"Canadians can and must do more to help Syrian refugees who are desperately seeking safety," McCallum said Monday during a news conference in Ottawa. "The new cabinet ad hoc committee is our first step towards Canada providing more Syrian refugees with the safe haven they so desperately need.
"This is about showing leadership and doing what is right as Canadians," he said, less than a week after the new Liberal government was sworn in.
The minister also reaffirmed the government's ambitious commitment, touched on during the recent federal election, to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees in Canada by the end of the year.
"We are working on the logistics of that," McCallum said, when pressed if it was feasible to bring that many to Canada in such a short timeframe. "But we are also determined to do the job well, which means proper consideration be given to security concerns and health concerns."
McCallum left the door open for a revised target, saying the government's first priority is to ensure resettlement is "carried out in a humane and expeditious way."
"A good number will be coming in the weeks to come. I cannot give you a precise number. But as we speak, we are working on transport."
McCallum said the new government could enlist commercial airlines and the Royal Canadian Air Force to get the refugees to Canada.
"Every option is on the table, whatever works, whatever is cost effective, whatever will get them here safely and quickly."
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