VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – There is no need to believe that there is a trade-off between compassion and security. That’s what mayors of Canada’s big cities are saying following meetings in Ottawa this week on how to accommodate Syrian refugees once they start arriving.
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson says housing was a big topic. “We are working hard to find space, make sure that there’s space available. The federal government is obviously doing that as well with their various buildings and assets.”
Robertson says housing migrants is also about working with groups that help the refugees settle when they arrive. Mayors discussed ways to make sure they are equipped.
There has been dissent from some mayors. Quebec City’s mayor has said orphans and families should only be considered over security fears about young Syrian men.
Robertson says most mayors don’t share the concern. He calls comments like that disappointing when most Canadians want to help. “We have, I think, good confidence in the federal government that they’re taking the security issues very seriously and the screening process is thorough and rigorous.”
The federal government will release details of the refugee plan Tuesday.
Full statement from the FCM’s Big City Mayors’ Caucus:
“As mayors of Canada’s biggest cities, we commend the federal government’s commitment to bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees. Canada has a long history of opening its doors to people from around the world, and as one of the most peaceful and prosperous countries in the world, we have an obligation to help those who are less fortunate.
Canada’s big cities stand ready and willing to help assist Syrian refugees as they come to Canada and integrate into our communities. As mayors, we see how much our cities have benefited from welcoming people from all walks of life. The multicultural diversity of our cities is one of Canada’s greatest strengths.
We know the federal government takes security issues very seriously and that the screening process for refugees is thorough and rigorous. There is no need to believe that there is a trade-off between compassion and security. Canada’s big cities are working with our government partners and local support agencies to assist in settlement efforts. Those efforts are complex and require proper planning, time, and care. Nevertheless, our resolve to complete the task before us is firm.
We must not lose sight of the opportunity to again show the world how Canada is a country that values diversity, acceptance, and compassion.”