There is little doubt the federal government believes the majority of Canadians are more concerned with the price of gas than the plight of refugees coming to this country.
In fact, the Conservatives are probably correct in thinking that most Canadians believe less money spent on refugees will mean more money the federal government can spend on their personal demands. It's understandable. When times are tough, many people get scared and worry about the ability to take care of themselves and their families. And it's also understandable that after years of being told stories about immigrants and refugees ripping off the system, they may have a jaundiced view of immigration.
In fact, the spectre of refugees losing access to our medical system will probably not incite most Canadians to write to their MP in support of the refugees.
But the Conservatives' move to deny new refugees access to health care (see story on page 3) is not only contrary to Canada's spirit of compassion, it's also shortsighted.
Under the Conservatives' new rules, a refugee suffering a medical problem will go to a hospital and be given a bill for services. Do we really think that a new, impoverished refugee will be able to pay that bill? And who ends up paying for those services? Yes, you guessed it - the taxpayers.
And what about the children? Have we become so ideologically driven that we've forgotten children have no say in where parents take them? Surely the government can make an exception for the kids.
We're certainly not for abusing the system. But to deny refugees, who are often traumatized and still recovering from conditions that Canadians have a hard time even imagining, temporary access to health care seems unnecessarily heartless. If the government can afford to spend $28 million on the War of 1812 celebrations or squander money on a jet, surely we can afford to fix a child's broken arm, or give a mother some insulin for diabetes.