Tuesday, 31 January 2017

#OnlyTheRichOnesMakeIt: A response to Trudeau’s refugee declaration

I will admit, for a few minutes, I felt a slight sense of pride for my Canadian origins. Amidst all of the horrific news that has been coming out of the United States, one simple tweet from Canadian Prime Minister/global heartthrob Justin Trudeau swept the nation, and most of the world with his declaration to help those impacted by the recent attempt to ban all Muslims and refugees from entering the US.

The now infamous tweet

This was then followed by another tweet – this time in picture form – of him welcoming a young girl and her family, presumably from last year, with the hashtag #WelcomeToCanada.

The follow-up tweet.
Immediately following the initial tweet, news media and citizens all over the world were liking, sharing, and just generally discussing how awesome this action by a country’s leader was*. This generated a myriad of buzz and conversation within the already occurring debates concerning the plight of the refugee as it pertains to the US. And, it was exciting – uplifting even – giving us all a little hope in a world that seems to be growing scarier by the day. Yet despite all this excitement there’s one thing we’re forgetting – it’s usually only the richest of these individuals affected that actually make it to refugee status…especially to Canada or the US.

When the refugee crisis first broke news headlines in 2015, the narrative was all about the poor family from (insert country). Syria obviously took the majority of the headlines, given the growing intensity of the situation and the urgent need to get civilians out of harm’s way as quickly, efficiently and safely as possible. But, if we’re being honest with ourselves, we didn’t really start caring about it until that little boy’s lifeless body washed up on the shore of Turkey. Up until that point we were in Canada (or elsewhere), not Greece, so it wasn’t our problem. But following this account, our heartstrings were pulled, we had a face to the crisis, and out of that, we began to demand action from our then-government**.

But the truth of the matter is, that in the majority of cases, the acceptance of refugees is pretty much a money game; it’s a business deal. Firstly, because in order to even be able to flee the country in question, and live in one of those horrendous refugee camps, there is a great need to be in possession of money – and lots of it***! Secondly, because they tend to be the ones that are able to pay for all the necessary requirements just to be able to apply for refugee status. Therefore, the poorest, most vulnerable populations aren’t even able to make it out of the affected area. And the irony in all of this, is that much of the debate surrounding letting said individuals in, is made by many of the same folks who shout publically about the 99%. So if we really do care about the plight of the 99%, why aren’t we being more vocal about helping them?

I’m not, in any way, suggesting that it’s an all or nothing deal, or that I don’t want these refugee top 1%ers in my (former) country. I’m all for helping out and providing an opportunity for a new life and a safer home to anyone in need, and I think it’s wonderful that we’ve accepted those that we have, but wish we could bring more! The stories that these families and individuals have shared about their paths to Canada (or elsewhere), only highlight the need to act in a greater capacity, much less the contributions these folks have already made to our country. 

But, if you think Trudeau really cares about these families by tweeting a few characters meant to boost his public persona, you’re sadly mistaken, because it’s nothing more than a publicity stunt, aimed to further the perception that he’s a strong and forward-thinking guy****. This move, or tweet, was not actually about caring for the refugees, it was about trying to separate himself from Trump and maintaining Canada’s perception in the face of this new President. And if you need further proof, just refer to the cap he and his cabinet introduced last year related to this topic! For a country in great need of people – especially hard-working, capable people***** – his actions and words don’t quite seem to add up!

With all that being said, I want to challenge you all to take action yourself, if this is really a topic that concerns you. Before writing this post, I replied to Mr. Trudeau’s tweet, but unfortunately have yet to get a response (not that I really thought he would, anyway…). I’d encourage you all to contact your local representative, or the PM, himself, and ask what happens to the poorest individuals, the most vulnerable families? And, might I suggest using the hashtag #OnlyTheRichOnesMakeIt, if using social media as your means of doing so?

My response/call-to-action to Canadian JT. 
So, if you mean what you say, please step forward and hold these elected folks accountable. Let’s stop allowing the media to control our take of the situation. Let’s use our brains to assess these situations critically, but with an open mind. Let’s allow compassion and kindness to trump the negativity that has been clouding our news feeds lately, and work - together - towards a better, safer, happier future. 

-the Orange Canadian

*To be fair, it doesn’t really take much to look like a great leader these days when compared to Donald Trump!
**Hello Master’s dissertation…
***They also tend to be highly educated…not that their academic/professional credentials would ever be accepted here…
****Not that he isn’t. I mean, I don’t know the guy, he likely does have some emotional investment like most of us on this topic. Yet at the same time, he also has a picture of him surrounded by tiny black kids, which is the epitome of what’s wrong with “development” initiatives, these days – it’s all about the photo-op!
*****Although, not necessarily highly educated people...

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