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Immigration minister predicts two-year timeline to fulfill promise to get 40,000 Afghans to Canada

December 9, 2021

By Globe and Mail

The minister said the government is facing challenges in Afghanistan and other countries where refugees have fled but insisted it is urgently trying to get them to Canada.

Speaking to reporters in Ottawa, Fraser said the two-year timeline is an estimate and that hundreds of Afghan refugees are arriving in Canada weekly.

“To the extent that we have the ability to move anybody faster than what’s predicted now, we’re going to do it as quickly as humanly possible,” Fraser said.

But he said checks, including security screening, were needed to “protect the integrity of the process of getting people here safely.”

The NDP criticized the bureaucracy imposed on desperate Afghans, with leader Jagmeet Singh telling a news conference that making Afghans fleeing the Taliban fill out an online form during a time of crisis was not the right response.

Jenny Kwan, the NDP’s immigration critic, said there is no guarantee that Afghans in hiding from the Taliban – including women and children, human-rights activists, and interpreters who helped the Canadian military – would still be alive in two years.

“We need to cut the red tape. People’s lives are at risk right now. People’s lives hang in the balance. They may not be standing in two year’s time,” she said.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole tabled a motion in the Commons calling for the establishment of a special committee to review events leading up to the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban.

MPs voted Wednesday to establish the committee, which will also look at efforts to evacuate Canadian citizens stuck in Afghanistan as well as interpreters who helped the Armed Forces and other Canadian organizations.

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