UN Compact needs a substantive discussion, says ex-Harper aide

Interesting the focus on the Global Compact but I understand that the panel’s discussion was more wide ranging. It is hard to argue against more discussion and debate over any issue, including the Global Compact (although I find the fears overblown).

However, the question arises whether a more open discussion of the Global Compact in the Citizenship and Immigration committee have assuaged fears over its actual and potential impact and altered some of the political posturing (virtue signalling) on both sides or not:

Canada needs to have a substantive policy debate about the UN Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, and how it will influence domestic law, said Rachel Curran, former Harper-era staffer, at a panel discussing Canada’s immigration policy.

Speaking at the Manning Networking Conference on Sunday, Ms. Curran recalled that, last year, when the Trudeau government announced it would sign the first-of-its-kind compact on migration, there was immediate backlash from the other side.

There’s been a lot of rhetoric, but not enough policy analysis, she said, attributing the lack of substantive debate prior to its adoption to the Trudeau government. “[It] does Canadians a real disservice,” Ms. Curran, who served as then-prime minister Stephen Harper’s director of policy, said in a post-panel interview.

When asked why the Conservative party itself hasn’t had the policy conversation, Ms. Curran said she doesn’t think political parties have the appropriate resources to do a detailed policy analysis.

“When a party is in opposition, in particular, its capacity to do policy work and policy analysis is eroded quite significantly,” she said.

She would like to see the Opposition Leader’s Office and the Conservative Party to do some more digging, but the primary responsibility lies with the government, she said, as it has more resources.

“The opposition party, its primary role is to oppose the government, right? They don’t have a policy shop, or a host of policy analysts or experts who are on call to answer those questions,” she said after the panel.

Ms. Curran spoke alongside Tim Uppal, a former Harper-era minister of state for democratic reform, and later multiculturalism, and Eric Duhaime, Quebec radio host and commentator. The panel, centred on a discussion about Canada’s immigration and refugee policies, including the arrival of irregular migrants and the contention that conservatives are anti-immigration, was moderated by Andrew Lawton, an unsuccessful Progressive Conservative candidate in last year’s Ontario elections. The annual Manning conference is organized by the Manning Centre, headed by former Reform Party leader Preston Manning, and brings together conservatives to discuss and debate political issues.

The rhetoric around the UN migration compact has deemed those opposed to it as racist, said Ms. Curran, and given that Conservatives won’t want to talk about “issues around racism for the entire campaign,” they probably won’t bring it up.

“But again, that does a real disservice to Canadians who want to know what’s in it,” she said.

In response to a question about how Canada should address the UN Global Compact, Ms. Curran said during the panel that the point of these international agreements is to influence international law, and eventually, domestic policy. Canada should figure out, for example, if it would have an impact on how it responds to the issue of irregular migrants from the U.S.

“There’s never been really, I think, a truly honest and detailed discussion about what’s in the compact and how it’s intended to influence our domestic law over time,” she said.

The compact is not a legally binding document and is grounded in state sovereignty, responsibility sharing, non-discrimination, and human rights. It aims to foster a collaborative approach among the 160 signatory nations in their response to the leveraging the benefits of migration and addressing the challenges. While Canada was among the 160 countries that signed the agreement in December, the U.S did not.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer (Regina-Qu’Appelle, Sask.) opposed the signing in December, saying it would give foreign entities influence over Canada’s migration system and would erode nations’ sovereignty. “We don’t need a global compact that binds Canada to provisions that are agreed to at the United Nations. We can do that already. … By signing onto this compact, our sovereignty to make those decisions ourselves will be eroded,” Mr. Scheer told reporters in December. Mr. Scheer’s statement on the issue drew criticism from Chris Alexander, an ex-Harper minister of immigration, who said that the compact is “not a legally binding treaty” and that has “no impact on our sovereignty.”

Some demonstrators in the United We Roll rally also expressed their opposition to the compact. Mr. Scheer netted further criticism for speaking at the rally, which was attended by Faith Goldy, a white supremacist and former Rebel Media personality.

