SASKATOON – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is unwavering in his plans to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to the country by year’s end. On Tuesday, the prime minister told reporters while en route to Manila that ministers in Ottawa continue to work on how to bring refugees over responsibly, effectively and securely.
This comes despite settlement and security concerns penned in a letter by Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and expressed by other politicians the day before. Trudeau, Tuesday, confirmed Canada would stay the course.
“It didn’t take the tragedies of Paris for us to suddenly realize that security is important, we’ve known for a long time,” said Trudeau.
“We continue to be very much committed to keeping Canadians safe while we do the right thing to engage responsibly with this humanitarian crisis.”
A statement that comes on the heels of Wall asking that the PM re-evaluate his refugee plan. Wall stopped short of asking that the country’s borders be closed to 25,000 Syrian refugees scheduled to arrive by year’s end but rather suggested the relocation process be slowed in the wake of the Paris attacks.
“The number that’s chosen is arbitrary, the date that’s chosen is arbitrary, rather let’s get it right, let’s make sure we have settlement recourse in place, let’s make sure we have security screening in place that everyone’s comfortable with,” Wall said on Monday.
Wall’s two-page letter posted to Facebook has garnered over 28,000 shares and 36,000 likes. It has also be met with an onslaught of criticism and outrage with remarks like the one below posted to the page:
The fallout came to a head on Tuesday as a group of 75 gathered on the steps of the Saskatchewan legislature in a show of support for Syrian refugees.
“I think Canadians said very clearly that they want to welcome those people to Canada and I don’t know what our premier is doing shooting his mouth off in a pretty ill-informed and divisive way,” said one protester.
Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger on Monday said while security screening must be in place, turning on refugees now would be inhumane.
Stateside, more than half the governors in the U.S. say they are opposed to letting Syrian refugees into their states. At last count, 31 states protested the entry of refugees in light of the Paris terrorists attacks.
“The refugees are themselves, fleeing exactly the kind of terror that we were all shocked to observe and watch unfold this week-end,” said Alberta Premier Rachel Notley.
“That’s why we need to be reaching out to them, we need to do that carefully and cautiously but we definitely need to move forward. We cannot have our decisions driven by fear.”
“We know that several of the attackers were French citizens so it’s really hard and inaccurate to draw a clear line between inside and out, the idea that these attackers are an imported problem is just misguided,” said Colleen Bell, a terrorism expert at the University of Saskatchewan.
Meanwhile, more details of Trudeau’s refugee plan will be outlined in the coming days.