Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Canada Less Welcoming to Refugees under Harper's Leadership

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Canada Less Welcoming to Refugees under Harper's Leadership

Article excerpt

TORONTO * Canada has long prided itself for opening its doors wider than any nation to asylum seekers, but the number it welcomes has waned since Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper took power almost 10 years ago.

Harper has rejected calls to take immediate action to resettle more Syrian refugees, despite the haunting image of a drowned 3- year-old washed up on a Turkish beach that has focused the world's attention on the largest refugee crisis since World War II.

Canada denied initial, inaccurate reports that it had rejected a refugee application for the boy's immediate family, but the story landed in the middle of an election campaign and forced Harper's party to cancel events and address what Canada is doing for asylum seekers.

In times of crisis in decades past, Canada resettled refugees quickly and in large numbers. It airlifted more than 5,000 people from Kosovo in the late 1990s and more than 5,000 from Uganda in 1972 and resettled 60,000 Vietnamese in 1979-80. More than 1.2 million refugees have arrived in Canada since World War II.

But the number of refugees has declined since Harper became premier in 2006. In 2005, Canada received 35,775 refugees. Canada welcomed 23,286 last year. According to the United Nations, Canada has dropped from the fifth-highest refugee-receiving country in 2000 to 15th last year. …

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