Canada's immigration minister said Monday the country has reached a significant milestone with the arrival of 25,000 Syrian refugees. Immigration Minister John McCallum said work continues to integrate the Syrians into the community. McCallum was at Toronto's Pearson airport as the last two government-arranged refugee flights were arriving as part of the Liberals' $501 million plan. The refugee resettlement program was launched in November, after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau came to power and promised to bring in 25,000 government-sponsored refugees by the end of 2015 amid an intense debate in the West over what to do with people fleeing violence in the Middle East. Trudeau later pushed back the date by two months.
Canada's commitment reflects the change in government after October's election. The previous Conservative government declined to resettle more Syrian refugees, despite the haunting image of a drowned 3-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach. The boy had relatives in Canada, and the refugee crisis became a major campaign issue. McCallum previously said he hopes to bring in between 35,000 and 50,000 Syrian refuges by the end of the year. In the United States, the Obama administration plans to take in 10,000 Syrian refugees. But several Republican governors have tried to stop the arrival of Syrian refugees in their states in the wake of the deadly attacks in Paris and California.