You’ve heard the competing claims: That Canada is one of the most generous in taking in refugees -- and that we are a laggard.
That we have brought in the second most UN refugees, second only to the United States or that we are in 15th place.
So what is the truth?
That depends on how you define refugees.
Are we talking about the people that come through the United Nations refugee system, or the people that show up at your door and claim -- often falsely -- to be refugees?
Trust me: There is a world of difference.
In 2014, the United Nations listed Canada as the second highest for resettlement.
These are the people living in refugee camps in some of the worst parts of the world.
These are the people the United Nations has asked member countries to resettle.
But then you’ve got the oft-cited stat claiming we have fallen from fifth to fifteenth in welcoming refugees. This is the people that just show up at your door and claim to be refugees, you have no way to know if they really are so you have to verify them yourself.
Why would Canada have fallen on that list, but not on taking in UN-sponsored refugees from the camps?
Well, there are a few reasons.
First off: The spike in people seeking refuge due to wars in places like Iraq and Syria. Where do those people go first?
They go to a country nearby. That is part of the reason why so many have ended up in places like Turkey and Jordan. It’s why so many are now going to Europe.
I’m not even talking about false refugees here yet. Let’s assume they are all legitimate, they go to a nearby country. Since about 2002, Canada has been moving towards not taking in refugees that are already in a safe third country.
Why? To stop refugee shopping.
This isn’t a Conservative government idea.
(I mention that because we keep hearing about how Stephen Harper is making our system meaner.)
This was started by Prime Minister Jean Chretien and his then immigration minister Denis Coderre, the current mayor of Montreal – I remember going to the news conferences on this change.
Next, Canada has tightened up the refugee system.
Did you know that in 2007 we suddenly had more than 7000 refugee claims from Mexico? The next year we had more than 9000.
This was years before the drug wars were ripping up the northern part of Mexico. These people were not persecuted, they were not in a life and death situation, they were economic migrants who thought Canada looked like a good place to live so they jumped the queue and claimed to be refugees when they were not.
It didn’t matter: Our system had to process them as if they were refugees until it was proven otherwise.
In 2009, 2010 and 2011, we had a similar problem with Hungary.
Yes, Hungary, a member of the European Union, becoming our top source country for refugees. They were fake but they counted as how many we were taking in even though in that instance most of them abandoned their claims and walked away – because they were fake.
When you stop taking in 9000 fake Mexican refugees, your total number goes down and the Left claims we are less generous -- even though the government is working with the United Nations to deal with bona fide refugees, and that we are still the second in the world for that.
I thought the Left always wanted us to work with the UN? Or is that only if it helps beat up on the government?
Want more proof our system is crazy? Randy Quaid.
Randy Quaid the Hollywood actor claimed refugee status in Canada. He claimed people in LA were out to get him, that there was a conspiracy and he could prove it. It was a crazy claim, taking in a Hollywood actor as a refugee from the United States but our system required it to be taken seriously.
The idea that Canada is anything but a generous country is a lie. We are open and we are welcoming but that doesn’t mean we are stupid.
We need to be cautious. We need to be secure. It is well known that ISIS is looking to exploit the refugee crisis, the real crisis, to export their fighters.
We don’t want them, but Canada has helped resettle thousands of refugees over the last several years from that war torn part of the world, including the thousands of Caldean Christians that had to flee Iraq.
These are the facts. Unfortunately they are facts you won’t hear anywhere else.