Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau avoided answering a direct question about individuals in Afghanistan left behind by Canada as it ends its evacuations, and instead chided former prime minister Stephen Harper’s handling of the Syrian refugee crisis in 2015. 

Trudeau made the remarks on Friday while at a campaign stop in Mississauga at the local Syrian bakery, Nafisa Middle Eastern Cuisine. 

“We’re hearing reports about Canadian citizens in Afghanistan who feel particularly abandoned by your government. Will you prioritize getting them out of Afghanistan now that resources are becoming scarcer and it’s becoming so much harder now over refugee applications?” asked CTV reporter Glen McGregor. 

“I think a lot of Canadians can’t help but reflect on this situation in this election when we are pledging to welcome tens of thousands of Afghan refugees fleeing terrible violence to what we lived through in 2015, when the Conservative government at the time was not stepping up to welcome Syrian refugees,” said Trudeau.

Despite Trudeau’s claims, the Harper government accepted tens of thousands of refugees not only from Syria but also from Iraq. 

Through the former Conservative government’s efforts, 20,000 Iraqi refugees and approximately 2,500 Syrian refugees were settled in Canada. Additionally, at the time the Conservatives were pledging to accept an additional 10,000 refugees from Iraq and Syria if re-elected.  

Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole recently addressed Canada’s botched Afghanistan evacuation mission in a statement on the matter following a deadly terror attack that killed dozens trying to flee the country earlier this week.  

“Like all Canadians, I have been watching with dread as the crisis has unfolded in Afghanistan. The time we had to rescue our brave staff, supporters, and allies has run out. I’ve watched with a growing sense of apprehension and disappointment,” O’Toole said. 

“We should be extending our hand to offer assistance wherever we can. As a country, we were caught unprepared for the evacuation, but we can’t be for the aftermath. How we react now, how we help the people who helped us at this dire moment: This is a question of who we are as a country and as a people.”