The Current

Alan Kurdi's death a wakeup call for government

A photo of Alan Kurdi's dead body put a face to the exile of refugees escaping war and has elevated our collective consciousness about the refugee crisis. Many Canadians are asking what more will the government do to help settle Syrian refugees in Canada.
Immigration Minister Chris Alexander says the government is doing the best they can right now with refugees coming into Canada. Yesterday, Prime Minister Harper set a target for Canada to accept 23,000 Iraqis refugees and 11,300 Syrians. (The Canadian Press/Adrian Wyld)
Abdullah Kurdi, father of 3-year-old Alan Kurdi, cries as he leaves a morgue in Mugla, Turkey today. His 5-year-old brother Galip and mother Rehan, 35, also died. ( Murad Sezer/Reuters)

My brother says to me its my kids has to be the wake up call for the whole world. He says to me my message to the whole world is please help those people crossing that water. Don't let them take that journey anymore. I don't want people to die anymore. It has to be my kids so the world will wakeup.- Fatima Kurdi, sister to Abdullah Kurdi, father of Syrian boys whose bodies washed up on a beach in Turkey

Fatima Kurdi is Abdullah Kurdi's sister. Her brother's sons and wife were drowned -- like too many other migrants from Syria -- seeking a better life. 

And, of course, it's the image of her 3-year-old nephew Alan Kurdi's lifeless body washed up on a beach that's done so much to press home the urgency of the Syrian refugee crisis -- around the world, and here in Canada.

The refugee crisis has become an election issue here in Canada now, especially after rumours that the boy and his family had applied for refugee status in Canada.  That turned out not to be the case, but it's certainly become an issue all the parties have been pressed to address. 
To talk about Canada's role in this crisis, Chris Alexander, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, and the Conservative candidate for Ajax.He joined us from Ottawa. 

To hear how the other political parties would respond to the refugee crisis in Syria, we were joined by:

  • Paul Dewar, the former NDP foreign affairs critic. He was in Ottawa.
  • John McCallum, the former Liberal Critic for Citizenship and Immigration, Multiculturalism, and Seniors. He was in our Toronto studio.

Has the Syrian refugee crisis become an election issue?

You can tweet us @thecurrentcbc, go to our Facebook page or email us through the website.

This segment was produced by The Current's Sujata Berry, Josh Bloch and Ottawa Producer, Max Paris.