Where ever Dan Ruimy goes, people talk to him about the Syrian refugees and Canada’s role, led by the new Liberal government in Ottawa, in saving a fraction of them from the horrors of the civil-war-torn country.
People want to help, says the new MP for Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge.
“Everywhere I go, I’m hearing people tell me how proud they are for the fact that we are doing this. There’s a real good feeling out there.”
Where he hears they’re going, “There’s an outpouring of acceptance.”
Ruimy said that the refugees who are coming to Canada, around 10,000 by the year end, are those who’ve spent years in refugee camps. It’s a fulfillment of a Liberal campaign promise during the Oct. 19 federal election to bring over 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the year. That’s since been scaled back to 10,000 by the new year and 15,000 in the first few months of 2016, although the government may initially fall short of those targets.
Ruimy said that when the refugees arrive here, they will be dispersed throughout communities across Canada, allowing for better integration.
“But we are cherry picking the ones that come here and can integrate into our society,” he added.
“I’m proud of it. It’s done a lot for how people view us and for how people view our country.
Ruimy was elected Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge MP in the Oct. 19 Liberal victory led by leader Justin Trudeau that swept the country and defeated the Conservatives.
While he’s been in Ottawa just a few weeks, Ruimy already has an office there.
He’s also sworn an oath of allegiance to the sovereign, and signed the Test Roll – a pledge to conduct himself or herself in the best interests of Canada. Ruimy has hired 1.5 staff in Ottawa, one which includes a University of Ottawa student from Maple Ridge.
With 200 new MPs, the bureaucracy is trying to get everyone settled into their offices. It’s taking some time getting the new politicians into the system so they can start acting as Members of Parliament.
But while MPs are still finding their desks, cabinet ministers are already running their ministries.
“We all have to learn to be patient. Things don’t move as fast as we want them to, sometimes,” Ruimy said.
He’s also found a spot for his new Maple Ridge constituency office, which will open in January on Lougheed Highway in downtown Maple Ridge, just west of the Tim Horton’s on 224th Street. He still stops in at his downtown shop, Bean Around Books, which staff are now running.
Ruimy wants his new MP’s office to have enough room to hold community roundtable meetings, on which he campaigned. He hopes people can gather to find solutions to issues, rather than always seek government help.
“I’m trying to be as visible as possible.”
While parliamentary secretaries have been named, four of whom are from B.C., Ruimy expects to join the immigration and human resource development committees.
He’s also talked to local politicians in an attempt to narrow the number of local issues on which he can focus to help Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.
“What are the things we really want? I want to make sure I’m representing what our cities want.”
For the present, Ruimy remains idealistic, unwilling to jeopardize the glow of victory or accept that the reality of politics is that no one can be happy all the time.
Neither does he want to temper expectations by using finances as a way to back away from some of the promises.
“We campaigned on certain things that we felt were needed for the country. I don’t think any of that has changed.”
He noted that the Finance Minister Bill Morneau will be crossing Canada this year getting input on the federal budget.