Can Justin Trudeau deliver on his refugee promise by end of year?
Published Thursday, October 22, 2015 7:34PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, October 22, 2015 10:08PM EDT
The clock is ticking on prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau's campaign pledge to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees in Canada by the end of 2015 – a vow some experts doubt the Liberals will be able to fulfill.
The looming deadline comes as Trudeau reaffirmed in an exclusive television interview airing this Saturday on CTV's W5 that he plans to deliver on his promise.
Trudeau told CTV News Chief Anchor and Senior Editor Lisa LaFlamme that he already met with the Clerk of the Privy Council and the Governor General about implementing his platform.
"I know this is a surprise to certain people within the political universe, but the commitment I made in that platform, I’m going to keep," Trudeau said.
But some experts have questioned Trudeau's pledge, saying that in a post-9/11 world, there are security concerns that need to be addressed before undertaking the rapid resettlement proposal.
Those concerns were not the same in 1999, when Canada brought in 5,000 refugees from Kosovo in just three short weeks. The refugees were screened after they arrived at military bases in Nova Scotia and Ontario – something some advocates are urging caution against this time.
"That was in a pre-9/11 world," Toronto-based immigration lawyer Chantal Desloges told CTV News on Thursday. "We didn't have the same security concerns that we do internationally today."
Demands that Canada do more to help with the refugee crisis soared during the 78-day election campaign after a photo of three-year-old Syrian boy Alan Kurdi's lifeless body on a Turkish beach thrust the issue into the spotlight.
Under intense public pressure, outgoing Prime Minister Stephen Harper dispatched more officials to Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, where the majority of the four million Syrians have sought refuge. The officials were there to weed out suspected terrorists.
But despite some of the groundwork already done, many still doubt the Liberals' ability to meet the year-end deadline.
"We are now talking mid-to-late November to get all the plans in place and then we start to execute," retired major general David Fraser said.
'Significant additional resources' needed
Others are also wondering about the sheer amount of resources that will be needed to help settle so many people so quickly.
While Trudeau's plan may not be impossible, it will require the immediate ramping up of coordination with resettlement centres and organizations to plan for temporary housing and health care.
"To bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees before Dec. 31 would require significant resources and planning," said Chris Friesen, chair of the Canadian Immigration Settlement Sector Alliance.
Whether or not Trudeau's plan will become reality, it has already won the support of many Canadians, including the Syrian Canadian Council.
"We look forward to working with prime minister-designate (Justin) Trudeau and his cabinet on a range of issues of importance to the Syrian community and all Canadians including refugee resettlement, family reunification, protection of the civilian population in Syria and promoting a democratic and plural Syria," the council said in a statement on Wednesday.
As of September, Canada had only brought in 2,300 Syrians since 2013.
With a report from CTV News' Ottawa Bureau Correspondent Omar Sachedina