10/05/2017 12:30 EDT | Updated 10/05/2017 13:02 EDT

Jason Kenney, Ex-Immigration Minister, Grilled About Edmonton Attack Suspect

He held the federal immigration portfolio when Abdulahi Hasan Sharif was granted refugee status.

Jason Kenney announces the results of the referendum on conservative unity in Calgary, Alta., Saturday, July 22, 2017. Kenney said Tuesday the Conservatives

Alberta United Conservative Party leadership candidate Jason Kenney fielded questions this week about how the man accused of attacking a police officer and driving a van into pedestrians in Edmonton was admitted into Canada under his watch.

Canadian officials said Abdulahi Hasan Sharif was granted refugee status in 2012 after he was ordered removed from the U.S. in 2011. Kenney served as the federal Minister of Citizenship, Immigration And Multiculturalism from 2008 to 2013.

Speaking after a UCP debate in Red Deer, Alta., on Tuesday, Kenney said he "significantly" strengthened immigration security screening, according to the Edmonton Journal.

He said the Conservatives "did more than any government in history."

Edmonton Police Service/The Canadian Press
Abdulahi Hasan Sharif is shown in an Edmonton Police Service handout photo. Sharif has been charged in an attack which saw an Edmonton officer stabbed and four people injured when they were hit by a rental truck fleeing police.

"I was attacked by the Liberals and the NDP for the changes that we made," Kenney said.

He made reference to the Safe Third Country Agreement, which requires an asylum seeker to make a refugee claim in the first "safe"' country they arrive in. Under the agreement, Canada or the U.S. deny asylum seekers refugee status if they are denied in the other country.

Kenney called the U.S. refugee determination system "fair and independent," according to Global News.

"There is no reason we should allow anybody to 'asylum shop' by moving from the U.S., if their claim is rejected, up here to Canada," he said.

Kenney said the Obama administration at the time blocked the Conservative government's attempts to strengthen the Safe Third Country Agreement, according to CBC News.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday the government has asylum procedures that need to be followed.

"When someone presents themselves at our border, we have rules to follow and we make sure those rules are followed."

"We're looking into the whole system and will reflect on whether we need to do things differently certainly in the future than the way they were done in 2012."

With files from The Canadian Press

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