The House

Syrian refugee crisis: lesson from the past

Ron Atkey, who was the Immigration Minister in Joe Clark's Progressive Conservative government from 1979-1980, and one of the key figures behind the effort to bring 60,000 Vietnamese refugees to Canada, talks about lessons learned, and his take on Canada's current response to the Syrian refugee crisis.
Syrian refugees rest at Greece's border with Macedonia, near the Greek village of Idomeni, September 9, 2015. (REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis)

The country has just gone through a federal election and a new government is in place. Then, news of thousands of refugees fleeing their war-torn land shakes the world. How will Canada respond?

That was 1979, but Canada is facing a similar moral line in the sand right now. 

The parallels between the Vietnamese refugee crisis 36 years ago and today's Syrian refugee crisis highlight the ways in which we can learn from the past, says former Immigration Minister Ron Atkey, who served in Joe Clark's Progressive Conservative government and was one of the key figures responsible for bringing 60,000 Vietnamese "boat people" to Canada.


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