A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
A week or so ago, a man disguised himself, for no apparent reason, got on an Air Canada flight in Hong Kong (apparently without a passport) and came to Canada. Within minutes of his feet hitting the ground, he claimed refugee status and got a lawyer — although not necessarily in that order. He is now a refugee or something like that. It really doesn’t matter because he’s here now, and he’s going to stay here for the foreseeable future. That’s Canadian law. By the way, there’s nothing unusual about this. Over the past few years, we’ve literally had boatloads of refugees showing up on our shores. The thing that I don’t understand is why is this Canadian law? What bunch of blithering idiots decided that an individual can’t become a refugee to Canada unless he’s already in Canada? That’s just completely ass-backwards.
First of all, have these people, whoever they are, ever actually seen Canada and where we’re situated on the planet? Just FYI, we’re the big pink bit at the north end of North America. We have this long border with our only neighbour, the United States, and the rest is surrounded by water – ice and water, actually. We are thousands and thousands of kilometres away from everybody except Detroit, Greenland and Siberia. This would suggest that it’s stupid to process refugees only after they’ve already gotten here.
Secondly, have these people, whoever they are, ever actually seen a refugee? Again, just FYI, refugees are what’s left over when Hell comes calling. Severely beaten mentally, physically or both, about the only thing they have left is hope. In general, refugees can be found fleeing for their lives, scared out of their wits, or in disgusting refugee camps that look like poverty was having a 2 for 1 sale. Once again, this information would suggest it’s stupid to expect these poor buggers to get here first before we decide to help them.
So, just to clarify, no matter how desperate your circumstances, how many times you’ve been shot at or raped, whether you’re an orphan or just watching your family starve to death, as an individual, you can’t even apply for Refugee Status in Canada – unless you’re already in Canada. There is a magic lottery where you could get picked or get sponsored, but you’re probably just as far ahead to wait for Madonna or Brangelina to wander by. There’s only one other option – go look at a map.
There are only three ways to arrive in Canada – by boat, by plane or through the USA. I’m sure some enterprising young people could kayak, swim or skate across the polar ice cap, but it’s not going to happen that often. Coming from the USA is a bit problematic because, unless your name is Randy Quaid, there’s really no reason to travel through the Land of Milk and Money just to get here. In other words, it’s highly unlikely your average Guatemalan refugees would risk their lives in the Sonoran Desert and bypass places like Phoenix, Los Angeles and Chicago just to get to Revelstoke or Timmins. There’s got to be something else going on. Your next choice is an airplane. It’s quick but extremely difficult. First of all, you have to get to an airport, presumably an international airport. Then you have to buy a ticket, and finally you need a passport – although the passport thing seems to be optional when your destination is Canada. In other words, you need money, transportation and some official status in your country of origin. Your last alternative is a boat, and since very few cruise lines offer all-inclusive excursions to stinking, pestilent holes, your choice isn’t going to be Holland-America. Once again, you need to get to a port, find a ship, pay for passage and have a passport or some documentation – money, transportation, and status. Of course you can bypass all this if you choose Door #4: find a human smuggler.
There has been a lot of debate recently about refugees and human smugglers. After you cut through the rhetoric (too many smugglers; too few refugees; too much money; too little compassion) it’s generally agreed that people who traffic in human beings are bad, and the refugee system in Canada is broken. In fact, the Minister of Dumb-ass Solutions has even changed a few laws lately, but am I the only person who sees the fundamental problem?
We’re here; the refugees are way the hell over there. We have a huge infrastructure worth millions and millions of dollars to provide aid, comfort and legal advice to refugees — here. Whereas, to be blunt, refugees got dick – over there. Wouldn’t it make sense to bundle up this whole system — lock, stock, barrister and solicitor — and move it from here to over there? It would simplify the process no end. It would be incredibly easy for refugees to get at the Canadian system, and it would make applications, hearings, and judgements quicker and more flexible. The backlog would shrink and most importantly, it would virtually destroy the traffic in human beings. I don’t see a downside, but it’s almost like Canadians are clinging to the status quo as if their lifestyle depended on it. It strikes me that keeping our advocacy groups, NGOs, activists, social workers and lawyers bottled up in West Vancouver, Mount Royal and Rosedale, while the most destitute human beings on the planet are selling their souls just to get here, is really souring the milk of human kindness. Canadians are passionate about our refugee problems – for and against – but there is universal compassion for human suffering. We need to fix our refugee system and stop this insidious trade in human misery. Personally, I think if Canadians knew who the bloodsucking profiteers were, they’d put a stop to them — immediately.