(Ottawa) The leader of the Bloc Québécois, Yves-François Blanchet, implores Ottawa to stop “the criteria, the parameters, the procrastination” in terms of welcoming Ukrainians fleeing the war, an exit which joins the position of the New Democratic Party (NDP).
“When people are exposed to receiving bombs, when people pack up with a bundle and their personal belongings in an old stroller to get out of Ukraine, you don’t ask them to do biometric tests, you don’t ask them to fill out visa papers, ”said Mr. Blanchet in a press scrum on Tuesday.
Ottawa has pledged to prioritize the files of those fleeing Ukraine. The Trudeau government also announced in early March that it was setting up a simplified procedure for welcoming Ukrainians wishing to come to Canada.
Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said Tuesday that this program, the Canada-Ukraine Emergency Travel Authorization, will come into effect on Thursday, two weeks later.
“To get refugees to come, you have to start with them applying to our programs,” said Ms.me Pretty. So let’s open the program. They will be able to apply and then we will be able to work with people who are interested in coming to Canada. »
This pathway does not mean that all visa requirements and pre-arrival checks for Ukrainians are waived.
By way of explanation, Minister Fraser had indicated that the use of biometric measures is intended to filter certain requests in order to protect Canada from this “security risk”.
In particular, the government wants to avoid welcoming people “like those who have supported and fought the Ukrainian army in the last eight years in the Donbass and others who work against the Ukrainians and help the Russian troops”.
According to the Bloc leader, the security tests could be carried out on arrival in the territory, “as has been done in the past”. He judges that the minister’s argument to justify his “obstinacy” is “wacky”.
At the NDP, Deputy Leader Alexandre Boulerice believes that the government’s argument looks like “an excuse not to act and not to act more quickly”.
“Those fleeing the fighting are not pro-Putin and pro-Russian fighters. Those fleeing the bombs right now are women and children arriving at the border of Romania, Moldova, Poland,” he said in an interview with The Canadian Press.
He recalled in the same breath that his political formation has also been asking, for weeks, for a temporary suspension of the visa requirement for Ukrainian residents, as well as for security and biometric tests to be carried out upon arrival on Canadian soil. .
“There are people who are fleeing, people who are dying, people who are injured and Ottawa is saying ‘No, we will have to see [avec] the program” and there are still many uncertainties regarding the reception of refugees in Canada. »
In Mr. Blanchet’s opinion, the Government of Canada misunderstands the urgency of the situation and should urgently set up a “humanitarian shuttle”, i.e. chartered flights to pick up all those who want to flee Ukraine, regardless of their final destination.
“It’s not an immigration operation, it’s a rescue operation,” he said. We must save the lives of Ukrainian refugees. »
Called to react to criticism from the Bloc leader, Minister Fraser’s office avoided responding directly.
“We are in discussions with our partners, including provinces and territories, the business community, the Ukrainian-Canadian community and settlement agencies, on how best to support people arriving from Ukraine,” said we said by email.
It was also pointed out that more than 8,500 Ukrainian nationals arrived in Canada through the already existing pathways and programs.
“We will continue to closely monitor the volumes of travelers and their needs and will take the necessary measures,” pleads the minister’s office.
The Conservatives did not respond Tuesday to a request for comment from The Canadian Press.