The refugee crisis quickly became the central campaign issue this week, as a photo of a dead Syrian boy who drowned off the coast of Turkey caught the world’s attention.

Here's an overview of the week:


After an 18-month investigation, the RCMP handed their file into Sen. Pamela Wallin’s questionable expense claims over to Crown prosecutors, CTV News learned at the start of the week.

But economic issues dominated questions to the federal party leaders, as Canada waited for official word on whether the country’s economy had contracted.


NDP Leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau had been hammering away at Conservative Leader Stephen Harper for weeks on whether Canada had been hit by a recession. Finally, Statistics Canada released its report Tuesday.

Despite positive growth in June, Canada’s economy shrank for two straight quarters – a “technical recession.”

Harper avoided the r-word, instead focusing on the 0.5 per cent GDP growth in June. He urged voters to “stay the course.”


As waves of refugees fled Syria and Iraq for Europe, hoping to escape the violence wrought by ISIS, Canada’s own process for admitting refugees was put under the microscope. Mulcair and Trudeau accused Harper of failing to do enough to accelerate the process.

“Mr. Harper has failed,” Mulcair told reporters in Kamloops, B.C. “Conservatives can’t be trusted on this.”

“This is the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War. The images are horrific.”

Trudeau said he had implored Harper months ago to not only live up to his promise to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees, but to increase the commitment to 25,000.

Harper said Canada was committed to bringing in refugees, but the migrant crisis would continue until ISIS was stopped.

“And that’s what we’re doing,” he said.


Growing concern over the refugee crisis hit home as the photo of Alan Kurdi, a three-year-old Syrian boy who drowned off the coast of Turkey, spread across Canada. The boy’s aunt lived in British Columbia and other members of the Kurdi family had hoped to settle here.

Harper fired back at Mulcair and Trudeau, saying the mission against ISIS was critical in stopping the refugee crisis.

“I do not know how, for the life of me, you look at that picture and you say: ‘Yeah, we want to help that family, but we want to walk away from … the military mission that’s trying to prevent ISIS from killing tens of millions of people,” Harper told reporters Thursday.

“I don’t know how for the life of me you reach that kind of a conclusion.”

Mulcair said the image of Alan Kurdi should be a turning point for the world, not just Canada.

“It’s too easy to start assigning blame,” he said. “The international community has failed. Canada has failed.”


Talk of the refugee crisis expanded into a debate over Canada’s military role in the Middle East.

Mulcair took aim at Harper’s remarks, maintaining that the bombing campaign in Syria and Iraq was not the right priority for helping migrants desperate to escape.

"When I hear the answers from the prime minister, saying, 'Well, more war is the solution,' well, no amount of military action would have saved that child on that beach," Mulcair said of Alan Kurdi.

"Let's start acting to save lives immediately. Canada's done it in the past and we can do it again."

Harper called that response a “cop out.”

"It is deeply wrong and it is out of step with what Canadians believe," Harper said.

Trudeau focused on the bureaucratic red tape that blocked or delayed refugees from reaching Canada.

"There's been a bit of a catch-22 that the UN can't designate someone until they're accepted in Canada, and that they can't be accepted in Canada until the UN designates them," Trudeau said.

"It is more likely more complex than that, but I think it is very clear that what is needed in this case is for leadership in our country that stands up and says we want to start accepting tens of thousands of refugees in an immediate way."