Cruelty by the Numbers

The document above was posted on Facebook by a rabid right-wing organization, and Shared by a friend of mine who should know better. Hence this essay.

The Facebook rant was directed “to all the underemployed or unemployed,” and, as you might expect, contained the desire that “Trudeau should be helping real Canadians first.” I certainly don’t disagree with the idea of helping the needy in this country, but more on that later.

Who Are We Helping?

I suggest that, instead of looking at this problem from the point of view of statistics that can be interpreted many ways, we take a more personal approach. This year I have been on a project collecting family stories from Canadians of all sorts, and that has included refugees from Mosul, the latest city to be destroyed in the horrible war in Iraq. Several of their stories I can never publish, but they might give you an idea:

– If you heard a woman tell of putting her 18-year-old son’s body back together so that she could wash it for burial after he was hit by a random ISIS roadside bomb, and the dreams she had afterward…

– If you heard about a 20-year-old being tortured to death with an electric drill, simply because her father had worked for Saddam Hussein. And, of course, because she was the wrong type of Muslim…

– If you heard of families of Christian Iraqis whose houses, cars, businesses and properties were confiscated, and they were told to leave. Just get out…

Perhaps you wouldn’t begrudge these people – with no resources, no homes, no applicable skills, and very little English – enough to live on for at least one year while they try to put their lives back together.

Helping “Real Canadians.”

And now I suggest we go back and take a look at the numbers in the document above. At first glance, it seems that the amount on the bottom line is the income the Canadian Government considers appropriate for a family of 5 to exist in a reasonable manner for a month. Let’s assume that it is. For the moment.

Now, take that number to your right-wing political friends – you know, the ones who consider that unemployment is due to laziness: that addiction, homelessness and poor mental health are choices people make – and draw their attention to that number. That’s what a family of 5 needs to survive, no matter who they are.

Then take it to the ruling Liberals, as well. (You don’t have to take it to the NDP. Minimum Wage is one of the few things they have right.) Remind them that Social Assistance is not a zero sum game. Money taken from refugees will not be given to the unemployed. In British Columbia, it would likely be given in tax breaks to the top 1%.

Tell all the politicians what people need to live on. Let’s treat everybody in Canada the way Canadians think everybody should be treated. No matter where they come from.

Now Let’s Really Look at It.

And if you take the time to do any research at all (including actually reading the graphic), you will find that this document gives a completely false representation of what refugees actually get on a monthly basis. Go ahead and read it from top to bottom. I won’t insult your intelligence by explaining it to you.

The Facebook post above is one of the nastiest uses of Donald Trump’s fake news. The people who posted it care nothing for the needy of our country. They are looking for an excuse to trample on those in trouble, because it gratifies their pitiful need to feel better than someone else.

Canada is better than this.




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