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Fact check: Harper's warning of refugee security threats is cynical fearmongering

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The claim: Stephen Harper says Syrian refugees are coming from a "terrorist warzone" and need to be screened properly in order to "[protect] Canadians from the security risk." Is this true?

Is security a legitimate concern, or is this simply a stall tactic from a party that is generally hostile to certain kinds of immigrants?

The Conservatives have committed to $100 million to help Syrian refugees through the UN, and will spend more than $360 million dropping bombs on Syria and Iraq to stop ISIS. In a campaign stop today In Victoriaville, Quebec, Stephen Harper marked the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks with a $10-million pledge to study the root causes of terrorism and the "radicalization" of young people to help Canada's war against ISIS.

However, ISIS is not the major cause of the refugee crisis. Many, including former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, have argued that dropping bombs on civilian populations is the major cause.

And, while ISIS soldiers could try to enter Canada by claiming to be a refugee, one former CSIS agent said that it's not likely that they would, or if they did try, that they would be successful. Refugees aren't entering Canada for the purpose of committing crimes.

The Conservatives have been engaged in a campaign to smear refugees for years, and saying that the delays in processing are due to trying to keep Canada safe is simply more of the same.

Of the dozens of terrorist attacks that have happened in Canada, not one was carried out by someone who had recently sought refugee status. Canadians have carried out attacks in the name of ISIS, and more Canadians have left to fight for ISIS than any ISIS soldiers have tried to enter Canada.

Harper is not alone in warning that ISIS soldiers will attempt to hide among refugees to enter Western nations. Nigel Farage, leader of Britain’s extreme right-wing party UKIP has also made similar warnings. So have some Republican politicians and the Tea Party.

Far from being rooted in fact, it seems like the claim that ISIS will use this crisis is simple fearmongering, rooted in Islamophobia. Unsurprisingly, there have been mass conversions of Muslims to Christianity in Germany, amid the crisis.

There are only nine pre-approved names on Canada's Syrian refugee list for private sponsorship. Harper has hinted that new changes will be announced soon, but judging by the lack of results after the decision to pull Chris Alexander off the campaign trail for a day to deal with the crisis, holding one's breath would be ill advised. Last week, with the world watching, Canada committed to take in zero refugees.

The creation of a new crisis, of state-sanctioned violence from Hungary against refugees who are trying to get to Germany and Austria, are making things worse. Hungary is beefing up security along its borders, including the completion of a fence along the border with Serbia. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said that he does not want an influx of Muslims in Hungary.

Where then is everyone expected to go?




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