ICYMI: Ex-immigration minister Atkey urges Canada to double intake of Syrian refugees

A historical reminder and it appears the Government is listening:

As Canada braces for the arrival of 25,000 Syrian refugees, the man who served as immigration minister during the Vietnamese boat people crisis says Ottawa should be doing much more.

Ron Atkey believes the 25,000 Syrians Ottawa is promising to re-settle initially is a “noble objective” but he wants Canada to up the ante.

“If Canada can do another 25,000 — that would make a significant contribution in line with Canada’s contribution with the Vietnamese boat people in 1979 to 1980. It will demonstrate to the Americans that they have to do more. We’ll shame them into it, similarly the Australians,” says Atkey, who was immigration minister in the Joe Clark government in 1979 when 50,000 Vietnamese refugees were granted asylum in Canada. By the end of 1980, that number had risen to 60,000.

Canada admitted 60,000 Vietnamese refugees in 1979 and 1980.

Canada admitted 60,000 Vietnamese refugees in 1979 and 1980.

“For us to take a dramatic position on the world stage is important. We won a medal from the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights. We gained a lot of prestige as a humanitarian country. I think that’s consistent with Canadian tradition.”

Atkey, who is also a lawyer, professor and national security expert, is chair of Humanity Wins, a group of prominent Canadians who came together earlier this year to advocate for re-settlement of Syrian refugees to Canada.

Source: Ex-immigration minister urges Canada to double intake of Syrian refugees | Toronto Star

Congratulations – and some questions – for Canada’s ministers on our refugee policy: Ron Atkey

Ron Atkey [former immigration minister at time of Vietnamese refugees] on the government’s plan and his questions:

Yes, there are continuing uncertainties and omissions. Will the exclusion of single men continue beyond the initial wave and become a permanent part of Canadian refugee policy?

What happens to the Syrian refugee movement after the end of 2016? What happens if the Canadian appetite for PSRs exceeds government expectations (as happened in 1979-1980)?

These issues will be dealt with in the fullness of time as the program rolls out.

But what is important is that the tone has changed. The government has listened to public concerns – some legitimate, some not – and has come up with workable and realistic changes to the initial Liberal promise on Syrian refugees made in the heat of the campaign. This is to be commended.

What is also encouraging is the response of the new Opposition critics to the recent announcement. Immigration critic Michelle Rempel and Public Safety critic Erin O’Toole both distinguished themselves by generally supporting these changes and offering assistance to make the program work.

This refugee movement will need the support of all Canadians through their MPs if it is to succeed in making a significant contribution to alleviating the suffering among the millions fleeing war-torn Syria.

The government has now set the table. There is much still to be done by Canadians throughout the country.

Source: Congratulations – and some questions – for Canada’s ministers on our refugee policy – The Globe and Mail

Can Canada duplicate its boat people rescue with Syrian refugees? | Toronto Star

Fascinating history of Canada’s response to the Vietnamese boat people and the people involved from both the government and non-government sides. Well worth reading and reflecting upon, and their suggestions for refugees by connecting sponsored cases with businesses relying on low-skilled Temporary Foreign Workers:

Three and a half decades later, Adelman, Molloy and Alboim wondered if the courage and leadership that characterized the boat people rescue effort could be transferred to the Syrian refugee crisis.

They established a three-person task force to develop new strategies for refugee resettlement in Canada and crisscrossed the country talking to a variety of experts. In three reports discussing possible policies, they outlined projects that might revitalize refugee resettlement.

Their goal was ambitious: “to improve family reunification for refugees already in Canada, expand the pool of Canadians willing to sponsor refugees, improve the quality of support for government-assisted refugees and enhance labour market integration of refugees admitted to Canada under various resettlement programs.”

A core concern is the fact private refugee sponsorships, so successful in the “boat people” crisis, have atrophied and become the preserve of faith-based communities, ethnic and cultural groups.

They want to expand the base of people involved in sponsorships, creating more opportunities for groups such as book clubs, neighbourhood associations or unions, to become involved.

Can Canada duplicate its boat people rescue with Syrian refugees? | Toronto Star.