PM finds al­lies on all sides

STRONG SUP­PORT FOR CANADA’S HIS­TORY OF OPEN IM­MI­GRA­TION

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - U.S. REFUGEE BAN - DAVID AKIN

Ja­son Ken­ney, the for­mer fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion min­is­ter now run­ning to lead the Al­berta Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives, called Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ex­ec­u­tive or­der on im­mi­gra­tion a “bru­tal ham­fist act of de­mogagic the­atre.”

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau sent out two tweets that went vi­ral with hun­dreds of thou­sands of pick­ups, both of which sig­nalled Canada’s con­tin­ued com­mit­ment to take in tens of thou­sands of Syr­ian refugees even as Trump sus­pended the pro­cess­ing of all Syr­ian refugees.

“It was a very im­por­tant re­stat­ing of our long-stand­ing tra­di­tion” said Ah­mad Hussen, the rookie So­ma­lia-born MP who be­came Trudeau’s im­mi­gra­tion min­is­ter. “They il­lus­trate our long-stand­ing tra­di­tion of open­ness and wel­come to those who seek pro­tec­tion and sanc­tu­ary and refuge and those who flee per­se­cu­tion and war, re­gard­less of their faith.”

Trudeau’s tweet gar­nered sig­nif­i­cant in­ter­na­tional at­ten­tion as well as at­ten­tion in his own coun­try. Sev­eral Lib­eral MPs pushed Trudeau’s com­ment around their so­cial net­works.

But the small-c con­ser­va­tive pre­mier of Saskatchewan, Brad Wall, joined On­tario Lib­eral Pre­mier Kath­leen Wynne and Al­berta NDP Pre­mier Rachel Not­ley in putting out their own tweets ex­press­ing sim­i­lar sup­port for Canada’s refugee pro­gram and goals.

The may­ors of Canada’s big­gest cities — Toronto, Mon­treal, Ed­mon­ton, Cal­gary, and Win­nipeg — did the same.

Some Con­ser­va­tives went fur­ther, dump­ing on Trump’s plan. Cal­gary Con­ser­va­tive MP Pat Kelly called the ban “odi­ous,” Que­bec Con­ser­va­tive MP Gerard Del­tell said “we un­re­servedly op­pose this ban,” and Kam­loops, B.C., MP Cathy McLeod said she “un­re­servedly con­demn(s)” the ban.

The op­po­si­tion leader, Con­ser­va­tive Rona Am­brose, though, was more cau­tious.

“Im­mi­grants and refugees from all over the world have greatly added to Canada’s suc­cess and pros­per­ity,” Am­brose said on Twit­ter. “(I’m) re­lieved to hear all Cana­dian pass­port hold­ers are be­ing ex­empted from U.S. travel re­stric­tions. Coun­tries like Canada and the U.S. need to shel­ter ISIS per­se­cuted groups from geno­cide — Yazidis, Assyr­i­ans, Chris­tians and Mus­lims alike.”

Con­ser­va­tive lead­er­ship con­tenders Kel­lie Leitch and Maxime Bernier both de­clined to com­ment on the ap­pro­pri­ate­ness of Trump’s ban, sug­gest­ing it would be in­ap­pro­pri­ate med­dling in an­other coun­try’s do­mes­tic af­fairs. Both Leitch and Bernier have al­ready pro­posed re­forms to Canada’s im­mi­gra­tion and refugee sys­tem and used the events south of the bor­der to re­mind Cana­di­ans about those plans.

“(The) Trump de­ci­sion is US in­ter­nal mat­ter. Should not im­pact our own de­bates about who and how many refugees and im­mi­grants we wel­come,” Bernier said.

Kevin O’Leary, the TV celebrity seen as the lead­ing con­tender in the Con­ser­va­tive race, was largely silent, of­fer­ing up just one Twit­ter re­sponse when asked if he agreed with Trump’s ban and plans to build a wall along the Mex­i­can bor­der, say­ing, “I’m half Le­banese, half Ir­ish. I wouldn’t be here if Canada was a place with walls.”

