AFGH: Jenny attends Afghanistan Committee

In the instance where biometrics could not be obtained for obvious reasons.... The government is saying that people have to go to the Taliban office to get a passport. You can imagine what that will be like. There will absolutely be a bull's eye put on them. They will not be able to get those passports, and without those passports, they cannot get to a third country. Without getting to a third country, they cannot get to safety.
From that perspective, if we've exhausted all of these options, given that people's lives hang in the balance, should the government then waive the biometrics and other documentation requirements until the Afghans are safely here in Canada? Once they're safe on Canadian soil, we can then go through the process and do all of that work.

Afghanistan Committee
May 20th, 2022, 3 p.m.


Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC
NDP

Thank you.

In the instance where biometrics could not be obtained for obvious reasons.... The government is saying that people have to go to the Taliban office to get a passport. You can imagine what that will be like. There will absolutely be a bull's eye put on them. They will not be able to get those passports, and without those passports, they cannot get to a third country. Without getting to a third country, they cannot get to safety.

From that perspective, if we've exhausted all of these options, given that people's lives hang in the balance, should the government then waive the biometrics and other documentation requirements until the Afghans are safely here in Canada? Once they're safe on Canadian soil, we can then go through the process and do all of that work.



Warda Meighen
Partner, Landings LLP

Yes. I think that's something we've done in other contexts. We've done that in the context of Kosovo, for example, with onshore processing. Absolutely we should look at that if biometrics in Afghanistan is just not working.

To the extent that we have inadmissible individuals who are found on Canadian soil, we have the provisions in our immigration regime to deal with that. We shouldn't look at that as a failure of the system. It's actually the system working. We have mechanisms in the immigration regime to take care of inadmissible persons when they're found within the biometrics process, I'm sure.
Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC
NDP

Thank you.

Dr. Powell, right now the referral agencies that the government is accepting for Afghans are very limited. Why do you think it is important for the minister to expand the referral organizations for resettlement to other qualified and established civil society organizations that are connected to vulnerable refugees such as members from the LGBTQ2+ communities?




Dr. Kimahli Powell
Executive Director, Rainbow Railroad

Thank you for the question.

You know, as I said in my remarks, the government clearly identified vulnerable populations. For the LGBTQI+ community, there are specific vulnerabilities and barriers to adequately identifying those persons. There was a clear expectation set on August 13 when those vulnerable populations were announced. We have a rare ability, having demonstrated expertise in evacuating persons, to provide assistance to fulfill the government's promise to resettle those persons. A referring partnership is the tool to allow us to do that.


Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC
NDP

You are also calling on the government to immediately resettle 300 at-risk LGBTQ2+ Afghan refugees. Should the government do this as a special immigration measure in addition to the 40,000 Afghan refugees they have already announced as their measure?

The reason I ask this is that those numbers are actually filling up really fast now, and there aren't that many spots left. I fear that people will be left behind.



Dr. Kimahli Powell
Executive Director, Rainbow Railroad

This is a specific ask in addition to the 40,000 committed, because at this stage we do not know if they're going to meet that target. So the answer is yes.


Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC
NDP

Thank you.
——
3:10 p.m.

Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC
NDP

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

I'll be very quick. With respect to the request for these reports, it should be noted that officials presented at the committee to say that these reports have been completed, so they are available. All they have to do, really, is just make them available to the committee.

As well, I would point out that the committee members have made a number of undertakings for the officials in various departments, and many of those documents have not yet been presented to us, even though they are also ready. The reality is that officials can in fact table all of those undertakings, along with this report, for us to receive this. If they do that as soon as possible, we would then be able to utilize this work towards the completion of the report.

I would add that, without receiving that information, the truth is that they are already hampering the analysts in doing their work, because many of the undertakings were made prior to today and we still have not received them.


The Chair Sukh Dhaliwal
Liberal

Thank you very much, Madam Kwan.

We'll go to Mr. Tony Van Bynen.

