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PM's ex-foreign policy advisor urges cautious response to Trump policy

“There are ways of making our values and beliefs perfectly clear without picking a fight” Roland Paris told iPolitics

The Prime Minister’s former foreign policy advisor advocated for a cautious response to President Donald Trump’s travel ban Saturday, despite calls from the NDP for a strong denouncement of the controversial policy. “There are ways of making our values and beliefs perfectly clear without picking a fight with the Trump administration,” said Roland Paris in an interview with iPolitics. “The implications of the Prime Minister’s tweet were lost on no one, that was clearly a statement about Canadian principles at a moment when the United States was moving in a different direction. That’s a good way of sending a clear message.” Still, Canada could do more to help address the global refugee crisis, said Paris, an international security and governance research chair at the University of Ottawa. Late last week Trump issued an executive order that bans citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. for three months. He also suspended the country’s refugee resettlement program for four months. In reaction Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted that Canada will welcome refugees regardless of their faith. “Diversity is our strength,” he said.

@JustinTrudeau To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada 3:20 PM - 28 Jan 2017

For the NDP, however, the Prime Minister’s response didn’t go far enough. “The Canadian government responded very weakly,” said Hélène Laverdière, the party’s foreign affairs critic, on CBC’s the House. “It’s discrimination let’s admit it, and if you say you’re going to stand up for human rights, well you should be ready to speak up for human rights,” she said. The Conservative foreign affairs critic meanwhile said Trudeau needs to address the issues with Canada’s immigration and refugee system before criticizing Trump’s policies. “There’s going to be other things in other countries that leaders do that we don’t like but we don’t have control over that, we can comment on that if it makes sense to comment but in this situation it’s not affecting Canadians,” said Randy Hoback, on the House. “He’s going to do what he’s going to do, our role here in Canada is to make sure that we can do what we can do.” Paris didn’t rule out a stronger response from the Canadian government, but said more clarity is needed about the future of Trump’s policy, given the uncertainty about how it will be applied and the number of court challenges launched against it. Just Friday a federal court judge lifted the travel ban after the state governments of Washington and Minnesota brought a case against Trump. As the Globe and Mail reported the states argued the executive order was unconstitutional. In his typical fashion, the president took to Twitter Saturday morning to condemn the court’s ruling and said it will be overturned.

@realDonaldTrump The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned! 8:12 AM - 4 Feb 2017

“Canada and the United States have never agreed on everything and there will be disagreements between the Trump administration and the Canadian government,” Paris said. “The challenge for the Government of Canada is to manage those disagreements in a way that is faithful to our values and our beliefs while also looking for ways to cooperate constructively with the Trump administration in other areas.” On refugees, Canada’s own policies could be more “ambitious,” Paris said. “I think that we should consider raising the cap on the number of privately sponsored refugees that are submitted in this country,” he said. “There’s an extraordinary demand from private Canadians to support refugees coming to this country, refugees who have been thoroughly vetted prior to their arrival and we know that the likelihood of successful integration is higher when refugees are supported by community groups through private sponsorship. “I think this is a moment given the scope of the refugee crisis in the world for Canada to consider raising those caps.” That doesn’t seem likely any time soon. The government has tripled the number of privately sponsored refugees able to enter Canada to 16,000, said Ahmed Hussen, the immigration, refugee and citizenship minister, on the House. More and more countries are “closing their borders,” but Canada is taking “the opposite approach, which is being open to ideas, being open to people, being open to talent, being open to skills and investment and we will continue to have that tradition,” the minister said. But now the government needs to address the backlog of cases, he said. “Folks shouldn’t have to wait years and years to be resettled as refugees.”

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