This spoken essay by Michael Enright was worth listening nine months ago when it first aired and is worth listening to again now that Canada has en mass finally woken up to the reality that we’re in the midst of a refugee crisis. If you missed it the first time around, here’s another chance. Be sure to listen to the end to catch his absolutely brilliant conclusion.
I mostly want you to listen to the essay (it will take only four minutes of your time). But there are two points of commentary I feel compelled to add.
- Essays such as this give lie to one of the current Conservative narratives: that Canada’s pathetic response to the refugee crisis is due to the media’s failure to raise awareness among Canadians and not at all the fault of the government. The media (particularly the underfunded public media) was there; the government was not. Seventeen months ago, when As It Happens was doing a week long feature on the Syrian refugee crisis, it was Chris Alexander’s office that did not even respond to a request for an interview. When he did appear on the program some weeks later he was not able to say how many Syrian refugees had made it to Canada, nor did he voice a willingness to expand Canada’s commitment beyond taking in 1300 refugees; he stuck to partisan talking points instead. It’s worth noting further that Alexander’s assertion that the media was required so that organizations would be willing to sponsor refugees rang hollow in the face of the fact that many such organizations, after raising large sums of cash and filing onerous paperwork to sponsor refugees, would sometimes wait years before receiving a response that would allow them to merely continue the arduous, bureaucratic process. Humanitarian organizations, including churches and mosques, were there; this government was not. Fund the department (this government hates giving adequate funding to government agencies); cut red-tape; introduce extra-ordinary measure; accept responsibility. The fact that Canada has done it before means that it can be done, and could have been done years ago.
- For any who have had no or only limited exposure to Michael Enright, consider this an encouragement to listen to much, much more. Truly one of Canada’s greatest national treasures.
And don’t forget to listen to his essay.