At first, I thought the government was going to be tone-deaf to the entreaties of the military, of pundits, of premiers that the refugee airlift to Canada needed to be slowed down. The reasons behind the demand for delay were legion; from an assurance that the security screening would not in anyway be circumscribed to meet the needs of a '01 January' promise to concerns that the infrastructure to receive and accommodate 25,000 in the space of weeks would overload Canada's capacity to do it well. For whatever reason, the government's decision to delay the full inflow until the end of February is a welcome change, and it should be congratulated for that.
It is a little troubling that some media and commentators could not resist pointing out that the government was not going to be able to meet its promise, adding that many of the first arrivals would be privately-sponsored refugees, not government-sponsored ones.
But that kind of reaction crystallizes why so many Canadians are fed up with the discourse surrounding our politics. Many – premiers, mayors, refugee groups – asked for a short delay, with the understanding that a two-month delay was not a break in the promise at all, but perhaps a refinement, necessary because of new information or a better understanding of the complexities.
We do want governments to keep promises, but in this case, we should be applauding government for actually having listened, considered, and adjusted accordingly, rather than what appears to be the opposite reaction by some.
With respect to whether they are government sponsored, or privately sponsored, they are still refugees fleeing the horrors of a civil war. The government effort with respect to screening, and transport here, will be the same.
After all, we should remember, it isn't all about us, but about them... for once, can we not ditch the politics?