Amid political pressure to suspend Ottawa’s Syrian refugee plan, Justin Trudeau needs to stick to his word and keep Canada’s borders open, according to a University of Saskatchewan professor.
“It would be arguably negligent for us to think we could wash our hands of an important commitment to help people in crisis right now,” said Colleen Bell, assistant professor of international relations.
In the wake of the Paris attacks – after one of the eight ISIS terrorists has been identified as a Syrian refugee who made it into Greece – political leaders like Saskatchewan’s Premier Brad Wall are coming out asking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to suspend the federal plan to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by the end of 2016.
But painting millions of refugees with the same brush as one of Paris’ attackers doesn’t hold much weight according to Bell.
“It’s hard to make a credible argument that you can essentially punish a population of people already in crisis, enduring the type of violence even more horrific that what’s been seen in Lebanon and Paris, and refuse to help them because of a small group of problematic people,” she said.
That’s why Bell hopes Trudeau stands his ground on this issue and continues to work to bring Syrian refugees to Canada. If he doesn’t, Bell said he’s playing right into ISIS’s hand.
“Terrorism is a political act often designed to change government policy … and if we can imagine that these attacks are attempts to undermine what we hope to be our commitment to work with the protection of human right and build democracy, then going back on our commitment … is like doing what they want us to do, so it would be a mistake to go back,” Bell said, adding ISIS and the war on the West isn’t a result of the Syrian war, but a long timeline of conflicts in the Middle East.
“This is an international problem that requires an international solution.”
Over the course of the G20 Summit in Turkey, Trudeau said he would continue to move forward on his election promise to help Syrian refugees. Trudeau also reiterated his plan to pull back CF-18 combat jets from the ISIS mission, instead opting to provide more ground troops.
Whether they are fighter jets or ground troops, Bell said the end of the Syrian war isn’t going away through military action. Bell said the war will only end after a political solution is hashed out.
“Because the US is on one side and Russia is on the other, that tells me this conflict isn’t going to end soon and it’s very possible that there’s not a military solution, we need a political solution, bring everyone together to find a settlement and one that deals with the (ISIS) problem in a united way.”