Michelle Zilio (CTV News):
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is calling on the federal party leaders to put politics aside and hold an unprecedented meeting to reach a Canadians consensus on the Syrian refugee crisis.
Trudeau also said he would support sending Canadian military planes with security and immigration officials to Jordan, Lebanon and Syria to airlift Syrian refugees out of the region, as it did in 1979 with the Vietnamese boat people.
Speaking to CTV’s Question Period, the Liberal leader said it’s time for the party leaders to meet and craft an improved Canadian response.
“We’re not doing enough. I think everyone can agree that we need to do more,” said Trudeau. “I think it goes to the kind of country we are. We are a country that has successfully welcomed in people in the past.”
And he thinks the Canadian public would support airlifting Syrian refugees out of the region.
“I think we definitely need to start putting people on the ground to process directly,” said Trudeau. “We should be doing that more often with the kinds of case workers that have been very, very effective for Canada in years past.”
NDP senior campaign advisor Brad Lavigne said Leader Tom Mulcair would be open to sitting down with the other leaders to discuss a response to the crisis. Summa Strategies’ Michele Austin skirted the question when asked if the Conservatives would also agree to a meeting.
The focus on the campaign trail shifted from the economy to the refugee crisis this week, after a photo of a drowned Syrian boy, three-year-old Alan Kurdi, whose aunt lives in B.C., surfaced on the internet and captivated the world.
The government came under fire for its response to the refugee crisis, with both the opposition leaders calling on Conservative Leader Stephen Harper to do more. In the past three years, the Conservative government has accepted 2,300 Syrian refugees, with plans to accept 10,000 more over three years.
Immigration Minister Chris Alexander told Question Period he was “very proud” of Canada’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis. He did not, however, entertain the idea of sending Canadian officials to the region to help expedite applications on the ground, like it did in 1979 in Vietnam.
“1979 is not 2015. We operate in different ways. We have different requirements. We have to go through screening processes that we are obliged under our immigration laws to implement.”
“Terrorism was a not a phenomenon there (Vietnam),” Alexander added. “We’ve got to recognize that circumstances change.”