On Ambitious Schedules and Getting the Job Done

justin-trudeau-cbc.jpgI'm hearing a lot of people rag on the fact that Justin Trudeau has acknowledged that his plan to settle 25,000 Syrian refugees by year's end is too ambitious, and that number will be reached by February instead. He's getting a surprising amount of heat for it, with some calling it "his first broken promise", with the clear implication that they expect it to be the first of many.

Cynically speaking, there's probably nothing false about that statement. Show me a politician that didn't break a single promise, and I'll show you a politician that did not run on a discernable platform.

I admit I am disappointed that we won't be able to help 25,000 people by the end of the year. I'll also admit that, three weeks ago, I looked at the calendar and wondered if Trudeau's commitment was achievable. But people with axes to grind jumped all over that worry, blowing security concerns out of proportion, in some cases denegrating desperate and innocent people, and building a narrative that Trudeau was attempting the impossible. Now that it has been acknowledged that the December 31st deadline is indeed impossible, it seems a little disingenuous for some to keep ragging on him for admitting what they thought to be obvious, unless people are starved for saying "I told you so, nyah!" to a Liberal government.

And it ignores the bigger human picture: that we will still settle 25,000 people within the next three months. That's not nothing. Sure, Trudeau may have been overly ambitious, but by God, at least he tried to do the right thing. And, at least he is still trying to do the right thing, albeit giving himself eight extra weeks to do it. As broken promises go, it's worlds apart from, say, signing a pledge to not raise taxes, and then imposing health care premiums instead, or promising not to tax income trusts and then doing precisely that.

Moreover, I think Trudeau's ambitious schedule created a sense of urgency that will ultimately help Canada better handle the settlement of 25,000 Syrian refugees. Community groups, charities, church groups, are all gearing up to work. The issue is dominating the news, and making people -- my own family included -- search through their storage bins for old clothes, spare diapers, anything that can help.

Trudeau helped bring that out in Canadians. That sense was not at the fore before the October 19 election. I think the country is the better for it, and broken promise or not, I'll give him credit for it.

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