Tuesday November 17, 2015

Paris attacks polarize Canadians on refugee resettlement plan

According to United Nations over half a million refugees and migrants have arrived by sea in Greece this year and the rate of arrivals is rising, in a rush to beat the onset of freezing winter.

According to United Nations over half a million refugees and migrants have arrived by sea in Greece this year and the rate of arrivals is rising, in a rush to beat the onset of freezing winter. (Reuters/Giorgos Moutafis )

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"I think Canadians would forgive the Prime Minister for this election promise. Not the commitment that we need to do better by refugees from Syria, because we do... But it shouldn't be locked in stone just because it was said in an election campaign if it's not the right thing to do." - Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall on government's resettlement plan

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall is asking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to suspend his plan to accept 25,000 Syrian refugees by January 1st. Premier Wall believes Friday's attacks in Paris are a reminder of "the death and destruction even a small number of malevolent individuals can inflict upon a peaceful country and its citizens."

And he's not the only one voicing such fears.

Jurisdictions across Europe and North America are rethinking their intake of Syrians amid reports that one of the Paris attackers may have been processed as a refugee from Syria.

EUROPE-MIGRANTS/GREECE

Lifeline Syria says no one has dropped out of the refugee sponsorship process since the Paris attacks (Reutes/Giorgos Moutafis )

In Europe, Poland's plan to take in 4,500 refugees now appears in doubt and Germany's open-door policy is facing a fresh wave of criticism.

In the United States, eight Republican governors have vowed to close their doors to Syrian refugees. But yesterday President Barack Obama stood by his plan to admit 10,000 refugees in 2016.

In Canada, online petitions demanding a halt to Prime Minister Trudeau's plan are making the rounds. One such petition, in Quebec – a province whose cultural rifts are often compared to those in France – has gained nearly 59,000 signatures in a matter of days. A competing petition calling for support for the refugees quickly racked up nearly 25,000 signatures of its own.

Kerri Bozsik signed her name to a petition saying Canada's plan to resettle Syrian refugees should be postponed in the name of security. She lives in Regina.

Those working behind the scenes to try to bring thousands of Syrian refugees to Canada have not been swayed by the attacks in Paris. Ratna Omidvar is the chair of Lifeline Syria. She was in Toronto.

We requested interviews with Immigration Minister John McCallum and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale. Neither were available this morning.  

But John McCallum did issue a statement yesterday reiterating the government's commitment to immediately resettle 25,000 refugees and that it will not compromise Canada's security in order to do so.

Gar Pardy is a former Canadian ambassador. He believes there is no need to back off the Liberal Government's plan. Gar Pardy was in Ottawa.

Does Canada need to back off its plan to re-settle 25,000 Syrian refugees before the end of the year?  

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This segment was produced by The Current's Julian Uzielli and Liz Hoath and Ines Colabrese.