Canada, Leading the Free World

On Feb 4, 2017 New York Times published this opinion piece: OTTAWA — President Trump’s harsh travel ban reflects a global pattern: All around the world, countries are slamming the doors shut.

One great exception: Canada. It may now be the finest example of the values of the Statue of Liberty.

This isn’t just because Canadian leaders are particularly enlightened, although there’s some of that. It’s mostly because the Canadian people themselves remain astonishingly hospitable, with many groups clamoring for more Syrian refugees.

“Thank you, Canada,” Omar al-Omar, a Syrian who was shot at age 15 as the war started, said to me at a center here where refugees are getting lessons in English and in Canadian habits, such as excruciating politeness. “I’m very happy. I feel welcome.”

“I’m sad Arab countries aren’t doing enough for refugees,” Omar added. “I’m really happy Canada does what others don’t.”

President Barack Obama admitted 12,000 Syrian refugees, triggering a furor and a backlash. Meanwhile, Canada, with a far smaller population, has admitted 40,000 Syrians.

Ahmed Hussen, Canada’s immigration minister, told me that one of the criticisms he faces from ordinary Canadians is that he’s not bringing in enough Syrians. And Hussen is himself an emblem of the country’s openness: He arrived at age 16 as a refugee from Somalia and now runs the ministry that once served him.

“We want people to join the Canadian family,” he said, noting that the country is trying to figure out how to keep more foreign students from leaving after graduation. And his trajectory is not unique: Two of the last three governors general arrived as refugees, one from Haiti and the other from Hong Kong. Canada also noted last year that it had more Sikhs in its cabinet than India did.

Let’s be clear: Canada has xenophobes, too, and indeed, six people were just killed at a mosque in Quebec. Its people are not intrinsically nicer or more tolerant than Europeans or Americans.

Read more at Canada, Leading the Free World – The New York Times

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