Canada’s Islamic lobby wants Ottawa to remove temporary visa cap for displaced Palestinians

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Canada’s Islamic lobby wants Ottawa to open the floodgates to Gazans without a cap, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.

The Trudeau Liberals announced last month an extended family program for 1,000 Palestinians in Gaza who have relatives living north of the 49th parallel.

At the time, Immigration Minister Marc Miller said “hundreds” of people with family in Canada would benefit from the humanitarian program. His department released a written policy detailing specifics soon after.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will close the queue upon receiving its first 1,000 applications and would only reopen the program if spaces become available. Successful applicants must be financially supported for three years by their families.

But the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), a national advocacy group, contends the federal cap should be expunged citing the scale of violence in the Gaza Strip.

Gaza has been bombarded with airstrikes since Hamas raided southern Israel on October 7, killing approximately 1,200 Israelis and foreign nationals. The terrorist group took nearly 240 people hostages, including several Canadian citizens.

The Jewish state launched a military campaign soon after, claiming the lives of more than 21,900 Palestinians, according to local authorities. Two-thirds of those casualties have been women and children, it says. 

Hundreds of thousands of others remain displaced to the south, reported the Canadian Press.

The NCCM has been in contact with families in excess of the cap about refuge for relatives residing in the Gaza Strip as of writing.

“There should not be a cap,” said Uthman Quick, director of communications for the lobby group.

Immigration Canada spokesperson Matthew Krupovich told the Canadian Press their cap “takes into consideration the volatility on the ground and the difficulty that Canada and like-minded countries are having in moving people from Gaza to Egypt.” 

The emailed statement to the state broadcaster noted Canada does not control access to the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt. 

Miller told reporters in December that great difficulties remain in securing safe passage for Canadian citizens from the contested territory, let alone their relatives.

On October 13, the Israeli government published a wartime “concept paper” which proposed the hypothetical transfer of 2.3 million Palestinians to Canada, Egypt and other Middle Eastern states. 

“In our assessment, fighting after the population is evacuated would lead to fewer civilian casualties compared to what could be expected if the population were to remain,” the document reads.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi rejected the hypothetical, claiming a mass influx of Palestinian refugees would risk bringing militants into the country and strain relations with Israel. 

At the time, a reporter asked Miller if Canada would accept Palestinian refugees displaced in the Gaza Strip. He replied: “It’s hard to speculate on that, [but] we’re open to those fleeing war.”

However, the New Arab reports that Miller did not support the “voluntary migration” of Palestinians to Canada during a recent diplomatic excursion to Israel.

Jeffrey MacDonald, a communications adviser for the IRCC, denied these claims as untrue.

Ottawa is cooperating with regional partners to get its nationals, residency holders, and qualifying relatives out of Gaza, he said.

MacDonald also noted that “the government would prioritize the evaluation of existing applications from Palestinians with family ties to Canada.”



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