Don’t step on any toes

Cape Breton Post - - EDITORIAL -

The un­pre­dictable na­ture of U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is al­ready hav­ing a wor­ri­some im­pact in Canada and on our prime min­is­ter. It ap­pears that Justin Trudeau is more con­cerned with avoid­ing a con­fronta­tion with Pres­i­dent Trump rather than stand­ing be­hind this coun­try’s ideals.

Our PM is pro­ceed­ing with ex­treme cau­tion to avoid pro­vok­ing the new pres­i­dent. When Trump an­nounced his im­pe­rial de­cree a week ago that he was im­pos­ing a ban on im­mi­grants and refugees, it seemed like a per­fect op­por­tu­nity for Canada to step for­ward as a shin­ing bea­con of sanc­tu­ary and hope.

If the U.S. didn’t want refugees, many of whom had spent years be­ing vet­ted, then Canada cer­tainly should ad­mit them. Many re­gions of this coun­try, es­pe­cially At­lantic Canada, would wel­come them with open arms. A year ago, Canada was busy re­set­tling thou­sands of Syr­ian refugees. We are ready to do it again.

It’s ironic that Trump’s ban por­trays peo­ple flee­ing ter­ror and per­se­cu­tion as po­ten­tial ter­ror­ists. They left war-town coun­tries to es­cape death and per­se­cu­tion, only to find the door to free­dom sud­denly slammed in their face.

Many peo­ple af­fected by the ban are not refugees. They are stu­dents, schol­ars, busi­ness­men and pro­fes­sion­als. They would have an im­me­di­ate and pos­i­tive im­pact in Canada.

We have an op­por­tu­nity to per­form an act of hu­man com­pas­sion and de­cency. And there would be im­mea­sur­able ben­e­fits for this coun­try. It would just take a lit­tle en­cour­age­ment from Canada, such as eas­ing im­mi­gra­tion lim­its and fast-track­ing ap­pli­ca­tions, but it’s not forth­com­ing. We have heard none of this from our PM.

In­stead, Trudeau re­sorted to a brief tweet to com­ment on the dra­co­nian ban that sent shock­waves around the world.

“To those flee­ing per­se­cu­tion, ter­ror & war, Cana­di­ans will wel­come you, re­gard­less of your faith. Di­ver­sity is our strength. “#Wel­comeToCanada.”

And that was it. At best, it was a non-com­mit­tal re­sponse to a harsh de­cree.

It’s ob­vi­ous our PM doesn’t want to at­tract neg­a­tive at­ten­tion from the new U.S. ad­min­is­tra­tion. The pres­i­dent wouldn’t be happy to see that his con­tro­ver­sial ef­forts to block refugees from en­ter­ing the U.S. might be cir­cum­vented if they ended up just north of his bor­der. It would be an ir­ri­tant. And that is some­thing Trudeau ob­vi­ously wants to avoid.

Un­til NAFTA and pipe­lines are ad­dressed, it is ap­par­ent that Trudeau will tread lightly and care­fully with Trump. So far, the two lead­ers have ex­changed brief phone calls. Un­til a re­la­tion­ship is es­tab­lished, Trudeau doesn’t want to risk up­set­ting Trump. Our PM is putting eco­nomic fac­tors ahead of prin­ci­ples.

Both friends and en­e­mies are learn­ing not to cross Trump be­cause there are con­se­quences. Well, con­se­quences be damned. Canada has to take a stand for what’s right. This coun­try can­not sacri­fice our ideals, nor give in to fear and hate.

Yes, we shouldn’t go look­ing for a fight with Trump but must not run away from it ei­ther.

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