NDP candidate Fin Donnelly is not backing down from comments he made in the wake of the death of three-year old Syrian boy Alan Kurdi who drowned along with his brother and mother in an attempt to reach Europe.
"This is a horrible situation," Donnelly told CBC News Network's Power and Politics. "This is not about blame — this is about finding solutions."
Donnelly has been criticized for his role in the confusion surrounding the Kurdi family's attempts to come to Canada.
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After images of Alan's body drew worldwide attention last week, Donnelly revealed that he had personally delivered a letter to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Chris Alexander, asking him to grant the Kurdi family refugee status.The boy's aunt, Tima Kurdi, lives in Donnelly's riding.
However, Tima Kurdi later said she had only submitted an application to bring her brother Mohammed and his family to Canada. Alan, the boy who drowned, was the son of her other brother, Abdullah Kurdi.
"I was always very clear that Tima was trying to get both brothers into the country and out of harm's way," Donnelly said.
"She made a very difficult decision to do the formal application with Mohammed and his family first and then it was always her intention to have Abdullah and his family next," said Donnelly.
"That information was in the letter. It was in the package that was handed to the minister."
Letter to immigration minister
Tima Kurdi first contacted Donnelly, her MP, about her family's case in March.
Donnelly said that although Tima Kurdi had only completed a formal application for Mohammed's family, both families were referenced in the information he gave to the immigration minister.
"I walked the package over to Minister Alexander," said Donnelly. "It had information about both brothers. I implored him to act and handed it to him."
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Alexander has said he remembers receiving the letter and noting that it was urgent.
"I have a responsibility as a minister not to be personally involved in decisions, but to ensure that they are all treated equally," Alexander told Power and Politics on Thursday. "The application was reviewed, it was returned to the applicant with a request for additional information."
Donnelly said his office contacted the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada to follow up on the Kurdis' case. He said the department asked for names and dates of birth for both brothers, their wives and all of the kids.
"We did hold out some hope that they were going to act," he said.
Donnelly said he will continue to help Tima Kurdi get her family to Canada.
"We have to focus now on solutions on moving forward on how Canada can help, and I'm going to continue to help Tima and her family," he said.
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Cover letter of Tima Kurdi's appeal to Immigration Minister Chris Alexander, delivered by NDP MP Fin Donnelly
Cover letter of Tima Kurdi's appeal to Immigration Minister Chris Alexander, delivered by NDP MP Fin Donnelly (PDF KB)
Cover letter of Tima Kurdi's appeal to Immigration Minister Chris Alexander, delivered by NDP MP Fin Donnelly (Text KB)