Symbol of the Heart not of Fear

Amir Farahi has posted a petition that states “ We the residents of London, Ontario demand that Mayor Matt Brown and the rest of City Council put an end to the call for our city becoming a sanctuary for illegal immigrants “. His whole goal is to get our City Council to overturn their motion to become a Sanctuary City. He lists some reasons why it is important to sign this petition and stop the tide of illegal immigrants coming into to Canada.

Let’s look at his reasons and go through them one by one. Amir’s number one reason for London not becoming a Sanctuary City is: “Canada and the United States are both signatories to the Safe Third Country Agreement. Under the terms of the treaty, any refugees seeking asylum in either state must claim protection in the country in which they first arrived. Therefore, the motion that was passed by the council is contrary to this international agreement.”

Yes, Canada is a signatory to the Third Country Agreement but what Amir Fails to point out, and was reported in the news, is that our friends to the south are working hard to expel refugees. These refugees are so terrified that they are willing to walk through -15c and lower temperatures, with their children, over a great distance, to ensure they aren’t sent back to their countries of origin, where they fear for their lives. And while it is fun for Amir to trot out the Third Country Agreement, it has been noted that Trump is happy to ignore the agreement and send people back. Hard to have an agreement if both parties do not live up to it. So it’s a bit unfair of Amir to ignore the SAFE in the Safe part of the title of Third Country agreement.

Amir Farahi’s second and third point are essentially theme and variation on the same idea. He says “Supporters of this idea need to realise that your intentions may be great but that doesn’t mean that it is practical. Our human desires are unlimited, but resources are scarce. Canada can’t take care of everyone in the world. We have plenty of problems at home that we need to address. Let’s not break the bank.” AND “ First things first, our labour force participation and employment rate is below the provincial and national average. There are more than 35,000 people in the London area that are living in extreme poverty. Over 8000 children are suffering from poverty here at home. Aside from a mental health and addiction crisis, we have an HIV epidemic with a record-breaking 58 new diagnoses in 2016.”.

In these heartless and feckless points, Mr Farahi sets up one vulnerable of group, refugees, against another group; The homeless, addicted, and those with mental illness. As someone who has spent a bit of time working on the issues the effect our most vulnerable fellow citizens, I was not aware that refugees had created diverted resources from them. And if Amir Farahi was so concerned with the lack of resources available to help those in need, perhaps he would be better served by looking at the more than 50% cut in the corporate income tax rate that success governments have doled out like candy between 1998 and 2012. Reversing even some of these cuts would solve the issue of resources for most vulnerable he seems so concerned about, as well as helping refugees.

He then insinuates the idea that they’ll come here and take our jobs. Again this is the kind of argument that would be recognised when Canada and the U.S. refused to let the Jews in when they were fleeing Nazi Germany. There is not, nor any proof of, refugees affecting the jobless rate so permanent residents cannot get work .

Lastly, Amir Farahi trots out the most insidious reasons for his hateful petition. Refugees are dangerous. You let in refugees and terrorists with be amongst them and that s a danger to the good citizens of Canada. I would remind Mr Farahi that in the sickening attack on the Mosque in Montreal it was a Canadian Citizen that did the work, it was the monster Mark Lepine, a Canadian Citizen, who inflicted the atrocities at École Polytechnique de Montréal, and I would REMIND Mr. Farahi that it was Canadian Citizens who attacked the House of Commons. His fevered fear instigating reasons for why London should not become a Sanctuary City are more like hearing Donald Trump speak at one of his rallies rather than someone who ran for City Council in London Ontario.

In the end, Council cannot order our Police to ignore Federal law and ignore illegal refugees. Council cannot order the Police to do anything. And in the end, this motion by Council is much more a symbolic act than one of actionable consequences. But I would say to you that symbols are important. Symbols point to who we are and what we stand for. Symbols like the maple leaf, or the RCMP hat, or the tree for our forest city stand for something. I would prefer our city creates symbols of hope and love like a sanctuary city rather than the small and cringing symbols of fear Mr Farahi suggests in his small hearted petition.

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