CBC’s Rosemary Barton calls out Immigration Minister Chris Alexander in heated exchange over migrant crisis

An exchange between Barton and the immigration minister quickly became heated. (Photos: Twitter)

A heated exchange between the host of a political talk show and a Conservative cabinet minister is drawing attention to the Syrian refugee crisis.

Rosemary Barton, host of CBC’s Power and Politics, took to Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander with a direct line of questioning about what’s being called the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War.

The issue is under intense focus after a photo showing a drowned Syrian boy was widely circulated on social media. The boy and his family were reported to have been seeking refugee status in Canada.

Barton pressed Alexander as to why the Conservative government turns to the private sector to take in refugees from Syria rather than leading the effort.

“Why do you keep saying that,“ Alexander shot back.

"Because it’s a fact,” Barton replied.

I think we just witnessed, live on #pncbc, a political career going "poof" as @RosieBarton demolishes with flair Mr Alexander. #pnpcbc

— TuxForPM (@tuxforpm) September 2, 2015

Staff attempt to calm @calxandr after his appearance on #pnpcbc @PatOndabak @PnPCBC @RosieBarton pic.twitter.com/zZqW8Ujbpq

— NoDogInTheFight (@NDITF) September 2, 2015

I think we just witnessed, live on #pncbc, a political career going "poof" as @RosieBarton demolishes with flair Mr Alexander. #pnpcbc

— TuxForPM (@tuxforpm) September 2, 2015

And with that, the hashtag #BartonBeating was born.

Then Alexander questioned why the Power and Politics program was focusing on the issue in a panel format for the first time. Barton stressed that this claim was completely false, and she had the links to prove it.

P&P covered Syrian refugees 32x since 2011. Incl 5 debates & 1x1 intv w/ @calxandr. Many more intv requests denied. http://t.co/m1GPD9WGhd

— Leslie Stojsic (@LeslieCBC) September 2, 2015

Barton also claimed that Alexander’s team had not allowed him to come on the show because he’s a cabinet minister. Later, Stephen Harper’s former chief spokesperson tweeted and weighed in on how panel interviews are approached.

Some context in light of the earned @PnPCBC #BartonBeating. Approach to 5pm shows: Ministers do 1 on 1s; panels go to Parl Secs #cdnpoli

— Andrew MacDougall (@AGMacDougall) September 2, 2015

Alexander says Canada has accepted 2,500 refugees from Syria, and 20,000 from Iraq. He later tweeted at Barton.

Conflict that has killed 300K, made 4M refugees, displaced 8M deserves much more than one panel every two months. @RosieBarton @LeslieCBC

— Chris Alexander (@calxandr) September 2, 2015

Alexander has since suspended his re-election campaign in his Toronto riding to focus on the humanitarian crisis.

In a statement, he said “the tragic photo of young Aylan Kurdi and the news of the death of his brother and mother broke hearts around the world. I am meeting with officials to ascertain both the facts of the case of the Kurdi family and to receive an update on the migrant crisis.”