MP Dianne Watts counselled caution last week in response to the Liberal government's original plan to take 25

South Surrey-White Rock MP urges caution on refugees

Resettlement of Syrians in Canada should not be rushed, says Watts, recently appointed a member of the Conservative 'shadow cabinet'

South Surrey-White Rock MP Dianne Watts said she is not opposed to resettling Syrian refugees in Canada – but that it must be done “with due diligence and an abundance of caution.”

“Most certainly the biggest issue – and it has been my issue all along – is in terms of the time frame,” the new Conservative MP told Peace Arch News on Friday, noting that she has had first-hand experience with practical issues of refugee resettlement during her 10 years as mayor of Surrey.

“Bringing people into the country is easily done, but alongside that we need to do the diligence in heightening the screening process. We also have to make sure we have the funding and resources in place to ensure refugee families have the support they need when they’re here.”

(After Peace Arch News’ press time Tuesday federal Immigration and Refugees Minister John McCallum revealed plans to slow the intake of some 25,000 Syrian refugees to 10,000 by the end of December, with the rest resettled through January and February.)

But while some members of the Conservative caucus have been unreservedly critical of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s original commitment to bring all of the refugees into Canada by Jan. 1 – MP Candice Bergen tweeted she is “embarrassed and sickened” by the Liberal leader for his stance on refugees and Canada’s ISIS mission – Watts said she has no issue with the general principle of accepting refugees.

“But there’s no need to rush it, let’s just do it right,” she said, adding that the Syrians  Canada is looking at resettling are currently in refugee camps, already removed from the violence in their homeland.

In a press conference following the G20 Summit in Turkey last week, Trudeau told media the government’s refugee commitment has “in no way weakened our resolve to ensure first and foremost that Canadians are kept safe.”

RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson and CSIS director Michel Coulombe had both gone on record as saying it is feasible to safely screen that number of refugees by the end of the year.

Watts – who received flak in her home riding during the election campaign for a Conservative Party flyer issued on her behalf that stated “We will fight Jihadist terrorists at home and abroad” – said she has not received feedback that indicates her constituents are against accepting refugees.

But she said that resettlement involves some “very complex issues” which can include families receiving help with health and mental health concerns, post-traumatic stress disorder and making sure children are properly streamed into the educational system.

The necessary support  “is multi-faceted, and needs to be secured and in place,” she said, while noting that “a lot of community organizations are prepared to step up and help.”

The CBC has reported that Canada’s refugee plan will focus on accepting women, children and families first to avoid security risks posed by single men seeking asylum.

Watts advocated a similar approach for screening applicants.

“It needs to be done in layers,” she said. “We can take care of the kids, the moms and the grandmothers; possibly make sure we get them settled before they are joined by the fathers.

“The issue is not people just looking at young single men in their 30s or under – that could be a very different process,” she said.

Watts said that her appointment last week to the Conservative ‘shadow cabinet’ as critic for infrastructure and communities will also allow her utilize experience she gathered during her years as Surrey mayor (during that time she spearheaded the Build Surrey construction and investment initiative, and served a term on the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation).

“It touches on everything I was working on, both in Surrey and in the Lower Mainland,” she said.

She said she is looking forward to looking at the issues on a national level, noting that Trudeau has mandated development of a 10-year plan for infrastructure that includes everything from public transit to social and green infrastructure, as well as the Build Canada program, which covers such development as ports and border facilities.

 

 

Just Posted

VIDEO: Three-peat for Semiahmoo at basketball’s Surrey RCMP Classic

South Surrey-based squad tops Lord Tweedsmuir in final at Enver Creek gym

Tardi earns first victory in quest for third national title

A Langley-based junior curling team is in Prince Albert, Sask. for the Canadian championships.

VIDEO: Surrey-based business wants customers to ‘Eat the Dishes’

New business plans to be one of the ongoing vendors at KPU’s new winter market

Surrey hunter fined $10,000 after shooting a bull moose and leaving it to die

The man was convicted for three Wildlife Act offences after shooting a bull moose not in season

Tonight’s Surrey RCMP Classic final: Cloverdale and South Surrey school teams to battle

Elsewhere, Holy Cross boys team aims to win another BC Catholics championship on home court

VIDEO: Students in MAGA hats mock Native American at Indigenous Peoples March

Diocese in Kentucky says it is investigating the matter, caught on video by onlookers

VIDEO: Koch’s OT winner sends Giants to sixth straight victory

Three games, three cities, three victories for Lower Mainland-based G-Men’s major junior hockey team.

CONSUMER REPORT: What to buy each month in 2019 to save money

Resolve to buy all of the things you want and need, but pay less money for them

Want to avoid the speculation tax on your vacant home? Rent it out, Horgan says

Premier John Horgan and Sheila Malcolmson say speculation and vacancy tax addresses homelessness

UPDATE: B.C. woman and boy, 6, found safe, RCMP confirm

Roseanne Supernault says both she and her six-year-old nephew are fine and she has contacted police

PHOTOS: Women’s Marches take to the streets across B.C. and beyond

Women and allies marched worldwide protesting violence against women, calling for equality

VIDEO: Giants wrap southern swing with 6-4 win in Spokane

The Lower Mainland-based hockey team defeated the Chiefs Friday night.

Anxiety in Alaska as endless aftershocks rattle residents

Seismologists expect the temblors to continue for months, although the frequency has lessened

Women’s March returns across the U.S. amid shutdown and controversy

The original march in 2017, the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, drew hundreds of thousands of people

Most Read