New Brunswick

Paris attacks won't deter Syrian refugee plans, Landry says

The terror attacks that hit Paris on Friday evening should not weaken the province’s resolve to welcome up to 1,500 Syrian refugees, according to a Liberal cabinet minister.

Liberal cabinet minister Francine Landry says 'refugees are certainly not terrorists'

Francine Landry, the minister responsible for the population growth secretariat, said the province could handle 1,500 Syrian refugees. (CBC)

The terror attacks that hit Paris on Friday evening should not weaken the province's resolve to welcome up to 1,500 Syrian refugees, according to a Liberal cabinet minister.

The New Brunswick government was quick to announce it would be willing to step up and accept refugees fleeing from the war-torn country.

Francine Landry, the minister of the population growth secretariat, said she understands the attacks that killed at least 129 people have scared many people.

But Landry said refugees, who may soon come to the province, are running from those who are conspiring to launch these terror attacks.

"But these are terrorist attacks. The people that are coming are the refugees. These are people who have been living in refugee camps for sometimes many, many years," she said.

"So the chances that they are terrorists is carefully being looked at by the federal government. These people will be carefully vetted by the federal government, and all of the security screening and the health screening is done by the federal government."

For those who are afraid about the influx of refugees, the cabinet minister said it's important for people to get more information about the people trying to leave Syria.

"Refugees are certainly not terrorists," she said.

Cabinet minister Francine Landry has set up a working group to plan for the arrival of refugees in New Brunswick 13:49
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised to bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada before the end of December.

The plan on how that will be carried out has not yet been released. Immigration Minister John McCallum has said the strategy will be released in the coming days.

Landry said she spoke with McCallum last Friday morning, a few hours before the province formalized a new working group on resettling any refugees that come into the province.

New Brunswick's target of welcoming 1,500 Syrian refugees was based on looking at historical immigration trends and working with various multicultural and resettlement organizations, she said.

'Minimal' security concern

The province's continued push to settle Syrian refugees in the wake of the Paris attacks is being supported by one analyst.

James Devine, a professor in politics and international relations at Mount Allison University, said there is a “minimal” concern about the security risk posed by bringing in Syrian refugees. (Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty)
James Devine, an assistant professor in politics and international relations at Mount Allison University in Sackville, said there is "minimal" concern about the security risk posed by bringing in a large amount of refugees.

Devine said the massive number of refugees are trying to get out of an unstable part of the world, and keeping them in camps is not going to help the situation.

"By not dealing with the refugees, by trying to block them out or warehouse them in UN camps on Syria's borders, we are actually making the situation worse," Devine said.

"The longer the refugees stay there, the more likely they are to be radicalized, the more destabilizing they are for their countries."

Political scientist James Devine discusses attitudes towards Syrian refugees after the terrorist attacks in Paris. 6:54

Before the refugees make it into Canada, they are vetted by the United Nations and the federal government.

Devine said it is "not very realistic" that organizations would attempt to infiltrate the refugee system.

"I wouldn't want to say that there is no worries to be had about refugees. It is possible that people with attachments to ISIS are going to work their way through the system," he said.

"But that is more going to be an issue of random chance than a systematic effort."

Resettling refugees

Camp Argonaut at Canadian Division Support Base Gagetown may be home to many of the Syrian refugees. (CBC)
When the refugees land in New Brunswick, it is expected that they will spend some time on the Canadian Division Support Base Gagetown.

It is not known whether that could be a matter of weeks or months, according to the province's population growth minister.

Landry said these are details that are still being worked on. She said the refugees will then be resettled throughout the province.

"We believe the refugees who decide to stay and settle in New Brunswick on a permanent basis will become a great asset to our province," Landry said.

The federal government will pay for the costs associated with the refugee resettlement for up to one year.

In 1999, when New Brunswick welcomed more than 1,000 refugees from Kosovo, Landry said the federal government offered financial assistance, in some cases, for more than a year.

The provincial cabinet minister said it will be important to deal with training issues as well as seeing that any work credentials that the people have are recognized.

"Some of them might also start businesses. Some might be educated to work and go into the work force where we have a lack of skills or we have New Brunswickers who are unable to fill these jobs," Landry said.

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