OTTAWA—Canada on Thursday said it was moving forward with a plan to bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of December, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called on other countries to open their doors wider to migrants.
Mr. Trudeau’s comments came ahead of the Group of 20 leaders’ summit in Turkey this weekend, where the migrant crisis is likely to be a major talking point. Earlier Thursday, the European Union agreed to pay Turkey more than $3 billion over the next two years for more support in stemming the wave of refugees entering Europe from the Middle East.
Mr. Trudeau won the Canadian election Oct. 19 in part on a pledge to set a new direction for Canada on the global stage. That included bringing in more refugees, taking a leadership role on climate change and withdrawing Canada’s fighter jets from the U.S.-led mission against Islamic State.
At a press conference here, Mr. Trudeau acknowledged that bringing in 25,000 refugees in a short timeframe posed stiff challenges to immigration and security officials. Canada’s Public Safety Minister, Ralph Goodale, told reporters earlier Thursday that security issues could be managed.
“Welcoming 25,000 refugees to Canada is a significant commitment that’s going to make a very big difference—not only for those 25,000 but as an example to other countries as to how we can welcome people and integrate them,” Mr. Trudeau said. “The international community must do better to help countries such as Turkey that are in close proximity, but also Jordan and others as well.”
Officials said details about how Canada plans to meet the aggressive refugee target would be made available in the coming days.
Former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper had faced a barrage of criticism over Ottawa’s response to the refugee crisis, including a refusal to budge from a previous commitment to take 10,000 refugees.
Mr. Trudeau said his government’s push to expand its refugee intake “is completely in keeping with what Canada has always been able to do,” and shows leadership on the global stage.
The Liberal government’s plan to expand Canada’s intake has won praise from the United Nations Human Rights Council. “I urge other countries to follow Canada’s lead, galvanize their resources, and dramatically increase the number of Syrians who are able to rebuild their lives in safe countries,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said earlier this week.
Governments in Europe are struggling in how to deal with the influx of hundreds of thousands of migrants trying to seek entry. One Thursday, Sweden introduced border checks, and those lacking valid entry permits were told to apply for asylum or face deportation.
In Germany, meanwhile, Chancellor Angela Merkel is facing increasing pressure after adopting a generous open-door refugee policy.
Not long after the G20 meetings, Mr. Trudeau will attend a global climate-change summit in Paris. The prime minister said Thursday that he would meet with Canada’s provincial leaders on Nov. 23 to hammer out a national environmental policy proposal to take to the Paris gathering. During the election campaign, Mr. Trudeau promised to introduce a national climate-change strategy that reduces carbon output and puts a price on emissions.
Environmental groups had criticized Mr. Harper for its lack of meaningful policies aimed at reducing carbon.
Mr. Trudeau reiterated that his government intends to withdraw its fighter jets from the U.S.-led mission against Islamic State. He said the withdrawal would unfold in a “responsible way,” and in co-ordination with Canada’s allies. To date, six Canadian fighter jets have conducted over 150 airstrikes in Iraq and Syria.
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