Before last week, Canada had managed to hide in the shadows of the ongoing refugee crisis.
Then came the shocking story of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, who’s tragic death became a symbol of the unfolding humanitarian disaster when a photo of his lifeless body washed ashore a Turkish beach finally got people to look at the issue more scrupulously.
What emerged from the media attention surrounding Kurdi’s death was that his aunt, a resident of Vancouver for over two decades, had filed a refugee application to grant Kurdi asylum in Canada. It was rejected in March.
Our federal government’s handling of the refugee crisis all of a sudden became a major focal point, and has even emerged as an election issue. While politicians scrambled for answers, one thing was clear: Canada was not pulling its weight when it came to assisting in the resettlement of refugees.
A survey released today by Mainstreet/Postmedia revealed Canadians largely feel the same way. The poll concluded that 48 per cent of Canadians support a “dramatic” increase in refugee resettlement, the same percentage that disapprove of the government’s response. Only 35 per cent were satisfied with Canada’s response.
“Canadians clearly want to see more action taken on refugee resettlement,” said Quito Maggi, president of Mainstreet. “They believe it is the best way Canada can help and almost half of Canadians support resettling over 30,000 refugees. These are significant numbers.”
Residents of Quebec, Ontario, and Atlantic Canada were most disapproving of our effort, while almost half of Alberta residents support the government’s (non-)action. Unsurprisingly, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was not identified as the man to get the job done; 26 per cent believe NDP leader Tom Mulcair would be the most effective in addressing the Syrian refugee crisis.
Mulclair says he would accept 46,000 government-sponsored refugees by 2019, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau says Canada should take in 25,000 Syrian refugees before next year, and the Conservatives have said Canada will take 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next three years.
Just 18 per cent of Canadians felt military force was the best option, which is essentially Canada’s only contribution at the moment.