Liberal minister won’t clarify if he gave ‘preferred treatment’ to other Afghan groups

The Trudeau Liberals abandoned nearly 1,250 Canadians and thousands of friendly Afghan nationals amid the Taliban takeover of Kabul. People were left stranded due to weight considerations and to conserve fuel.

Liberal minister won’t clarify if he gave ‘preferred treatment’ to other Afghan groups
The Canadian Press / Darryl Dyck
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A former Trudeau defence minister remains in the line of fire for helping more than 200 Afghan Sikhs escape Afghanistan over Canadians.

The Trudeau government refused to confirm whether Harjit Sajjan extended a helping hand to other groups, reported the Canadian Press.

Sajjan, a former defence minister who now serves as the Minister of Emergency Preparedness, said in the weeks leading up to the Taliban takeover on August 15, 2021, he expanded a partnership with the Alberta-based Manmeet Singh Bhullar Foundation.

The group aimed to resettle Afghan Sikhs and Hindus subject to persecution in Afghanistan.

After identifying more than 200 trapped persons of concern, Sajjan relayed information to the Canadian Armed Forces to facilitate their rescue through the “appropriate chain of command.”

The military never evacuated the group but facilitated their rescue through other means.

Minister Sajjan said the group was eligible for evacuation under Trudeau government policy. His office refused disclosure on whether other groups received similar treatment.

At the time of Canada’s evacuation efforts, federal officials received many requests for assistance.

Canada accepted at least 40,000 Afghan refugees fleeing the Taliban takeover, according to media reports. Millions more fled to neighbouring countries such as Pakistan, Iran and Uzbekistan. 

Canada, a signatory to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, has not been shy to resettle asylum seekers.

“Some of those who reached out were journalists, representatives of minority groups, advocacy groups, family members, and others,” said Joanna Kanga, Sajjan’s spokesperson.

“These messages and information were shared with the appropriate officials.”

Sajjan claimed he never instructed military personnel to prioritize the rescue of one group over another. 

Defence chief Gen. Wayne Eyre went on to say the military followed “legal orders” from the minister when it tried rescuing trapped Afghan Sikhs.

However, Canada’s evacuation efforts were poorly executed and bogged down by bureaucracy, according to a parliamentary committee.

A department memo said it flew with empty seats to conserve fuel, reported Blacklock's Reporter.

“When determining how many passengers to load onto an aircraft, our aircrew took into consideration several factors to ensure planes could safely reach their destination,” said the memo. 

“For example, weather, fuel, cargo and weight considerations [differed] for each aircraft type and trip.”

The Trudeau Liberals abandoned nearly 1,250 Canadians and thousands of Afghan nationals in the city while closing its embassy without warning.

Canadian forces used large military planes to shuttle 371 diplomats, staff, and Afghan nationals in a rush to leave Kabul.  Evacuations began August 4. 

Canada was one of the first countries to remove its embassy staff, MPs learned. 

Eyre testified the fall of the Afghan government was “likely” as early as April 1, 2021. Cabinet sealed the flight logs preceding the fall of Afghanistan on August 15, 2021. 

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  • By David Menzies

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