Build a Wall or Grow a Spine?
Canada’s borders, even our unprotected border with the USA, are more than lines on the map. They signify Canada’s sovereignty, which includes regulating who may and who may not come into our country. “Soft spots,” where illegal entry into Canada has recently become frequent, must be reinforced—in some cases with physical barriers.
Of course, building barriers—walls or fences—on the entire Canada-USA border would be a costly long-term solution. Instead, our government ought to show some courage and address the matter of illegal migration politically and back its decision with action.
How did this whole situation start? There are two answers to that question, one goes back to Pierre Elliot Trudeau, and the second has to do with his son, our current PM.
In 1969, under Trudeau Sr., Canada signed onto the UN Convention on Refugees. This Convention allows asylum seekers to enter a country irregularly provided that they report to border services without delay. This is the current status-quo, but it means that we have given up some control over our borders.
It has been possible to cross the border irregularly into Canada since then, but why has it become a bigger issue recently? On January 28, 2017 our current Prime Minister, Trudeau Jr. tweeted “To those fleeing persecution, terror and war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada”
While the urge to help those fleeing persecution should remain strong in Canada, the tweet was taken by many as an open invitation to come into Canada regardless of the rules and procedures in place. It has caused significant confusion within Canada’s government. It was a very irresponsible statement and no apology for it has been given.
So far, we know of at least 28,000 irregular migrants who have come to Canada from the USA since 2017. They have simply walked up a road from the USA, crossed a small ditch, and come walking in. Once in Canada, the police have arrested them and temporarily detained them at great cost to taxpayers. The wait-time for processing of these people is around 2 1/2 years due to a significant backlog in the system; less than 1% of these illegal migrants are ever deported. The backlog began before the tweet, but it has significantly increased since.
The cost of detaining the border-crossers is steep; Quebec has already billed the Federal Government $146 million and Ontario is asking for $75 million to start. So far, the Federal Government has responded by promising $50 million to help out.
But where do the actual costs stand, and what are they projected to be in the months ahead?
Michelle Rempel, the Conservative immigration critic, tried to ask these questions and more in a recent committee meeting. Canada’s Parliament does not normally sit during the summer, but occasionally, committees convene for emergency sessions. Both the NDP and the Conservatives asked for such a session last month to question the government on the issue of asylum-seekers irregularly entering Canada from the USA.
MP Rempel produced a series of videos about this matter, which give her thoughts plus actual footage of the Committee hearing. Bear in mind that in these interactions there is plenty of partisan posturing on both sides, but the government ministers had very unsatisfactory answers for MP Rempel’s tough and aggressive questions.
The “new normal” of increasing numbers of what the government calls “irregular immigrants” is problematic for a number of reasons. The first is that these people are currently in the USA, which is a free country that allows immigration: legal, vetted immigration. They are not in imminent danger like those refugees fleeing civil wars and persecution around the globe. Like Canada, the USA operates under the rule of law. Canada’s policy in relation to asylum-seekers crossing our border with the USA should be re-considered and agreed-upon outside of the UN Convention on Refugees. We should have a political agreement that respects both the US and Canadian borders without having to put up barriers—one that does not prevent us from putting up barriers if necessary.
People who are fleeing a country because of religious persecution that could cost them their lives—real refugees—should be the highest priority for Canada’s compassion; Canadians are compassionate, and the costs of dealing with these cases is not what we are criticizing. But we are questioning the millions that are being spent in detaining and processing those who are crossing our border from a free country like the USA. That has to stop, and our government ought to grow spine and deal with it on a political level, or start building barriers at the most popular crossing points right away.
If you think that this is common-sense, than please join and support the CHP. We are seeking what is best for Canada, while being compassionate to others, both now and for our future.
Other Commentary by Peter Vogel:
- Time to Sell Your Stocks in Lego?
- Political Discussion or Racism?
- Cognitive Dissonance on Life-Saving Measures
- Temporary Crisis, Permanent Power-Grab
- So-Cons and Faux-Cons
- A Licence For Your Thoughts?
- Oops, a Senior’s Moment… for Canada
- Past Changes and Needed Changes
- Conscience, Morality, and Freedom
- The Election and the Consequences
- Affordability: Hidden Problems
- Lust, Greed, and Politics