Metro Morning

'Fear can paralyze': Lifeline Syria chair urges Canada to continue refugee resettlement despite Paris attacks

The federal government maintains that 25,000 Syrian refugees can still be met safely and responsibly resettled in Canada — even in the wake of fear from the attacks on Paris.

Ratna Omidvar wants to continue with plan to resettle 25,000 Syrians despite Paris attacks

A Syrian refugee child sleeps in his father's arms on Oct. 4 while waiting at a resting point to board a bus, after arriving on a dinghy from the Turkish coast to the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos. (Muhammed Muheisen/The Associated Press)

Several voices have emerged since the brutal attacks on Paris urging the Canadian government to halt or stall its plan to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to its cities and towns by the end of 2015.

Even Mayor John Tory, who previously was enthusiastic about resettling the refugees, now is discussing security and preaching caution.

But the federal government maintains that 25,000 refugees can still be safely and responsibly resettled in Canada — even in the wake of fear from the attacks on Paris.

So, how ready is Toronto? Not just to deal with security precautions, but to meet all of the needs refugees will have once they arrive? That's the question this week in the Metro Morning series, City Of Sanctuary.

Ratna Omidvar, executive director of the Global Diversity Exchange at Ryerson University and chair of a group called Lifeline Syria, says to get refugees into Toronto as soon as possible.

Omidvar said Canada should stick to the goal of bringing 25,000 Syrian refugees to its cities and towns because the problems they would have resettling here are small compared to the life and death situation many of them find themselves on now.  

City of Sanctuary: How ready are we?

Read the rest of the Metro Morning series:

Toronto nowhere near ready for refugees


Canada should continue refugee resettlement despite Paris attacks


Toronto university students act as translators, welcome committee for Syrian refugees


After migration, many Syrians coming to Toronto face psychological challenges


From Aleppo to Toronto, Syrian family arrives in Canada safe but pennilessMeet a Syrian family that left their city of Aleppo with few possessions but the resolve to start a new life in Canada, even if it means struggling financially.


What you need to know to help Syrian refugees settle in TorontoA how-to guide for those who want to get involved in the effort to help Syrian refugees

"Their life today is worse that any shortcomings they may face here," Omidvar said on Metro Morning on Tuesday.

"We have a desire for perfection, but one has to be nimble. We may not be completely ready, but better for them to be here and sort the issues than there."

New fear in aftermath of Paris attacks

The attacks on Paris, she said, have given many pause about Canadian efforts to resettle those fleeing Syria. However, she pointed out, those concerns are not new.

When Indo-Chinese immigrants came to Canada, there were similar worries. But overall, there weren't many disasters.

She stressed that Canadians and Syrians face the same threat.

"I grieve for the victims in Paris. Over four million refugees from Syria have also been the victims of ISIS," she said.

"We do need to maintain security, and make sure security checks are thorough. But fear can paralyze us. We can't let that happen."

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