Tom’s Soapbox: The Paralysed Refugee.

While at work this morning, I over heard five men and women talking about the paralysed man seeking refugee status who just received a 90 day stay with Immigration Canada so that he can appeal his case. Mr. Laibar Singh who came from India was seeking sanctuary in a Temple located in the city of Abbostford, about 15 km from where I live, and was arrested when he had to go to the hospital for treatment due to his illness. He has being fighting a deportation order due to his failed refugee claim. The five men and women were laughing about how harsh it is for them to support their families while paying taxes and subsidizing “these people” who are on welfare programs “getting a free ride.” This angered me on so many levels.

It is too easy for Canadians to become smug and complacent about our lifestyle, the clean air, open and free land, law and order, wealth for all, that we take this all for granted. In a country so vast and bountiful, we pride ourselves with such wealth and beauty, yet we forget that Canada is still a young country which is growing, both culturally and economically. We consider ourselves a mosaic, unlike our American neighbors who use the term the “melting pot;” we embrace our cultural identities and celebrate them. We are in Canada a Socialist-Liberal people who believe in the rights and freedoms for the individual, the community, with liberty and guaranteed freedoms that most other nations could only dream of having.

To hear men and women say that people like Mr. Laibar Singh, who is paralysed from a stroke and is committed to a wheelchair, should be deported back to his home country because he would be a “leach” on our society, is a sad realization of ignorance generated by some members of this country. I believe that Mr. Laibar Singh has qualified hands down for becoming an Canadian citizen in my book. He has the support of the community, and a family that would bring prosperity and diversity to our country. I would consider his deportation a sad day for Canada.

I may not know all the details of this case, but I know how difficult it can be for people who move from another country to Canada, and who are seeking a new beginning. I volunteer, working with “English as a Second Language” students, and have heard the horror stories from some of them. So come on Canada show some compassion! Geesh…

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