The Current

'Unaccompanied men' prove controversial for Canada's Syrian refugee plan

After a series of attacks by ISIS, most notably the multiple terror attacks of Paris, a growing chorus of people citing "security" concerns has focused on young Muslim men, unaccompanied men, as potentially problematic. But does that fear have any basis in fact when it comes to refugees?
According to a CBC report, the Canadian government's Syrian refugee plan will bring in women, children and families only. No unaccompanied men will be part of the program. (Reuters/Alkis Konstantinidis)

Welcome to Canada:  Women and children first, please... 

So many of the people in the migration were strong young men... I'm saying where are the women, where are the children? We're taking in people, we have no idea who they are, they have no identification, no papers. It could very well be the ultimate Trojan horse.- Donald Trump, U.S. Republican presidential hopeful

U.S. Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump, voices a sentiment that's widespread in the U.S. today, and present in Canada too.

There is fear and suspicion of just who these potential Syrian refugees may be, especially the young, fighting-age men. 

It's a fear heightened by the attacks on Paris earlier this month, despite the fact that not one of the Paris attackers have been identified as a Syrian refugee.

Canada may not be accepting any Syrian refugees that are not women, children or in families - a move some worry is political. (Reuters/Yannis Behrakis)

Nevertheless, later today, when the details of Canada's plan for accepting 25,000 refugees is released, many expect it will keep the door closed to so-called "unaccompanied men."

That's not something the government has yet confirmed, or denied. But CBC News reports that only women, children and families will be accepted.

And that's complicated the already very complicated refugee debate.

  • Wesley Wark is a national security affairs and terrorism expert in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa.
  • Peter Showler is former chair of the immigration and refugee board and worked as a consultant with UNHCR last year with Syrian refugees in Lebanon to evaluate security issues.
  • Sharry Aiken is a law professor who specializes in refugee and immigration issues at Queen's University.

We requested an interview with the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship John McCallum. He was unavailable to join us for an interview. We also asked for a statement clarifying the government's position on accepting "unaccompanied men" as Syrian refugees, but didn't hear back.

A new Angus Reid Institute poll shows 54% of Canadians are opposed to Trudeau's plan because of security concerns. (Reuters/Yannis Behrakis )

What do you think of excluding unaccompanied men when it comes to Canada's Syrian refugee plan?

Tweet us @TheCurrentCBC. Post on our Facebook page. Or as always send us an email.

This segment was produced by The Current's Ing Wong-Ward, Sujata Berry and Shannon Higgins.


Chrystia Freeland, Bill Maher spar on HBO over Muslims

Canada's new Trade Minister, the Liberal MP Chrystia Freeland, made some headlines over the weekend after getting into a heated exchange with American comedian host Bill Maher, on his talk show, "Real Time with Bill Maher." 

Here is Chrystia Freeland telling Bill Maher now is the time to defend Muslims and promote diversity.

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