The first Canadian government plane carrying Syrian refugees arrived in Toronto late Thursday, where they were greeted by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is pushing forward with his pledge to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of February. The arrival of the military flight carrying 163 refugees comes amid an intense debate in the West over what to do with people fleeing violence in the Middle East. "This is a wonderful night, where we get to show not just a planeload of new Canadians what Canada is all about, we get to show the world how to open our hearts and welcome in people who are fleeing extraordinarily difficult situations," Trudeau said to staff and volunteers who were waiting to process the refugees.
"They step off the plane as refugees, but they walk out of this terminal as permanent residents of Canada ... with an opportunity to become full Canadians," Trudeau said. "This is something that we are able to do in this country because we define a Canadian not by a skin color or a language or a religion or a background, but by a shared set of values, aspirations, hopes, and dreams that not just Canadians but people around the world share." In contrast to the controversy over the issue in the US, all 10 of Canada's provincial premiers support taking in the refugees, and members of the opposition, including the Conservative Party, attended the welcoming late Thursday. (Despite a lawsuit, Syrian refugees also arrived in Texas this week.)