release about their visit said:
“To provide a sense of the daily lives of refugees, Ministers visited Za’atari refugee camp, located outside of Amman, Jordan, which is home to approximately 80,000 refugees. Ministers toured the camp and had the opportunity to speak with a number of Syrian refugees who have been displaced for many months and in some cases years.”
Eighty thousand refugees living in a camp is a lot. Listening to Philpott speak from the site, you’d think this was one of the places the refugees would be drawn from.
Similar comments were made by backbench Liberals and Trudeau himself.
Review headlines as far back as September, where Trudeau said we’ve got to help people in camps NOW.
“To doing more to help people in their camps who are worried about things, who are fleeing for their lives, who are living in terrible conditions.”
Or this from McCallum, cited by CBC in January:
“McCallum, who visited refugee camps in Lebanon last month, said that having refugees stay in a hotel or a military base for a couple of weeks was better than some of the "lamentable" living conditions they experienced prior to their arrival in Canada.”
For some time Liberals have told us these people are suffering, having lived in camps for months. Bringing them over in an orderly, slower fashion was not compassionate, right?
Wrong. Their own officials say the vast majority of these people were not living in camps.
Even McCallum knew this as I realized from his response to a question during debate on government spending back in December.
They’ve been playing on your heart strings.
No doubt, fleeing war, fleeing ISIS or the Assad regime is a harrowing experience but once you’re settled in a new, safe country, living in your own apartment, do you need to be uprooted and sent off to Canada in the dead of winter only to be warehoused in a hotel? That’s what we’re doing.
We’re not pulling people out of refugee camps over there but we are setting up de facto camps in Canada by putting refugees in cities and towns that can’t accommodate them sufficiently.
Is that fair to anyone in the process?
Imagine you’re a parent with three of four kids under ten. You’ve been promised a better life in Canada and instead, you’re living in a hotel for weeks on end in a frigid climate you’re not used to with no connections to the community and unable to speak the language. Would you be happy?
A story from CBC reported this about refugees in Vancouver, out of hotels now but the government promised them help, money, support, English lessons and it isn’t coming:
"It's been two months since I've requested just to have the exam for the English [course placement]," says government-assisted Syrian refugee Shadi Alradi, speaking through an interpreter.
"The [Immigrant Services Society of B.C.] responded that they don't even have 15 minutes to talk with me ... This makes me feel frustrated and depressed since I don't have any more time to waste."
"Alradi says he feels trapped in his home: He can't afford the bus fare to visit the library with his toddler, can't find help arranging for emergency dental treatment, and can't figure out when and if he will be enrolled in English courses.”
You can say "tough on you" if you want, but this man and his family came to Canada on the promise that they would get support and they aren’t getting it. Why?
Immigration settlement agencies are overwhelmed. Even they can’t cope with Trudeau’s rush though they back his goal. They say he needs to slow down but he won’t.
As the Vancouver area struggles with refugees already there, they’re told 1,100 more, are coming.
This is insane.
There’s no housing or support for these people so they’ll once again be put in hotels as they are in Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, Hamilton and soon Victoria, Brampton and Mississauga, the new markets where refugees will be warehoused.
Several new tender requests have gone out from the government seeking more hotel rooms.
Is this fair to refugees? We promised them a better life. They gave up apartments and homes for what? To be stuck in a run down three star hotel with no connection to the outside world while overwhelmed settlement agencies scramble to find houses for them?
It isn’t fair to them, nor is it fair to the Canadian taxpayer.
How many hotel rooms are being rented per night and for how long?
We don’t know. The government won’t give us an answer. I asked and waited two days only to have an immigration official tell me they couldn’t and wouldn’t tell me how many hotel rooms are being used until after the entire Syrian refugee project is over.
“Refugees arrive daily and permanent housing also becomes available daily. This means that the number of refugees in hotels fluctuates constantly and we are unable to provide a number. The total number of rooms/contracts also fluctuate depending on ongoing needs in destination communities. Final data on the project, including hotel usage, will be available when the project concludes.”
Here’s what we do know: the government had between 300 and 600 rooms in Toronto, are looking for 600 more plus another 500 in Brampton and Mississauga. They’re looking for 105 rooms per night in Victoria on top of the hundreds of rooms they have in Montreal, Ottawa, Halifax and elsewhere.
These people are staying in hotels longer than normal and that’s costing us big bucks. The cost of hotel rooms varies, but what the government pays to feed the refugees, doesn’t.
Every contract is: $61 per day per refugee – $15 for breakfast, $16 for lunch and $30 for dinner.
For a family of four that works out to $244 a day or $1,708 per week which the government pays to hotels to feed them. Is that a good use of taxpayers money?
What could you or the refugee families do with $1700 per week to feed everyone?
It isn’t about what’s good for the refugee families, it isn’t about what’s good for taxpayers, it IS about making Justin Trudeau look good.
We were told we had to act fast to save people in camps and now we know, that’s not true.
We also know that everyone in this process from the refugee families to the settlement agencies to the taxpayers footing the bill, are all suffering in order to make Trudeau look good.