2nd Session, 41st Parliament,

Volume 149, Issue 109

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Honourable Pierre Claude Nolin, Speaker

Citizenship and Immigration

Syrian Refugees

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: My question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I had mistakenly understood that Syrian refugees were coming to our border in an orderly way. I find out now that we have accepted only 200 refugees. Is that correct?

[Translation]

Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Government): Senator, we are continuing to take in refugees. We will continue to protect the Syrian people as we have always done. We hope that Syria will have a stable and democratic future.

Canada leads the Western nations in offering permanent protection to the most vulnerable Syrian and Iraqi refugees. We continue to take an active interest in the ever-increasing number of humanitarian crises, and we are taking action on several fronts to help people who have been displaced because of conflict.

Canada is consistently among the top three countries in the world in welcoming refugees. We have made significant commitments. We are proud of that and plan to do even more.

Since the beginning of the conflict, Canada has taken in over 1,900 Syrian refugees under the Resettlement Assistance Program. Since 2013, we have approved the applications of more than 1,150 Syrians who want to live in Canada permanently. These numbers are rising and will continue to rise in 2015.

[English]

Senator Jaffer: Thank you for your answer. I understand that only 200 Syrian refugees have found asylum in our country so far. I will read to you what someone sent to me:

Martin Mark boils with frustration at the inertia he says has paralyzed Canada’s refugee system during Syria’s civil war.

“There is delay, delay, delay,” says the executive director of the Catholic Office of Refugees in the Archdiocese of Toronto . . . . “It is spoiling our international reputation.

“If I go to a church and tell them, `Please do the fundraising and prepare and the refugees will come,’ I have a good chance of getting a good response. But if I finish my speech by saying it will happen three years from today, they are going to say, `Get out, man. Are you serious?’

Leader, why are there only 200 Syrian refugees on our soil at this time?

Senator Carignan: I didn’t say 200; I said close to 2,000.

[Translation]

Canada has taken in over 1,900 Syrian refugees under the Resettlement Assistance Program. That is the number I am giving you.

[English]

It’s 2,000 not 200.

Senator Jaffer: Because I respect you very much, I would never say that you are misleading honourable senators; but I would say to you that I respectfully ask you to look at the numbers of those who have arrived on our shores. It is true that 1,900 were to be brought here as that was our commitment internationally; but only 200 have come.

I have just been in the camps in Turkey. The Turkish government has welcomed 2 million refugees. In three days, they welcomed 130,000 refugees when the problems in Kobani happened. They have provided refugee camps, which cost them $30 million a month.

Leader, what are we doing about Syrian refugees?

 

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