Canada should make clear it will wel­come the world K


udos to Ry­er­son Uni­ver­sity’s Dig­i­tal Me­dia Zone (DMZ) for com­ing up with a smart way to hit back at Don­ald Trump’s travel ban on Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity coun­tries.

Ab­dul­lah Sno­bar, the tech in­cu­ba­tor’s ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor who him­self is an im­mi­grant from Jor­dan, is of­fer­ing start-up space to any­one affected by the ban. He’s also mak­ing the DMZ’s in-house coun­sel avail­able to help in­di­vid­u­als and busi­nesses fig­ure out any chal­lenges cre­ated by it.

It’s a small thing, but it’s a pos­i­tive and cre­ative ges­ture of de­fi­ance in the face of the dark turn in Amer­i­can po­lit­i­cal life under the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion.

It’s no ac­ci­dent that the tech in­dus­try, both here and in the United States, has been so out­spo­ken against Trump’s crack­down on refugees, Mus­lims and for­eign­ers in gen­eral.

The lead­ers of Ap­ple, Google, Net­flix, Ama­zon, Uber and many more came out strongly against the Trump travel ban. The in­dus­try re­cruits from around the world and any­thing that makes the U.S. less at­trac­tive to global tal­ent po­ten­tially threat­ens its fu­ture.

Jonathan Nel­son, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Hack­ers/ Founders, a 300,000-mem­ber global net­work of en­trepreneurs and en­gi­neers, put it like this: “Peo­ple come to Sil­i­con Val­ley so they can build the Amer­i­can dream, and this is one of the last places where the Amer­i­can dream still kind of works. If this hap­pens, you’re go­ing to com­pletely kill the next 10 years of tech com­pa­nies.”

If Trump pre­vails, he may well kill the Amer­i­can dream as it has long been un­der­stood – a place where peo­ple can come from around the world and make the most of their tal­ents.

There’s a big op­por­tu­nity here for other coun­tries, in­clud­ing Canada. If the U.S. turns its back on the rest of the world and makes out­siders feel unwelcome, there will be a clear open­ing to at­tract tal­ent to this coun­try.

The Ry­er­son ini­tia­tive should be seen in that light: it sends a pos­i­tive mes­sage that Canada stands ready to wel­come brains and hard work wher­ever it comes from.

The Trudeau govern­ment should do what it can to re­in­force that mes­sage. Dozens of tech CEOs signed a let­ter urg­ing the govern­ment to of­fer en­try visas to peo­ple affected by the Trump travel ban, and it should fol­low through on that sug­ges­tion. Uni­ver­si­ties, too, should not hes­i­tate to reach out to in­ter­na­tional stu­dents look­ing to study in a wel­com­ing environment.

The Amer­i­can dream may be fad­ing, but we should make clear that the Cana­dian dream is very much alive.

“If Trump pre­vails, he may well kill the Amer­i­can dream as it has long been un­der­stood.”

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