POLITICS

Harper: Syrian Refugee Cases Were Not Handled By Political Staff

10/08/2015 04:25 EDT | Updated 10/08/2016 05:12 EDT

VANCOUVER — An audit was ordered earlier this year on government-assisted Syrian refugee cases to ensure the most vulnerable people were being selected while ensuring security, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper says.

Speaking in Vancouver, Harper said political staff have never been involved in approving refugee applications — officials from Citizenship and Immigration Canada would handle that task.

"Our government has adopted a generous approach to the admission of refugees while ensuring the selection of the most vulnerable people and keeping our country safe and secure," Harper told supporters during a campaign stop in Vancouver.

"The audit we asked for earlier this year was to ensure that these policy objectives are being met."

Concerns surfaced earlier in the day about the involvement of the Prime Minister's Office in Syrian refugee cases after it was revealed that the bureaucratic arm of the PMO ordered a security review in June.

The audit was carried out only on government-assisted cases — those already in Canada and those still in the queue — but it forced a halt to case processing for several weeks.

No concerns were found and the process later resumed.

Harper rejected a report that his political staff were involved in the refugee selection process.

"Political staff are never involved in approving refugee applications," he said. "Such decisions are made by officials in the department of Citizenship and Immigration."

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