REGINA – Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to suspend the federal government’s plan to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by the end of the year, citing potential security concerns.
“If even a small number of individuals who wish to do harm to our country are able to enter Canada as a result of a rushed refugee resettlement process, the results could be devastating,” Wall wrote in a letter to the Prime Minister dated Monday, November 16.
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Wall describes Trudeau’s desire to help those “fleeing violence and bloodshed” as “noble,” but raises concerns about how a firm, end-of-year deadline could impact the screening process.
“Surely, we do not want to be date-driven or numbers-driven in an endeavour that may affect the safety of our citizens and the security of our country,” Wall wrote.
Speaking to reporters Monday morning Wall was not entirely critical of the federal government’s plan, and made a point of highlighting the work being done by public safety minister Ralph Goodale.
“I have a great deal of comfort with Mr. Goodale on this particular file,” Wall said. “I hope he’s talking to the Prime Minister on it because he’s obviously a veteran in the cabinet.”
On the weekend, Goodale told The West Block’s Tom Clark that “a key part of (accepting refugees) is to ensure that the appropriate security checks are done.”
Wall said that his opposition to the federal government’s timeline is not just a security issue, but a settlement issue as well.
“We’ve been talking to the groups that do the settlement in the province of Saskatchewan, we’ve been talking to the mayors of our major cities – they also have concerns,” Wall said.
So far this year Saskatchewan has accepted 334 refugees, 28 of those from Syria, but Wall said he still hasn’t heard what the 25,000, end-of-year commitment would mean for the province.
“That’s part of the issue, by the way, we’re 45 days away and there are not answers to questions,” he said.
Wall also said he believes Canadians would be forgiving of a change in policy and would not necessarily see it as a broken election promise.
Meanwhile, NDP leader Cam Broten took issue with Wall’s comments, and suggested that denying entry to those fleeing violence only “compounds the damage terrorism is doing to our world.”
“I don’t think it’s wise for Mr. Wall to attempt to stir up fear in order to slam the door shut on families that are desperate to flee the tyranny of ISIS,” Broten said in a statement.
Wall, and other Canadian premiers, are scheduled to meet with the Prime Minister on November 23 in Ottawa.
Watch the full scrum with Premier Brad Wall below:
Read the full letter below: