POLITICS

Joe Clark: Canada Can Use Lessons Of Vietnam Airlifts In Refugee Crisis

09/04/2015 02:09 EDT | Updated 09/04/2016 05:59 EDT
Former prime minister Joe Clark says he believes Canadian officials can overcome obstacles to speed up the acceptance of Syrian refugees, much as his government found ways to airlift Vietnamese boat people after he won office in 1979.

He says Ottawa still has civil servants capable of assessing possible security risks among Syrian refugees, much as they did when thousands of Vietnamese were processed overseas in interviews.

Clark says his government adopted and expanded upon the policies put in place by a former Liberal government to directly assist the Indochinese refugees who had fled in rickety boats after the Communists took power in Hanoi.

He says at the time his cabinet was concerned some refugee applicants were former Communist officials who might pose security risks to Canada, but he found his senior officials were capable of screening applicants.

Both Clark and his immigration minister at the time, Ron Atkey, say in interviews they sense a renewal of Canadian will to streamline the Immigration Department's response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria.

Clark says the photograph of the body of a Syrian boy, Alan Kurdi, washed up on a Turkish beach may help create public and political momentum to overcome obstacles, such as fear of terrorists using the refugee system to enter Canada.

Immigration Minister Chris Alexander has said Canada will accept 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next three years in response to a United Nations Refugee Agency's global appeal to resettle 100,000 refugees worldwide.

How To Help: There are many organizations working hard to help Syrian refugees that want your help. Take a look at the options here.

Also on HuffPost

Kos migrant crisis