Canadian public split over Syrian refugee intake

  • 18/11/2015
Justin Trudeau (Reuters)
Justin Trudeau (Reuters)

Canada is going full-steam ahead with new leader Justin Trudeau's plan to take in more than 25,000 Syrian refugees by year's end, but the drive has split the nation as the Paris attacks raise security fears.

Duelling online petitions for and against fast-tracking refugee claims have gathered steam in Canada since the attacks claimed by the Islamic State group, with some 45,000 for and 70,000 against as of Tuesday (local time).

Prime Minister Trudeau remains committed to his electoral pledge, telling reporters travelling with him to the Philippines for APEC talks that his government "will make every effort" to resettle the asylum seekers.

But he faces growing criticism at home on the issue.

Trudeau broadly outlined his plan to take in the Syrian refugees during the campaign that swept his Liberals into office last month, and has mobilised several government ministries to get the job done since being sworn in two weeks ago.

But the discovery of a Syrian passport near the body of one assailant in the Paris attacks that killed 129 people last week, has stirred fears in both Europe and North America that jihadists could seek to blend in with refugee masses in order to strike later.

As half of US state governors called for a halt to the resettlement of Syrian refugees, the premier of Canada's Saskatchewan province Brad Wall urged Trudeau in an open letter to rethink his plan.

"If even a small number of individuals who wish to do harm to our country are able to enter Canada as a result of a rushed refugee resettlement process, the results could be devastating," he said.