An Ottawa woman is angry with the federal government for not helping to get her son out of Syria. She is one of hundreds
of Syrian Canadians anxious about relatives trapped in the war-torn country.
Tags:canadian press,damascus bomb,Damascus explosion,Syria conflict,syria contact,syria family,syrian canadian,syrian refugee,syrian violence,trapped in syria,Faisal Alazem,jason kenney,john baird,paul dewar,Syrian army
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Every bomb that explodes in Damascus strikes at the heart of a woman in suburban Ottawa, leaving her to wonder why the government here is not helping to get her son out of the besieged Syrian capital.Leila, not her real name, knows that her 27-year-old son is hiding somewhere in Damascus, trying to keep one step ahead of a security apparatus that has his name on a list of forced conscripts.If he's found, he could be shot on sight. If he's lucky, he'll be forced into the Syrian army and put on the front lines of a two-year-old civil war in his country that has left 70,000 dead.``It will be hard for him to kill Syrians. He might be killing a relative or a friend. He keeps saying he doesn't want to go to the military,'' said Leila, whose real name is being withheld to protect her son from harm in Syria.``I know it's the law, the immigration law that should be applied on all people. I know there are rules for that. But there should be something for the families here who still have relatives (in Syria).''Like hundreds of other Syrian Canadians, Leila is angry with the federal Conservative Canadian government, which she accuses of doing nothing to reunite families with their trapped relatives.Not so, said Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, who expressed concern Friday about the plight of Syrian refugees and promised to do more to help.Such a sharp difference of opinion is not without political ramifications for the Conservative government: there are an estimated 40,000 Syrian Canadians in Quebec alone and as many 100,000 across the country.Faisal Alazem, spokesman for the Syrian Canadian Council, said he's been getting complaints like Leila's from families across Canada for the last six months.Her story, he said, is just one of about 200 from Syrians across Canada who are anxious about their children, parents and other relatives caught inside Syria's borders _ part of an estimated three million people displaced internally by the fighting.Since last fall, Alazem has been pressing for a meeting with Kenney. Last week, he finally got a call back.Officials _ not the minister _ would be willing to meet on March 11, Alazem was told, and that Kenney might find some time in his schedule ``probably in a couple of months.''That development flows from the meeting last July between Alazem's group and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, who advised them to take their concerns to Kenney, because reunification is his bailiwick.``When we look at that here in our diaspora, we really feel failed,'' Alazem said.``Our families under bombardment _ we're not allowed to bring them. Helping our people ... we are really behind.''Last week, NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar pressed Kenney to meet formally with Syrian Canadian representatives.``The minister has stonewalled them,'' Dewar said.