Syrians living in Canada angry that feds don’t do more to bring their relatives to Canada

Syrian Canadians despair for relatives trapped by war, call on Kenney to do more
Mike Blanchfield, Friday, February 22, 2013 4:53 PM

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OTTAWA – Every bomb that explodes in Damascus strikes at the heart of a woman in suburban Ottawa, leaving her to wonder why the government here is not helping to get her son out of the besieged Syrian capital.
Leila, not her real name, knows that her 27-year-old son is hiding somewhere in Damascus, trying to keep one step ahead of a security apparatus that has his name on a list of forced conscripts.
If he’s found, he could be shot on sight. If he’s lucky, he’ll be forced into the Syrian army and put on the front lines of a two-year-old civil war in his country that has left 70,000 dead.

“It will be hard for him to kill Syrians. He might be killing a relative or a friend. He keeps saying he doesn’t want to go to the military,” said Leila, whose real name is being withheld to protect her son from harm in Syria.

“I know it’s the law, the immigration law that should be applied on all people. I know there are rules for that. But there should be something for the families here who still have relatives (in Syria).”

Like hundreds of other Syrian Canadians, Leila is angry with the federal Conservative Canadian government, which she accuses of doing nothing to reunite families with their trapped relatives.

Not so, said Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, who expressed concern Friday about the plight of Syrian refugees and promised to do more to help.

Such a sharp difference of opinion is not without political ramifications for the Conservative government: there are an estimated 40,000 Syrian Canadians in Quebec alone and as many 100,000 across the country.

Faisal Alazem, spokesman for the Syrian Canadian Council, said he’s been getting complaints like Leila’s from families across Canada for the last six months.

Her story, he said, is just one of about 200 from Syrians across Canada who are anxious about their children, parents and other relatives caught inside Syria’s borders — part of an estimated three million people displaced internally by the fighting.

Since last fall, Alazem has been pressing for a meeting with Kenney. Last week, he finally got a call back.

Officials — not the minister — would be willing to meet on March 11, Alazem was told, and that Kenney might find some time in his schedule “probably in a couple of months.”

That development flows from the meeting last July between Alazem’s group and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, who advised them to take their concerns to Kenney, because reunification is his bailiwick.

“When we look at that here in our diaspora, we really feel failed,” Alazem said.

“Our families under bombardment — we’re not allowed to bring them. Helping our people … we are really behind.”

Last week, NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar pressed Kenney to meet formally with Syrian Canadian representatives.

“The minister has stonewalled them,” Dewar said.

“None of us in the House would want our families left in these conditions. It is a simple request. Will the minister meet with representatives from the Syrian Canadian community?”

At an event Friday in Calgary, Kenney offered a different view. He said he’s met with “many different groups” of Syrian Canadians, “probably hundreds” in the last few months.

He said the government is trying to move quickly on 250 pending applications for spousal sponsorship of people still in Syria.

“I can understand the deep anxiety of Canadians who have relatives there, but we at the same time have to be careful,” Kenney said.

“There are people over there who have extremist affiliations, and we have to be careful about Canada’s national security as well.”

Kenney said Canada can not simply airlift people to safety from Syria. Instead, he recommended they flee the country if possible and join their 400,000 fellow Syrians in neighbouring countries, where they can claim refugee status.

“There’s a process where if they are facing danger in the conflict, then what they should do is leave Syria and seek the protection of the United Nations in one of the many refugee facilities that are surrounding Syria.”

Alazem disputes Kenney’s claim that he has met Syrian groups, and said it is unfair to ask Syrians to flee to a third country and be forced to wait months — if not years — in the UN’s clogged refugee queue.

In a policy paper, the Syrian Canadian Council is calling on Canada to take special measures to help Syrians as they have in the past with Lebanese people affected by the long civil war that ended in 1990.

Among other things, the council is calling on Canada to admit 10,000 refugees from Syria either through private sponsorship or government resettlement.

Read it on Global News: Global News | Syrian Canadians call on Immigration Minister to save relatives trapped by war

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  • http://www.facebook.com/bluepaper.frame BluePaper Frame

    So, the 100,000 living in Canada would like to see their family ( how many “refugees” per Syrian living in Canada?) coming to Canada because their country changed a stable regime with a chaotic one? They have a nerve to ask the feds to bring them to Canada. There are decent people, waiting for 3 years to come to Canada and these ones want special treatment? Why?!
    I think that Kenney is losing his mind if he falls for this.
    Enough with this ethnic pressure.

