Newly-elected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with government ministers Monday to quell security concerns about a plan to give asylum to 25,000 Syrian refugees. One of the anticipated policy changes would allow single gay men to seek refugee status while excluding “lone” straight men as potential terrorists, according to the Ottawa Citizen.
While Canada’s refugee plan is focused primarily on families, women and children, government officials have acknowledged that gay men face intense persecution and will also give them priority status. Response to the plan was met with cautious concern, however, not because gay men were being allowed, but out of concern for implementing a blanket ban on “lone-male” refugees and what constitutes a family.
“While security concerns remain of vital importance, will a young man, who lost both parents, be excluded from the refugee program?” NDP Leader Tom Mulcair asked reporters on Monday night. “Will a widower who is fleeing Da’esh [ISIS] after having seen his family killed be excluded? This is not the Canadian way.”
Gerard Van Kessel, the former director-general of two government refugee programs, also expressed cautious concerns. “What do they mean by families?” Van Kessel asked. “If you have an 18-year-old son that’s part of a family, is that person coming in? Also, the husband? What’s going to be done there?”
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister John McCallum is expected to announce the details of Canada’s updated plan today. While Trudeau’s government is standing behind the plan to allow 25,000 refugees sanctuary, McCallum will also likely admit that the country will not meet a self imposed deadline to process all applications by the end of the year.