Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau personally welcomed the first of 15,000 Syrian refugees that will be flown in on government-sponsored flights over the next three months.
The military aircraft carrying 163 Syrian refugees arrived in Toronto Thursday night. Trudeau was eagerly waiting at the airport to welcome the “new Canadians.”
“First of all, thank you for being here. And thank you for the gorgeous smiles I see,” Trudeau said. “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 was also quick to point out the social benefits Canada has to offer.
“Tonight they step off the plane as refugees,” he said. “But they walk out of this terminal as permanent residents of Canada, with social insurance numbers, with health cards, and with an opportunity to become full Canadians.”
Trudeau has promised to take 10,000 refugees by the end of the year and a further 5,000 by the end of February. The initial plan to resettle 25,000 by the end of 2016 was scaled back after the Nov. 13 terror attacks in Paris which raised concerns over the vetting process.
Canada has already resettled 3,500 Syrians since the beginning of 2014.