Canada pushes back deadline to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees

Amid concerns over security checks and the flow of new arrivals, the Canadian government on Tuesday announced a later deadline for accepting 25,000 Syrian refugees. 

Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press/AP
Jane Philpott, from left, Minister of Health, John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Harjit Sajjan, Minister of National Defense, Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, and Melanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage prepare to announce Canada's plan to resettle Syrian refugees, during a news conference at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa, Ontario on Tuesday.

The Canadian government on Tuesday pushed back to the end of February its deadline for accepting 25,000 Syrian refugees, in a concession that its original Jan. 1 target was too difficult to meet.

Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, sworn in this month, made the initial pledge part of his election campaign but a wide array of critics said the goal was unrealistic.

Some provincial and municipal leaders have complained the short timeline did not allow for enough security checks to root out possible Islamic State militants. Others said they could not cope with such a heavy flow of new arrivals.

"We just looked at the logistics, we looked at what it would take to bring them in by Jan. 1, and we had options around that," Trudeau told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

"We realized that we wanted to make sure that it was done absolutely right."

The government will fly in 10,000 refugees by the end of the year and the remainder by end-February.

In another sign of the challenges it is facing, Ottawa cut back its commitment to sponsor all 25,000. Instead, 10,000 will be sponsored privately, with Ottawa aiming to reach its 25,000 target by the end of 2016.

The opposition Conservative Party said it was pleased Trudeau "had abandoned a timeline that was not workable."

One of the biggest political challenges for the government is the fear that militants could sneak into Canada disguised as refugees. Since the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris claimed by Islamic State, an anti-refugee petition launched in Quebec has garnered more than 75,000 signatures nationwide.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said refugees would undergo several security checks.

"If there is any doubt about an application or an interview or any of the data, the file will simply be put aside and held for further consideration at a later time," he told a briefing.

Canada will spend up to $510 million over six years flying in the refugees from Turkey, Syria, and Jordan and then helping resettle them. The first flight is due to leave from the region early next month.

The federal government will give priority to complete families, women at risk, and gay or transgender people.

It will prioritize single adult men only if they are gay, bisexual or transgender, or if they are accompanying their parents. Private groups will be allowed to sponsor any single adult man regardless of his sexual orientation.

(Additonal reporting by Leah Schnurr in Toronto; Editing by Alan Crosby and Sandra Maler)

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Canada pushes back deadline to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today