Tom Mulcair concerned about exclusion of some men in refugee plan
Canada's premiers briefed on the government's plan to resettle 25,000 refugees by year's end
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair says he has serious concerns with a plan to take in refugees that would exclude some men solely in the name of national security.
CBC News reported on Sunday that the federal government will limit the resettlement of 25,000 refugees by year's end to women, children and families only.
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"We do not believe it is appropriate to make a vast generalization about a category of refugees and exclude them ahead of any processing because of who they are," Mulcair said in Ottawa on Monday, a day before the government announces all the details of its refugee resettlement plan.
"That's simply wrong," he said.
Mulcair said he was worried that "the politics of fear and division" that Canadians saw from the Conservatives during the federal election campaign are resurfacing under the new Liberal government.
"Excluding them in advance is not the Canadian way.- Tom Mulcair, NDP leader
"While security concerns remain of vital importance, will a young man who lost both parents be excluded from Canada's refugee program?" said Mulcair "Will a gay man who is escaping persecution be excluded? Will a widower who is fleeing [ISIS] after having seen his family killed be excluded?"
"Excluding them in advance is not the Canadian way," said the NDP leader.
The previous government came under fire for prioritizing refugees by "the most vulnerable," which critics saw as code for excluding Muslims — an accusation the Conservatives repeatedly rejected.
The Conservatives also took aim at the new government's approach to resettling Syrian refugees, calling it hasty.
MP Jason Kenney, who served as immigration minister under the previous Conservative government, said that by bringing in refugees from UN camps, the Liberals would be excluding "sexual, religious and ethnic minorities."
"In their rush to keep a campaign commitment that was written on the back of an envelope without input from officials," Kenney said, "the government will likely be bringing refugees almost exclusively from camps.
<a href="https://twitter.com/chadrogers">@chadrogers</a> 1/ In their rush to keep a campaign commitment that was written on the back of an envelope without input from officials, the LPC—@jkenney
<a href="https://twitter.com/chadrogers">@chadrogers</a> 2/ govt will likely be bringing refugees almost exclusively from camps.That excludes sexual, religious, & ethnic minorities who—@jkenney
"That excludes sexual, religious and ethnic minorities who avoid the camps because they feel threatened by the majority [population]."
Kenney said this "tragic approach" would exclude "the most vulnerable."
<a href="https://twitter.com/chadrogers">@chadrogers</a> 3/ avoid the camps, because they feel threatened by the majority popn. Tragic approach that excludes many of the most vulnerable—@jkenney
Mulcair criticized the government for not being more forthcoming with its refugee plan and its total cost to taxpayers.
"The Liberal government has not been fully transparent about how we are going to go about it."
The NDP leader also laid out his party's expectations on other topics such as the economy and climate change ahead of the first ministers conference in Ottawa today.
The country's premiers and territorial leaders are meeting with the prime minister for the first time in seven years.
Premiers briefed on refugees
Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger said the premiers and territorial leaders were given a briefing by Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan on the logistics and security aspects of the government's refugee plan.
"The federal minister indicated that he would have a thorough screening process," said Sellinger, adding that "he didn't get into the specifics other than to indicate there will be several layers of security that are accomplished even before they arrive in the country."
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The premiers met as a group ahead of their meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Monday evening.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said the provincial leaders had some concerns around the government's self-imposed deadline and whether additional funds would be needed to pay for the resettlement plan.
"Is there enough time and what are those deadlines, and will there be funding that will assure the success of the people coming in," Wynne told reporters ahead of the meeting with Trudeau.
"Those are questions that I know will be raised tonight."
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said he would be looking for reassurances from Trudeau that the government would help the provinces with any additional costs.
"We already have the funds for the first 3,600 [refugees], but for any additional welcome, we will expect the funds to be there."
Trudeau is meeting with the premiers ahead of the UN climate change conference in Paris.
He has invited them to attend the international summit with him in an effort to show that Canada is serious about fighting climate change.
NDP Premier Rachel Notley unveiled on Sunday her government's climate strategy, which includes a carbon tax and a cap on oilsands emissions.