Canada provinces balk at Trudeau's Syrian refugee goal

Mon Nov 16, 2015 5:30pm EST
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By Rod Nickel and Kevin Dougherty

WINNIPEG, Manitoba/MONTREAL (Reuters) - A plan by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to accept 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the year appeared in jeopardy on Monday as some provincial and municipal leaders said the timeline does not allow for enough security checks and is logistically impossible.

Canadian misgivings echoed those expressed in the United States by more than a dozen state governors who said they would not allow Syrian refugees to be settled in their states, contending it was too dangerous after Friday's deadly attacks in Paris.

The immigration minister in the mostly French-speaking province of Quebec, Kathleen Weil, said she does not believe Trudeau's goal is realistic.

"I'm going‎ to be frank," Weil told reporters. "‎I don't think it is possible by the end of the year."

The premier of the Western province of Saskatchewan, Brad Wall, asked Trudeau to suspend the plan in light of the Paris attacks and the chance of admitting operatives trained by Islamic State.

"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," Wall said in a letter to the prime minister.

Wall's objection and Weil's skepticism about the timetable added to mounting pressure on Trudeau to adjust his election campaign promise. Trudeau reiterated on Sunday that Canada will admit 25,000 Syrian refugees before Jan. 1.

Quebec City's Mayor Regis Labeaume said the government was acting hastily and even refugee advocates warned that it would be hard to meet the pledge made by Trudeau, who is out of the country on his first global trip since taking office Nov. 4.   Continued...

Abu Ahmad (R) rests with his children in a temporary summer room he built within a refugee camp that was formerly the Zeyzoun Vanguards summer camp for school children in Zeyzoun village, Deraa region, Syria, August 6, 2015. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Faqir - RTS6SRR