Wednesday June 11, 2014

Immigration Minister Chris Alexander on Bill C-24, Syrian refugees and his hanging up on us

Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Chris Alexander responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill (Photo: Sean Kilpatrick/CP)

Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Chris Alexander responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill (Photo: Sean Kilpatrick/CP) (Sean Kilpatrick/CP)

Listen 15:42

** As It Happens interview from June 2014 **

Chris Alexander is a busy man. We've been trying to arrange an interview with the Citizenship and Immigration Minister for months now to find out how many Syrian refugees he's succeeded in bringing to Canada. We also want to ask him about Bill C-24, and particularly a provision that critics have argued would allow the government to strip the citizenship of Canadians who were born with Canadian citizenship.

"Anyone who is a Canadian citizen -- and a Canadian citizen only -- whether naturalized or Canadian-born will not face the possibility of revocation for treason, terrorism or espionage," Minister Alexander tells Carol Off. "This would only relate to dual nationals. We have an obligation not to create new classes of stateless persons. We take that very seriously.

"Citizenship brings rights but also responsibilities, and one of those responsibilities is to bear allegiance to our laws and our system."

For many months, we have also tried to speak with the minister about Syrian refugees. The war in Syria has forced more than 2.5 million refugees to flee their homes, and Canada has promised to make room for 1,300. So far, three years into the conflict, only a handful have arrived.

After repeated attempts to get the exact number as to how many Syrians have arrived in Canada under the program, our conversation with the minister was interrupted abruptly when he appeared to hang up on us.

Here is the full interview up to that point:

media clip

We weren't entirely sure what to make of the hang up. 

We continued our conversation regarding Syrian refugees.

"The number that counts is that 1,150 Syrians have received Canada's protection," Minister Alexander tells Carol. "Some are government-assisted refugees, some are privately-sponsored refugees, some are asylum seekers who've had their asylum claim upheld. The numbers are growing every week."

Hear Carol Off's full interview with Minister Alexander about the state of Syrian refugees in Canada:

media clip