British Columbia

Canada's refugee response lacking says former PC senator

A former Progressive Conservative senator from B.C. says Canada can deal with any obstacle when it comes to resettling Syrian refugees — except for the shame of inaction.

Pat Carney, ex-cabinet minister and Progressive Conservative senator, called out government online

Former Progressive Conservative senator and cabinet minister Pat Carney. (Facebook)

A former Progressive Conservative senator from B.C. says Canada can deal with any obstacle when it comes to resettling Syrian refugees — except for the shame of inaction.

Pat Carney called on the government to accept 100,000 more refugees, or be swept out of power.

"Act from your guts and your heart, not the pollsters and the campaign … otherwise the Conservative government should be swept out of office by a tsunami wave of anger," Carney wrote in a Facebook post that now appears to be deleted — although she told The Early Edition's guest host Stephen Quinn that she stands by what she wrote.

"Canada is really lagging in this regard," she said. "My aim is to convince the government that we can do more.

We have done it in the past. We can do it and we should do it."

Carney says the federal government's strategy of relying on military force and taking people from pre-approved refugee camps is not enough to deal with the masses of refugees who are still in danger, or on the move, possibly without paperwork.

"The government that has the capacity to move quickly"

Carney says the government's response to the current refugee crisis has been very slow compared to her days in government.

She says the Syrian situation is fast-moving, and many refugees have no desire to leave home until the last minute.

That means Canada needs to be able to roll with the punches and make the system work for people who have not been able to make contact with the UN, for instance.

Immigration minister Chris Alexander told CTV News that a refugee application from Alan Kurdi's uncle was returned to him and not processed because the paperwork did not include a UNHCR declaration that they were, in fact, refugees.

The Early Edition also heard about a church congregation that wanted to help sponsor refugee families, but they were told their applications could take up to three and a half years to process.

"I've heard of delays up to six years," Carney said. "It's the government that can pull the cork out of that bottleneck and it's the government that has the capacity to move quickly and support all those church groups and support all the people who want to help."

"We can deal with the security issues. We can deal with the cost issues. We can deal with anything except the shame of not responding to this international disaster."

Carney says the government's focus on defeating ISIS militarily is going to be too long-term to deal with the current crisis.

Instead, she says, the government should be focused on dealing with the immediate misery of the refugees.

To hear the full interview, click on the audio labelled: Former PC senator says Canada slow on refugees, can do more


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