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Liberals Say Harper's Security Warnings About Refugees Were Wrong

The new government says Canadian bureaucrats can handle bringing in 25,000 refugees by the end of the year.

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During the election campaign Stephen Harper repeatedly warned about the "reckless" Liberal and NDP plans to bring in refugees more quickly.

Jonathan Hayward / The Canadian Press

During the Globe and Mail leaders' debate, Harper said the Liberal and NDP plans would require "throwing open our borders" and letting in a wave of refugees without proper security checks.

He repeated throughout the campaign that only his plan provided the time for proper security checks.

At the time Harper, in response to the Syrian and Iraqi refugee crisis, was promising to bring in 20,000 new refugees from that region over four years.

Trudeau's promise raised that target to 25,000 people and set the deadline at the end of 2015.

That leaves less than two months, but Trudeau is sticking by the promise. So we asked, does that mean hiring a bunch of new staff to handle security screenings?

Justin Tang / The Canadian Press

Apparently not. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said Thursday that his staff have advised him they have the capacity to screen 25,000 refugees without bringing in outside help.

"They have told me that this can be done successfully while respecting all of the security imperatives," Goodale told reporters.

"We won't be bringing in brand new personnel."

Instead of bringing in new staff, he said different groups, like Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the intelligence agency CSIS, will work together to hit the goal.

That clashes with Harper's version of what was possible, but Goodale wouldn't comment on why that is.

There are still many questions swirling around the refugee plan. For example, if some people are physically brought to Canada before their screening is complete, do they remain in some kind of limbo?


Goodale only said that the details will come out once they're figured out.

As for Trudeau, he told reporters not to look at the wave of refugees coming to Canada as a challenge, but as an opportunity.

"This is something completely in keeping with what Canada has always been able to do," he told reporters in Ottawa.

Paul McLeod is a politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.

Contact Paul McLeod at

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