MONTREAL — Quebec remains committed to accepting refugees from Syria in the near future, but Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil says security won't be compromised in doing so.
Weil acknowledged that some Quebecers may have fears and trepidation, particularly after Friday's terrorist attacks in Paris left 129 dead.
She told a news conference Monday it's also important to remember those who will benefit — families and children looking for peace and security after fleeing violence in wartorn Syria.
Weil said those who signed anti-refugee petitions and unfurled an anti-refugee banner last week in the provincial capital are sending a message to "take the time to do things properly."
"I think it's obvious — there's a heightened sensitivity to these issues — so it's important to tell people ... all measures are taken that the people have been properly verified," she said.
Weil said she's assured by the federal government's claim that proper checks will be done before their arrival in Canada.
However, she is not convinced the federal government's ambitious deadline to have people here by the end of 2015 is feasible.
"I'm going to be frank, I don't think it's possible by the end of the year," Weil said. "I think that people realize it'll take the time it'll take, but we are determined to do it well."
The new Liberal government has announced it intends to keep a pledge to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to the country by the end of this year.
Weil says Quebec's share of that number could be about 5,700, but she's waiting for her federal counterpart, John McCallum, to firm up Ottawa's plans.
The federal government will take refugees from different countries, including Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon, and will surely include many more state-sponsored cases, she said.
"The composition will change — the previous federal government, the refugees were mostly (collectively) sponsored so a lot of the costs were assumed by the sponsor for the first year," Weil said.
The province announced in September it was tripling the number of people it would accept this year to 3,650.
The majority of those collectively sponsored by Quebecers were in Beirut and the province will have treated 2,400 collective sponsorship cases by Dec. 18, Weil said.
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