Former federal defence minister and United Conservative Party leadership candidate Jason Kenney has weighed in on Saturday’s vehicle attacks in Edmonton that injured a police officer and four pedestrians.
“It’s outrageous that someone would bring hatred from a foreign country and attack their fellow Canadians and a peace officer,” Kenney said in Calgary on Wednesday. “All I can do is say thanks for Const. Chernyk, an amazing Canadian.”
“And thank goodness that more damage was not done by this terrorist criminal, who I hope will be kicked out of the country.”
Kenney was speaking about Abdulahi Sharif, who is charged with five counts of attempted murder, five counts of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, one count of criminal flight causing bodily harm and one count of possession of a weapon.
Sharif had been detained in the United States and ordered to be deported in 2011, but because he was not detained for criminal activity he was able to make an asylum claim in Canada. He achieved refugee status in 2012.
According to Kenney, there is no reason that anyone would need to seek asylum in Canada from the United States.
“The United States has a fair and independent refugee determination system,” he said. “There is no reason we should allow anybody to ‘asylum shop’ by moving from the U.S., if their claim is rejected, up here to Canada.
“Illegal migrants are fleeing north into our border, abusing our generosity, clogging up our asylum system – when they have no business doing so,” he said. “If they’re in the United States, they can go through the American refugee system.”
Kenney held several prominent cabinet posts while Stephen Harper was prime minister. From 2008 to 2013, he served as minister of citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism and he became defence minister in 2015. He stressed the importance of closing loopholes in immigration and asylum-seeking laws, which he said was once of his main goals in the federal government.
Since Saturday’s attacks and the revelation Sharif is a Somali refugee, questions have been raised about Sharif being accepted in Canada despite the U.S. earlier ordering him removed to Somalia.
In his time in federal office, Kenney said he worked to give law enforcement more power to detain refugees when it was suspected they may commit a crime. He also increased the amount of information-sharing between Canada and the United States.
“When an asylum claimant makes a claim in Canada, we take their fingerprints and we bounce that off against U.S. watch lists,” Kenney explained. “And the Americans would have, in that case, told us this guy was under a deportation order. Unfortunately that didn’t come into effect until 2013, the year after this person entered Canada.”
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government will be examining the circumstances that allowed Sharif into Canada.