WATCH ABOVE: Helping refugees from Syria is still an issue dominating the federal campaign trail and NDP Leader Tom Mulcair has laid out a plan on what his party would do if elected. Tom Clark spoke to Mulcair about the Syrian refugee crisis.
NDP leader Tom Mulcair is confident that the Canadian government could bring 10,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by the end of the year.
“Where you’re determined to get something done – when you make it a priority – you can get it done,” he told The West Block’s Tom Clark in a sit-down interview this week.
He would start in Turkey. As a NATO ally currently hosting about 2 million refugees, he said, it would likely be the safest and easiest place to put people on the ground, working to get refugees out.
He would appoint a commissioner to head the operation, which would use Canadian Forces to coordinate and bring people to Canada.
And once they arrived in Canada, the refugees would be taken care of, he said.
“You’d start right away. You’d have to have a plan. So you’d work with non-government organizations. You’d work with faith groups. You’d work with local members of the Syrian community who are already established in Canada.”
But beyond working with community groups, Mulcair did not elaborate further upon the details of his resettlement plan, saying only that Canada has done it before and there are many institutions and facilities that could help.
“If you’re going to look at all the problems and say it can’t be done, then you’re taking the same approach as Stephen Harper,” he said. “Our approach is where there’s a will, there’s a way.”
“We know we’ve got the people to help make this happen and it can be done.”
Many community and faith groups, along with various municipal and provincial governments, have been clamouring for the federal government to respond to the Syrian refugee crisis.
Toronto mayor John Tory met with interfaith leaders in his city on Thursday, and has urged all Torontonians to help in any way they can. He is personally sponsoring a family with the help of Toronto-based group Lifeline Syria.
Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne is planning to announce funding on Saturday, joining several other premiers who have already pledged money to help Syrian refugees.
Mulcair brushed off suggestions that it might be difficult to integrate 10,000 people in so short a time – roughly two months at the end of 2015.
“You’d be able to integrate them rapidly. That’s something that we want to do and it’s what the United Nations has asked Canada to do,” he said.
“What we’re saying is that we can meet the United Nations request to bring 10,000 in very rapidly and we would make that a priority. And when you make things a priority, you get them done.”