While the photo of the old Syrian boy drowned on a beach Turkish continues to shake the spirits of the country, the premier of Quebec, Philippe Couillard has expressed his desire to do more to accommodate refugees from that region in the province.
At the opening of a childcare centre in an aboriginal reserve in the Lac-Saint-Jean, Thursday, Mr. Couillard said Quebec had to do “much better” to receive these refugees from these lands devastated by terrorism and war”.
According to the prime minister, Québec has welcomed 643 Syrians since the beginning of the year, and it expects to receive a total of 1900 by the end of 2015.
Mr. Couillard said the province was ready to host hundreds, or even thousands” of new refugees.
He recalled that there was still time to help other people like the small Aylan Kurdi and extend their hand “as Quebec has often been done.”
Mr. Couillard has also asked the federal parties, which are in an electoral campaign, to rise above the battle-partisan on this issue. He also “welcomed” the statement of the conservative opposition leader Stephen Harper.
Mr. Harper, visibly saddened by the photo, has reiterated the position of his party, who, he said, has already announced its willingness to take further action on this front.
“It is tragic that there has been a need for the photo of a dead child to awaken our consciousness. (…) I call upon the solidarity and mobilization in us, in Canada and in Quebec,” concluded Mr. Couillard.
The selection of the refugees is a shared competence between the governments of Québec and Canada. The province is in agreement with Ottawa on the number and origin of these people.