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Federal election candidate questions: refugees and immigrants

In the days leading up to the federal election on October 19, we will be publishing the answers to questions posed by 2day FM to the candidates running in the Grande Prairie-Mackenzie riding. The responses are listed in alphabetical order and are unedited. They have not been fact checked and 2day FM is not responsible for any errors or inaccuracies.

Q: What is your party’s stance on opening up or restricting opportunities for refugees and immigrants to seek asylum in Canada?

James Friesen, Green Party

A: Canada has always been a country that opened it it’s door and arms to those who are less fortunate in the world. We must have a immigration policy that takes into account the safety of our country, balanced against the needs of small business. Our  immigration/ refugee  policy must be flexible enough to  take into account the varying requirements for immigration/ refugees from year to year. we need to have a permanent immigration policy, that is designed around the needs of the different requirements  of Canadian communities, it must meet the needs our small business in our community . We must insure that whole families  come to this country at the same time. Canada is about families.

Reagan Johnston, Liberal Party

Where immigration is concerned, the platform of the Liberal Party states that “Canada’s story is the story of immigration…We need a new plan for our immigration system that is grounded in compassion and economic opportunity for all”. To achieve this a Liberal government will take immediate steps to make the reunification of families a priority by doubling the number of applications for parents and grandparents per year to 10,000, reduce wait times for these applications, give additional points under the current Express Entry system, increase the age of dependents from 18 to 22 and eliminate the two-year waiting period, and grant immediate permanent residency to new spouses entering Canada.

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With respect to individuals being offered refuge in Canada, the platform of the Liberal Party states that “we will renew and expand our commitment to helping resettle more refugees, and deliver a refugee program that is safe, secure, and humane”. In light of the current refugee crisis in Syria, the Liberal Party recognizes that “Canadians are open, accepting, and generous – qualities that should be reflected in Canada’s response to those seeking refuge from conflict and war. Our communities are strengthened when we come together to help those in need. Canada’s government should do the same. We will welcome more refugees from Syria to Canada, and offer more help to those providing aid in the region”. Canadians have been deeply moved by the suffering of refugees in Syria and the surrounding region. Canada has a strong history of helping those in need, from Hungarian refugees in the 1950s to Ismaili Muslim refugees in the 1970s to those fleeing South East Asia by boat in the 1970s and 1980s.”

Saba Mossagizi, NDP

Canada has a long history of accepting Refugees when various international bodies cry out. We should focus on our role as peacekeeper in this difficult time. Unfortunately there is a massive backlog and there are a number of families waiting to be reunited, this is unacceptable.

Dylan Thompson, Libertarian Party

A: The Libertarian Party of Canada would significantly decrease the bureaucratic burden for refugees and asylum seekers, eliminate the point system for immigration and replace it with a background check for violent or fraudulent criminal activity and create sponsorship guidelines whereby organizations and individuals can sponsor immigrants if they are willing to financially support them.

Chris Warkentin, Conservative Party

Our compassion and fairness are a source of great pride for Canadians.These values are at the core of our domestic refugee protection system and our Resettlement Assistance Program. Both programs have long been praised by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

Refugees are people who have fled their countries because of a well-founded fear of persecution, and who are therefore unable to return home. Many refugees come from war-torn countries and have seen or experienced unthinkable horrors. A refugee is different from an immigrant, in that an immigrant is a person who chooses to settle permanently in another country. Refugees are forced to flee. Canada resettles refugees to save lives and to provide stability to those fleeing persecution who have no hope of relief. Canada’s resettlement programs are respected internationally because they provide permanent residence as a long term solution.

There are an estimated 19.5 million refugees in the world today. Countries with resettlement programs resettle about 100,000 refugees from abroad each year. Of that number, Canada annually takes in roughly one out of every 10 refugees, through the government-assisted and privately sponsored refugee programs.Refugees selected for resettlement to Canada have often fled their homes because of unimaginable hardships and have, in many cases, been forced to live in refugee camps for many years. When they arrive in Canada, they basically pick up the pieces of their lives and start over again.

As a member of the international community, Canada helps find solutions to prolonged and emerging refugee situations and helps emerging democracies try to solve many of the problems that create refugee populations. To do this, Canada works closely with the UNHCR. The UNHCR, along with private sponsors identifies refugees for resettlement. Even after a refugee is identified to Canada, it takes time to process the cases. Under our legislation, all resettlement cases must be carefully screened to ensure that there are no issues related to security, criminality or health. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) works with its security partners such as the Canada Border Services Agency to complete this work as quickly as possible.

Mr. Warkentin’s answer was shortened to meet the maximum word count.

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