Opposition MPs demand that liberals ‘act swiftly’ to help left-behind Afghans

MPs will be in the House of Commons on Monday for the first time since the September election.Sean Kilpatrick / The Canadian Press

Opposition MPs say they have heard heartbreaking stories from people captured in Afghanistan and urge the Liberal government to quickly help those left behind.

MPs will be in the House of Commons on Monday for the first time since the September election. The last time MPs met in parliament was in June. When politicians return, they say they will use the parliamentary tools at their disposal to pressure the government to work to resettle Afghan nationals who were promised they would be brought to Canada.

Months ago, the Liberal government announced immigration measures aimed at resettling tens of thousands of Afghan nationals who could not escape the country before the Taliban’s return to power in August. Now many have found themselves in desperate situations in Afghanistan and in neighboring countries while waiting for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, or the IRCC, to approve their applications.

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NDP foreign critic Heather McPherson said she had reached out to Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly and Immigration Minister Sean Fraser because she hears “incredible heartbreaking stories about how we have left people in Afghanistan.”

“So we have already begun, but I would say that once Parliament is in place, we will use every tool in our arsenal as parliamentarians to get the government to act as quickly as this issue requires,” Ms said. McPherson.

In July, Marco Mendicino, then Minister of Immigration, announced that Ottawa would resettle thousands of Afghans who had worked with Canadian troops and diplomats through a special immigration program. In August, the government, despite failing to evacuate all the eligible Afghans in this group, said it would receive 20,000 vulnerable Afghan refugees, such as human rights defenders, journalists and LGBTQ individuals. Ottawa doubled its resettlement target in late September and promised to retrieve 40,000 Afghan refugees from high-risk groups. According to government statistics, fewer than 4,000 Afghans have arrived.

Ms. McPherson said that if parliamentary committees are not beaten before Parliament gets up for the Christmas holidays, the NDP will use other places to pressure the government, such as question time or debates. It is not clear whether parliamentary committees will be formed before the holiday break, and opposition MPs are afraid they will not be set up until February.

“They had the information, they had the knowledge. So it’s not so much a flashback as a condemnation that the government did not act, as there was more that could have been done,” she said.

As for what can be done now, Ms. McPherson that the IRCC is understaffed and needs more resources and that the treatment could be carried out more efficiently. She said it was up to Mr Fraser to find a solution, adding: “He has inherited a very challenging file at a very challenging time, but we do not have the luxury of time right now. Unfortunately he does not get months to get wet. He will have to act fast. “

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Conservative MP and opposition whip James Bezan said the Tories would also use all possible measures to pressure the government.

“It’s unmanageable that they would put people in danger that way and not deal with this in a more appropriate way. So we will use all the tools available to us in Parliament to raise this issue to put pressure on the government and find solutions, ”he said.

He said he has heard that the Liberals do not want committees to be formed before the next break, saying they are avoiding accountability.

Still, the Tories will raise the issue and look for options on how they can best “shed light on the Liberals’ mismanagement of this very critical issue.”

Alexander Cohen, a spokesman for Mr Fraser, said the government had added resources in recent months, cut bureaucracy and acted swiftly to process applications faster and get refugees out of Afghanistan.

“Our top priority is to help refugees leave Afghanistan as soon as possible and get to safety in Canada,” he said.

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