Interior News Editorial

Interior News Editorial

Equal treatment for all

It’s great what Canada is doing for Ukrainians, why can’t we do that for others too

It is impressive what can be accomplished when we have the political will.

Within six weeks of the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Canada had received 112,000 applications from people fleeing the conflict and, more impressively, had approved 26,500.

Furthermore, the federal government implemented the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel program. This allows Ukrainian nationals and their family members (of any nationality) to come to Canada on a free visitor visa, exempt from COVID-19 entry requirements, stay for three years and apply for an open work permit, among other benefits.

Of course, Canada has a special relationship with Ukraine. As of the 2016 census 1.36 million Canadians (3.9 per cent) identified as being of Ukrainian descent.

We can all be proud of how Canada has responded to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.

What we might not want to be so proud of is how we have not afforded the same kind of urgency and compassion to refugees from regions feeling strife and/or oppression.

For example, eight months ago, the federal government made a commitment to bring 40,000 Afghans to Canada.

So, far we’ve only managed to reach 25 per cent of that commitment.

The reasons given for the disparity in treatment should ring as hollow excuses to anybody who is not wearing blinders.

Even the applaudable response to the Ukrainian crisis has its own built-in disparity as the Canadian measures only apply to Ukrainian nationals, not people of other nationalities fleeing Ukraine.

This is by no means intended to disparage what we are doing for Ukrainians. It is right and good that we should help Ukrainians in any way we can.

But we should apply the same political will to those in need equally regardless of where they come from, what they look like or what they believe.

A House of Commons committee has said as much and it is time for the government to listen.