Editorial: Show compassion, not political opportunism

Syrian refugee crisis is beyond politics; focus on humanitarian concerns

The debate around how to help Syrian refugees, fleeing a vicious civil war and expanding Islamic State terrorism, has become something of a political football in Canada. It’s to be expected that various parties during the election would make various claims on the best approach.

But this is beyond politics. The publication of the photo that went around the world – that of three-year-old Syrian refugee Alan Kurdi – is ample evidence of that.

Canadians are compassionate people and there is ample precedent for helping those in need. We need only recall when in the 1980s thousands of Vietnamese “boat people” were taken in by this country.

Compassion has to supersede politics in this matter but other questions arise of Canadians wanting to respond.

While dramatic and serious events like the Syrian crisis are few and far between, there is no lack of other events seeking our charitable response.

It’s important to analyze how useful and effective such charitable “trends” are, often spurred on by heart-wrenching photos, and where they go after the outrage dies down and the public moves on to the next hot issue.

We can look beyond the migrant crisis in Europe to any number of countries that would benefit from the aid and compassion of Canadians. And it is right and good that we continue to do what we can.

And for every trendy hashtag and its accompanying global outrage, there are local issues which, perhaps at times lacking the same profile, still need our attention.

The status of refugees, and Canada’s responsibility in assisting them, is deservedly in the spotlight. And local organizations that are doing their part deserve our accolades, especially as most of them were doing the hard work to support refugees for years before it became a trendy issue.

 

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