To the Editor:
Reluctantly, the Harper government now promises “swift action” regarding the Syrian refugee crisis. But before Canada resettles up to 100,000 refugees, perhaps we should first deal with similar domestic problems, refugees already within our borders.
Over the past nine years this same government has jailed 87,317 migrants, including hundreds of children, without charge. These people are being held in Canadian prisons (is this what the new jail construction was all about?) waiting for decisions on their cases, languishing without due process for too long. This has cost Canadian taxpayers more than $250 million over the past five years. While we hear about swift action for new refugees, how about some swift action for these folks?
How about swift action and social housing for 30,000 homeless people living in Canadian streets and alleyways?
What about swift action for thousands of aboriginals living in slum conditions without clean water and air? Northern Alberta reserves report increasing cancer rates due to pollution, Shoal Lake in Manitoba has been on a boil water advisory for 19 years and the Whitedog and Grassy Narrows First Nations in Ontario cannot eat their contaminated fish caught in poisoned water.
When these lingering but immediate concerns receive swift action, perhaps we can extend more shelter to more refugees. Can we not deal with our own responsibility first?
I hope all of our political parties will pay some attention to these pressing needs. Or do we need some viral images on the Internet illustrating their plight to elect some swift action?