UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds

Five contentious ways Canada could be doing more for Syria

By Pieta Woolley


The first rush of the 31,000 Syrian refugees has arrived across Canada. In both big cities and small towns, in churches and even summer camps, Canadians are learning about the horrors of the conflict from regular folk who have fled Syria.

For those of us who aren’t from the Middle East, having neighbours that are makes watching the bombs rain down on Aleppo even more excruciating. In an Observer blog post, “The Globalization of Indifference,” former NDP MP Dennis Gruending calls for Canada and the U.S. to take a greater role in settling the world’s 65 million refugees and ending armed conflicts. That we have a moral obligation to do something is obvious. But what we should do is less so.

Here are five contentious ways Canada could be doing more for Syria.

1. Take in far more refugees


Do it because: We can, as it doesn’t cost much. Other countries, such as Germany, settle far more than what Canada has offered. In fact, wealthy countries, such as Canada, settle less than one percent of the world’s registered displaced people, whereas already-stressed countries host the most refugees.

Don’t do it because: Most Canadians don’t want more Syrian refugees.

2. A bigger military role against ISIS

Do it because: In February, Canada ended its bombing mission against ISIS. At the time, most Canadians wanted the bombing missions to continue or even increase. Just one in 10 Canadians wanted Canada to end its military role against ISIS entirely

Don’t do it because:
It’s expensive, and as the Huffington Post’s Joe Killoran writes, “Canadian leaders also have a responsibility to ensure any mission which endangers Canadian lives has clear, realistic and worthwhile objectives. Fighting ISIS does not meet this standard.”

3. Send more aid money

Do it because: Canada has committed $1.6 billion over three years for Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon — over and above other aid commitments. Even so, Canada’s foreign aid package is half of what it was in 1975 in today’s dollars and represents far less of our GDP than the UN target of 0.7 percent, which many European countries meet.

Don’t do it because: Canada has more pressing needs at home. What’s more, aid money isn’t audited well.

4. Ensure leadership roles for Syrian women


Do it because: The Syrian Women’s Initiative for Peace and Democracy has a plan for peace but isn’t funded internationally and can’t afford to be at the meeting to negotiate ceasefires and peace agreements.

Don’t do it because: Nope. No one seems to be arguing against this one — for now.

5. Remove Russia from the UN Human Rights Council


Do it because: MP Irwin Cotler, who founded the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, is urging Canada to vote against reinstating Russia on the council on the basis of its anti-civilian violence in both Syria and Ukraine.

Don’t do it because: While no Canadian has publicly argued in favour of Russia staying on this particular council, Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion argued earlier this year that "Canada's severing of ties with Russia had no positive consequences for anyone, not for Canadians, not for the Russian people, not for Ukraine and not for global security."


Author's photo
Pieta Woolley is a writer in Powell River, B.C.
Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!

Environment

Song leader, police and gate blockers in front of the Kinder Morgan gates. Photo by Kimiko Karpoff

A Kinder Morgan protest in photos and song

by Kimiko Karpoff

A faith leader reflects on protesting the pipeline with the Water Protectors from the Tsleil-Waututh nation.

Promotional Image

Editorials

The United Church Observer's editor and publisher, Jocelyn Bell. Photo: Lindsay Palmer

Observations: #MeToo

by Jocelyn Bell

Our hope is that by giving voice to these #MeToo stories, a new conversation about sexual misconduct can begin.

Promotional Image

Video

ObserverDocs: Playing by Heart

by Observer Staff

United Church music director Kara Shaw was born prematurely, became almost totally blind and was later diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Today, the 28-year-old showcases her unique musical ability, performing piano on local and national stages.

Promotional Image

Society

June 2018

Why some women of colour are hesitant to say #MeToo

by Jacky Habib

Three women share their stories in the hope of creating safe spaces they never had.

Environment

May 2018

A Kinder Morgan protest in photos and song

by Kimiko Karpoff

On April 28, 2018, faith leaders from many traditions, including the United Church, stood in solidarity with Water Protectors from the Tsleil-Waututh nation to protest the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion in Burnaby, B.C.. Kimiko Karpoff captured the day in pictures.

Faith

June 2018

After 93 years, this will be the United Church's last General Council meeting

by Mike Milne

When the United Church meets in July, top priorities will be a streamlined governance structure and Indigenous ministries.

Justice

June 2018

#MeToo in the United Church

by Trisha Elliott

9 women share their stories of harassment and sexual assault in the United Church.

Columns

May 2018

On grief and the healing power of gardening

by Paul Fraumeni

A writer reflects on how growing tomatoes is helping him find peace while dealing with the loss of loved ones, including his son.

Editorials

June 2018

Observations: #MeToo

by Jocelyn Bell

Our hope is that by giving voice to these #MeToo stories, a new conversation about sexual misconduct can begin.

Promotional Image