To the Editor:
That headline was doubtless composed by an Advance staffer but it accurately conveyed the argument contained in Michael Bunn’s letter. The short answer to Bunn is that refugees need Canada, and that as a compassionate country we should respond to that need.
But there is more to the issue than that. For one thing, every refugee we take in reduces by some degree the burden on a country — usually one less wealthy than ours — where refugees have been given temporary shelter, but in crowded camps whose occupants have nothing to do but sit for years and hope for a better future somewhere else.
Moreover, Bunn distorts the issue when he says that refugees deprive Canadians of jobs. That may be true in a tiny minority of cases at times when the Canadian economy is not producing job opportunities at the normal rate. The other side of this picture, however, is that refugees often bring skills that Canada needs or that they are willing to take jobs that many Canadians refuse.
As for Bunn’s concern about the closing of local stores creating unemployment, I would argue that the main villain here is the extent to which Crestonites do their shopping in Cranbrook, Trail, Nelson or across the U.S. border.
Arguably — First Nations aside — Canada is a land of refugees and the descendants of refugees, people who came to our shores seeking a better life and willing to work for it. Should we now be slamming our doors against families who come for the same reason, often from far more desperate circumstances?