By Graeme MacKay, Editorial Cartoonist, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday September 23, 2015
This is the refugee debate we ought to be having
Dieter Zetsche surprised attendees of the Frankfurt auto show recently when he interrupted a presentation to opine on the 800,000 Syrian refugees that are expected to flood into Germany this year. The mustachioed chairman of Daimler AG, which makes Mercedes luxury cars, suggested the influx of asylum seekers could “help foster another economic miracle” by offsetting the challenges posed by the country’s rapidly aging population. Zetsche went on to say the carmaker would help pay for housing for migrants in Stuttgart, while rival Volkswagen, not to be outdone, said it would find them trainee jobs.
In Canada, by contrast, politicians have failed to draw a similar link between accepting large numbers of Syrian refugees and the potential for future economic growth, despite being in the midst of a federal election where economic matters are said to be top of mind among voters.
Instead, the debate is focused narrowly on the need to balance humanitarian assistance with national security concerns—not that the number being talked about would have much of an economic impact anyway. The Harper government’s promise to take another look at its policy, following significant public outcry, only resulted in a commitment to speed up by 15 months the resettlement of 10,000 Syrians, not accept more of them. Meanwhile, Tom Mulcair’s NDP has proposed bringing 10,000 refugees into the country by the end of this year, while Justin Trudeau’s Liberals have promised to bring in 25,000 by January.
It all raises an obvious question: Are we not only missing out on the chance to help those in desperate need, but a historic economic opportunity, too? (Continued: MacLeans)