A chill wind blowing from the south

And so it begins.

I could never have imagined, of course, that it would be prompted by something quite that literal, as in “trumped-up.” It’s not entirely his doing, though in some strange way that master manipulator of public opinion, that populist, hot button-pusher, opened the door by closing it. That is, by famously saying he would ban all Muslims from entering the U.S. “until we figure out what the hell’s going on.”

In the wake of that comment, and the cumulative effect by then of the many other outrageous things he had already said, my first thought was this: if such a living embodiment of the expression “loose cannon” ever actually got to be President of the U.S. nothing would surprise me, including some pretty serious action he might take, or consider taking against Canada.

Why? Because Canada had admitted thousands of Syrian refugees from among the several million people who have fled their homeland to escape a civil war that has already killed more than 250,000 Syrians and virtually destroyed their country.

The refugees also fled Syria to escape the brutal, murderous terrorism of the so-called Islamic State. If that man thinks one Muslim allowed into the U.S. is one too many, what would he make of the 25,000 Syrian refugees taken in and given safe haven (and more by the end of 2016) by Canada?

I can’t say how much thought he has given to Canada, say, in the past six month of his being the centre of political-entertainment attention in the U.S. There’s a skyscraper in Toronto, Canada’s largest city, that bears his name. But that doesn’t necessarily mean he stays awake at night worrying about us, let alone keeps abreast of Canadian news, or knows much at all about the country north of one of the longest international borders in the world. That makes him, in that respect, like most other Americans. We’ve been easy to ignore.

I will admit to feeling a bit of relief that he didn’t win in Iowa, that he lost to Canadian-born Ted Cruz. (I imagine, by the way, Cruz knows a lot more about Canada, though it’s likely something he doesn’t brag about.)

But I don’t for a moment think we’ve heard the last of him. (Not Cruz, the other guy whose name I can’t bring myself to say.)

Anyone with an ego that big isn’t going to ride off quietly into the sunset. Besides, he’s a performer, he’s been on stage too long now to just exit, stage right. He’ll ride that horse right to the Republican convention at least. He may still end up as the Grand Old Party’s – the party of Lincoln, no less – nominee for President. He could even win. Anything’s possible in this cock-eyed world, as the immortal Nick said.

But no matter what might happen to him, I fear Canada’s welcome mat for Syrian refugees and trumped-up, political fear-mongering about the supposed insecurity of the “porous” northern border with Canada is poised to become a right-wing Republican issue in the U.S. election.

Where can it lead? I shudder to think.

I’ve written recently here in a previous blog about how winters in this part of Canada are occasionally moderated by southern winds bringing warmer air up from the southern states. But I awoke this morning to chilling news:  The U.S. Senate’s Republican-dominated Homeland Security committee spent a day this week looking into Canada’s ongoing efforts to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees into the country by the end of this month. The committee heard from several witnesses, including Dean Mandel, a U.S. border guard who works the border crossing in the Buffalo, New York area. He was speaking on behalf of 16,500 U.S. border patrol agents, so I heard and read.

“As someone stationed on the northern border, I want to be clear what happens in Canada matters to the United States. Whether it be Canadian policies for refugees or immigration, their decisions impact U.S. security given the size and nature of our shared border,” Mandel said, according to news reports of the hearing.

Many Republicans in Congress have been critical of President Barack Obama’s plan to bring 10,000 refugees to the U.S. Some want none, some want only non-Muslims admitted. And then there’s Presidential candidate Trump who wants a complete ban on any Muslims entering the country.

The Canadian government was invited to take part in the hearing, but declined.

Of course, Canada is not a vassal state of the U.S. It is a sovereign country whose government answers to its national Parliament. But it keeps lines of communication open through appropriate channels to governments in other countries, including our neighbour and long-time ally, the United States of America.

There are already people in high places in the U.S. government who know about Canada’s ongoing effort to help Syrian refugees, and the steps this country is taking to ensure the process is safe and secure for all concerned.

It’s above all about fighting evil in the world by doing good.

What’s this got to do about finding Hope Ness? Everything.

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