By Marcia Love
Premier Brad Wall isn’t the only one who wants the Liberal government to take a closer look at its plan to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada before the end of the year.
Cypress Hills-Grasslands MP David Anderson wants a comprehensive and careful screening program for immigrants, but said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s tight timeline doesn’t allow for this to be done.
“If they’re going to try to get the numbers through that they’re talking about, something’s going to have to be compromised… to be able to do that,” the MP stated.
Trudeau’s plan of bringing in up to 900 refugees a day means the screening process will be compromised and other immigrants’ applications will be put on hold, Anderson said. The MP wants to see refugees welcomed while taking the necessary time for security screening.
“The reality is there’s still close to 14 million people who are displaced in the region, so the crisis has not changed. I think clearly Canada has been a country that has welcomed immigration,” Anderson continued. But he added it is now “a bit of a unique situation.”
“I would think that the events in Paris have made that point,” he stated. “The Liberals have made a commitment to bringing these refugees here. We strongly support the notion of refugees coming to Canada, but we also are very adamant that Canadian safety and security needs to be protected as well.”
Wall’s comments last week regarding refugees struck a nerve across the country.
Many Canadians were outraged by the premier’s letter to the prime minister, which urged him to suspend his plan to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to the country before 2016.
Protesters gathered in front of the Legislative Building last week in response to Wall’s comments.
The premier had stated on Twitter the refugee initiative “cannot be date/quota driven” and “safety must be (a) priority.”
In his letter, Wall expressed his concerns over the fast-tracking of refugee claims.
“I am concerned that the current date-driven plan could severely undermine the refugee screening process,” he wrote.
“Therefore I am asking you to suspend your current plan to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by the end of the year and to re-evaluate this goal and the processes in place to achieve it.
“I understand that the overwhelming majority of refugees are fleeing violence and bloodshed and pose no threat to anyone.
“However, if even a small number of individuals who wish to do harm to our country are able to enter Canada as a result of a rushed refugee resettlement process, the results could be devastating.”
The premier’s concerns came following the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris.
“I know Canadians will understand if you were to pause this commitment for the time being in the interest of the safety and security of all Canadians,” Wall further stated.
But Trudeau’s plans won’t be changing. The prime minister said last week Ottawa will continue to work toward bringing in refugees in a way that is secure and responsible.
Several days after his comments, Wall said the province will establish a refugee settlement centre to co-ordinate the arrival of Syrian refugees in Saskatchewan. But he remains concerned over a deadline-driven process.
Anderson wants Trudeau to “back off on the timeline” and listen to the concerns of Canadians.
“We can take the time, we can bring the same number of refugees here and everyone will be very happy to welcome them I think,” he said. “This is too early in a mandate for a government to be arrogant. They need to listen to Canadians.”
More details on Trudeau’s plan are expected to be announced today.