Government needs two more weeks to meet refugee target

Immigration Minister says government will fall short of admitting 10,000 Syrian refugees by midnight Thursday

Canada's Immigration Minister John McCallum speaks during a news conference in Ottawa, Canada November 24, 2015. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

Canada’s Immigration Minister John McCallum speaks during a news conference in Ottawa on November 24, 2015. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

TORONTO — Two more weeks — that’s how long the Liberals say it will take to get 10,000 Syrian refugees to Canada, a goal the government was hoping to have met by midnight Thursday.

But Canadians were urged not to dwell on the missed target and instead focus on what the government had managed to achieve — bringing just over 6,000 Syrian refugees to Canada in a matter of weeks with a total 25,000 expected by early next year, a program the Liberals say makes Canada a world leader.

“I think when history is written, the story will be about how we welcomed 25,000 refugees in a short period of time and not the fact that there was a two week delay in meeting our intermediate target,” Immigration Minister John McCallum said after meeting staff at the Toronto airport terminal where refugees have been arriving on government-organized flights.

“My conclusion is not to apologize for anything, but to congratulate all of the public servants for a fantastic job and to thank all of the Canadians who have participated in this venture.”

Some goals have been met — 25,000 Syrian refugees have been identified as candidates for resettlement and 10,700 refugee applications have been fully processed.

“I would say we have largely met our promises,” McCallum said when asked how Canadians could be expected to trust a new government that revised a key promise made during this year’s election campaign.

“I think it is up to Canadians to decide whether this two week delay is a matter of utmost importance, or whether we should instead focus on welcoming these wonderful new Canadians.”

The Liberals promised last March to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada and incorporated the pledge into their election platform, saying all it would take is “political will” to resettle them by the end of the year.

But the reality of rolling out that promise has proven it takes more than that and the Liberals have amended their plan several times.

Initially, the plan was expected to involve only refugees assisted by the government. But in November the Liberals said the 10,000 refugees they would resettle by Dec. 31 would be mostly privately-sponsored, and a further 15,000 government-assisted refugees would come by the end of February.

At least another 10,000 government-assisted refugees will come to Canada by the end of the 2016, the Liberals said.

“We want to do this fast, and we are doing this faster than any time in Canadian history. But more important than that, we also wanted to do it well,” said McCallum. “The whole world has noticed what we are doing.”

McCallum said the reason 10,000 refugees were not in Canada by Thursday was largely due to the time it initially took to get the government’s massive resettlement program running smoothly, and the “human factor” of Syrians not willing to leave their current homes as fast the Canadian government is asking them.

“Even if you’re desperate, you will still sometimes want a few days to say goodbye to your friends, to clean up your business and to come to a new country,” McCallum said. “We cannot begrudge them of those few days. We certainly cannot and did not and never would say you have to come before the end of the year.”

Previously, difficulties posed by winter weather, the challenge in getting the governments of Lebanon and Turkey to assist with exit visas and a slow start to medical screenings were also cited as reasons the program took longer to get running.

But Health Minister Jane Philpott said without the “incredibly audacious goals,” nothing would have happened.

“This is something that we will look back at and not be talking about the timelines a decade from now but be talking about the amazing new Syrian Canadians who have become part of our community,” she said.

At least one settlement agency said the delay announced by the government on Thursday was not a significant concern.

“Whether we have 10,000 Syrian refugees here by midnight today is far less important than the fact that plans, resources and more important political will are in place,” said Debbie Douglas, executive director of the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants.

The Canadian Council for Refugees added that the rate at which the government was bringing in Syrian refugees was a significant achievement.

“We hope the quick processing of these Syrian refugees will be the first step towards radically reducing processing times for other refugees,” said executive director Janet Dench.

The NDP, however, were more critical of the Liberals’ shifting targets and said McCallum had “abandoned” the party’s election pledge as it was promised.

“Not only did this Minister irrefutably fail to live up to the promise Liberals made to Canadians in the last election but he even failed to meet his own lowered expectations,” said Jenny Kwan, the NDP’s immigration and refugees critic.


