WATCH ABOVE: Asked how Canada can affect the source of the massive migration ongoing from Syria, NDP leader Thomas Mulcair was quick to point out he felt ‘more bombing, more war’ wasn’t the answer.
The New Democrats are calling for Canadians of all political stripes to band together in ending the Syrian refugee crisis.
Paul Dewar, the party’s foreign affairs critic, said Saturday that the NDP will reach out to the Conservative government to ask it to adopt an “accelerated plan” to bring more than 46,000 government-sponsored refugees to Canada by 2019, including 10,000 by the end of 2015.
The plan would involve appointing a Syrian refugee co-ordinator as soon as possible to organize government and departmental resources to facilitate entry and settlement of refugees.
It would also include increasing the number of immigration agencies on the ground, expediting private sponsorships with no cap, providing health care and issuing temporary residence permits for Syrians staying with family.
READ MORE: Canadians’ views toward refugee crisis split along party lines: poll
“We have reached out to the government now because we don’t need to wait until (after the federal election) to start this work,” Dewar told a news conference in Ottawa.
“We’re simply saying, let’s work together to make a difference here. And that’s why we’ve been very clear that this is not a partisan issue, and that this is about really doing what Canadians expect us to do.”
Dewar estimated that the NDP plan would cost $74 million to bring 10,000 refugees to Canada by the end of this year, and another $63.8 million to bring in 9,000 each year until 2019.
“Time and time again, Canadians have responded to humanitarian disasters with generosity,” Dewar said.
“It’s money well worth investing. I think most people would understand that.”
He said he doesn’t know how Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government will respond, but that Canada can’t afford to wait until the federal election is over to start bringing in its share of refugees as outlined by the United Nations.
Immigration Minister Chris Alexander has said Canada will accept 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next three years in response to the UN refugee agency’s global appeal to resettle 100,000 refugees worldwide.
WATCH: As tragedies shock Europe a much larger crisis is looming in the Middle East. World Vision’s director of advocacy for the Syrian refugee crisis, Fran Charles, joins Sonia Sunger from Jordan to talk about the issue.
But Dewar said Canada must do more after Francois Crepeau, UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, asked for the resettlement of one million Syrian refugees over the next five years.
Millions have fled war-ravaged Syria since 2011, but fewer than 2,400 Syrians have been resettled in Canada during the last two years, part of an overall commitment to accept 11,300 people.
Dewar’s announcement comes in response to global shock over the drowning deaths of two young Syrian boys and their mother, who apparently wanted to join family in British Columbia.
The incident, along with a disturbing photograph of the body of three-year-old Alan Kurdi washed up on a Turkish beach, has prompted refugee and human rights advocates to call on the federal government to ease paperwork barriers and boost resources to help Syrian refugees settle in Canada.