Appeared in the North Shore News – December 4, 2015
In a less Justin-besotted Canada, a “Trudeau promise” would enter the language – an oxymoron, like “military intelligence.”
You’ll recall that in November Liberal leader Justin Trudeau bid up compassionate Canada’s offer to accept Syrian refugees – handily out-caring rivals Thomas Mulcair and Stephen Harper. Aspiring prime minister Trudeau declared his government would take in 25,000 refugees by the end of this year.
Well, it was Canadians who were taken in.
Election out of the way, some nervous shuffling of Liberal shoes, a bit of throat-clearing, transpired. Processing, admitting, housing 25,000 stressed foreigners in less than two months was … well, a stretch. So the end of February was the new goal.
Hold on. Would any PM without that grand head of hair, those gorgeous high cheekbones – throw him a guitar, he’d make a credible Elvis Presley impersonator – get away with that? Say, S.H.? Never ever.
Surprise! Trudeau didn’t lose stature! His popularity soared! Canadians lapped it up! And the usual suspects, including most of the fawning media punditry, hastily revised history. We knew all along the goal was unrealistic. He meant well. “A” for effort and all that. A Vancouver Sun editorial wedded comedy with kowtowing at heights beyond the reach of telescopes.
“Partisan critics,” harrumphed that journal, might see this “as an abandoned campaign promise. It’s not. It is simply a common-sense response … .”
When is a promise not a promise? Cue Hollywood mogul Samuel Goldwyn, famed for wildly creative contributions to the language: “If you can’t give me your word of honour, will you give me your promise?”
Having knocked the media – of which I’m evilly one, of course – I praise Matthew Fisher, Postmedia columnist, who wrote some eye-opening stuff from Lebanon. His sampling showed many refugees couldn’t locate Canada. Didn’t know it was cold. Knew nothing of hockey.
More important: The better educated, more prosperous refugees scorn Hungary, Poland, even France. They jumped at Sweden and Germany for their rich social programs. And Canada, Fisher wrote, will get some of the poorest, least educated.
My view: No bad thing. Like many past newcomers, they’ll gratefully take lower-paid jobs and work their way up. I’d welcome them over any young intellectual nationalists and the devoutly religious wanting Canada to adapt to their culture, not vice versa.
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Now the only angle that really matters – the West Vancouver angle. How many of the 25,000 will the local government sponsor?
None. Nada. Zero.
Wait. You may find Mayor Michael Smith’s logic reasonable. Even impeccable.
“There are no concrete plans I am aware of for the district to do anything on this issue,” Smith answered an email question. “It makes no sense to house refugees at public expense in the most expensive housing area in the country. Paying for housing in less expensive places seems more logical, as you could provide many more spaces at a more reasonable cost.”
West Van individuals with house space can open their doors, Smith suggested: “We have hundreds of legal secondary suites. … Both the district and the board of education have programs to meet the needs of new residents from outside Canada and these could be expanded if needed.”
West Vancouver communications director Jeff McDonald added that, like other new arrivals, refugees “can get connected through programs at community centres and at the West Vancouver Memorial Library” – where director of library services Jenny Benedict is actively involved. “Libraries are tailor-made places for people to not only get information but create attachments to their new communities.”McDonald acknowledged: “However, West Vancouver has not been ‘assigned’ government-sponsored refugees.”
Town hall has no information about private sponsorships or their sponsors. What is known at this writing, reported in these pages, is that seven United Churches on the North Shore, for which Rev. Michael Gaveney of West Van’s St. David’s United is a spokesman, are sponsoring a family of seven. Look for fresh news.
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Extra, extra: Hot air above Paris – Earth’s temperature rising 50 per cent by end of next week! Huge damage to planet as 150 state heads fly in, environment-saving attendees stay at luxury hotels, eat rich, talk a lot, feel good – don’t save a blade of grass!
If there were any available credible technology that would control climate – it would be out there. That’s why chanting planet-lovers at Vancouver’s Library Square make shiny photo-ops but change nothing.
By the time hard work on solar power produces a third of present needs, for example, many of today’s protesters will need electric blankets. Sorry.
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It wouldn’t affect many, but those affected would feel it a lot. TransLink has put the West Van Blue Bus 258 UBC Express on death row. I’ve squirmed to mention its threatened demise because of self-interest. It may end – term’s last class this very day – a sterling academic career that began the week the Second World War started, leaving me still under-informed at age 18. Oops, transposition there.
The 258 Express runs September to April weekdays at 7, 7;30, 8 and 9 a.m. from Marine at 25th, and from the UBC bus loop back to 25th at 3:08, 4:08 and 5:08 p.m. Bottom line: TransLink’s bottom line. Blue Bus and TransLink can’t even agree on ridership figures.
Aforementioned West Vancouver Mayor Michael Smith has long ripped TransLink. The average West Van household kicks in $800 a year in taxes for TransLink, Smith calculates, and gets back service like a flat tire.
Smith was one of only three Metro mayors who publicly opposed this year’s transportation referendum. Coincidence, no doubt.
© Trevor Lautens, 2015