Ottawa, ON – Jasraj Singh Hallan, Conservative Shadow Minister for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, and Luc Berthold, Deputy Leader of the Official Opposition and Québec Political Lieutenant, issued the following statement on the dire situation in Afghanistan:
“The Liberal government is ready to move on while thousands of Afghans are still fleeing the Taliban.
“On July 23, 2021, as the Taliban were sweeping across Afghanistan and closing in on Kabul, then Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Marco Mendicino, announced a special immigration program to bring Afghans and their families who worked directly with Canada safely to our country. At the time, he said, ‘lives hang in the balance, which is why we’re taking timely and decisive action to support the Afghans who supported Canada.’
“A year later, those Afghans are still desperate for the ‘timely and decisive action’ that was promised.
“Not only has the current Minister of Immigration failed to act quickly, but he is ending the special immigration measures after only 18,000 applications were received.
“In fact, according to the IRCC, out of the roughly 16,500 Afghans who’ve made it to Canada since August 2021 only 7,200 applicants have entered through the special immigration measures program. If it took the government a year to process less than half of the Afghans who applied through these measures, no wonder Minister Fraser is eager to block any more applicants from the program. Running the program incompetently and without the urgency it deserves is not an excuse for the Liberal government to turn its back on Afghans who are desperate for answers.
“We have heard firsthand from applicants who applied near the launch of the program who have yet to even hear back from IRCC and many are still stranded in Afghanistan. This, despite Minister Fraser’s commitment that everyone who applied to the program would ‘have an answer in a very short period of time.’
“It has become clear that the Minister of Immigration has no answers for the Afghans who the government has failed, and who are still in danger of being hunted down and killed by Taliban forces.
“While the Liberal government hopes that Canadians forget about their failed withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the thousands of Afghans they left behind, Conservatives will continue to be the voice of those who supported Canada. We will continue to call for the prioritization of these individuals and their families, and we will continue to call on Minister Fraser to reverse the decision to cap applicants fleeing the Taliban.
“Conservatives also urge the government to review the report prepared by the Special Committee on Afghanistan and take action to:
- Re-open the Special Immigration Measure for Afghans who assisted the Government of Canada;
- Adopt the IRCC recommendations of the Special Committee on Afghanistan immediately, including conducting a formal all-of-government review of the Liberal response to the crisis and develop a future plan to be better prepared for a similar crisis;
- Expand relations with trusted organizations on the ground within Afghanistan to facilitate the movement of Afghans across the border; and,
- Double efforts to commit to effectively coordinating with allied third-party countries to accelerate the processes needed to approve Afghans for entry into Canada.
“It is unconscionable that after almost a full year since this crisis began, the government continues to fail the people who risked everything to be our allies. With every delay, lives are on the line. Conservatives will not forget Afghanistan.”