John Ibbitson, writing in the Globe and Mail, says that “The problem of people crossing the Canada-U.S. border illegally and then seeking asylum just became a bigger headache for the Liberals, one they emphatically do not need less than a year before the next election.“
Well, all I can say is thanks to all the gods, and it’s about time.
In terms of numbers of illegal border crossers, who then make themselves legal, albeit irregular, under the terms (§31) of the United Nations’ Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (1951) which Canada has signed, by claiming asylum, seemed to be diminishing in 2017 but, as Mr Ibbitson says, the costs are soaring and “In a report released Thursday, the Parliamentary Budget Officer estimated that handling the claims of asylum-seekers cost the federal government more than $14,000 a case in the last fiscal year, will cost almost $15,500 this year and will cost $16,700 next year. By that time, taxpayers will be doling out $400-million a year to handle these claims and to provide the migrants with health care.” He says, and this is, I hope, the memorable number: “As the Tories quickly pointed out, the accumulated costs will be more than $1-billion by the end of the next fiscal year.” That’s a $1-billion added to the deficit, in effect taken away from provincial transfers which fund healthcare or taken from the defence budget or from First Nations’ needs and wants. And, he adds, “These sums don’t include the cost of sheltering, feeding, clothing, educating and otherwise caring for the needs of these asylum-claimants, which are largely borne by provincial and municipal governments, and which has set the Ontario government back an estimated $200-million.“
Because we are a nation of laws, the very laws the migrants break on first entering Canada illegally, we must process each asylum claim on its own individual merits which takes time to do fairly and thoroughly and which adds to the costs and which takes resources away from the valuable task of screening the immigrants who we want to come to Canada. And I’ve already, just recently, mentioned the horrible message it sends to those people who are in the queues: waiting to be admitted, legally, to Canada; waiting for Permanent Resident status; waiting for the Citizenship test; waiting for parents and siblings to be admitted, and so on. The people Canada wants and needs are being told to wait while we “serve” those our country does not need … or want.
“Last year,” John Ibbitson explains, “many of the migrants were Haitian citizens who feared being forced to return to Haiti by the Trump administration … [and, he says, and I agree 100%] … To be blunt, that’s not Canada’s problem … [while] … This year, many of the claimants were Nigerians who obtained a visa to enter the United States and then headed straight for the border. These appear to be economic migrants, whose claims for protection as refugees should not be accepted.“
Then he gets to the larger problem: “What will happen next year?” he asks, “Will a fresh crop arrive at our border seeking asylum – Latinos who fear deportation from the United States, or nationals from Caribbean or African countries seeking a chance for a better life? Will the ever-lengthening wait times for hearings, which allow asylum-seekers to stay in Canada, convince more and more migrants that they have nothing to lose and everything to gain – including free health care – by crossing the border illegally?” These a desperately poor people, people we should, as humans, want to help; they have nothing much to lose and, potentially, a lot to gain by coming here. They can, as Candice Malcolm said in the article of mine to which I linked above, “By the time some cases are ruled upon, the claimants will have already started a life and a family in Canada, making it nearly impossible to deport them. Others will have disappeared completely or fallen into criminal gangs and networks.“
Mr Ibbitson concludes, and, as is so often the case, I agree that: “What we do know is that the problem of people crossing the border illegally corrodes confidence in Canada’s immigration and refugee system. This country’s future well-being depends on a robust intake of immigrants to compensate for a low natural birth rate. If people conclude that bogus refugee claimants are gaming the system, they could lose confidence in the entire program, which would be a disaster for Canada … [and, of course] … None of this is lost on the Conservatives, who will accuse the Liberals of failing to secure the border – which is, it must be said, one of the core responsibilities of any sovereign government … [and even though] … the Tories have no good explanation for how they would handle things if they were in charge … that may not matter. The opposition mantra will be: The Liberals can’t get a pipeline built. They can’t balance their budget. They can’t even secure the border.” That, he says, is “Not a pleasant narrative for a governing party to confront in an election year.“
Well, boo-hoo! The Trudeau Liberals got Canada into this mess when Justin Trudeau himself sent out a childish tweet …
… the only aim of which was to take a back-handed swipe at US President Trump. ‘Look, look,‘ Trudeau was saying, between the lines, ‘Donald Trump is a mean man and America is a mean place, but I’m ever so nice and Canada is nicer, too.‘ It was a cheap shot and it backfired. A grownup leader would have shown a bit of self restraint, an adult leader would have though things through … but we have Justin Trudeau for our prime minister so ‘grownup’ and ‘adult’ and ‘leader’ are not words we often hear used together when he is being discussed.
As I have been saying for a few years now, “I remain persuaded that this migration, not Da’esh or climate change, should be the “top of mind” issue for Canadians and for our governments.” I earnestly hope that John Ibbitson is right and that the border/migrant issue will matter in the election; it needs to matter; it ~ deciding who crosses our borer and who gets to stay here ~ goes to the very definition of what it means to be a sovereign nation.
Conservatives and, indeed, all Canadians, owe a huge debt to the indefatigable Conservative Member of Parliament Michelle Rempel for keeping this issue in front of the House of Commons and, thereby, keeping it ‘alive’ in the media. I think it was, largely, her attention that finally got the Parliamentary Budget Officer to engage. Thank you, Ma’am! Well done!