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Singh demands Afghan interpreters' families be allowed into Canada as Taliban surges

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, June 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says the Liberal government should expand eligibility for Afghans hoping for resettlement in Canada to include the extended families of interpreters and staff who supported coalition forces.

At a news conference in Toronto this morning, Singh said federal officials should be “very broad” in their approach and accept parents, siblings and other relatives of interpreters whose lives are at risk as the Taliban retakes swaths of the war-torn country.

Last month cabinet ministers rolled out urgent immigration measures, which currently only include children and spouses of former staff, after the sudden withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan emboldened the Taliban to exact revenge on those who helped western forces.

The fast-tracked immigration plan has been plagued with confusion over what veterans say is a lack of consultation as well as an initial 72-hour application timeline — since expanded — and flooded government inboxes.

Veterans and former staff say the current plan excludes parents, siblings and most adult children as well as Afghans who have already fled to neighbouring countries, putting their lives in danger.

Demonstrators were slated to attend a rally on Parliament Hill today organized by an Afghan interpreter who now lives in Ontario.