A funny thing has happened since November 8, 2016 (Election Day in the United States); people feel the need to defend values in Canada because they feel similar values in the US are being attacked by the new administration. There is a reaction revolution happening in Canada. Protests against the President are taking place; protests are taking place against the decisions being made in the American capital. Funny thing though, Donald trump is not our President, heck, he isn’t even our Prime Minister. Yet Canadians are taking to the street to protest his actions. Likely though, Canadians are just trying to let our Municipal, Provincial and Federal governments know how they feel about the 45th American President.
I found that there are 17 sanctuary cities in the US; the largest are New York, Los Angeles, Detroit and Chicago. In Canada, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and London ON are sanctuary cities. London being the newest, as the city council voted in 2017 to become a sanctuary city. But – do we need to have sanctuary cities here in Canada? Hasn’t Canada always been a welcoming country – taking in thousands from areas of the world afflicted with political uncertainty and upheaval?
What does it mean to be a sanctuary city? The designation of being a “Sanctuary City” ensures that people without legal documentation will have access to services they require. The designation also means that illegal immigrants would not be sent back to their home country if they were discovered.
This past week in Ottawa, Somerset Ward Councillor Catherine McKenney indicated she wants to make Ottawa a sanctuary city. A motion to council was expected this week (February 8th), but McKenney held the motion back and hopes to have Ottawa council vote to be a designated sanctuary city in the spring.
The idea of sanctuary goes back over 800 years to the 12th Century in England where fugitives, when they crossed the threshold of a church, the community would be legally required to feed and house the fugitives for up to forty days. I am sure we all at one point have seen a movie where someone is running into a church demanding “sanctuary”. Oh…and after 40 days, the fugitive had to confess his crime, give up everything they owned and walk barefoot to the nearest port and live in exile for the rest of their lives. Sanctuary has evolved since the days of King Henry III.
Back to Ottawa. Ottawa has a very generous history of accepting those from other countries recently; Syrians have found a home on our city as have Vietnamese boat people in the late 1970’s. Ottawans have continuously opened their doors and hearts to help others. Ottawa is now a vibrant multi-cultural community as Iraqi’s, Iranians, Somalians, Congolese and Afghans among others have come to Ottawa to live following political unrest and violence in their home country.
Ottawa, and Canada have accepted the many from the around the world – and in Ottawa’s case, they have had little if any documentation – they have been refugees. This has been done and we have welcomed many without the designation of being a sanctuary city.
So, do we need to have that designation? Conservative or Liberal federal governments have always accepted an open door policy to refugees, this is what Canada is.
Are Canadians and specifically, Canadian politicians allowing President Trump to dictate our laws and regulations? We didn’t expect NO political fallout from a Trump Presidency, but to have one man and his administration have such an effect is surely an overreaction. Canada has survived ‘cool’ relationships with the Americans in the past – what evidence is there where we expect that we won’t get through the next four years, or eight with Trump? It’s not like he can rule as Prime Ministers have for 10-15-20 years.
Are demands for sanctuary cities nothing more than a reaction, a shield, a need for protection a need to define LOUDLY our Canadian Values?
Do Canadians lose when we feel the need to ‘bulk up’ against someone who has such different values than us? Shouldn’t sanctuary be something we want as a proactive step rather than a reactive move against one person?
If becoming a sanctuary city was such a good idea, why haven’t we discussed this earlier? Why do we need to wait for one person to cause this to happen. If we haven’t needed this is the past, why do we need it now?
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