BY AILEEN DONNELLY
The majority of Canadians oppose the government’s plan to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees in the next six weeks, and the most common complaint is that there isn’t enough time, a new poll shows.
More than half of Canadians (54 per cent) either moderately or strongly oppose Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s plan to bring 25,000 refugees over by Jan. 1, 2016. Meanwhile, 42 per cent moderately or strongly support the plan, according to an Angus Reid Institute poll conducted three days after terrorist attacks killed 129 people in Paris.
Of those who oppose the Liberal government’s refugee plan, the majority (53 per cent) cite tight timelines as their main concern, saying they fear it’s too short to allow for appropriate security checks. Another ten per cent think 25,000 refugees is just too many, while eight per cent say the plan is too expensive. The Liberal government has not released details of their plan, including how they will get all the refugees to Canada and how much it will cost.
Almost one-third (29 per cent) of those who oppose the Liberal plan say Canada should not take in any refugees from the war-torn region. That means about 16 per cent of all poll respondents (those who support and oppose the plan) want to close the nation’s borders to Syrians.
Opposition is highest in Alberta (62 per cent) and lowest in Atlantic Canada (46 per cent).
The poll suggests that Premier Brad Wall is on the right side of public opinion in Saskatchewan.
On Monday, he sent a letter urging Trudeau to slow the intake of Syrian refugees to ensure Canadians aren’t threatened by “malevolent” terrorists.
“I am concerned that the current date-driven plan could severely undermine the refugee screening process,” he wrote.
In Saskatchewan and Manitoba, 59 per cent of respondents opposed Trudeau’s plan and only 36 per cent supported it.
Trudeau reaffirmed his ambitious election promise on Tuesday after several municipal and provincial leaders suggested he was more concerned with speed than security.
“We continue to be very much committed to keeping Canadians safe while we do the right thing to engage responsibly on this humanitarian crisis,” Trudeau said.
Public opinion has changed only slightly in the wake of the attacks allegedly carried out by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists. At the end of last month, another Angus Reid poll found that 51 per cent of Canadians opposed the refugee plan, while 39 per cent said they support it. That survey showed that the refugee plan was the second-most-opposed part of the Liberal platform.
The online survey of 1,503 Canadians — a representative randomized sample drawn from members of the Angus Reid Forum — was conducted on Nov. 16. A probability sample of this size carries a margin of error of plus-or-minus 2.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.