Trudeau tikkun olam tweet earns Conservative rebuke
June 25, 2012 | Joanne Hill - Correspondent
TORONTO – Cabinet Minister Jason Kenney’s press secretary has lashed out at Papineau MP Justin Trudeau’s accusation that Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government does not believe in tikkun olam.
Trudeau tweeted on June 15: “The real problem I have with Stephen Harper’s (and the CPC’s) worldview? He doesn’t believe in ‘tikkun olam.’”
Readers who followed the link embedded in Trudeau’s Tweet were taken to a Globe and Mail opinion piece, No real refuge in Canada for some refugees, written by Dr. Philip Berger, human rights activist Bernie Farber and lawyer Clayton Ruby.
The authors claimed that changes to the Immigration and Refugee Act, as called for in Bill C-31, are antithetical to the values of Judaism embodied in the concept of tikkun olam. They also drew comparisons to their “relatives who never arrived because of the Canadian government’s closed-door policy for Jews. Historians Irving Abella’s and Harold Troper’s book None is Too Many told of this sad and ultimately deadly policy.”
Dr. Berger, Farber and Ruby concluded: “Today, we go on record as Jews and descendants of immigrants to say that we oppose cuts to refugee health care and the designation of so-called ‘safe’ countries.... Ironically, we also understand that, were our families to arrive today under the federal government’s new rules, they would be denied health care and, ultimately, citizenship. Returning to the retrograde policies that inspired None is Too Many must be rejected.”
In response to the Jewish Tribune’s request for a comment about Trudeau’s accusation, Kenney’s press secretary Alexis Pavlich said, “Canada resettles more refugees per capita than almost any other country – one in 10 of all refugees resettled worldwide – and our asylum system is the fairest and most generous in the world. Our government is proud of Bill C-31, Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act, which will mean faster processing of claims by genuine refugees who are in need of Canada’s protection. The current system in which genuine refugees must wait almost two years for a decision is unacceptable and it’s unfortunate that Justin Trudeau doesn’t share that view. Thanks to Bill C-31, people who need protection will receive it faster, while fraudsters and people looking to exploit our generous taxpayer-funded health and social benefits will be removed as quickly as possible.”
Pavlich added, “Justin Trudeau’s implicit equation of our modest improvements [in Bill C-31] to the notorious and antisemitic [sic] ‘one is too many’ policies of the 1930s is ignorant and obscene.”
Trudeau’s office did not respond to the Tribune’s request for an interview before the paper’s deadline.