Montreal, September 17, 2015 — Almost 3000 Canadians have signed a petition calling for the resignation of Canada’s Immigration and Citizenship Minister Chris Alexander. Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) launched the petition about two weeks ago, based on the grassroots anger expressed by many in the wake of the Canadian government’s inaction on the Syrian refugee file. While the petition acknowledged the tragic death of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi on a Turkish beach as the catalyst to the anger, the petition was a broader critique on the record of Alexander as Immigration and Citizen Minister.
While changes to Canada’s immigration and refugee policies began prior to Alexander’s tenure, he has nonetheless held his position as Minister for quite some time. “While there is anger about this government’s inaction on the Syrian refugee issue, there is also frustration specifically with Alexander’s ‘cold-hearted’ policy vis-à-vis the situation,” explained CJPME President Thomas Woodley. “Many believe that Alexander’s interaction with the media and others reflects a certain arrogance and indifference to critical humanitarian needs.”
Many signatories to the petition express outrage and frustration toward Alexander, using words and phrases such as “disgraceful,” “woefully misinformed,” and “immoral, shameful, and unconscionable.”
Alexander and his Conservative government were heavily criticized for failing to meet an commitment to resettle 1,300 Syrians by the end of 2014, following an appeal by the United Nations Refugee Agency to resettle 100,000 refugees worldwide. Canada then committed to resettling 10,000 more Syrian refugees over the next three years, but many have questioned Canada’s resolve. Most of these “new” 10,000 are to come to Canada under private sponsorships (churches, etc.), as Alexander and the government resisted allocating more humanitarian outlays for Syrian refugee resettlement.
In a very controversial manner, Ottawa fails to prioritize Syrian refugees whose families are already in Canada – like the family of Aylan Kurdi. Even worse, in a highly controversial move about a year ago, the government said it will “prioritize” Syrian refugees based on ethnic and religious grounds, a move clearly intended to discriminate against Syrian Muslims, who make up over 85 per cent of Syria’s population.
“With Canada’s legacy of compassion, Canadians are rightly dissatisfied with Alexander’s tenure,” concluded Woodley. “Mr. Alexander should acknowledge his mismanagement of this file, and pass it on to someone who is more attuned to Canadians’ wishes on the issues of refugees, especially Syrian refugees.”
About CJPME – Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) is a non-profit and secular organization bringing together men and women of all backgrounds who labour to see justice and peace take root again in the Middle East. Its mission is to empower decision-makers to view all sides with fairness and to promote the equitable and sustainable development of the region.
For more information, please contact Patricia Jean, 438-380-5410
Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East www.cjpme.org
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