Konrad Yakabuski, writing, a few days ago, in the Globe and Mail, took aim at the ample girth of Montreals’ hypocritical mayor (and Trump like populist) Denis Coderre for joining the nonsensical and counterproductive parade of silly cities that, in their own form of juvenile hissy fit against President Trump’s election, in a foreign country, are declaring themselves “sanctuary cities.” This whole business is, at the very best, childish, at worst, as Mr Yakabuski says, “it could do serious harm by contributing to an erosion of public trust in Canada’s immigration and refugee system … [because] … Bragging about harbouring illegal immigrants invites an equal and opposite reaction from right-wing populists who’d shut the door entirely on asylum seekers … [and, he asks] … Do we really want Canadian politics to descend down this polarizing path?“
M Coderre, Kondar Yakabuski reminds us, is no longer “an ambitious Liberal cabinet minister with his sights on 24 Sussex Dr., he is a fief-building municipal politician seeking re-election and freed from the responsibility of balancing the interests of the entire country. His only opposition comes from the leftist-populist Projet Montréal, whose thunder he has deftly stolen by demonizing Canada Post, oil pipelines and, now, the egregious Mr. Trump .. [and] … By declaring Montreal a sanctuary city, asking local police to suspend co-operation with the Canada Border Services Agency, Mr. Coderre is only testing the limits of Canadian tolerance. The Trudeau government has an inkling of those limits. Despite admitting 40,000 Syrian refugees – carefully selected, mind you – the Liberals have been in no rush to rescind the safe third-country agreement or raise Canada’s 2017 target for refugees in the wake of Mr. Trump’s election … [but] … By declaring Montreal a sanctuary city, Mr. Coderre is encouraging those whose refugee claims have been deemed bogus to stay in the country illegally. He is telling temporary foreign workers who have overstayed their visas to thumb their noses at the law. That law currently gives them abundant recourse, including appealing to the federal minister of immigration to stay here on compassionate and humanitarian grounds. Instead, Mr. Coderre would encourage the creation of a permanent underclass of undocumented illegal immigrants willfully hidden from one level of government by another .. [is it] … All to win votes among progressives and pull the rug out from under Projet Montréal? That seems opportunistic and irresponsible given the already worrying urban-rural split in Quebec over immigration.“
Mr Yakabuski reminds us that, generally, we, Canadians, trust our immigration system, and that allows us to be “welcoming” because “What has sustained our generous attitudes toward newcomers is public faith in the integrity of our immigration and refugee systems. It helps that we’ve also been insulated from the chaotic influx of migrants that has produced ugly backlashes elsewhere … [and] … More than most countries, we still control who gets in and the conditions of their entry.” We can all take a bit of quiet pride in the sight of RCMP officers helping would-be refugee children through the deep snows in rural Manitoba because we know that the “mounties” will take them to the nearest Canada Border Services Agency post and turn them over the proper authorities who will screen and document them and, while treating them with respect, try to ensure that they are not criminals or terrorists. Those would be refugees will be given far more rights than I think they should have, but that is our system, and I, too, trust it.
M. Coderre, for his own, selfish, partisan purposes, wishes to appeal to a less than well informed, emotional, loud, progressive fringe, even if that means working against the best interests of his country and, indeed, of the Liberal Party of Canada. This is Canadian politics at its worst, because, as Konrad Yakabuski says, “Canadians aren’t any more tolerant of immigrants than Americans or Europeans … [but] … Broad support for an immigration and refugee policy that balances our international obligations to those in need with our own economic and national-security goals depends on public faith in the fairness and integrity of the system … [and] … Canada has been lucky, so far, to get the balance right.” Denis Coderre threatens to ruin a good thing and damage Prime Minister Trudeau’s campaign to secure the “ethnic” vote at the same time because, I think, most “new Canadians” want a fair and open immigration system that rewards those who “play by the rules” and returns those who try to “game the system” to the end of the queue.