In The Media

Trudeau channels Harper on refugees

by Candice Malcolm

Toronto Sun
November 25, 2015

The Trudeau government has come to its senses and walked back from its campaign promise to bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees in 2015.

Since being elected and forming the government, this central feature in the Liberal campaign platform has, to use a generous term, evolved.

Last week we learned the original Liberal projection for the cost of this program was off by a factor of ten.

Rather than costing taxpayers $100 million, as Team Trudeau adamantly pledged during the recent election campaign, the effort is now projected to cost us $1.2 billion.

That number is a baseline and likely to rise further, given the proposed funding model shows $877 million will be needed for 2016 alone.

In response to widespread concern over security checks and screenings for Syrian refugees, the Liberal government decided to change the composition of refugees admitted into Canada.

They announced that only women, children, and nuclear families would be admitted through the government-sponsored program, which makes up more than half of the total 25,000 spots.

No unaccompanied males will be accepted.

While the Liberals had earlier shot down the idea of reserving spaces for religious minorities and persecuted groups, such as Assyrian Christians and Yazidi Kurds, they seem to have no problem restricting entry to Canada on the basis of gender.

Regardless, only allowing women, children and families is a blunt way to limit the risk of sleeper agents for Islamic terrorist groups being admitted amidst the refugees.

On Tuesday, the Trudeau government moved even further from its original campaign promise and announced another twist in the ever-progressing Syrian refugee plan.

The core promise — bringing in 25,000 Syrian refugees this year — will not be achieved.

Instead, the Liberals will admit 10,000 refugees in the remaining few weeks of 2015, and work to bring in another 15,000 in 2016.

Does that sound familiar? It should. It is very similar to what the Harper Conservatives had pledged.

When former prime minister Stephen Harper made his proposal, equipped with the knowledge of Canada’s security protocol and a reasonable timeline for admitting refugees in mind, he was scolded for not doing enough.

His government was accused of being heartless and sluggish.

Trudeau, who was by contrast naive about the refugee resettlement process, was praised for an ambitious humanitarian commitment.

In an interview Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada’s new commitment to Syrian refugees would “make up for some lost years where Canada was not as helpful on the refugee front.”

Without a trace of irony, Trudeau condemned the Conservative policy while announcing his intention to replicate it.

We should be thankful that the Trudeau government has come to its senses before putting Canada’s national security at risk.

We should, however, demand a little more humility from our rookie prime minister.

Under Harper, the Conservative government admitted the highest sustained average number of new Canadians in our history, including marked increases in privately sponsored refugees.

Under Harper’s watch, Canada welcomed refugees from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, China, and Tibet to name a few.

When it came to refugees, the Harper government was compassionate and responsible.

That’s why Trudeau is now taking a page from Harper’s policy book.

Trudeau should be congratulated for making a prudent decision when it comes to Syrian refugees.

He would be wise, however, to avoid the baseless partisan potshots while doing an about-face on a major campaign promise.

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