The Dark Side Of Compassionate Politics

Every government is operating with limited resources, which means a choice to be more compassionate to one group of people can have a negative impact on others. Pretending this reality doesn’t exist doesn’t stop it from being true.

Is it possible for something positive to become something negative?

Life often shows that is the case.

Too much exercise wears the body down.

Too much sleep means life isn’t really lived.

Too much food causes serious health problems.

Even too much water can be a problem.

What holds true for physical things also holds true for ideas and concepts.

Being kind is generally good, but taken too far it turns someone into a pushover who is mistreated by others.

And that brings us to the issue of ‘compassionate politics.’

Compassion is a very positive thing, and a world without compassion would be a terrible place in which to live.

However, taken too far, compassion can have negative consequences, particularly when governments become obsessed with virtue-signaling their compassion at the expense of realism.

Recently, I wrote about how the Trudeau government plans to weaken the law that restricts individuals with sicknesses and disabilities from immigrating to Canada:

“The Trudeau government is planning to change a rule that restricts people with illnesses and disabilities from immigrating to Canada.

According to a report, “The federal government plans to permanently change the so-called “medical inadmissibility rule” against prospective permanent and temporary migrants who have a health condition that “might reasonably be expected to cause excessive demand” on Canadian health or social services.

The excessive demand cost is linked to average Canadian per capita health and social services. The cost threshold against migrants is updated yearly. In 2020, it was set at $21,204.”

The government says the rules are ‘not inclusive,’ while noting that there will be a significant cost to the healthcare system from the change:

“IRCC compiled data from June 1, 2018, to May 31, 2019, in order to assess the impacts of the policy on P/Ts. In the year following the implementation of the public policy, there were 62 individuals with health-related issues, who were approved under the new definition, but would have been refused under the previous definition. Note that this figure includes some individuals who also required special education services. After examining the healthcare costs for these 62 people, it was found that admission of these individuals would incur healthcare costs to Canada of $4.2 million over five years (on average, $840,000 per year). Note that this assessment does not account for some applicants who were found to pose an excessive demand under the new definition but may be approved at a later date based on an acceptable mitigation plan (these decisions are made on a case-by-case basis and at migration officers’ discretion) or on compassionate and humanitarian grounds. Moreover, it does not account for the costs of special education services, as reliable data on special education services costs is not readily available.”

The story behind the change is about Felipe Montoya, a Costa Rica-born professor at York University who sought permanent residency, but was denied due to his son having Down Syndrome:

“In April 2016, Felipe Montoya, a York University professor and native of Costa Rica created public uproar after this family was denied PR over his son’s Down syndrome.

So they fought it the Canadian government, and just last week, won by changing a law.”

The costs of compassion can add up, and end up harming those who don’t get media attention

Was it compassionate to try and help Montoya and his family?

Absolutely.

Is it compassionate to change the rules to make it easier for individuals with disabilities and illnesses immigrate and gain residency in Canada?

Definitely.

Will this have costs that end up hurting others?

Yes.

And that’s the issue.

Compassionate decision after compassionate decision after compassionate decision adds up.

And when those decisions are based upon stories that gain media attention, the result is often policy that is compassionate to those who are in the spotlight, while hurting those who are out of the spotlight.

It will absolutely seem nice and compassionate when people hear stories of more disabled and ill individuals entering Canada.

But what won’t be seen are those who have to wait longer in the hospital, those who have surgeries delayed, and yes, those who end up dying because a healthcare system with already-limited resources is further strained.

Additionally, those who are hurt the most will tend to be people who are already Canadian Citizens, meaning the government is choosing to prioritize compassion towards non-Citizens over compassion towards Canadians.

In world of limited resources, every choice has an impact

If we lived in a world where money and resources were unlimited, there would be no problem with this move.

After all, in such a world spending more on healthcare for some people wouldn’t mean spending less on others.

But that’s not the world we live in.

We don’t have an unlimited amount of money and resources (and those who claim we can print endless amounts are hoping you don’t realize how hyper-inflation renders that strategy disastrous).

If we choose to spend more on healthcare for disabled and ill individuals immigrating to Canada, then we will have less to spend on those who are already Canadian Citizens.

It’s simply a fact of reality.

Avoiding this reality is what those who claim to be the most compassionate often do.

After all, it can seem ‘cold’ or ‘mean’ or ‘harsh’ to make the point that letting more disabled and ill individuals into Canada will come with a real cost.

But while feelings are important, they can’t change the underlying reality of this situation.

There will be people who suffer – off camera and away from the media spotlight of course – because of the government changing these rules.

We can’t wish that away or pretend it isn’t true.

The importance of balance

This is why compassion must be balanced with realism, and why we need to consider a wider range of things when we try and figure out what true compassion really means.

First and foremost, the Canadian government has a duty to serve Canadians, and to prioritize Canadian Citizens for compassionate action.

If that wasn’t the case, then why is the government called the ‘Canadian government,’ and not the ‘world government’?

Prioritizing the needs of your Citizens is the job of the government.

If the government truly feels this change is worth the cost, then they can make that argument, but they must acknowledge that there are tradeoffs and consequences.

And as a society, we must begin to start asking tougher and deeper questions when politicians try to use the shield of compassion to demonize opponents or evade scrutiny.

Like everything else, too much compassion can have negative consequences, and right now those consequences are set to be paid by the Canadian People under a government that prioritizes feelings over reality & common-sense.

Spencer Fernando

Photo – YouTube

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