WATCH ABOVE: Political correspondent Laura Stone breaks down Chris Alexander’s decision to return to Ottawa Thursday.
Despite Chris Alexander, Conservative candidate for Ajax, saying he had suspended his re-election campaign to focus on the migrant crisis in Europe, his campaign office remained open Thursday.
His campaign manager told Global News that although Alexander was in Ottawa to focus on the migrant crisis, everything was business as usual at his campaign office.
Alexander issued the statement about his campaign suspension nearly 24 hours after reports that Tima Kurdi, who lives in B.C., had been trying to sponsor her older brother, who is now residing in Germany.
Her younger brother’s son was three-year-old Alan Kurdi, who was photographed, according to his aunt, face-down in the surf in an image that circulated around the world and was featured on dozens of front pages as a symbol of the worsening migrant crisis.
WARNING: This below image contains content some viewers may find disturbing. Discretion is advised.
“The tragic photo of young Alan Kurdi and the news of the death of his brother and mother broke hearts around the world,” Alexander said in a statement.
“Like all Canadians, I was deeply saddened by that image and of the many other images of the plight of the Syrian and Iraqi migrants fleeing persecution at the hands of ISIS.”
Ajax resident Peter Foster was hoping to pick up Canada pins at Alexander’s office to give out on his next trip, and was disappointed to find the office closed.
Foster himself is torn on the refugee crisis issue.
“It’s easy to be critical of our immigration policy, but I personally am a law and order person.”
At first Foster said he thinks Canada’s “done our share,” then changed his mind.
“I guess the answer is yes, we probably should” do more, he said. “The immigration laws should probably be a little less stringent.”
That said, he remains a Tory supporter and thinks Alexander is a “personable” politician and possible prime minister material.
“I’ll certainly be voting for him.”
The boy’s aunt, who lives in the Vancouver area, had been trying to get Canadian refugee status for her Syrian relatives.
But Canadian immigration authorities rejected the application in part because the family lacked exit visas out of Turkey, according to a report in the Ottawa Citizen.
“We were hopeful initially,” Alexander said. “And then the weeks of waiting began and we waited and waited, and the weeks turned to months.”
WATCH: NDP leader Tom Mulcair choked up when he was asked about the escalating refugee crisis, saying the image of the dead boy troubled him as a father and a grandfather, but refused to lay the blame on Chris Alexander.
NDP leader Tom Mulcair choked up twice when answering questions about the crisis at a press conference in Toronto Thursday morning, calling the situation a “failure for Canada” and the international community.
“Just think that these kids, the older brother could have been going to school next week in Canada,” Mulcair said while speaking to reporters at a café in Toronto’s Little Italy neighbourhood.
“It’s too easy to start assigning blame, I want us to start concentrating on getting a result, it’s the objective that we have to share. I don’t think there’s a Canadian waking up this morning and seeing those images who’s not saying ‘ok, that’s enough. Let’s just start acting now.’”
WATCH: Tom Mulcair says he wants Canada to be a respected player on the world stage again.
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau criticized the Conservative government for having “not responded as Canada should to the humanitarian crisis.”
“You don’t get to suddenly discover compassion in the middle of an election campaign,” Trudeau said when asked about Alexander’s suspension. “You either have it or you don’t and this government has ignored the pleas of Canadian NGOs of opposition parties and of the international community that all believe Canada should be doing more, should have been doing more.”
Here’s a look at what Canada has done to resettle refugees affected by conflict in Syria and Iraq.
More to come.
-With files from The Canadian Press