(This column originally appeared in the Toronto Sun)
The Trudeau government’s focus on rushing in government-sponsored refugees from Syria has caused a huge backlog to accumulate in the private sponsorship program that utilizes charities and churches for support.
As reported exclusively in the Sun, an internal government memo suggests the Trudeau government did not conduct proper background checks and security screening on some Syrian refugees coming into Canada.
According to the November, 2015 memo, made public through an access to information request, the Trudeau government issued Canadian documents to some refuges that included errors — such as spelling mistakes and listing an incorrect date of birth or gender.
This calls into question the integrity of the screening and security checks conducted on incoming refugees.
How could the Trudeau government have ensured that a Syrian refugee did not have a criminal record or connections with one of the many Islamist terrorist groups in the region, if they were using incorrect personal information?
Without knowing a person’s name — with correct spelling — as well as an accurate date of birth and gender, a background check would have been totally useless.
Just weeks after the deadly Islamic State attack in Paris that killed 130 people, and was carried out in part by men who had trained in Syria and travelled through Europe with fake Syrian passports, Canada was haphazardly admitting Syrians into Canada.
At a time when terrorists from Islamic State were openly boasting about sending their agents into Western countries alongside bona fide Syrian refugees, the Canadian government was being careless and reckless.
The Sun also uncovered new data that shines light on how Trudeau’s Syrian refugees are settling into Canada.
Another access to information request reveals a stark difference between refugees sponsored privately, through charities, churches and communities, and those plucked from United Nations registries and sponsored by the Trudeau government.
Privately sponsored refugees are five times more likely to have found work in Canada, and more than half of these refugees are now employed.
Meanwhile, just one in ten Syrian refugees sponsored by the Trudeau government has found a job.
This is tied to the fact that just 17% of Trudeau’s government sponsored refugees reported having basic language skills in English or French, compared to 81% of privately sponsored refugees.
Worse, because Trudeau prefers the government program, he’s capped the intake of privately sponsored refugees.
This has led to a tremendous backlog of applicants — some 45,000 — and a wait list of over four years.
Committing to resettling tens of thousands of Syrian refugees was a tremendous undertaking, and an already risky operation with no guarantee of success.
Refugees are distinct from other immigrants, and often suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, culture shock, grief and acute illnesses picked up during their travels.
Refugees did not choose to be immigrants; they become refugees through the circumstances of war.
Government sponsored refugees did not choose Canada — that was a decision made by a UN bureaucrat based on the luck of the draw.
It takes hard work and a sincere commitment to ensure refugee resettlement efforts are successful.
Refugees must be properly screened and vetted, and then properly welcomed and resettled.
The Trudeau government, however, was in such a rush to meet a political target that it sacrificed core elements of our national security procedures and chose refugees more likely to fail in Canada.
Trudeau’s feel-good gesture has done no favours to Syrians now struggling in Canada, and will have long-term consequences for all Canadians.