HANSARD: Jenny advocates for the immigration assistance for Afghans and other minorities fleeing Putin's war

House of Commons Debate
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
Adjournment Proceedings
June 7th, 2022 / 11:40 p.m.


Jenny Kwan (NDP) Vancouver East, BC

"Mr. Speaker, I rise today to enter into the adjournment debate on a question that I raised with the government on March 4 related to Afghans who were fleeing Putin's war and other minorities who are trying to get to safety.

I ask members to imagine this: We have an individual who fled the Taliban and made it safely to Russia. They were in the refugee camp when the war broke out. It is an unprovoked war, initiated by Putin, and as a result, people there are frantic. This individual had been pregnant and had just given birth.

She is fleeing again to try to get to safety. She treks for miles, carrying her baby, trying to get to a border, only to be rejected and not be able to get through. This happens over and over again. This is what has happened to this particular individual and her family. They could not get to safety.

The government said that we would welcome individuals who are being persecuted and people who are fleeing the war, yet we have not extended immigration measures to them. They actually tried to apply under the special immigration measures that the government announced for Afghans and they were not accepted. They were rejected.

I have to ask how it is possible for someone who has fled the Taliban and made it to another country, only to be fleeing again with nothing on her back, and with a new baby. They have all the hopes and all dreams, and want to get to safety, but when they look to Canada to see if that could happen, lo and behold, the Canadian government rejects them.

This is what people are struggling with. I am calling on the government to do the right thing, to support this family and accept them as refugees under the special immigration measure. I would also call on the government to extend those special immigration measures to other minorities who are in similar situations.

In fact, as the days pass and as these numbers get filled up for the 40,000 Afghans who are fleeing persecution, who are fleeing the Taliban and who are trying to get to safety, there are so many people who have been left behind. They are people who served the country, who were referred by the Department of National Defence or by GAC, and the women and girls who have been fighting and advocating for women's rights and democracy in Afghanistan. We need to make sure that we do everything we can to bring them to safety.

In addition, I would also say the government needs to do everything it can to bring the family members of those who served Canada to safety as well. I hope the government will act because people's lives depend on it."


Marie-France Lalonde (Liberal) Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration

"Mr. Speaker, following the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan last summer, the government initially committed to resettling 20,000 vulnerable Afghan refugees, and we have now increased that commitment to bringing at least 40,000 Afghans to Canada.

On July 23, 2001, the Government of Canada announced special immigration measures for individuals with a significant and enduring relationship with the Government of Canada, along with their accompanying family members. On August 13, we announced a special humanitarian program focused on resettling Afghan nationals who were outside of Afghanistan and who do not have a durable solution in a third country.

This program focuses on women leaders, human rights defenders, LGBTQ2 individuals, journalists and people who assisted Canadian journalists. We have also created a permanent resident pathway for extended family members of former Afghan interpreters who previously immigrated to Canada under the 2009 and 2012 public policies.

IRCC has mobilized its global network and all available resources are being devoted to this effort. IRCC also prioritized the processing of privately sponsored Afghan refugees. The department is harnessing the generosity of Canadians, including through sponsorship agreement holders, as well as individuals and corporate donations to private sponsorship.

Today, we marked an important milestone by welcoming more than 15,000 Afghan refugees to Canada, and hundreds more are arriving each week, including 300 privately sponsored refugees arriving on a chartered flight tomorrow.

I also think it is important to put Canada's commitment to Afghans in a global context. Per capita, our goal of bringing at least 40,000 Afghan nationals to Canada places us among the top countries in the world when it comes to resettlement, second only to the United States on numbers alone. In terms of broad numbers, our commitment of 40,000 is larger than the United Kingdom and Australia, and the same as the one being pursued by a European nation that has 10 times the population of Canada.

We remain firm in our commitment to settle at least 40,000 Afghan nationals in safety to Canada as quickly and safely as possible. We will not stop until the work is done."



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HANSARD: Foreign Interference and Alleged Reputational Harm to Members of Parliament

Outside this chamber, just yesterday, there were individuals shouting, questioning and jeering about who the traitors may be. Members of Parliament had to walk past these individuals on the members' way to the House to do their work. I believe we must find a way to disclose which MPs are knowingly, intentionally, wittingly or semi-wittingly engaging with foreign states or their proxies to undermine Canada's democratic processes and institutions. I believe this can be done in a way that does not compromise national security.

If there are no consequences for MPs who knowingly help foreign governments act against Canadian interests, we will continue to be an easy target. This will further erode the trust and faith Canadians have in our democratic processes. If allowed to continue, it will further impugn the integrity of the House. Revealing any member of Parliament, former or present, who is a willing participant in foreign interference activities would have the effect of deterring this kind of behaviour. Moreover, it would send a clear message to those foreign states that this cannot continue and that they will not be able to continue to use parliamentarians in this way. This will further reassure the public of the integrity of the House.

I strongly believe that the House should refer the matter to the procedure and House affairs committee. A possible way to deal with the issue would be for committee members to undergo the necessary security screening to examine the unredacted report and look into the allegations about parliamentarians who were “‘witting or semi-witting’ participants in the efforts of foreign states to interfere in our politics.” We could allow the named parliamentarians to be informed and to come before the committee as witnesses; we could then explore options on how to disclose the named parliamentarians without compromising national security or police investigations of the matter.

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