In The Media

Security top concern for refugee intake

by Candice Malcolm

Toronto Sun
November 6, 2015

It’s fitting that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau changed the title of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.

New minister John McCallum will be the refugee minister; he’ll spend the majority of his time working to fulfill Trudeau’s campaign promise of bringing in 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of 2015.

McCallum has less than 60 days to bring in tens of thousands of refugees from a war torn region and a hotbed for radical Islamic terrorism.

Sheer logistical complications and costs aside, ensuring the integrity of our national security must be the top concern for Canada’s refugee minister and the Trudeau government.

Trudeau’s lofty goal struck a chord with the humanitarian impulses of Canadians during the election campaign. But Trudeau himself said, while defending his support for security Bill C-51, that the government must be mindful of public safety.

Now would be a good time to exhibit that concern for our national security.

There are plenty of legitimate reasons to be worried about hastily admitting such a large number of refugees, especially if plans include resettling migrants without thorough screening and background checks simply to meet an election promise.

Not all refugees fleeing war or violence necessarily reject extremism.

Al-Shabaab, a fraction of al-Qaeda operating in North Africa, was aided and formed by refugees in Somalia.

The two brothers who set off bombs during the Boston Marathon in 2013 came to the United States as refugees.

Leaders of the Taliban, one of the most vicious and ruthless organizations on the planet, were trained and educated in refugee camps in Pakistan.

Of course, most refugees are not threats to our national security. Vast majorities go on to live peaceful and productive lives. Some achieve exceptional success. Albert Einstein was a refugee, Steve Jobs was the child of Syrian migrants, and Canada’s new minister overseeing democratic reform, Maryam Monsef, came to Canada as a refugee from Afghanistan.

National security threats do, however, exist within refugee populations, and there are particular reasons to be concerned over Syrian refugees.

A public opinion poll conducted over the summer found that 22% of Syrians believed that the Islamic State, the barbaric terrorist group also known as ISIS, is a good thing. One in five Syrians viewed the organization favourably. That means that out of 25,000 randomly selected Syrians; about 5,000 may be supportive of the Islamic State.

Those living in refugee camps and fleeing violence may think differently than the broader Syrian population; if they supported war and radicalism, perhaps they wouldn’t be fleeing.

But many Syrians were driven away by President Bashar al-Assad and his ruthless regime, not necessarily the Islamic State. Those fleeing Syria may still be sympathetic to the Islamic State, a group that rose to prominence while fighting against the al-Assad regime.

It is worth spending the extra time to carefully make sure that those being resettled into Canada will not bring tribal feuds or radicalism along with them. Canada is fortunate to have greater screening and selection abilities than the European nations scrambling to meet the demands of refugees on their doorstep.

We need to ensure that the refugees selected for resettlement in Canada intend to live peacefully.

Trudeau’s first responsibility is to the Canadian public and to ensure the safety of Canadians. That is why the Trudeau government would be forgiven if they did not deliver on their promise to rapidly bring 25,000 Syrian refugees into Canada this year.

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