Canada ought to be first priority

Brad Works
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Over the next 10 years, Canada will inject $1 billion toward reconstruction efforts in ravaged Afghanistan.

Over the next 10 years, Canada will inject $1 billion toward reconstruction efforts in ravaged Afghanistan.

This enormous commitment is not intended for military purposes, so we are told. Rather, the allotment will finance school construction, training teachers and building as much infrastructure as, well, $1 billion can provide.

It is a noble announcement made by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and one we ought to applaud. Until we stand back for one moment and employ the magnifying glass to the home front. The prime ministers commitment comes at a time when the social infrastructure at home remains a poor reflection of who we are supposed to be.

Our nighttime streets contain the homeless and one doesnt have to walk down Yonge Street in Toronto, Barrington Street in Halifax or a street in Cumberland Countys small towns to witness those who our own social network has dismissed, worse still, forgotten and ignored.

To be dismissed by ones country, as a citizen, is almost as fearful as losing ones name, ones identity. But thats the horror facing hundreds of Canadians today during the must-get-a-passport frenzy.

Monday, in Ottawa, a contingent of dispossessed Canadian citizens appeared before a House of Commons committee established to hear their plight. They have the papers to say they are Canadian citizens but, but through an incomprehensible quirk of law, they are not. They are victims of 1947 security and standardization legislation that has laid dormant until super screening for issuance of a Canadian passport became shades of things to come.

Imagine living ones life here, only to be advised one day you are no longer a citizen. Immigration Minister Dianne Fraser promises full and speedy resolution for the now-nameless. It had better be the case. Then, we may turn our attention to Afghanistan reconstruction, albeit all the while, we continue to ignore other Canadians whose bed is a cardboard box.

Organizations: House of Commons

Geographic location: Canada, Afghanistan, Yonge Street Toronto Barrington Street Halifax Cumberland Countys Ottawa

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