Chris Alexan­der, the for­mer MP and for­mer im­mi­gra­tion min­is­ter un­der Stephen Harper now run­ning to be Con­ser­va­tive leader, seemed to sig­nal dis­ap­proval of Trump’s ap­proach when he said, on Twit­ter, “We can ig­nore geno­cide, bring jets home, put up walls and ban peo­ple from our coun­tries, or we can get out there, do good & help save lives.”

Con­ser­va­tive lead­er­ship can­di­date Michael Chong ap­peared to dis­agree with Trump’s sus­pen­sion of the United States refugee pro­gram, in­clud­ing the sus­pen­sion of Syria refugees, “Canada and U.S did away with race-based im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies in 60s. That’s the way it should stay #RefugeeBan,” Chong tweeted.

Lead­er­ship can­di­date and MP Erin O’Toole was more equiv­o­cal, post­ing this tweet: “A blan­ket ban is both un­fair & in­ef­fec­tive for se­cu­rity. Hope our PM is on the phone and not just on Twit­ter. #Mus­limBan.”

Trump’s ex­ec­u­tive or­der, though, is not a “ban on all Mus­lims,” as Trump had promised dur­ing the elec­tion cam­paign, but to both his sup­port­ers and de­trac­tors it was the next best thing. Each coun­try on the “banned list” has ma­jor­ity Mus­lim pop­u­la­tions.

But notably, so does In­done­sia, Saudi Ara­bia, Egypt and other coun­tries left off Trump’s ‘banned’ list.

In any event, the ban had the ef­fect of, for ex­am­ple, pre­vent­ing Iraqis who had as­sisted the U.S. mil­i­tary and were in tran­sit to the United States from reach­ing safety on Amer­i­can shores. Ex­ec­u­tives of ma­jor U.S. cor­po­ra­tions such as Ap­ple and Google who were is­sued visas from some of the coun­tries on the ‘banned list” were also said to be af­fected.

Fed­eral New Democrats be­lieve the sit­u­a­tion so se­ri­ous that they will seek an emer­gency de­bate in the House of Com­mons Mon­day.

“This ban will have dis­as­trous im­pli­ca­tions for thou­sands of in­no­cent trav­ellers, fam­ily mem­bers, stu­dents, busi­ness peo­ple, in­deed trav­ellers of all kinds, but most dis­turbingly, the men, women and chil­dren who are seek­ing asy­lum and flee­ing per­se­cu­tion,” said NDP MP Jenny Kwan, who rep­re­sents a down­town Van­cou­ver rid­ing.

Lib­eral MPs and min­is­ters, by and large, ex­pressed sup­port for Trudeau’s tweets and Face­book posts.

Those tweets and Face­book posts were picked up by in­ter­na­tional new out­lets from The New York Times to Al Jazeera and Bloomberg, some of which in­ter­preted Trudeau’s tweets as sig­nalling a change in Cana­dian im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy or as a di­rect re­buke to Trump.

Hussen, in his Sun­day press con­fer­ence, said there were no plans to change the im­mi­gra­tion or refugee tar­gets for the cur­rent year though he said the gov­ern­ment was pre­pared to pro­vide tem­po­rary res­i­dence per­mits to any non-Cana­di­ans stranded in Canada as a re­sult of Trump’s ex­ec­u­tive or­der.

A BLAN­KET BAN IS BOTH UN­FAIR & IN­EF­FEC­TIVE FOR SE­CU­RITY. HOPE OUR PM IS ON THE PHONE AND NOT JUST ON TWIT­TER. — ERIN O’TOOLE, MP, IN A TWEET

TWIT­TER PHOTO

The tweet sent out by Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau on Satur­day in re­ac­tion to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ban on trav­ellers from seven coun­tries.

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