The debate over illegal refugee crossings into Canada is at a bit of a roadblock given the impossibility of the situation from a great many perspectives. Without any kind of physical barrier at the border – say, a fence or a wall – there’s not a lot that we can do to stop them from coming over because, well, that’s American territory and our border guards and RCMP aren’t going to cross the border to prevent crossings, nor can they anticipate every crossing point and physically prevent them from crossing into Canada, despite the tautology that Tony Clement seems to be clinging to.
This reads like Abbott and Costello. A+ pic.twitter.com/sPPfbYQROU
— Robyn Urback (@RobynUrback) February 22, 2017
Ralph Goodale has been quite lucid in answering questions on the subject and saying that additional resources will be deployed as needed, but again points to the physical impossibility of keeping them out, so we have to simply follow our processes once they’re here. And for as much as people talk about dissuading these migrants from making a crossing, we can’t exactly buy up American ad space telling them not to come because they’re already freaked out by the Trumpocalypse and I’m not sure that many of them are acting rationally, which makes “dissuading” them a difficult prospect, particularly given our international obligations.
One tool that the government is not in any hurry to implement is a 2012 law around designating irregular arrivals in order to take additional detention measures and would prevent them from sponsoring other family for five years, but again, I’m sure that many would rather be in immigration detention in Canada for a few weeks as opposed to facing the prospect of immigration crackdowns and travel bans in the United States. This law was drafted largely in response to the arrival of boatloads of Tamils seeking asylum, but it also needs to be pointed out that the number of those claimants were small, and I remember more than a few columns around the time that it happened where people were saying that these people willing to brave a crossing and survive on a diet spiders during the crossing were the kinds of resilient people that we want in this country. But the previous government was also one that was trying to solve the refugee backlog “crisis” that they created by not filling IRB positions for an extended period, and when they did accept refugees, tried to prioritize groups they felt they could get some political advantage out of (such as Christians from Iraq). I would also add that stepping up detention and other punitive measures would go against the brand that the current government is trying to sell to the world, which would make their reluctance all the more apparent, but one supposes that we’ll have to wait and see if there is a bigger spike in claims once the weather gets warmer.
Meanwhile, Andrew Coyne grapples with the difficult conundrum of what to do with those asylum seekers, while Scott Gilmore says that while we can’t stop them from arriving, we can do better once they’re here, starting with more staff at Citizenship and Immigration and making more of an effort to make them feel welcome because we need them.
- As debate on the pre-clearance bill is set to start, the government is insisting that it offers greater protections than having people cleared on US soil.
- A company with Chinese connections and some murky ownership bought a chain of retirement homes mostly in BC. Everybody panic!
- Yazidi groups in Canada say they were kept in the dark about the government’s plan to resettle 1200 Yazidis in Canada this year, despite the aid they could offer.
- The government has announced a new ministerial working group to review all federal laws and policies affecting Indigenous Canadians.
- The government started slashing ad spending once they took office.
- Former Royal Canadian Air Force chiefs warn against the interim Super Hornet purchase; the minister says tough, it’s going ahead.
- The losing bidder for the fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft competition is planning to sue the government. Of course.
- We get a few more clues about what happened to VADM Mark Norman here, and learn that he’s retaining counsel now that his career is pretty much over.
- It looks like Charlie Angus will enter the NDP leadership race by the weekend, and Guy Caron by Tuesday, while MPP Jagmeet Singh is testing the waters.
- Kevin O’Leary says he wants to end corporate welfare, then unveiled a promise to basically continue it but with more strings attached.
- Andrew MacDougall cautions the Conservatives about their courting demagoguery as having not learned the lessons from their 2015 defeat, or their own history.
- Carissima Mathen and Kyle Kirkup talk about the importance of the Court Challenges Programme.
- Colby Cosh offers a reminder that the Queen has suffered through meeting enough dictators and strongmen that she can handle Donald Trump.
- Terry Glavin takes on the Islamophobia debate with some actual polling data that talks to Muslims in Canada about their experiences.
Odds and ends:
Public servants were overpaid to the tune of $140 million last year, thanks largely to the Phoenix pay system gong show.