I admire Hugh Segal. He has always had the courage to speak truth to power. In this morning's Globe and Mail he advocates welcoming the many Haitians who are presently fleeing the United States:
There are commitments that involve more or less risk, and more or less genuine impact. Often, when a country acts clearly and decisively in a way that underlines its own values, that is when its impact is greatest. There would be no greater practical example of Canadian engagement as a member of the United Nations, a member of the Organization of American States and a founding member of la Francophonie, than a decision now to reach out and welcome Haitians who face deportation by the United States.
The commitment to help Haitians is nothing new to Canada. And Haitians have been contributing to this country for a long time:
We have a robust, active, productive, economically and culturally dynamic Haitian community in Quebec, and elsewhere. A distinguished Canadian of Haitian birth, Michaëlle Jean, became our Governor-General and now heads la Francophonie in Paris. The Haitian community is a credit to Canada in so many ways and has produced business, cultural, political and journalistic leadership that has immensely strengthened and enriched us all. It has the depth and capacity to sponsor and welcome new arrivals, along with other Canadians who would be delighted to help.
Nearly forty years ago -- when Baby Doc Duvalier ruled the roost -- my wife and I visited Haiti. At that time, it was the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. The average annual income was a little over $500 a year. That position has not changed. In fact, it is worse after the ravages of this year's hurricanes.
Segal is right. We should welcome people we have long welcomed -- particularly now that the president of the United States claims that "they all have AIDS."
Image: Los Angeles Times