Trudeau and Mulcair react to news dead Syrian boy was trying to get to Canada with help of family in Vancouver
Liberal party leader Justin Trudeau has responded to the death of a three-year-old Syrian boy by suggesting the child should have been living in Vancouver and on his way to school this week with his cousins.
“I do know that this family, father Abdullah’s sister in Vancouver, had been trying for months to get their family to come over,” Trudeau said. “That there was a path and a reason that these particular little boys should be right now preparing for the beginning of the school year in Vancouver with their cousins. Instead of reminding us all that Canada, over the past years, has failed to be the country that we like to imagine it to be.”
Images of the boy’s body washed ashore on a beach in Turkey have caught the world’s attention and brought the issue of Middle East refugees to the forefront of Canada’s October election.
The Ottawa Citizen reported that the boy in the photograph, Alan Kurdi, was part of a family that was trying to get to Canada with the help of relatives in the Vancouver suburb of Coquitlam. Their refugee application was denied in June. On September 2, the family was sailing for Greece when their boat sank of the coast of Turkey, leaving only the father to survive.
“I was trying to sponsor them, and I have my friends and my neighbours who helped me with the bank deposits, but we couldn’t get them out, and that is why they went in the boat," the Vancouver woman named Tima Kurdi told the Citizen. "I was even paying rent for them in Turkey, but it is horrible the way they treat Syrians there."
In Surrey this morning (September 3), Prime Minister Stephen Harper delayed a campaign appearance so that he could prepare to speak on the issue. Hours earlier, Immigration Minister Chris Alexander cancelled all campaign activities after it was reported New Westminster—Coquitlam NDP MP Fin Donnelly had “hand delivered” him the Kurdi’s refugee application before it was eventually rejected. (Update: According to CBC News, the Government of Canada claims it had not received a formal application from the Kurdi family but did reject an application filed on behalf of Alan's uncle, Mohammed.)
Reacting to news the family was trying to reach Canada, Trudeau said the boy and his five-year-old brother Ghalib, who also died in the accident along with their mother Rehan, should have been on their way to school this week with their cousins in Vancouver.
A reporter asked Trudeau what he thought of Alexander cancelling campaign activities. “Minister Alexander, we understand, has suspended his campaign as a candidate in order to, I guess, address the crisis more fully,” she said. “I wonder what your reaction is to that.”
Trudeau paused and appeared visibly angry as he delivered his response: “You don’t get to suddenly discover compassion in the middle of an election campaign,” he said. “You either have it or you don’t. And this government has ignored the pleas of Canadian NGOs, of opposition parties, and of the international community, that all believe that Canada should be doing more and should have been doing more.”
New Democrats leader Thomas Mulcair was asked similar questions at a separate campaign appearance.
“This morning, we see a little boy getting picked up on a beach,” he said. "As a dad and a grandfather, it is just unbearable that we are doing nothing. Canada has an obligation to act. And it would be too easy this morning to start assigning blame. Chris Alexander has a lot to answer for but that is not where we are right now. We are worried about how we got here. How the collective international response has been so defective. How Canada has failed so completely. The UN has asked us to immediately take in 10,000. Let’s do that. And then we can start from there. We can absolutely absorb that right away.”
“This is hard for everyone,” Mulcair continued. “It’s a failure. It is a failure by the international community, it is a failure for Canada. And it is too easy to start assigning blame. I want us to start concentrating on getting a result. It is the objective that we have to share. I don’t think that there is a Canadian waking up this morning and seeing those images who’s not saying, “Okay, enough. Let’s just start acting, now.”
Speaking in Surrey, Harper defended the Conservative government's record on refugees.
“Our country has the most generous immigration and refugee system in the world,” he said.
Sep 3, 2015 at 10:32am
Honour this brave little boy by allowing his people to come to Canada.
10,000 is a small number for a large Country like Canada.
Concerned in Canada
Sep 3, 2015 at 12:21pm
Just to clarify your facts: the sister in Vancouver didn't apply for Refugee status for this family, it was for her older brother.
