Thunder Bay may soon see an Influx of up to 200 Refugees.
By Leah Ching, Staff Writer
Justin Trudeau is following up on election promises to resettle 25,000 displaced Syrian refugees by this year’s end, an ambitious and conversational strategy that has captivated media interest and public discourse. The Liberal’s plan is increasingly surrounded in conversation and controversy since the deadly November 13th Paris attacks. For the second time this year, Paris endured large scale acts of terror perpetrated by Islamic extremists that has put governments on high alert and raised public fear about the threat of terror.
Responsibility for the November 13th attacks, ending the lives of 129 civilians, has been claimed by the terrorist group ISIL, largely responsible for the displacement of countless numbers of Syrian citizens from their homeland. According to a CBC study, conducted by independent data scientist group Vox Pop Labs, “The level of sympathy Canadians expressed for Syrian refugees remained relatively consistent before and after the Paris attacks, but anxiety about admitting said refugees into Canada rose considerably.”
On the results of this survey, one second year political science student Chris commented, “I personally think [Mr. Trudeau]’s plan is ambitious and a step in the right direction. It’s great that he’s holding up his promises. I also think the public is plagued by mass hysteria right now. There’s a lot of conspiracy circulating in the media, and the intellectual climate surrounding the issue needs to do a lot more work to combat xenophobic media responses and public misconceptions surrounding the connection between ISIL and Syria.”
Despite growing tensions surrounding the issue, Justin Trudeau’s liberal cabinet continues to move forward with the plan, with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister John McCallum said to the public that him and the rest of the cabinet has had a “very good discussion,” surrounding the issue, without providing any specific details of the liberal plan.
Questions include how the liberals plan to get the refugees to Canada, what specific screening measures will be taken, and how housing will be provided upon arrival. McCallum promises more details in the near future, emphasizing that the Canadian Armed Forces are expected to play a crucial role of in the process.
Of the 4.2 million people registered as refugees, the UN High Commission for Refugees selects people to be resettled based on a variety of criteria including, being in immediate danger, having survived violence and torture, or women, adolescents, and children at risk of danger. The focus is on choosing refugees from Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey, who will then undergo a three-part screening process with the help of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.
Minister of Democratic Institutions Maryam Monsef, who is a refugee herself, is helping to put together the plan alongside her fellow cabinet members. McCallum said “We talked about the fact that 20 years from now we may have one of the Syrian refugees sitting around the cabinet table. That speaks to the kind of vision we have in this plan.”
Alongside Trudeau’s refugee resettlement plan, he has promised to withdraw Canada’s fighter jets from the U.S. led coalition currently bombing militants in Syria and Iraq. But, after a meeting with U.S. Prime Minister Barrack Obama at the APEC Summit this week, Trudeau has also said that he plans to send a larger number of Canadian Special Forces on the ground to train local fighters.
Thunder Bay is to play its own part in the federal government’s plan, with CBC reporting that as many as 100 Syrian refugees could be arriving in Canada within two weeks. Mayor Keith Hobbes spoke with Min. John McCallum over the weekend about hosting up to 20 families. Responses are mixed, with Councilor Rebecca Johnson supporting the role, and stating that refusal would tarnish the city’s image. Councilor Linda Rydholm has expressed concerns that the federal government would not pay the cost of sponsoring these refugees.
Second year Political Science student Rebecca stated to the Argus that, “Given the urgency of the situation, I admire the government’s commitment to bringing refugees to Canada in a timely manner. This effort will put Canada back on the map for peacekeeping on a global scale. But with all the negative stigmas surrounding the situation, a cluster truck of 25,000 refugees in less than six weeks without any detailed information on how this plan is to be carried out is a scary prospect for lots of people that are constantly bombarded by the fear of terror.”
MP for Thunder Bay-Superior North Patty Hajdu spoke to this public fear on her Facebok page by saying “We most definitely can balance security and compassion. We have done it before and it is what defines us as a country.”