    • Janice

      I guess we work to pay for these people and these luxuries. Why doesnt their own country pay? Why dont they go to a neighboring country, (gee its quite obvious WHY they come here they get alot more help than any other nation would give them! I heard in london, england now there are more moslems there than in turkey. The ones in turkey are all leaving and moving to european nations! The western nations give them social housing, medical dental etc that they dont have back home……..its very sickening. There is a part in england that is all moslems and no one else can go there if your not moslem. I saw a video in youtube- so this english and chinese english born guy drive up and get attacked by moslem men who come running and they hit the english guy in the face hard. He said they do the same thing if u walk down one of their streets too! SO much hatred its stupid! I also wanted to mention i am half irish too and the irish side all got was a blanket on the immigration boat to canada, there was no welfare, no medical or very little.

      • Jane

        oh and a bag of potatoe seeds!!

        • I am wolf

          Yeah. Europeans were the ones who carved a country out of wilderness – the rest of ‘em didn’t start coming until there was already something here for them, paid jobs, etc. No scratching out a homestead for them – and that includes the scab-labouring Chinese opportunists Van Horne and Onderdonk went and imported for their railroad. The CPR should have been forced to make sure those “temporary” foreign workers all got back to China, like they were supposed to do.

          I don’t think we’d really miss their dog-and-seagull restaurants.

  • FourFooted_Messiah

    So what is this any responsibility of ours? Why don’t YOU guys go back and fight? It’s none of OUR business, and we shouldn’t be sucked into it one way or another, and we’re certainly not the world’s keeper/nanny.

    • http://www.facebook.com/bluepaper.frame BluePaper Frame

      I do not blame them. They ask because they know they will be given. I truly hope to live to see a government that will tell everyone: You came here, you want to be called and considered Canadians, be Canadians. Enough with lobbying for “your country”. If Canada is not your country, go back.”
      I would love to see a party that doesn’t give a damn on PC, labels and all that filth.

    • Canadian Born

      Agree 100%. Close the doors already!!!

  • Canadian Born

    Why are Canadians not more concerned about this? If Leila is so concerned for her son PLEASE go back to your home country and fight to make it a better country!!! If Canada keeps going at this rate trying to appease all these people it will become the downfall of our great country and when Canada falls who will be there to protect the Canadians born here?

    • http://www.facebook.com/bluepaper.frame BluePaper Frame

      I do not think that dividing people according to their place of birth is valid anymore.
      “Canadian-born” can be a third generation Chinese, Muslim or Punjabi. Would you define them as Canadian or not? In spite of their names, some of them might be better allies than Jason, Christie or Jim.
      Also, more immigrants than you think would like to stop immigration while many of the the “true-Canadians” sponsor refugees and call us names.

      • http://www.facebook.com/janice.marquis3 Janice Marquis

        Well sure it is. If your not born here your not canadian. There is a huge difference between canadian born and immigrants………everyone knows right away the difference. I even have some immigrants lie and tell me they were born here and its a joke! Then there are people like myself, here for 400 years. Now if Im not canadian well I sure dont know who else would be! We are the canadians (from acadian )……….canadian = christian= white= english speaking= no other homeland as here for centuries………..=ancestors built the country………….

        • http://www.facebook.com/bluepaper.frame BluePaper Frame

          … So, Canadian means being Anglophone? I agree with you on the part that Canada was built by white, Christian people, but allow me to disagree with the other part of your statement as it excludes the French. As far as I know, Champlain was not English…
          This should not be an issue anymore (French or English) as the biggest problem today is the survival of both these magnificent cultures.
          By extension, Christian Europeans should be united.

          • Jane

            We were before trudeau hit our nation!

        • Canadian Born

          Thank you for your comment. Alot will agree and alot will not. There is no happy medium!!! As stated by BluePaperFrame Jason, Christie or Jim may not make better allies than foriegn named people I have to disagree. I would rather deal with those names than Omar or Mohammed!!!!!

          • Jane

            A good read is “The Disappearing Country” by Mel Hertig, scary but true- all about canada!

      • Jane

        The people sponsoring refugees would be churches not individuals……….the church pays for all that……..I know its a sad world and everyone deserves a better life out poverty but canada is not responsible for the whole world and its problems. This is one thing I HATE about this nation- we always focus on other nations instead of our own nation and its issues…….that is why the country is falling apart!

        • Jane

          God speaking of this! I met a nice lady who is a pastor in alymer quebec. She and her church took in 3 boys from haiti to live with her family and they got them all jobs. Then she told me all her grandkids are high school age (3 of them) and none of them can find work! I am thinking is there something wrong with this woman, cant she figure out these kids are taking wokr away from her own grandkids! Its a small town too……….

    • Jane

      Canada is a single mother with too many babies and no father. She keeps having MORE babies and the more she has the worse her financial situation becomes and the less likely her latest husband will stick around! This is what is happeing to canadian born now. We are broke from catering to the whole world and no one take care of US the PEOPLE!