In an interview with the CBC, U.S. President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice confirmed that Canada used the U.S. biometrics system to screen each of the 25,000 Syrian refugees that came to Canada. “What we would do is share with our Canadian colleagues the info that we have uncovered and allow them to make judgments based on that,” said Rice. In this case the judgement was to automatically exclude that refugee.
Michel Coulombe, director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, speaking to a Senate committee March 7 confirmed the way in which the U.S. information and “red flags” were used to give the U.S. a veto over Syrian refugees coming to Canada.
Coulombe said that normally when a “red flag” pops up during refugee screening, CSIS launches an investigation, digging deeper into the person seeking entry, but in the case of the Syrian refugees, those cases that caused concern were simply rejected.
“If a red flag came up, because of the tempo, we had no time to do this,” he said. “That file was taken and was put aside. The moment there was a concern, that file was put aside and was no longer part of that 25,000.”
This arrangement is also something that Prime Minister Trudeau alluded to in an interview with 60 Minutes prior to his official visit to the U.S. He said that Canada was able to pick and choose which refugees it admitted.
He failed, however, to indicate in that interview that it was mainly the U.S. that was doing the picking and choosing. “We were able to actually go and pick and choose and screen and bring over the people we chose. And that gives us a much greater level of control and attention over who’s actually going to come in,” he said.
Source: Renewal Update, March 14, 2016, No. 8.