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Paris attacks won’t affect Trudeau’s stance on refugees, fighter jets

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives in Antalya, Turkey, on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, to take part in the G20 Summit.

Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The deadly terror attacks in Paris will not lead Canada to change course on its two main policies in relation to Syria: welcoming 25,000 refugees this year and ending Canada's bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrived in Turkey Saturday for a meeting of G20 world leaders that is now expected to be dominated by debate over how the international community should respond to the wave of attacks.

Mr. Trudeau did not speak to reporters Saturday, but a senior official from the Prime Minister's Office confirmed Saturday evening that the government stands by its refugee plan and its position on the role Canada should play in the Syrian conflict.

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The deadly spree of violence presents a clear challenge to Canada's new Prime Minister given that he had said he would use the summit as an opportunity to promote the humanitarian and economic benefits of fast-tracking 25,000 Syrian refugees into Canada before the end of the year.

However a Greek minister told Reuters that the holder of a Syrian passport that was found near the body of one of the Paris gunmen entered Europe via Greece on Oct. 3. Reuters reported that the not-yet-identified gunman was among a group of 69 refugees who were fingerprinted by authorities on the tiny Greek island of Leros, which has been overwhelmed by the arrival of thousands of refugees.

The new Canadian government has struck a special cabinet subcommittee to manage the refugee issue and the settlement plan is expected to include a major role for the Canadian military.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau, who is also attending the G20 meetings, told Canadian reporters late Saturday that issues of security and refugees will understandably take on greater importance at the meeting than previously planned.

"The discussion of refugees was always intended to be on the agenda. The discussion around financing of terrorist activity was always intended to be on the agenda. So I suspect we will spend more time talking about those issues than we might have otherwise and that would be entirely appropriate given the terrible tragedy in Paris," he said.

On Friday evening before leaving Ottawa just as news of the Paris shootings was coming to light, Mr. Trudeau was asked whether he would reconsider withdrawing Canada's CF-18s from the fight against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria or repealing parts of Bill C-51, Canada's anti-terrorism legislation.

"It's too soon to jump to any conclusions," he replied. "But obviously governments have a responsibility to keep their citizens safe while defending our rights and freedoms. And that balance is something that the Canadian government and indeed all governments around the world will be focusing on."

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The official summit is not scheduled to begin until Sunday, however some leaders have already arrived for bilateral meetings.

Mr. Trudeau is scheduled to meet Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on Sunday and has meetings scheduled Monday with the leaders of China, Germany, Indonesia, Italy and Turkey.

Mr. Trudeau is expected to speak inside the meeting Sunday on the topics of trade, energy and inclusive growth, according to the PMO official.

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

A member of the Parliamentary Press Gallery since 1999, Bill Curry worked for The Hill Times and the National Post prior to joining The Globe in Feb. 2005. Originally from North Bay, Ont., Bill reports on a wide range of topics on Parliament Hill, with a focus on finance. More

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