Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a campaign stop in Surrey on Thursday.

Surrey transit announcement gives way to Syrian refugee crisis

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says federal government is probing drowning death of boy, 3, whose family was trying to reach Canada.

A planned announcement on federal funding for rapid transit in Surrey was derailed Thursday (Sept. 3), as Prime Minister Stephen Harper re-purposed his stop in the city to comment further on the Syrian refugee crisis.

In his first visit to Surrey since the election campaign began, Harper had been expected to promise federal money for light-rail transit – a move designed to bolster Conservative support in the city, which has already seen campaign visits from NDP Leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau.

Instead, speaking to the assembled crowd at the Fruiticana Warehouse in Newton, Harper was offering assurances that Canada has one of the most generous refugee systems in the world.

“We have to do everything – that is the reaction that people should have,” he said.

“…We should be doing everything, we are doing everything and we will do more of everything – that’s our conclusion.”

Conservative candidates Dianne Watts (South Surrey-White Rock) and Harpreet Singh (Surrey-Newton) were in attendance at the high-security event, but made no public comments.

Harpers’ comments came in the wake of international outcry after the drowning death of three-year-old Alan Kurdi on the shores of Turkey this week, and revelations that his family – refugees escaping civil war in Syria – intended to seek asylum in Canada.

Harper told the Surrey crowd that Alan’s older brother and mother also drowned when the little boy’s family tried to reach Greece from Turkey in a small boat. The vessel capsized, and only Alan’s father, Abdullah, survived.

Harper said the federal government is currently investigating the circumstances surrounding the drowning.

Alan’s aunt and uncle live in Coquitlam and say they could have housed and provided for the family there.

While initial reports said Canada had rejected the family’s bid for asylum, the Citizenship and Immigration Department later said that no request had been made for Abdullah Kurdi’s immediate family, although a request for another family member had been returned as incomplete.

Harper said Internet photos of Alan Kurdi’s lifeless body were “heart-wrenching – it brings you to your own family.”

However, he said, he couldn’t understand those who support humanitarian aid while at the same time wanting Canada to walk away from a military coalition that is trying to defeat ISIL forces in Syria.

“We need to help people who are actually there and can’t get away,” he said.

“And part of the way we need to help them is to stop the awful violence that is being directed at them, displacing them and killing them.”

VIDEO: Stephen Harper comments on Alan Kurdi’s death, Syrian refugee crisis

Just Posted

Surrey council approves free two-hour parking at city hall, around hospital

Although council gave its blessing to offer the free parking Monday (Nov. 19), it was already made free last week

Surrey School District says it needs 7 new schools in next decade

Surrey council endorsed the district’s 2019-20 capital plan on Monday, Nov. 19

Surrey Fire Service to provide non-emergency dispatch services for Port Moody

It’s said the move will bring in more than $9,000 a year for the City of Surrey

Second person dies following head-on collision in Surrey

Paige Nagata of Abbotsford was in crash on Nov. 4 that also killed Sarah Dhillon

Man still in hospital after struck by car in Surrey last week

The man was airlifted to hospital with “potential life-threatening” injuries after the incident

White Rock pier light show

Dancing lights highlighted off the water front

Laine scores 3 as Jets double Canucks 6-3

Injury-riddled Vancouver side drops sixth in a row

Deportation averted for Putin critic who feared return to Russia

Elena Musikhina, a vocal critic of the Kremlin, has been granted a two-year visitor’s permit in Canada

B.C. to allow Uber-style ride hailing services to operate in late 2019

Fee will be applied to fund options for disabled people

Auditor general takes aim at Liberals’ fighter-jet plan

Suditor general Michael Ferguson is about to release a new report on Canada’s attempts to buy new fighter jets

B.C. couple converts ambulance into a traveling home

The Revelstoke couple plan on touring B.C. ski hills then driving to Mexico

Cyclist defecates, throws own poop at car following B.C. crash

Man defecates in the street before throwing it at a driver locked in her vehicle

11 years sought for Burnaby man who killed girlfriend with hammer, burned her body

Manslaughter sentencing hearing started Monday in Chilliwack for Ryan Armstrong

Jamie Koe, other curlers kicked out of bonspiel for being too drunk

‘You don’t kick around other players’ bags, it’s disrespectful and we expect better of our players’

Most Read