Influx at the border needs not just compassion but action: Scheer -

Influx at the border needs not just compassion but action: Scheer

Asylum-seekers coming across the border should be treated with respect, but more must be done to stop them from coming in the first place, says Scheer

Andrew Scheer. (Chris Roussakis)

Andrew Scheer. (Chris Roussakis)

OTTAWA – Scheer said Thursday the Liberal government is focusing too much on managing and not solving a situation that’s creating havoc within the Canadian immigration system and risks a dangerous backlash against immigration.

“Justin Trudeau had a message of asking Canadians to have trust in our immigration system,” Scheer said in an interview.

“The problem is Canadians don’t have trust in the Liberals to manage it.”

Recent weeks have seen a rise in anti-immigration groups organizing protests and Scheer said everyone needs to be careful as solutions to the border-crosser issue are thought through.

“It’s important for all politicians to work together in a co-operative way to make sure that nothing gets said at the government, at the parliamentary, level that in any way feeds into that or gives any kind of extra fuel to the fire,” he said.

Immigration had become a heated issue during the Conservative leadership contest, which Scheer won in May just as the situation at the border began to escalate.

One candidate called for the screening of immigrants for “Canadian” values and others discussed deploying the military to the border to stop the asylum seekers. Hundreds of people joined the party simply to vote for candidates who had more tolerant points of view.

But Scheer said the membership opted instead for the approach he’s trying to take now—talk about the issue with compassion, and also concern.

“This isn’t about emotional arguments,” he said.

“This is about serious concerns that we have an obligation, as the Opposition, to not only raise and ask questions about but also point out what options the government could or should be doing.”

Scheer set forth three ideas Thursday, the first two linked to the Safe Third Country agreement with the U.S.

The deal says people can’t make asylum claims at official land border entry points between the two countries, though there are some exceptions. That’s why around 10,000 people have been apprehended since the start of the year in between official border points.

Scheer is suggesting the two main entry points now being used—one at Lacolle, Que., and the other in Emerson, Man.—be declared formal points of entry. The Liberals should also start the process of applying the agreement across the entire land border.

Trudeau said Wednesday the deal is not up for review.

Another option could be for the government to formally declare the arrivals as “irregular,” Scheer said. That could see many of them detained, and restrictions placed on their immigration status.

Any of the three actions would have an impact, he said.

“One, it would have a practical consequence on dealing with the problem as it happens,” he said.

“It would also send that much-needed signal to all those in the United States who think that they can just come over and be in a better situation.”

While Trudeau has referred to the crossers as “irregular,” Scheer is referring to use of a particular piece of legislation brought forward by the previous Conservative government in 2012 in response to boats of migrants arriving off the shores of British Columbia.

The Liberals were highly critical of the law when it was ushered in, appalled by its mandatory detention of those with the “irregular” designation, and subsequent restrictions on their immigration status in Canada. While the Liberals have not moved to repeal it, they have also declined to deploy it in the current situation.

The Conservatives had said the law was designed to thwart human smuggling. But it was part of a broad overhaul of the refugee system based on their view that people were making asylum claims to take advantage of health and social benefits available while awaiting a decision on their claim.

Scheer said what he’s questioning in this instance is the idea of people fleeing persecution from the United States.

“We see images of human beings, men and women sometimes with children now here and nobody wants to see anybody go through any more hardship than they already have,” he said.

“But they are leaving stable situations in the United States, they are not leaving areas where they are facing persecution.”

Many of the latest arrivals are Haitian, fleeing an upcoming change in the U.S. that will see the resumption of deportations to Haiti for those in violation of immigration law.

Canada lifted its own ban on deportations earlier this year.



Influx at the border needs not just compassion but action: Scheer

  1. Andrew MacDougal wrote an article in the Ottawa Citizen last week, suggesting that if, Mr. Sheer wants to get the cons back in the game with voters for the next election(notice the subtlety in his message), he should kill the grits and voters with kindness, i agree with that approach, but if your going to use that approach, you better be authentic, natural, and not when it is convenient, and you better be able to smile without gritting your teeth, or pursing your lips. But its going to be very difficult for Mr. Sheer to turn on the charm, everyone knows a snake oil salesman when they see one. The only way to show any kind of change in the conservative party, is to unload a lot of that dead weight, you know, the remaining MPs left over from Harper party, you need new faces out in front, not them angry old Harper party members, you need fresh blood on your front bench, not broken records.

