Source: United Nations Photo, Flickr

More than 90 days after Israel began its assault on Gaza, the Canadian federal government has finally announced a special “temporary resident pathway” for Palestinian refugees. The program, however, is wrought with obstacles—not least of which is the fact that it has a cap of 1,000 refugees who will be allowed into the country. Compare this to the 2.3 million people who are battling for survival amidst destruction which the Canadian government backs financially, politically, and militarily, and the true nature of the program becomes clear. It is a half-hearted attempt by the Canadian ruling class to mask its imperialist interests. 

‘Pathway’ or bottleneck?

To be accepted into Canada, applicants are required to provide a full employment history from the age of 16 onwards, including exact dates, full descriptions of roles and responsibilities, the names of supervisors, their reasons for leaving each job, and a list of any disciplinary issues. They are also required to have up-to-date passports, give a list of all their social media accounts, former phone numbers and emails. One wonders how Gazans are supposed to obtain all these documents and information when large parts of Gaza are razed to the ground and under a military invasion.

The government then requires them to list all “scars or injuries which have required medical attention” with full descriptions and explanations, along with biometrics including fingerprints and photos for facial recognition. The justification for these invasive and wildly unnecessary questions is, according to Immigration Minister Marc Miller, concerns for national security. 

Once an applicant submits to this interrogation, they are then confronted with the obstacle of finances. The average cost for an application is $850, and the authorization costs an additional $1,000. To even be considered for the program, applicants must be sponsored by a relative living in Canada who has full citizenship or permanent resident status and this sponsor has to provide proof that they can financially support the applicant for up to a year. All of this must then be topped off with the proverbial cherry of a sworn and notarized declaration.

If this marathon weren’t enough, finally we come to the 1,000 person limit, for which the Trudeau administration can’t even choke up a coherent explanation. Marc Miller claims that it was put forward “to get a sense of what that volume is.” He even says outright that, “We don’t have a sense of the numbers… We’re speculating.” In the same breath, he cites the logistical barrier due to the “volatile situation on the ground.”

This “volatile situation”, an imperialist war of extermination by Israel, has seen over 26,000 Palestinians killed since Oct. 7. Any Canadian with a newspaper, a computer, or a television screen has a clear enough sense of the numbers.

The purpose of the cap is simple: to keep refugees out. 

Who makes a good refugee?

To complete the picture of the present hypocrisy, it is worthwhile to compare this to the program implemented in 2022 in response to the outbreak of war in the Ukraine.

While today Palestinians must be financially supported by their Canadian relatives for one year, Ukrainian refugees were provided with employment and housing programs; while Palestinians have to provide endless amounts of personal information, including biometrics and descriptions of scars, Ukrainian refugees didn’t even need a passport, and invitations were even extended to their relatives from other countries! Finally, while the federal government has set a limit of 1,000 refugees from Palestine, 200,000 refugees arrived in Canada from the Ukraine.

In 2022, the government explicitly stated that defending democracy in Ukraine was more important than concerns of security. Today, when the Israeli government states that “there are no innocents in Gaza”, the Canadian government takes him at his word, and proceeds to treat every fleeing refugee as a suspected member of Hamas—guilty until proven innocent.

Are refugees from Palestine less deserving of aid than refugees from Ukraine? To be sure, neither people were responsible for the destruction rained down upon them by imperialist conflicts—but the stark difference in their treatment reflects the interests of our own imperialists at home. Canada finds itself economically and politically aligned with Ukraine and Israel through their close relationship to American imperialism. 

Refugees, from one country or the other, are treated by the Canadian ruling class and the state as so many chips to be traded, bargained with, and used; not as human beings.

Let refugees in, kick capitalism out!

The solidarity movement in Canada has continued for over a hundred days now and has repeatedly demanded that the Liberals act to uphold the rights of the Palestinian people. But moral arguments cannot convert a tiger to veganism. The capitalist system inevitably produces wars and crises, and cannot therefore provide even the most basic security and dignity to workers and youth around the world. Any struggle which does not fight against capitalism as the ultimate source of these atrocities will inevitably run up against its inherent limitations.

The struggle to end the siege on Gaza, and to guarantee the freedom and security of the Palestinian people, must be directed against capitalism and imperialism. Our own ruling class has a long history of aiding in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine—and so the greatest service that we can do to the Palestinian people is to overthrow our own predatory imperialists here at home, and call on workers all over the world to do the same. The workers of the world stand on the side of Palestine. 

Welcome all the refugees!

End the siege on Gaza!

For a world-wide intifada!