Government needs two more weeks to meet refugee target

  1. Yes, indeed. A decade from now, the citizens of Canadastan will look back fondly to the wonderful legacy instituted by Ayatolla Justin Trudeau: Sharia Law; The Caliphate; Rampant Marijuana Use; and The Reduction of Christianity to Dhimmitude.

    • Personally I hope Christianity has been kicked out all together.

      Certainly no one in Canada has ever practiced it anyway.

      • Well if it isn’t Macleans most vocal sociopath spreading more misinformation. Truth be known, those Christian groups you wish to be “kicked out all together” are in fact the ones who in large part are, together with other religious groups responsible for sponsoring the greatest number of refugees in Canada. You might be an raving atheist and more power to you but people of your ilk don’t tend to dig down and carry the load when it comes to supporting charities. No….it is those who have deep-seeded religious convictions that do the heavy lifting. You are not only a terrible racist toward your fellow Canadians (Albertans in particular) but you are completely naïve.

        • And your source for all this tripe is…………?

          • Most likely, Gage is basing much of it on your past commenting history. You are definitely anti-Christian (which is not the same as being atheist; you are both).

            But yes, it is certainly true that Christian communities are among those sponsoring refugees – and they aren’t limiting their sponsorships to other Christians. And my knowledge of this is first-hand; our church has raised funds, and a coworker (also Anglican) is part of a team at his church sponsoring a family.

            Here’s another example: http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2015/12/31/toronto-church-and-mosque-compete-to-raise-funds-for-syrian-refugees.html

            Eleanor’s comment was incredibly ignorant (in all senses) but your reply was no better. I guess I know at least one thing that WASN’T on your list of New Year’s resolutions…

  2. I watch this clowns news conference this morning. Either he was drunk on drugs or just a retard. He couldn’t string a sentence together. That’s about the speed of a liberal.

    • A few weeks back, around the time the Liberal Cabinet ministers took their Oath of Office, in a commentary to one of the Macleans articles, I had referred to this man as a “functional illiterate”. It wasn’t out of any malice, but I just observed him to be as such. I drew much flak from some of the commentators for just my thinking aloud, nothing more. Now that many more are coming to the same conclusion, I feel vindicated and indeed I am so glad. It is my fervent hope that that none of us are saying this out of any malice towards this human being, because, someday, not very far in the future, the same thing may have to be said about his boss too.

  3. The media lies for the government.

    The promise was 25000 government sponsored refugees by Jan 1. There will probably be only about 10% or 2500 government sponsored refugees by Jan 1, if they are lucky. Less than 10% of Justin Trudeau’s solemn election commitment.

    There will be perhaps 7000 refugees by Jan 1, which is 70% of the revised solemn commitment.

    And the media never seriously questioned the ridiculous commitment during the election campaign.

    And they are allowed letting themselves be used to walk back promise after promise.

      It’s difficult to know what you’re more upset about: (1) The Liberal Government’s original ridiculously unrealistic refugee goals; or (2) The media’s supine, silent, unquestioning acceptance of the original goal, followed by the revised,less ambitious plan.
      I say: A pox on both the Government and the Media.

      • I think it is quite obvious. This government had no issue about lying to get elected. They put terrible pressure on the Canadian civil service to meet unreasonable goals that were never realistic. To suggest that a normal Canadian winter hindered their goals is laughable. It is as though they really believe climate change and Leonardio DiCaprio’s first hand experience with the phenomenon of a chinook wind in Calgary lead them to believe that winter would not impede flight schedules.

  4. It will be interesting to see if this is a one-off in terms of miscalculations (or total lack of calculations), or it’s indicative of a government that is more interested in making grand goals than it is in determining whether those goals can be properly met.

    That this was a 100% self-inflicted, predictable problem (artificial deadline pulled out of thin air that experts said was unrealistic) makes one wonder how the government will react when faced with a genuine problem that was not predictable. Hopefully it will have learned a relatively cost-free lesson here, and remember that is the self-proclaimed government of evidence based policy.

