Denis Coderre and Régis Labeaume mayors differ on Syrian refugee file

Denis Coderre says "Montreal is ready to take in Syrian refugees," while Régis Labeaume expresses concerns about safety in the aftermath of the Paris attacks.

Denis Coderre says Montreal is ready to take in refugees, Régis Labeaume is worried about security

Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume (left) and Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre have different opinions on Canada's plan to take in 25,000 Syrian refugees. (CP/CBC News)

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre appealed for calm on the issue of Syrian refugees, saying his city is prepared to accommodate victims of the wartorn country. 

"The message we want to send is this: Montreal is ready to take in Syrian refugees," Coderre told a news conference Monday afternoon. 

"They are victims of war above all. They are men and women who have lost everything, they are orphans, they too experienced atrocities of war and terrorism."

Denis Coderre on the Canadian Syrian refugee plan

7 years ago
Duration 0:26
Montreal mayor underscores the importance of doing our part but also being prepared.
Coderre's comments were in stark contrast to the skepticism expressed earlier in the day by Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume in the aftermath of the Paris attacks.

In a Facebook post, Labeaume said he thinks federal authorities should avoid acting too hastily when it comes to accepting refugees. 

"Let us open our hearts to human distress, but not to the detriment of security," he said.

Labeaume's remarks echoed those of Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, who called on the federal government to suspend its plan.

In a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Wall said he was concerned bringing in refugees could "undermine the refugee screening process."

For his part, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard was dismissive of Labeaume, saying Quebec and Canada should continue welcoming refugees from Syria and Iraq.

​"I hope he didn't say that," Couillard said. "A lot of people are saying that we should be very cognizant of the security aspect of the issue, which we are."

'We should take our time'

Coderre had some words of caution as well. 

He called on Ottawa to take its time to work with major cities, which will be the ones taking in most refugees.

The new federal government has announced it intends to keep a pledge to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to the country by the end of this year.

"There's a question of transportation. These people lived through a terrible trauma, so they'll need psychological aid. There will be a culture shock coming here," Coderre said, also adding lodging, school for children, and jobs to the list of issues that need to be addressed.

"We should take our time, we don't need to take in 25,000 at the same time if we're not ready. We must show our openness but lets's wait for [Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship John McCallum] to provide a plan."


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