UR Opinion

Response to Cheryl Gallant's Safety Concerns about refugees

Doug DeLaMatter

By Doug DeLaMatter

Dear Editor:
In a Nov 18 article by Sean Chase, our MP Cheryl Gallant is quoted as worrying about the safety of our forces and residents if Syrian refugees are temporarily housed at Base Petawawa. It is surprising that Ms. Gallant is confusing people who are fleeing terror with the terrorists that have destroyed their homes. She was certainly in the forefront of Anti-Gun Registry people who insisted that legitimate gun owners not be confused with people who commit gun-crimes.
Including the recent attacks in Paris, not a single terrorist attack has been carried out by a refugee (in spite of the forged passports left at the scene). The Paris murders may have revealed the prejudices of the willfully naive, but the facts speak for themselves.

We should not forget that in ONE DAY ( 9/11/01), Canadians opened their hearts and their homes to over 33,000 passengers from all over the world, on US-bound aircraft that were diverted to our airports, with no security screening, no knowledge of who or what was behind the attacks in New York, and no organized government support. Bonds of friendship were formed from that generosity that persist today.

So it is with some concern that I read these statements from Ms. Gallant. Renfrew County welcomes thousands of tourists every year from the USA, in spite of the fact that in the last decade they have suffered over 300,000 deaths from gun violence yet only 47 deaths due to terrorism (according to the Pulitzer prize winning website, "politifact"). I hope her next target of mistrust will not be tourists!

So what is the best way for us to deal with an influx of refugees? I believe that we should follow the lead of the Welcoming groups in Eganville, Pembroke, Renfrew and Arnprior and greet these people with open arms and open hearts. They have lived through traumatic events that we cannot imagine. Most will be complete families. No parent can hate people who are kind to their children. Acceptance and Generosity will have a much more positive effect on our mutual safety than Suspicion and Resentment. Syria was a very modern society, and the people from there bring skills and knowledge that can help our communities grow and prosper.

We must also remember that providing a warm place to live for one winter is not enough. When your children are welcomed into a school, when you are treated as valued friends, when you have a job that uses your skills, you would quickly become an asset to your new community. So will our new arrivals from Syria, and all of Renfrew County will benefit from their presence. Our towns are always looking for young families to move in to keep our communities vital. Let us all recognize that by doing our best to make these newcomers feel welcome and comfortable in their new homes, we will gain much more than we give.

Doug DeLaMatter

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