To say that this boy should have been starting school in Vancouver isn't fair or accurate. That said, this situation is sad and I agree that something must be done but it's not fair to put the blame solely on Canada or on the Immigration Minister. Canada isn't the only nation that accepts refugees. The whole world needs to take action, not just one group of people.
Sep 3, 2015 at 1:00pm
Canada's record of welcoming refugees has been horrible since the Harper government took effect. Their take on refugees is to criminalize them. Things have become near impossible for people fleeing not only political repression, but - as in the case of Syria - certain death from all sides. Harper's government has this little boy's blood on its hands and they know it.
Sep 3, 2015 at 2:33pm
That the Syrians want to go home. They want their country back.
What's Trudeau's plan? Just keep allowing people into Canada regardless if they're good people or not, because refugees aren't all holy saints and some of them are guaranteed to be evil shitheads. Would he bother even trying to determine which ones were crappy or violent criminals and which were honest and honorable?
Why stop at thousands? There are millions and realistically billions of people that are living in crappy situations. Bring them all here? ALL of them?
The Syrian problem is somehow more urgent than the malaria problem of Africa? It isn't.
Sep 3, 2015 at 4:35pm
Just goes to show that Trudeau is not a leader. Never was and never will be. Typical liberal hysterics. Jump on a fabricated story and claim that the boys death in Turkey, drowned due to the reckless and criminal negligence of his family, is the fault and responsibility of the Conservative Government in Canada. Just simply disgusting. Trudeau should be utterly ashamed of himself.
Sep 3, 2015 at 5:23pm
Knee-jerk & hysterical reaction to everything is the absolute last quality you look for in a leader.
Trudeau - never going to be ready.
You know there's an election around the corner...
Sep 3, 2015 at 5:44pm
... when every single issue -- everything -- gets blamed on the current government by those who wish to replace them.
Dead kid washed up on a far-away beach? Harper's fault, his messed up immigration policy.
Big storm wipes out trees and people lose power for days? Harper and his environmental policy that leads to global warming and these big, unusual storms... and BC Hydro is unprepared to deal with this, clearly the government's fault too (federal, not provincial or municipal)
Hey, just realized my milk in my fridge is expired. Fuckin Harper, pay the grocery people more so they can sort the milk better so I don't take one that expires next day.
Hey, my double macchiato almost scalded me. Fuckin Harper, making Starbucks have to buy crappy cups and lids from China because his domestic financial policies make it impossible to source good stuff locally.
Hey, my kid is starting school next week and I had to pay for a bunch of new school shit. Fuck you Harper, you should be paying for all of it... new books and clothes and whatever, that's how you run a country.
Hey, gas is up... fuck you and your oil policy Harper, Jesus Christ, with all the oil we have, gas should be 20 cents a litre.
Hey, gas is down... fuck you Harper, I have to wait in line to buy gas, belching filthy exhaust into the air, ruining the environment, just how you and your big-oil cronies like it, eh Harper you bastard.
You know what, I may or may not hate Harper as much (or not as much) as the next guy and I may or may not be hoping for a big change in government... but listening to all the bullshit that goes with this election campaign, from the candidates down to the people who've already chosen a side and will simply argue it no matter how stupid it sounds.... I can only be thankful we're not South of the 49th where we'd have to be putting up with this crap for 104 weeks instead of just 11.
Sep 3, 2015 at 5:50pm
Except & Minisip: you two cretins are as stunned and ignorant as harper. What a pathetic excuse of a country is Canada.
Sep 3, 2015 at 7:00pm
Hysterical overreaction devoid of intellectual consideration is exactly what's going to get that shithead Harper reelected.
People know you can't simply empty every troubled country of it's residents and think that's going to fix anything.
Sep 3, 2015 at 8:02pm
Does this mean that Isis gets to keep any and every country it wants to stroll through now?
We aren't going to consider doing much of a fuck about that, then.