A prominent refugee advocate says the Syrian boy pictured in photo now gone viral “could be alive today, if Canada had responded more appropriately to the Syrian refugee crisis.” Aylan Kurdi, 3, and his brother Galip, 5, died with their mother as they fled to Europe after their application to Canada was denied.
“We shouldn’t need to wait for a tragedy like this to realize we must open our doors. We call on an urgent basis for Syians with family in Canada to be allowed to travel here immediately and complete processing in Canada where they can be safe,” said Loly Rico, president of the Canadian Council for Refugees in a news release.
Canada initially offered to resettle 1,300 Syrians
Refugee advocacy groups and humanitarian agencies across Canada have long been highly critical of the Conservative government’s initial plan to bring in only 1,300 Syrian refugees, most of them requiring private sponsorship. It later promised to resettle 10,000 but journalists have had difficulty getting details.
Immigration Minister Chris Alexander is scrambling to respond to the storm of news on this issue. The issue has blown up in the middle of an election campaign and the opposition parties are moving in for the kill.
‘A total disgrace’ says opposition
Former Liberal cabinet minister John McCallum called the government’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis a “total disgrace.” NDP candidate Paul Dewar told CBC the government’s policies have been a catastrophe.
Alexander yesterday sought to shift the blame onto the media for not sufficiently publicizing the plight of Syrian refugees. On a CBC program yesterday he said “I’m actually interested in why this is the first Power & Politics panel we’ve had on this.” Host Rosemary Barton noted later the subject had been discussed at least 32 time on the program including interviews with Alexander himself, although as a minister he was not allowed to take part in panel discussions.
Stay tuned to see how the political storm is managed.