Refugee policies can decide election outcomes

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By Pradip Rodrigues

In 2015, when German Chancelor Angela Merkel had an approval rate of 67 percent, she was considered politically invincible. Then the refugees began to flood Europe and Chancelor Merkel did what she believed was and is the right thing to do- throwing open the doors of Germany to waves of asylum seekers. She famously refused to declare no upper limit on the number of refugees the country would absorb. Germany would soon be confronted with a refugee crisis of epic proportions.

But before these unfortunate events, Chancelor Angela Merkel became the patron saints of millions of asylum seekers from around the world, her open gesture was met by wide media approval which culminated in her being declared TIME magazine’s person of the year. But at home her ratings started to fall precipitously and whether she wins another term in 2018 is in serious doubt. Pundits have traced her dramatic fall in large part due to her refugee policies, her legacy will no doubt live on as a Ghanaian baby who was been names after her by her ever grateful parents.

While Germans are still by and large happy to do their bit to absorb genuine refugee seekers, they’ve been overwhelmed by the sheer numbers.

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Following US President Trump’s promised crackdown on illegal immigrants and a temporary ban on people from 7 mostly Muslim nations and failed states, Canadian PM Justin Trudeau tweeted on January 28th: To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada

That tweet was followed by a picture that spoke more than 140 characters- of PM Trudeau welcoming a Syrian family at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.

Naturally then PM Trudeau currently basking in high approval ratings and is highly visible on the global stage could well be TIME magazine’s person of the year in 2017, in large part due to his openness on accepting asylum seekers.

Hundreds of asylum seekers have poured in and continue to do so with increasing frequency. It is likely thousands more will cross into the country as the weather improves. Don’t be surprised if a picture of PM Trudeau welcoming asylum seekers from the US appears in the media one of these days!

CBC has run a story about hundreds of asylum seekers massing in Mexico who came via Brazil and elsewhere planning to seek asylum in Canada, the US with its current policies on illegal immigration and asylum is merely a transit point, it may be summer before they begin arriving at our borders, but they are coming.

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Most of these asylum seekers have made the decision to head our way because of PM Justin Trudeau’s tweet welcoming them. Human smugglers are using that tweet no doubt to increase their client base.
Like Chancellor Merkel, PM Justin Trudeau has been recently honoured by Syrian baby being named after him.

But as the number of asylum-seekers continues to grow, large hearted Canadians are beginning to show signs of nervousness and weariness. Our official position on refugees and asylum seekers could well be at odds with a large and growing number of Canadians, some of whom would support a Trump-like ban on travel and immigration here.

This revelation comes courtesy of Angus Reid poll which reveals mixed attitudes around the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Canada.

60 percent approve of what the government has done for refugees overall, but a significant portions of the Canadian population is actually saying we are taking in too many refugees right now.

Ottawa has set a target of 40,000 refugees resettled this year and nearly half (47 per cent) asked say that number is about right, but 41 per cent believe that number is too high.

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One-in-10 (11 per cent) say the number is too low and we should allow more refugees to come to Canada.

A significant portion of the population (38 per cent) believe refugees resettled in their neighbourhood would not necessarily be welcomed by neighbours. And you also see more than half (54 per cent) agree that refugees aren’t necessarily making an effort to fit into mainstream Canadian society.

So far the press has been featuring positive stories on asylum seekers breaching our very porous borders and holes in fences. Photographs show RCMP officers hoisting babies into Canada and gleeful asylum seekers on their way to claim asylum which they believe is just a formality, they are no doubt sure that their asylum applications will sail through very smoothly.

And that could well be true given Canadian compassion and the strong pro-refugee lobby that is resulting in more sanctuary cities than ever. Perhaps Canada should re-brand itself as the first Post-national Sanctuary country in the world!

However our refugee and immigration policies could become wedge issues in the next elections and it may not just be waves of asylum seekers coming across our borders, it could well be some winds of change.

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