Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau put speed ahead of thoroughness when bringing Syrian refuges in the country, the Toronto Sun reports. A memo obtained by the paper suggests the screening process used to do background checks on the refugees was rushed and replete with errors.
The document is from November 2015 when the Trudeau government, flush with its recent electoral triumph, decided to follow-through on its promise to open up the borders to Syrian refugees fleeing the civil war in that country.
The Trudeau government has reacted to criticism of its refugee screening process in the past by ensuring Canadians that sufficient security measures were used to ensure that terrorists did not enter Canada but the memo suggests proper care was not taken.
The memo indicates that the government documents issued to the refugees had significant errors, including “misspellings, incorrect DOBs [date of births] and gender.” Without the correct information, it is impossible to conduct a valid background check or the information gleaned might well correlate to another person.
The memo was first obtained by a group of concerned civil servants within the federal immigration department by an access to information iequest and then shared with the Sun. The document was the result of a meeting that brought together representatives of various municipal, provincial and federal governments that wanted to assess the potential risks involved in Trudeau’s expressed policy of rapidly naturalizing 25,000 Syrian refugees.
The group met from Nov. 28-29, 2015 at a Toronto location at the very height of the refuge relocation program when many critics were questioning the prudence of admitting so many refugees from such a politically sensitive part of the world in such a short timeline of two months.
Trudeau eventually allowed the refugee and immigration authorities another 60 days to complete their work — but only after significant mistakes had already been made. The memo describes an atmosphere of hurried confusion that reigned during the early days of the refugee rush.
“Participants noted that the ambitious target and timeline put enormous pressure on financial and human resources,” the memo reads.
While those who met to discuss the chaos advised the government to invest more personnel and funding in order to better manage the issue, it is clear that the participants were frustrated with the process and did not believe it was functioning with any degree of integrity or with sufficient regard for national security.
The memo cites “the challenges of an ambitious scope, scale and timeline of Trudeau’s Syrian refugee scheme” and provides two pages of feedback, described as “areas of improvements and feedback for consideration.”
Their advice is to provide “increased advance planning,” “early clarification of the roles and responsibilities” and “contingency plans for unexpected events.”
Those “unexpected events” covered such contingencies as cancelled flights and medical emergencies.
The memo concludes with a lesson learned: in the future fast-tracking of refugee claimants “need to think longer term.”