A few days ago I wrote that “We share a continent with the United States and the free flow of goods, services and people across our shared border is a matter of vital importance to Canada … [and] … This is not, primarily, a security issues, although I suspect that security service officials suspect that at least several potential threats snuck into Canada in 2015-16 masquerading as Syrian refugees. It is, in the main, and economic issue ~ preserving our “open border,” and a confidence building issue … [and, therefore] … The Government of Canada should, in the interests of helping our American neighbours to secure their homeland, which many believe to be at high risk, immediately suspend visas for anyone and everyone from the same countries.“
I would go father, in fact, and suggest that we take a look at Australia …
… source: Government of Australia.
That’s right, everyone, except for New Zealanders, needs a visa to enter Australia. Everyone includes Americans, Brits, Canadians, Danes and, and, and … I have family in Australia and every time I want to go visit my grandson I have to pay $20 for an electronic visa. It takes less than five minutes to complete the whole process and I’m guessing that the Government of Australia must take at least $19 of the $20 as profit. Not everyone can apply for an eVisa: only about 35 countries, mostly OECD members, are on the list. Canada is on the list but only two Islamic Crescent nations, Brunei and Malaysia ~ South Asian neighbours, are on that list ~ Morocco is not, nor Egypt, not Saudi Arabia, nor Indonesia. (Hong Kong is on the list, as is Singapore; China and India are not.)
It is possible for an Israeli or an Indian or Iraqi or an Iranian to get a visa to visit or study in or work in Australia ~ possible, even fairly simple, but damned hard in many cases.
In my opinion we should adopt a system very much like Australia’s: only Americans ~ holders of valid US passports ~ may enter Canada without a visa. Citizens ~ valid passport holders ~ from about 35 other countries, including e.g. Australia, Britain, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany etc ~should be allowed to enter after paying a nominal fee for an eVisa. We should make it easy for there eVisa holders to enter Canada ~ rather like the Europeans deal with people from Schengen Agreement nations to cross intra-European borders ~ and a bit complicated through to damned hard for everyone else to come here. Being hard includes a “face-to-face” interview before a visa is issued (as Kellie Leitch suggests) and, again, at the point of entry into Canada.
Our border is the first and most obvious symbol of our sovereignty and our security. We, most Canadians, want to be a warm, trusting and welcoming people but we also know that many people want to abuse our good nature and generosity and, in some cases, to actually do us harm.
In my opinion we want to encourage even more immigration from some non-traditional sources, specifically: China, India, the Philippines and Vietnam. All have sent us tens and hundreds of thousands of first rate, educated, hard working, entrepreneurial and loyal immigrants ~ we should make it easier for people from countries with proven “track records” to visit and immigrate to Canada. Concomitantly we should make it more difficult for people from countries that have poor “track records” to enter Canada for any reason.
Our immigration and border control/security systems should remain absolutely and resolutely “colour blind” and oblivious to gender, race or creed, but it should always learn from experience and it, and the rules that govern it, should always be adaptable to changing circumstances and conscious of the fact that we share a continent and many common security concerns with the USA.
Finally, we need to find proper ways to clarify and correct rulings, including the Supreme Court’s, that “everyone” who is “in” Canada is protected by the Charter. We need to define being “in Canada” as having passed the first, formal, face-to-face immigration/security screening on Canadian soil. Just standing on the ground at e.g. Pearson Airport is not being “in Canada.” We also need to ensure that people who enter Canada as tourists or under any other grounds (or by an illegal means) may not claim refugee status without “leaving” Canada and reapplying, from the start. (I am not suggesting that we can deport people to dangerous third countries, but we can insist that they change their status from e.g. visitor to refugee applicant and then undergo a whole new process.)
I do not expect Prime Minister Trudeau’s government to even consider this sort of policy … but I do expect the next Conservative government to revisit, review and reform our immigration, refugee and border security policies.