Statement from CARL: Child’s death tragically highlights Conservatives' atrocious record on refugees

September 3, 2015

For immediate release

The Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers (CARL) is both saddened and angered to learn of reports that the three-year-old child found drowned and washed up on a beach in Turkey was part of a family seeking refugee status in Canada. Those efforts were rejected by Stephen Harper’s Conservative government.

Children are washing up lifeless on beaches and Canada has turned its back. This Syrian refugee crisis is one of the worst humanitarian tragedies of the past century, and this government has utterly failed to respond in any meaningful way. While other countries have stepped up to resettle Syrian refugees caught in a war zone and humanitarian crisis, the Conservative government has barely acted. Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander evaded questions about the government’s response for months on end, and the government has refused to comply with the basic request of the United Nations to assist in resettling refugees.

The failure to respond to the Syrian refugee crisis and the Minister’s vituperative rhetoric is part of a broader failure of the government’s approach to welcoming and supporting refugees and other newcomers to Canada.  There is a meanness and incompetence to Canada’s refugee and immigration policies that we have never seen in previous governments, no matter what party held office. The courts have found that this government has violated the constitutional rights of refugees – cuts to refugee healthcare were found to be “cruel and unusual” treatment, and barring groups of refugees from accessing appeal rights was found to be discriminatory.

This Conservative government is now failing both the international community and desperate families like this one with its tepid response to the Syrian crisis. As our international partners scramble to respond in this unprecedented time of need, Canada’s government flouts our moral and legal duty to protect refugees.”

Our country requires a new approach refugee and immigration issues that is more consistent with our humanitarian tradition.



Lorne Waldman:  416-254-4590;