    • Hi there, Jim R,

      It isn’t a case of miscalculation, because there was no effort whatsoever to calculate anything. I wouldn’t call any of their policy pronouncements as grand goals either. All of these were mere attempts to sound different from the Conservatives for the sake of vote catching. The media was to peddle this nonsense as remarkable policy goals. And, thanks to astounding success of the hype from the media types, the general populace swallowed it hook, line and sinker. There was never any effort on anybody’s part to make sense of any of their programs. Refugee repatriation isn’t the only thing where they faltered. They went all wrong in their financial goals. The infrastructure program wouldn’t come to anything other than throwing away a fistful of dollars. The shallowness of the Syrian War strategy will be felt by us all when body bags arrive with nothing to show for the precious sacrifices. They aren’t going to go very far in trying help the Native community lift themselves up from their current morass. They will face the same budget cuts as the rest of us. With the meaningless commitments in Paris, we can now write-off Alberta’s future because all that oil under the ground will have stay there even as the Province wilts under the weight of massive unemployment. Despite the Central Bank’s interest rate cuts, and a sinking loonie, our zero growth economy isn’t in any mood to lift its head and look around. Justin’s effort to change the Elections Act will bring in much acrimony and unprecedented crisis. When someone has caused this much of catastrophes, would you call it a case of mere miscalculations?

      • T.Kanthia:
        Bingo! You nailed it perfectly. We must all pray for Canada’s future.
        By the way: Pres. Obama has invited Justin Trudeau and his entourage to a State Dinner in the White House coming this March. First American State Dinner for a Canadian PM in 17 years. (Jean Chretien).
        What does that portend? Obama and Trudeau are clones. Welcome to Obamaland North.

  5. We are talking two weeks people

    get a grip!!!!!

    • Emilyone:
      Pardon us, Emily. We should realize that it takes liberals quit a long time to “wake up and smell the bacon”. How many years do you require to begin to understand the new reality?

      • Well for one thing Eleanor, I’m not a Liberal, but after 10 years, you and Harper got a boot in the ass

        THAT is the new reality honey.

        • Its only a matter of time before you experience “buyer’s regret”,Emily.

          • LOL

          • Regret choosing Libs over NDP? Perhaps. Regret at kicking Harper to the curb? Never; he was way past his best-before date.

    • 25000 government sponsored refugees from Syria will likely never happen during the current mandate of the Liberals. If they make 25000, 80% of them will likely be privately sponsored.

      It was a a Liberal and media lie. They keep on moving the goalposts.

      It will be like this on all their commitments.

    • Two weeks? Ha! That is two weeks delay for 10K refugees when we were promised 25K by year end. For a non-Lib, you do a great job of deflecting their promises.

  6. Is there not a columnist or pundit in Ottawa who could rise up above the consensus and negativity of his peers and say:
    Better to aim high and not fear failure based on expectations, than aim low or do nothing because of fear of failure.

    • The distinction between “aiming high and not fearing failure” and “lying” informs the extent to which one is a shill for the person/party making the assertion.

      • Nobody lied here. overestimated what was possible, but gave it a good try.
        I’m glad to see you are keeping track of lies by governments past and present.

        • The Liberal platform wasn’t to give ‘er the old college try, it was a promise that 25K government-sponsored Syrian refugees would be in Canada by year end. It was pointed out to them repeatedly logistics would make this impossible, but they stuck with it because HDS had taken complete hold by then and they assumed – correctly it would seem – there’d be no substantive consequences to their inevitable failure. One hopes future failed promises won’t be as easily dismissed. I’m glad you’re demonstrating which side of the “shill” line you fall on.

    • So then Trudeau broke his promise and solemn commitment of “evidence-based” policy.

      The 25K government-sponsored refugee commitment was a lie and fraud committed on the electorate by the Liberal Party and the mainstream media (which are basically one and the same).

  7. In the context of Chris Alexander, what has been widely called mishandling, on the Syrian refugee crisis and and the cuts made to refugee health care, John McCallum and Jane Philpott seem to have reason to self-congratulate on their own approach.

    In the context of a normal human being, their subterfuge is disturbing to an unnecessarily complicated degree — spoken and executed like a true economist, for a former chief economist and professor of economics:


    It’s quite belittling of Canadians that the number of 25,000 must be conjured up to sell the idea of helping Syrian refugees. It leads one to question whether there is something that must stay hidden (which may be true), and make conspiracists of us all (you try finding a needle in a haystack).


      There, fixed it for you.

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