Liberals to announce details of Syrian refugee plan Tuesday

The federal government will announce next Tuesday the details of its plan to resettle 25,000 refugees by year's end, says Immigration Minister John McCallum.

Don't fan racist flames over Syrian refugee security, warn Premiers Wynne and Couillard

Syrian refugee settlement details coming Tuesday

8 years ago
Duration 1:40
Health Minister Jane Philpott and Immigration Minister John McCallum update reporters on Parliament Hill

Canadians impatient with the lack of details surrounding the government's plan to resettle 25,000 refugees by year's end will have to wait a few more days for the specifics.

"We will have further information for you and for all Canadians next Tuesday," Immigration Minister John McCallum said in Ottawa on Friday. 

While Canadians wait for a formal announcement, the Department of National Defence has the military preparing to lodge hundreds of refugees at military bases in Quebec and Ontario.

Health Minister Jane Philpott, who chairs an ad hoc cabinet committee tasked with implementing the government's plan to resettle Syrian refugees, said the safety and security of Canadians as well as the best interests of the refugees were top of mind when the group met again Friday morning.

"As you can imagine, it's a daunting task and a complicated task," she said. "And so there are a number of details that we've tried to sort out to ensure that when these refugees arrive in Canada, their transition to Canada will be as smooth as possible, will be as seamless as possible and that they will be well integrated into Canadian communities."

"We are determined to bring refugees here quickly, but we are also determined to do it right in terms of security and in terms of health.

"This is the right thing to do," he said, "It is the Canadian way."

McCallum said he has been consulting with the cities and provinces and has a teleconference call with city mayors scheduled for Monday, the same day Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to meet with Canada's provincial and territorial leaders.

Politicians denounce anti-refugee sentiment

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard were in Ottawa Friday where they cautioned politicians not to fan the flames of racist and xenophobic elements within Canadian society over the Syrian refugee issue.

Their comments come after days of disturbing incidents involving aggression towards Canadian Muslims in the wake of last week's deadly Paris terrorist attacks that has claimed at least 130 lives so far.

"What we can't give in to, I think, is allowing security to mask racism," Wynne said to loud applause at the Canada2020 policy conference in Ottawa, with Couillard nodding agreement.

We have those two devils within our society: racism and xenophobia. They exist.- Philippe Couillard, Quebec premier

"That's the danger and that somehow talking about security allows us to tap into that racist vein, when that isn't who we are," Wynne said.

Couillard said Canada is not uniquely better or worse than any other society.

"We have those two devils within our society: racism and xenophobia. They exist," said the Quebec premier.

"And it is the responsibility of political leaders — and I got into trouble a few days ago because I said that publicly — it is the responsibility of political leaders not to feed the fire in a very negative way."

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, who became the first Muslim mayor of a major North American city when he was elected in 2010, added his voice to the growing number of politicians denouncing verbal and physical attacks against Muslims.

"These are fundamentally not just un-Canadian activities, they're inhuman activities," Nenshi said on CBC News Network's Power & Politics on Friday.

"And I think we, as Canadians, need to say 'look this isn't right.'"

Refugee plan to come next Tuesday

8 years ago
Duration 11:02
The Power Panel weighs in on the government's handling of refugee resettlement and its promise to reveal the plan next week

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, earlier in the day, defended bringing in 25,000 refugees amid security concerns and opinion polls showing a significant number of Canadians oppose the decision to bring in such a large number of refugees in such a short period of time.

"They're not fleeing poverty; they're fleeing war," said Sajjan, who was in Halifax for a security conference. "People who are settling are going to be contributing to our economy."

With files from Canadian Press