Manitoba

Letter from Saskatchewan premier incites hatred: Winnipeg Muslim leader

A letter penned to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is disappointing members of Manitoba’s Muslim community.

Shahina Siddiqui says letter gives people licence to say hateful things about Syrian refugees

Shahina Siddiqui says Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall's letter to the prime minister's office, asking the federal government to suspend its plans to take thousands of refugees in by the end of the year, is inciting hatred toward Muslims. (Holly Caruk)

A letter penned to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is disappointing members of Manitoba's Muslim community.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall sent Trudeau a letter Monday asking him to reconsider the federal government's plan to take in 25,000 Syrian refuges by the end of 2015.

"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's letter stated.

Brad Wall wants feds to suspend refugee plan

6 years ago
7:55
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall is calling on the government to rethink its plans to bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the year 7:55
It comes just days after 129 people were killed and dozens more seriously injured in multiple shootings and bomb attacks in Paris on Friday. Eight attackers were also killed and ISIS has claimed responsibility for the co-ordinated attacks.

Shahina Siddiqui, the leader of Islamic Social Services in Winnipeg, said immigration officials, the RCMP and Canada's Security Intelligence Service are all involved in screening refugees interested in coming to Canada.

"This idea that somehow you know because the prime minister said that we are going to bring in 25,000 that suddenly they are boarding planes, it's just not that easy and it's not that simple," Siddiqui said, adding it's not as if the thousands of refugees will arrive tomorrow.

"It is a process; it's not like someone shows up at the door and you open the door. Secondly, these particular refugees coming from Syria are actually running from ISIS."

Siddiqui said Wall's letter is inciting hatred and giving people an invitation to spread hurtful and inaccurate messages about Muslims on social media.

"It's unbelievable. When statements like this or letters like this come out from leadership it just gives a licence to people to vent and to say the kind of despicable things they are saying," she said.

Lloyd Axworthy, who served as foreign affairs minister under prime minister Jean Chrétien and immigration minister under prime minister Pierre Trudeau, also came out against Wall's letter.
Former cabinet minister Lloyd Axworthy doubts Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has enough information to make recommendations on issues of national security and immigration. (CBC)

"I don't know why a premier would feel empowered to make that kind of request when he really doesn't have the information, doesn't really have the know-how … to be able to assess what are the threats and risks in the area of refugees," Axworthy said Monday.

Axworthy said he believes Canada's vetting process for refugees is robust enough to screen out individuals who may pose a threat to security.

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