Go ahead, please, the floor is yours.
——
3:40 p.m.

Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC
NDP

Mr. Chair, I have a point of order, please.


The Chair Sukh Dhaliwal
Liberal

Madam Kwan, on a point of order, please go ahead.


Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC
NDP

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

I want to get some clarity on the amendment that's been put forward by Ms. Damoff, and perhaps the clerk can provide this information for all committee members' understanding.

The amendment calls for the elimination of the June 8 date and for the after-action reports not to be included in the report by this committee. However, when Ms. Damoff made those comments, her perspective was that it is not to impede, necessarily, the after-action reports and the undertaking from being included in our report to the House. Rather, in the event the documents do not make it in time—that is, before the drafting of the report—that would not delay the work of this committee. That was my understanding of her intention with her amendment.

Let's say, for example, the undertaking is put in. Because this committee ceases to exist on June 8, the documents must be referred to this committee before June 8. Let's say it's June 7. That's after June 6, when we will have completed our draft report, so would committee members still be able to receive these documents on June 7?

Could I get clarification on the understanding of this amendment and how it would work procedurally and practically, for this committee, please?


The Chair Sukh Dhaliwal
Liberal

Thank you very much, Madam Kwan, for your intervention.

Madam Clerk, would you be able to respond? Please, go ahead.


The Clerk of the Committee Ms. Miriam Burke

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Special committees, of which we are one, cease to exist upon presentation of their report to the House.

The date stipulated in the motion creating this committee is six months after the adoption of the motion creating this committee, which brings us to June 8. Should the committee adopt and present the report in the House before that date, that is when the committee will cease to exist. Should you present in the House on June 8, that is when the committee will cease to exist.


Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC
NDP

Can I follow up with a further question, Mr. Chair?


The Chair Sukh Dhaliwal
Liberal

Madam Kwan, please go ahead.


Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC
NDP

Thank you so much, Mr. Chair.

In that vein, with respect to undertakings made to departmental officials already—independent of this one, but perhaps if it goes through, it could be included as well—would the officials be required to provide the undertakings the committee has already requested before we complete our report? There is a whole bunch of undertakings that we still have not received. The one I was referring to earlier, which is pertinent to this report, is about the files that have been referred from GAC to IRCC and the files that have been referred from the Department of National Defence to IRCC. We still haven't received that information yet, which I think is pertinent to this report.

What will happen if the officials don't provide that information to this committee before we table our report? Are they obliged to do so? Could I get some understanding on that?
The Chair Sukh Dhaliwal

Thank you, Madam Kwan.

I think Madam Kwan is talking about the information that we asked for about a week ago.

Madam Clerk, do you have anything to add in reference to the comments made by Madam Kwan? No. Okay, thank you.

Madam Kwan, as you know, we have a hard deadline of June 8. If we receive those documents by then, that's well and good, but after that we're not going to have the committee anymore. I hope that answers you.

Now the floor is back to Mr. Baker.

Mr.—


Kwan Vancouver East, BC
NDP

Sorry, Mr. Chair, but I have one more question, just so that I understand the entire process as well.

The officials are not required to provide those undertakings to this committee, even though it impedes our ability to complete our report. From that perspective, would that be a violation of our privilege as committee members?


The Chair Sukh Dhaliwal
Liberal

Madam Kwan, I will come back to you on your answers, because the point of order.... 

We're going into discussion. I gave you the floor to ask many questions out of your turn. I see Mr. Brunelle-Duceppe is shaking his head as well, because he is waiting for his turn to speak. I will get back to you on this one ASAP, Ms. Kwan. 

Let me go to Mr. Baker. 

Mr. Baker, please keep your discussion focused on the motion as amended. 

Go ahead, please. The floor is yours.
https://openparliament.ca/committees/afghanistan-s/44-1/13/jenny-kwan-1/
Constituent Resources
Mobile Offices
Contact Jenny

Sign up for updates