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June 14th, 2022 - Question Period - Iranian Soccer Team Visa Applications

Thank you, minister, for being here today.

Minister, the families of those who were on board Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 were understandably shocked when they learned of a so-called friendly soccer game between Canada and Iran originally planned to take place earlier this month. The families continue to seek justice for their loved ones, and your government hasn’t given them much support over the past two and a half years. On May 17, when the Prime Minister was asked by a reporter why his government granted visas for the Iran team to enter Canada, he didn’t answer the question but put the blame on Canada Soccer, an organization which does not grant visas. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has that power.

Minister, could you confirm that your department processed visas and work permits for the Iranian soccer team and their delegation to enter Canada? If so, why, and how many visas and work permits did you approve?

Hon. Sean Fraser, P.C., M.P., Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship [ - ]

Your Honour, with respect to the honourable senator’s question, I expect that members of the Senate will appreciate that when it comes to specific visa applications, I’m not at liberty to comment.

That said, the families of the victims of PS752 have suffered an egregious injustice. We’ve advanced certain measures, including from an immigration perspective but not exclusively so, to see if we can better support those families. I do agree with the Prime Minister that it was a mistake to invite the Iranian soccer team to take part in that match.

Thankfully, better judgment prevailed, and at the end of the day, the game did not happen. There was a request for an additional soccer team to come and fill the space. That game didn’t happen either, not as a result of anything to do with immigration but, I understand, labour negotiations between the athletes and the organization.

With respect, there was no special effort made on my part regarding the particular soccer match that the honourable senator has referred to.

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