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QUESTION PERIOD — Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Iranian Soccer Team Visa Applications

April 18, 2024

Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition)

Leader, let me first — before I ask a question — offer my best wishes to your wife, Nancy, as she recovers from her shoulder surgery. We wish her well.

Leader, I have had a written question on our Order Paper since June 2022 regarding a soccer match between Canada and Iran, which was rightfully cancelled amid outcry from Canadians, including the families of Flight PS752.

Documents released through the Access to Information Act show that the Immigration Department gave the minister’s office answers to some of my questions back in 2022. They show the department received 58 temporary resident visa applications for this so-called friendly soccer match, but no visas were issued, as the match was cancelled.

Leader, why hasn’t this answer been tabled in the Senate? Is it because Minister Fraser and his office did not want to answer my specific questions about their involvement in this fiasco?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate) [ + ]

Thank you for the question.

Thank you and thanks to all colleagues for your best wishes for my wife, Nancy. She is doing well. Thank you. I am relieved and grateful to you all.

I don’t know the answer to that, Senator Plett. I do know that the tardiness in providing answers to your written questions is something that is a source of frustration not only to you, who pose the questions, but to me as someone who is responsible here for overseeing that process, at least from the Senate’s point of view and on behalf of the Senate.

I have expressed my sincere regret many times. I will repeat it now.

I will also repeat my commitment to you, as reflected in the initiatives that the government is taking to have — finally — an institution within the Senate to ensure that those answers are delivered in a timely fashion.

Instead of bullying through a government motion to do away with the opposition, you should put more effort into getting us answers.

The answers to my written questions about this incident should have been tabled in the Senate long ago. Clearly, the minister and his office don’t want to say what they knew about the soccer match with Iran and when they knew it.

Why am I so sure about this? I’ll tell you. The documents show that my question was given a risk level of “high” by the Trudeau government.

Leader, what is your government so desperate to hide?

Senator Gold [ + ]

The government is not desperate to hide anything, Senator Plett.

The government does what it deems appropriate in order to ensure that its relations, security and all other issues are dealt with in a proper way.

Again, I regret that you did not get the answer in a timely fashion. Again, I continue to do my best to make that happen better.

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