Lakeland candidates debate refugee crisis

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October 15, 2015 8:15 AM

An issue that has been making national headlines also got some attention at the all candidates forum for the Lakeland riding last week. The issue in question involved the Syrian refugee crisis as Lakeland residents wanted to know how each party would respond to the influx of people looking to find shelter in Canada.

“First off, Canada has always accepted refugees,” said Gary Parenteau, Liberal candidate. “Historically our community, our country, has been a mosaic of many cultures and those many cultures built a strong Canada and are still building it today. Canada is known and prides itself as a country with a diverse background and diverse ethnic groups of people.”

Parenteau said the Syrian crisis is similar to many other refugee crises that have happened in the past and his party would do anything within its resources to help the refugees in a timely and efficient manner. He said that despite what some may think, the Liberal party would use a screening process that would be adequate enough to ensure Canada’s safety.

NDP candidate Duane Zaraska also used the time to clear up some misconceptions voters may have had about his party’s refugee stance. He insisted that there would be a screening process but also opportunities for temporary foreign workers to become citizens.

“On the policy of immigration I think the NDP is committed to extending programs that prepare immigrants before they arrive,” he said. “Canada will respond to the best of its ability to refugees. We are open to 10,000 refugees in the next year and 9,000 a year (after).”

Robert McFadzean, who represents Lakeland’s Libertarian voice in this election, said that refugees should be sponsored by people in the private sector who have the means and the desire to do so.

“We have people in our country that are struggling,” said McFadzean. “They should not have to support refugees by their taxes. And there should be screening for refugees the same as anyone else coming into our country.”

Conservative Shannon Stubbs said her party’s plan is to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next three years, making sure the process is “careful, diligent and ensures the safety of all Canadians”. The plan is also to ensure Canada is accepting the most vulnerable refugees who are looking for safety within our borders.

“By the new year we had already accepted 1,100 from Syria and there’s also a goal of 3,000 from Iraq by the end of the year but this issue is multi-pronged,” Stubbs said. “That’s why we need to continue the military campaign against ISIS to stop them there and ensure our own security as well as providing humanitarian aid.”

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