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The terrorist killing and wounding of hundreds in Paris has prompted calls for Prime Minister Trudeau to change course and break his election promise to bring in 25,000 refugees by year-end. Our analysts - John Capobianco, Marit Stiles and Bernie Farber debate the pros and cons in the ONW Salon.


Bernie Farber:

The world can turn on a dime, as the tragic events in Paris have proven. I remain confident that our security and intelligence services have everything well in hand. Nothing should move us off our goal to save the lives of 25,000 Syrian refugees.

Many of the country's most knowledgeable and respected Canadians from all political stripes agree. I have the great honour of having helped facilitate a Syrian refugee committee made up of a number of distinguished Canadians. “HumanityWins” is chaired by former Minister of Immigration in the Joe Clark government, Ron Atkey. He helped bring in thousands of Vietnamese refugees in the late 1970s. Others on the committee include former RCMP Chief Norman Inkster; former Supreme Court Justice and Chief Commissioner of Human Rights for the UN Louise Arbour; former federal NDP leader Ed Broadbent; Dr. Hind Kabawat; and Sarkis Assadourian. All feel more than comfortable with the present plan for refugee resettlement.

As for the bombing by our air force, the jury is out in my mind. I am just not convinced that our few bombers will make a difference in light of the heavy air power of the USA, France and Russia. Perhaps our expertise can be put to better use.  


Marit Stiles:

It was disappointing but - sadly - not entirely surprising to see Saskatchewan's Premier Brad Wall coming out with his concerns about security with the impending influx of Syrian refugees. And disappointing too to find some other Premiers less than unwavering in their support of efforts to bring in 25,000 refugees by year-end.

Saskatchewan NDP Leader Cam Broten was quick to condemn Wall for wading in, saying it's ridiculous to think that Canadian security authorities would just rubber stamp refugee claims without proper security checks. As Broten and others like Alberta NDP Premier Rachel Notley noted, now is not the time to hesitate in getting this started to bring these refugees to safety.

As Bernie notes, it's refreshing to see community leaders from across the political spectrum united in this crisis, and in a belief that we need to act now. Canada is far better situated than Europe to ensure that proper security checks take place. We simply aren't dealing with the flood of refugees and chaos they have had to. We have the mechanisms already in place to do everything we can to ensure our safety.

Now we need to do the right thing and welcome these families with open arms and services to help them recover.


John Capobianco:

I commend your efforts Bernie, your personal commitment to do your part to assist with PM Trudeau's promise to bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees by year-end. It is this level of community involvement that is needed, but it takes time. With the tragic events in Paris, along with the recent downing of the Russian airliner, it is time for leadership and that must be strong, thoughtful leadership.

The PM has made it pretty clear of late that he has no intention of backing away from his election campaign promise of withdrawing our fighter jets and he's sticking with his commitment to bring in the refugees. However, that was the campaign, and the Paris tragedy, which most if not all the leaders in Turkey have called a "game-changer", has occurred since then.  PM Trudeau should be able to change his commitments based on these horrible events.

Being willing to take in 25,000 refugees is an admirable goal, but sticking to this timetable in light of these events can be irresponsible if proper security screening isn't done with the diligence required to ensure the safety of Canadians.


Bernie Farber:

John, many thanks for your kind words.  But never mind Turkey, here in Canada I cannot think of individuals better and more qualified to help guide this process than folks who have been right in the thick of such crises in the past.

Norman Inkster, as well as his role with the RCMP, was also a recent president of Interpol; Louise Arbour with her expertise in the UN and on our Supreme Court has a working understanding of what is needed and what can be accomplished. They and others strongly support the need to bring in these refugees and feel more than sure that we have the proper security in place to do so.

On the war front, for too long and very often ending in failure, bombing and strafing have rarely won the day. Military experts with much more knowledge than us have made it clear that it simply does not do the trick. Indeed, folks like Matthew Henman, head of IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Centre, claimed in the Globe and Mail that such bombing may lead to greater support of ISIS and a surge of new recruits. There has to be a better way.

I support the need to end the threat of ISIS, we have a role to play and we need to use our best efforts and skills to so effectively.  

Marit Stiles:

Indeed, if history has taught us one thing it's that western military intervention - particularly in Arab and Muslim lands - rarely if ever achieves its goal. We need only look to Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and indeed Syria. Despite that, I'm nervous about the strength of Mr. Trudeau's convictions when it comes to his campaign promises.

In the wake of the bombings in Beirut and Paris, the pressure will mount for him to back away, slowly but surely, from his promises and we'll be stuck in the middle of another futile, desperate and ill-advised war. I hope I'm wrong.

Even if he sticks to his promise, I fear the mandate letter to his Ministers regarding the promised changes to C-51 will be collecting dust in the corner of some panelled office on the Hill. And that's really, really unfortunate. Because we have the powers we need to keep Canadians safe. We did and we do. C-51 throws the balance between our rights and our security off kilter. It's bad legislation, bad policy, even if it served the Liberals and Conservatives well (good politics?)

Whatever else, we have to ask ourselves whether our actions - should we send in more troops to the region, or crack down on refugees, or whatever Brad Wall is calling for today - would do little more than serve up ISIS with an opportunity for more recruitment, more radicalization.


John Capobianco:

We have a NATO commitment to our partners if one of them seeks our help upon attack - and there is no doubt that the attacks in Paris warrant decisive action. French President Hollande called it an act of war - the attacks even got Presidents Obama and Putin to huddle together for what was I'm sure a discussion about retaliation. We needed to be part of that discussion; we need to be part of the solution to stop these threats to our way of life. Now is not the time for us to look weak - we can't have our

G7 partners (G8 if Russia is included in this exercise) looking back and not finding Canada standing shoulder to shoulder with them on this fight.

Both Marit and Bernie feel that aggression isn't the answer. I fundamentally disagree. The kind of senseless attacks in Paris and other places need to be met with action in an effort to weaken the terrorists and eliminate the threat. To say it hasn't worked is naive - we don't know how many attempts have been thwarted by previous military actions or how many fewer recruits signed up as a result of the military action. What we do know is that no action will not stop them.

PM Trudeau won the election and has every right to fulfill his many election promises. But that was before November the 13th. The world has become hardened to the realities of what our enemies can and will do. No one would ever fault the PM should he choose to change his mind on both the military action and the refugee promises.








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