Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel chose Burnaby South as the venue to repeat her call for a review of Canada’s immigration screening process.
The Calgary MP held a press conference alongside Jay Shin, her party’s candidate in the contentious Feb. 25 byelection. Shin is facing NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, Liberal Richard Lee, independent Valentine Wu and Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson of the People’s Party.
Rempel invoked the murder of Burnaby teen Marrisa Shen in her call for a joint Parliamentary committee study “into how our security screening process can be strengthened.”
“Residents of Burnaby know all too well the consequences of poor security screening after the horrific and tragic murder of a young girl in 2017,” she said. “Cases like this highlight the gaps in our immigration screening system.”
Ibrahim Ali, a 28-year-old Syrian national who came to Canada as a refugee from Syria, was charged with Shen’s murder. There is no publicly known evidence to suggest Ali had a criminal record in Syria that was missed by Canadian officials.
Rempel said she will present a motion proposing the study in the House of Commons when it resumes sitting later this month.
“A Parliamentary study is the perfect venue to study this issue and hold Justin Trudeau to account to ensure Canadian safety,” she said.
Lee (who has replaced the Liberals’ former candidate Karen Wang), said he wasn’t sure whether he supports Rempel’s motion. He said that decision should fall to the appropriate committee members.
But, Lee said, Canada’s current immigration processes are already working well.
“I believe we have a really good screening process with the UN standard,” he said “I believe Canada is open to diversity, so that is our strength; and, of course, we have to ensure that our border is safe and secure.”
Singh said he wasn’t sure whether New Democrats would support Rempel’s motion, as he didn’t know its specifics, but he said he supports “a comprehensive review of our immigration system and that includes the screening process.”
“I think we need to make sure our immigration system has the balance of being compassionate as a system, as well as delivering safety and security,” he said.
On Shen’s murder, Singh said “if there is any evidence of a mistake in this screening process, that's something that we should learn from.”
But he said he was concerned that the case is being politicized.
“The vast majority of people that come to Canada are peace-loving and hardworking and contribute to our society and we can't allow for a horrible murder to be politicized in any way,” Singh said.
Singh would not say whether he thought the Conservatives were politicizing the crime.