TORONTO — In the federal election campaign, Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party made a bold promise if elected: 25,000 refugees from Syria would be admitted to Canada by next January.
“Canada can and should be directly doing more,” Trudeau said recently, repeating the election refrain.
But a veteran Toronto immigration lawyer says admitting 25,000 refugees is an ambitious agenda he doesn’t believe is possible.
“There is no government that could have made such a promise except in a heated election period, ” Guidy Mamann told Global News on Thursday.
“This is not a plan, this is an announcement that needs a solution.”
Possible or not, Martin Mark and a team of Catholic volunteers is trying. The director of the Office for Refugees with the Archdiocese of Toronto has just returned with a group of volunteers who spent almost two weeks in Jordan. After interviewing candidates and collecting 45 kilograms worth of documents, Mark’s group has prepared almost 250 refugee submissions.
“There is an urgent need for help,” said Mark. “This is the time we should do something.”
Toronto’s Archbishop, Thomas Cardinal Collins, called on Catholics in September to raise $3 million in Project Hope, a 100 day campaign to settle 100 refugees.
Mark says Canadian Embassy officials in Jordan were “committed to process cases fast” and were efficient in helping church volunteers.
But Mamann questions the value of processing so many refugees quickly, suggesting it may be at the expense of public safety.
“We never attempted to do that number in a short period of time, which will allow for no screening for the vast majority of people,” said Mamann.