The Saanich News asked the candidates in Saanich-Gulf Islands the question: What should Canada’s role be in dealing with international refugees?
Elizabeth May – Green Party
The current system for bringing refugees into Canada is wholly inadequate to deal with the worst migrant crisis since the Second World War. Greens believe that special measures, like temporary resident permits, should be utilized to meet the scale of this crisis, and that we must work together to fix our broken refugee process.
Recent changes have unconstitutionally terminated health benefits for refugees, detained record numbers of refugees and their children in prison, arbitrarily for “irregular arrival” by boat, or sometimes for years without charge.
The Green Party will overhaul Canada’s refugee protection system. We will end the shocking practice of detaining refugees, restore funding for refugee health care, and commit to taking in tens of thousands more refugees. Canada should immediately increase the number of Syrian refugees welcomed to Canada to 25,000, while committing to bring in 40,000 over the next five years, conditional on security clearance. We will also strengthen human rights protections for prospective immigrants and repeal recent changes that encourage rapid deportation, to restore Canada to a safe and inclusive society for new Canadians.
Tim Kane – Liberal
Like other Canadians, I have been shocked and disappointed by the Harper Conservative government’s lack of compassion for families fleeing Syria. Canada was once known around the world for our civility, our integrity and for our generosity. Individual Canadians and many groups and associations are responding to the crisis and it is deeply shameful that our federal government is resisting the international call to action.
I am proud that Justin Trudeau has committed to accept 25,000 refugees from Syria through immediate and direct government sponsorship. Certainly we must be sure that the people who arrive to build new lives here do not pose risks to our security, but the procedures and protocols exist. All it takes to protect our security while providing a constructive solution to this humanitarian crisis is political will.
Alicia Cormier – NDP
Canada should be a force for peace and development. The human tragedy unfolding in Syria is horrifying and unacceptable. Lives are hanging in the balance, our focus must now be on saving lives and Canada must act, now.
The NDP will work to: Get 10,000 government-sponsored refugees out of harm’s way and on the way to Canada by the end of this year through appointing a Syrian refugee co-ordinator, pulling resources from various departments including Foreign Affairs, Citizenship and Immigration and other departments; Increase presence of Canada’s diplomatic and immigration officials in the region to accelerate processing of refugees; Work with Turkey and other affected countries to remove bureaucratic obstacles to resettlement and end Canada’s policy of discrimination, to treat all refugees equally. We will also fast-track private sponsorship, with no cap, to bring as many people as possible to Canada and increase Canada’s contributions to humanitarian assistance agencies, including the UNHCR, based on the needs on the ground, and help co-ordinate the response of the international community to the Syrian refugee crisis.
Robert Boyd – Conservative
Our Conservative government is following a balanced, compassionate approach while safeguarding Canadians’ security. The prime minister has stated the crisis must be addressed at all three levels: confronting ISIS militarily, providing humanitarian aid, and through refugee resettlement.
Canada has also contributed more than three-quarters of a billion dollars to humanitarian relief in the region. And we announced early in the campaign our commitment to bring in additional persecuted religious and ethnic minorities.