Mr. Uppal agreed during the panel with Ms. Curran’s suggestion that it sets a direction, and added he’s happy that Mr. Scheer opposed its signing.

Mr. Duhaime, for his part, said during the panel that, Canada needs to close its borders in all places other than designated ports of entry.

“We cannot welcome people by asking them to break the law,” he said, adding the government should negotiate with Washington so that, no matter what, no one can cross at non-official points of entry.

All three panellists said they supported a fair, compassionate, and orderly migration system, suggesting that anti-immigrant rhetoric gains traction only when the file is mishandled by the government, but there is still strong support for immigration in Canada. Canada takes in about 300,000 immigrants annually, but the numbers are expected to rise to 340,000 by 2021.

Irregular migration issue also discussed

On the issue of irregular migration, the three panellists said the Liberal government has failed to get a handle on it.

Policy decisions by U.S. President Donald Trump have led refugee claimants in the U.S. to seek refugee status in Canada in fear that their claims will be denied. Under the Third Safety Country Agreement between Canada and the U.S., those who cross at official ports of entry in Canada from will be forced to turn back. That has led refugee claimants to cross the border at non-designated entry points, where they are apprehended by the RCMP, and are able to file their claims.

International refugee agreements mean the government must allow those on Canadian soil to make claims, regardless of how they got across the border.

Quebec and Manitoba, in particular, have had to contend with the arrival of refugee claimants more so than other provinces, according to numbers from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. In 2017, there were 20,593 RCMP interceptions that resulted in asylum claims. About 18,000 were in Quebec, while about 1,000 were in Manitoba. In 2018, that total number dropped to 19,419 claims, with roughly 18,500 in Quebec,  and some 400 in Manitoba.

So far this calendar year, the RCMP has intercepted 1,696 refugee claimants, with about 1,670 in Quebec and two in Manitoba.

The Liberals have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on the issue since early 2017. Budget 2019 budget proposed another $1.18-billion over five years, with the aim of strengthening the border. Some $55-million for year after was proposed.

“In recent years, elevated numbers of asylum seekers, including those that have crossed into Canada irregularly, have challenged the fairness and effectiveness of Canada’s asylum system,” according to the budget.

Some $450-million of the money is earmarked for the Immigration Canada, while $382-million will go to Canada Border Services Agency, and $208-million is for the Immigration and Refugee Board, which reviews claims.s

Mr. Duhaime said the current backlog of claims is unsustainable and is “going nowhere,” and a new government should better secure the borders.

“It’s not fair for those people; it’s not fair for those who entered legally; and it’s not fair for taxpayers,” he said.

Refugee advocates have disputed the notion that there’s a queue for making a refugee claim.

Ms. Curran said that a new government should work with other countries to stop the flow in the first place, but also to work at speeding up the claims process. The hearings  can take years and are likely to be appealed.

People know how long the process takes and use it to their advantage, Ms. Curran said, so speeding up the process could create a disincentive for those trying to game the system.

Source: UN Compact needs a substantive discussion, says ex-Harper aide

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

2 Responses to UN Compact needs a substantive discussion, says ex-Harper aide

  1. B. Stevenson says:

    Ms. Curran is the Globalist Sandbag Lady. She can have her head in the sand and up her behind at the same time. She seems to not know of the destructive consequences, the result of her immigration and foreign worker policies as implemented by Jason Kenney and Harper during and after the great recession. She is obviously an isolated elite living in a global wonderland. Canada is no longer a country, when importing professions and skills from abroad has become a priority over educating and training native Canadians to do the same work. Mass marginalization of Canadian citizens is the result of mass immigration. Canada should bring it’s immigration policy back in line with the US and cut it’s immigration levels in half, giving Canadian’s born in Canada a crack at affordable housing, education, and proper employment opportunities. Immigration levels should be 150,000 or less, to give Canadians a chance at survival and success.

    • Andrew says:

      I think one can, and one should, make any case for reduced immigration levels without insults to those one disagrees with. I have my disagreements with Rachel Curran and others (from a different perspective) but respect her views and perspectives. While I have concerns regarding current immigration levels, the evidence does not support your contention that it has led to the “mass marginalization” of Canadians.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: