Canada PM brushes off critics, says to stick course on refugees

Tue Nov 17, 2015 5:59am EST
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By David Ljunggren

MANILA (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday vowed to stick to a plan to take in 25,000 Syrian refugees by Jan 1, even though a growing number of critics say the target is too large and could threaten security following the attacks in Paris.

The affair is threatening to become the first real political challenge for Trudeau's fledgling Liberal government, which took power earlier this month after winning an Oct 19 election.

Trudeau campaigned on the promise to bring in more refugees, saying Canada should do more to help tackle the Middle East crisis.

But in the wake of last week's deadly attacks in Paris, which were claimed by Islamic State militants, even politicians who initially backed the Trudeau plan say he should push back the deadline to ensure all the refugees are properly scanned.

Trudeau said that even before the Paris massacre, his government had made clear the security of Canadians would be paramount when dealing with the refugees.

"We are aiming to keep our election commitments and we are working on a plan to do just that," he told reporters on his plane as he flew to Manila for an Asia-Pacific summit.

"My commitment was to bring in 25,000 refugees by Jan 1 in complete security and we will make every effort to achieve that," he added.

Trudeau also said he was speaking to a special government committee he set up earlier this month to study how best to meet the target.   Continued...

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference in Ottawa, Canada November 12, 2015. REUTERS/Chris Wattie