Yesterday I attended the Calgary town hall on the Syrian refugees process. Some thoughts:
- Mayor Naheed Nenshi is an amazing speaker. I knew that before but on this topic, as the son of refugee parents himself, he is quite passionate and eloquent.
- At least locally, the resettlement effort is more organized and prepared than I would have thought considering the rush. Impressed. (Calgary really is a leader in so much of this stuff.)
- Nobody will be cutting corners on security and health checks.
- The semi-widespread notion that refugees are terrorists is nonsense. The Paris attacks were by French and Belgian nationals. To catch a 7-12 hour flight would be so much easier than the months-long gauntlet of checks, screens, transfers, and terrible travels those fleeing violence are going through. As Nenshi noted, terrorists are unfortunately smarter than that.
- Winter. These Syrians are arriving in the middle of a Canadian winter. Who would choose that voluntarily? People looking for peace and hope.
- The “how can we help” vibe in the room was inspiring. A smile at the airport and warm welcomes into the communities in which these families arrive will be more powerful than anything the government can do.
- The tight timeframe is actually a good thing, I think. Things happen in bursts. Canada shouldn’t be shy with ambition. And as far as moonshots go, this one is actually not that big.