November 18, 2015 / 8:15 AM / 5 years ago

Canada PM condemns racism as Syria refugee plan opposed

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau congrats Minister of Foreign Affairs Stephane Dion during a swearing-in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa November 4, 2015. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

MANILA (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minster Justin Trudeau urged Canadians to resist hatred and racism as a poll showed most Canadians were opposed to his plan to bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees by year-end and a flurry of racist incidents were reported around the country.

The Liberals, who took power after an election last month, campaigned on a promise to bring in the refugees by Jan 1. Critics say the number is too large and could threaten security following the attacks in Paris.

An Angus Reid poll released on Wednesday showed 54 percent of Canadians opposed the plan, up from 51 percent before the bloodshed in Paris. But support for the plan also increased, with 42 percent in favor, up from 39 percent in October.

Most of those who opposed Trudeau’s plan did so because of the short timeline, with 53 percent saying the schedule was too short to ensure all the necessary security checks were completed. Another 10 percent said 25,000 was too many, and 29 percent said Canada should not be accepting any Syrian refugees.

Trudeau has vowed to stick to the plan despite the growing criticism.

Traveling through Europe and Asia as part of his first global trip, Trudeau issued an appeal to Canadians to reject racism, and condemned attacks on “specific Canadians” in the aftermath of the attacks by Islamic State in Paris.

A mosque was burned in the Ontario city of Peterborough on the weekend, windows were smashed at a Hindu temple in another city, and a Muslim woman was attacked in Toronto by two men who called her a terrorist and said she should go home.

“Diversity is Canada’s strength. These vicious and senseless acts of intolerance have no place in our country and run absolutely contrary to Canadian values of pluralism and acceptance,” Trudeau said.

A separate poll by Leger for the TVA news network showed 73 percent of people in the predominantly French-speaking province of Quebec were worried about attacks in Canada while 60 percent felt that 25,000 refugees were too many.

Reporting by David Ljunggren and Andrea Hopkins; Editing by Nick Macfie and Richard Chang

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