The Bloc Québécois has added its voice to the growing chorus of dissent over Ottawa’s plans to welcome 25,000 refugees by the end of 2015.
“From ambitious, the federal government’s schedule has become simply unrealistic,” the sovereignist party, which won ten seats in the Oct. 19 election, said in a release issued on Tuesday afternoon.
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The Bloc’s interim leader, Rhéal Fortin, said the Liberal government is trying to fulfill an electoral promise “at any cost” and “must take the necessary time to ensure that the welcoming of Syrian refugees respects security conditions and Quebec’s ability to welcome them.”
Many of the rumblings against the proposed target have being coming out of Quebec, where the provincial government has already committed itself to bringing in 5,750 Syrian refugees by the end of December. On Monday, Quebec Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil acknowledged that it may not be possible to hit that target.
On Monday afternoon, Quebec City mayor Régis Labeaume said in a Facebook post that he believes federal authorities should “take a break” on refugee processing for the moment and ensure that proper security protocols are being followed. Labeaume’s city has seen anti-refugee petitions circulating in recent days and a banner reading “Refugees: No Thanks” in French was unfurled on a highway overpass.
“Many stakeholders believe that November and December are the worst months to be welcoming refugees to Canada,” the mayor wrote in French.
“I remain convinced, like the entire population, that we must do our part to welcome refugees, but since (the Paris attacks) I am certain that this must not be done in haste.”
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has also called openly for the federal government to suspend its plan. Montreal mayor Denis Coderre and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, meanwhile, have said they support Ottawa’s plans.
“The people who will come to Canada and to Quebec are themselves victims of terror,” Couillard said Saturday at a general meeting of the Quebec Liberal Party in Quebec City. “We should not turn our backs on refugees.”
Quebec has been the scene of intense debate in recent years surrounding the rights of religious minorities, especially Muslims. It is also the home province of two radicalized men who carried out terror attacks in Ottawa and Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu in the fall of 2014.