The Hamilton Spectator

Minister ‘pissed off’ families remain stuck


OTTAWA Canada’s immigratio­n minister is “pissed off” that a list of people related to Canadians are being blocked from leaving the embattled Gaza Strip, he said Wednesday.

Ottawa started accepting applicatio­ns last month to reunite as many as 1,000 people in the Palestinia­n territory with extended family members in Canada.

Canada provided an initial list of pre-approved people to Israel and Egypt, who jointly control the only border crossing out of Gaza.

“Perhaps there is some trepidatio­n by people on the ground as to whether to let these folks out, but it’s a humanitari­an gesture and it’s immensely frustratin­g for me,” Immigratio­n Minister Marc Miller said on Parliament Hill.

Miller previously said he’s willing to be flexible on the number of people who can access the program.

But he said in the House of Commons on Tuesday that it is “very difficult” to expand the program if nobody can get across the border.

The minister said he is looking at diplomatic options and wants to explore them before he says more publicly.

“I don’t want to create a system that’s entertaini­ng false hope, but I also don’t want to drop my arms and not try,” said Miller.

“It’s really frustratin­g, and obviously it’s a matter of life and death for the families in question.”

If people on the government’s list are able to make it across the border, they will still need to be screened before they are allowed to board a flight to Canada.

Miller’s office would not say when the list was provided to officials or how many names are on it.

The Gaza Strip has been under near-constant bombardmen­t since the latest Israel-Hamas conflict began in early October, and humanitari­an supplies have been limited.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada