Refugee screening needs to put local security first, Paul Davis says

Refugee screening needs to put local security first, Paul Davis says

Progressive Conservative Leader Paul Davis says there's no easy answer when it comes to bringing refugees into the province, especially in light of the attacks in Paris that killed at least 127 people.

Davis said during his campaigning across the province he's spoken with people who are concerned about bringing Syrian refugees in to the province.

"I've received concern from Newfoundlanders and Labradorians about Syrian refugees and … if the federal government's going to make available space for Syrian refugees, we should make space for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians first who are looking for affordable and comfortable housing," Davis said on CBC's CrossTalk, in response to a caller question.

Davis said in his career as a police officer, he worked with ensuring people's safety and thinks that still need to be a priority.

"I'm watching carefully with what Prime Minister [Justin] Trudeau, decisions that he's making and how that may have implications to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians," he said.

"My first and foremost job and responsibility is to ensure that our people are protected and not put at risk."

Slipping through the cracks

In September, Newfoundland and Labrador announced it would be looking to boost the number of refugees Newfoundland and Labrador is able to accept by 60 per cent.

Then in October, Davis announced a new express-entry initiative for skilled foreign workers that attempts to boost the number of immigrants coming to the province.

Davis said immigration is still a vital part of growing the province's population and ensuring business growth, but there are valid concerns about screening processes for refugees.

"People who may cause a danger or concern for our population, there's a worry that they may slip through the cracks and come into our country. I think that's a real concern, especially with what happened on Friday 13th," said Davis, referring to the coordinated attacks in Paris that killed at least 129 people.

"The world did change this past week with Paris, what happened in Paris, not a lot unlike what we remember back on 9/11 … it showed that parts of the world can be infiltrated by this terrible terrorist group who are [determined] to take over the world, and we should be fearful of that."

On Monday, Liberal Leader Dwight Ball said the province needs to do its part to bring more refugees in to Canada.

Ball emphasized the importance of a screening process.

Screening processes 'right and proper'

Davis said Newfoundland and Labrador should still try to hit a balance when it comes to bringing in new Canadians.

"We've got to make sure that what we do as a province, and as a country and as the people in Newfoundland and Labrador we've always opened our doors and welcomed people to come to our province," said Davis.

"We just need to make sure that the screening and the processes are right and proper and are in the best interests of our people."

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