  2. Legitimate immigrants and asylum seekers illegally crossing our border are two different issues.

    I have no issue nor objection to legitimate immigrants. Canada needs these people and by being legitimate they are also obeying our laws. Good on both accounts.

    asylum seekers illegally crossing our border is becoming a significant problem. By illegally crossing the border these people have already demonstrated a lack of respect for our country and our laws, making it perfectly clear that they place a higher priority on getting what they want and having virtually no concern pertaining to what they can offer Canada. What these illegals are looking for is an entirely one sided deal in which they are the only ones that get and Canadians are the only ones the pay.

    To make matters worse our compassion forces us to support these illegals until they are deported, either back the USA where they were immediately before entering Canada or back to their country of origin (where they are citizens). They cannot work and earn an income until after they have been processed so that means they are prevented from providing for themselves. Do we let them starve and freeze (winter is coming) or do we feed and house them?

    Clearly to all but our idiot PM the best thing to do is to intercept them before they cross our border and turn them back. But that would mean our PM would actually be required to have a spine and some courage, which he has demonstrated he has neither of and no possibility over having.

    • Couldn’t say it better myself Allan. Allow me to pen my name next to yours.

      • It’s not illegal. We are under treaty agreement to take in refugees.

        We provide sanctuary

        • According to the UN designation, the majority are not ‘refugees’. They are simply Trump-avoiders and ‘queue jumpers’.

        • These people are not refugees, they are Haitians who were allowed temporary VISAS in the U.S. until the hurricane damage was addressed. We had similar Haitians in Canada and they were asked to head back home in 2014. Trump gave the ones in the U.S. an additional 3 years!! So they’re heading to Canada since they believe the snow flake Liberals will let them stay. But that horse left the barn in 2014.

  3. This Trump inspired spate of illegal border crossings into Canada has led our ever vigilant media to blame Trudeau personally for these events.
    I have yet to find where Trudeau changed Canada’s decades old policy of welcoming migrants and refugees, by calling on them to cross the borders illegally. What he said in his January message was true then and remains true today.

    • Some people here blame Trudeau for everything, even if he’s never been near the topic.They would blame any other ‘Liberal’ leader the same way.

    • What Trudeau said was that Diversity is Canada’s strength and that all asylum seekers are welcome. I’m not sure if he said they were welcome to try to get accepted here and not get sent back but it surely must have been interpreted by the asylum seekers that Canada would welcome them. All they have to do was get here. Trudeau want a step too far in his encouragement of them.

  4. Again … I have no problem with the immigration of people who have skills adding to our Canadian mosaic. But seeing a picture of the irregular (really illegal) asylum seekers waiting to get welfare is really irritating! I am not sure but my guess is they get free accommodation, health care, pharmacare, dental care and other benefits I work to pay for. And I can barely afford my hydro bill …..

    • We had a lot like that post WW 2 and look how they turned out. But good thing we stopped that ship full late 30’s right?

  5. Over 300 thousand Central Americans lose their temporary protected status in the US next year. They will be taking up Justin’s invitation.

    • By all means, let’s panic; let’s build a wall from sea to sea (hey who put those big lakes in the way? floating wall??), lets put the entirety of our military forces along the border. Also, let’s forget that the historically highest level of immigration to Canada occurred when our colonial masters implemented a major clearance of its slums (external pressure has always influenced immigration patterns).
      Or perhaps we might reflect on the fact that we have a immigration and security services that are public services and not extensions of political parties as suggested by cons political posturing.

  6. Discussion Note: Muslims are not a race of people. Thus, Muslim-related debate is not racism.
    Balanced discussion related to peaceful aspects of the Qur’an together with hateful aspects is not Islamophobia … it is education.
    Trump-avoiders and illegal border immigrants are not refugees until they have been thoroughly examined and declared so.
    Macleans’ moderators should not politicize such comments.