Nfld. & Labrador

Yvonne Jones slams 'very racist, very hateful' comments against Syrian refugees

Labrador MP Yvonne Jones is taking on some online commenters who have attacked her suggestion to use 5 Wing Goose Bay to help process Syrian refugees.

Refugee plan drawing controversy in Happy Valley-Goose Bay

Labrador MP Yvonne Jones says the Happy Valley-Goose Bay base could process 1,000 refugees after they arrive in Canada. (CBC)

Labrador MP Yvonne Jones is still pushing to use facilities at 5 Wing Goose Bay to screen Syrian refugees entering Canada, and is taking on online comments that she says have crossed the line. 

Jones told CBC Radio's Labrador Morning Tuesday that she understands that some residents have fears that are legitimate about her suggestion that CFB Goose Bay could help process refugees who have fled turmoil in Syria. 

However, she said others are only spreading hate. 

"They were just people that were very racist, very hateful in their comments," she said in an interview.  

"These are the kinds of attitudes that start wars in the first place."

Jones says that as a military community, Happy Valley-Goose Bay has a responsibility to step up when Canada is responding to crises, and that as many as 1,000 refugees could be screened through the base.

These refugees would not be permanent residents of the community, but would be processed in local facilities over a period of seven to 10 days. 

It is suggested that as many as 1,000 refugees could be screened through facilities at 5 Wing Goose Bay. (CBC)

Online backlash yields petition

This suggestion has created some backlash, however, both in the community and on the web. An online petition against using the military base as a processing centre has now garnered more than 650 names in support.

The petition says there are dangers that come with bringing refugees to the province, and that there is "no way possible to ensure who is a refugee and who might be coming with deadly intentions."

Jones said the negative comments are coming from all over the country, not just from Labrador, but comments in support of using the base greatly outweigh the negative comments online. 

Similarly, following Jones' suggestion for the use of the base and the attacks on Paris, some negative comments have also begun to surface on social media. 

Suzanne Mealey, administrator and moderator of the Facebook group Concerning Happy Valley-Goose Bay, told Labrador Morning that comments got so out of control that she considered shutting down the group. 

Mealey said the tone of the group shifted after the attacks on Paris, and some only contributed hateful comments to the discussion.

"When this started, there were a few posters that I just definitely had to block, because they had nothing constructive. Everything was hate-mongering, fear-mongering, in the worst possible way," she said.

Security a carefully considered concern

One of the largest concerns residents of Happy Valley-Goose Bay have with the idea of screening refugees is safety and security. Jones said every precaution is being taken.

"We have the top security experts on this, people who deal with national security issues, not just in this country, but all over the world," she said. 

"Any refugees that are boarded to be transported to Canada, will be taken from United Nations, or UN camp facilities where there has already been more than 10,000 Syrian refugees that have been properly screened," she said.

"They will be screened again once in Canada, so every possible security measure that can be looked at and implemented is being implemented." 

It is still yet unknown whether or not 5 Wing Goose Bay will be used to screen Syrian refugees entering Canada, but details are expected to be disclosed before the end of next week. 


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