U.S., Canada kept migrant crossing deal a secret to avoid rush at the border

Sensible. And critics such as Brian Lilley (see below) would have rightly been all over the government had it not done so with the corresponding rush and chaos:

Canada and the United States waited a year to announce a new deal to turn asylum seekers away at unofficial border crossings, such as Roxham Road between Quebec and New York, to avoid a rush of migrants before the new rules could be enforced, the two countries said Sunday.

In an interview with The Globe and Mail, U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Cohen said it would not have served either country to disclose a deal until the planning process was complete and updated regulations were in effect. The goal was to have “an orderly transition,” he said.

Mr. Cohen said the governments feared that a premature announcement “would stimulate a large influx of migrants trying to get to Canada before that change went into place.”

“It was not in Canada’s interest to create that artificial surge of people trying to enter the country.”

On Friday, during President Joe Biden’s visit to Canada, he and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that they had renegotiated the Safe Third Country Agreement, with the revised deal taking effect within hours. The changes meant that the two countries could start turning away asylum seekers whether they entered at official or unofficial border points.

Originally, the Safe Third Country Agreement, prevented people arriving via the U.S. from making asylum claims at official Canadian border crossings, but it didn’t cover unofficial ones.

Behind the scenes, the countries had already signed the deal a year earlier, in spring 2022, but the regulations that would put it into effect and allow its enforcement were only completed Wednesday, according to a document published by the U.S. government.

In the months leading up to the announcement, Canada had significantly played down the possibility of reaching an agreement with the United States. Only when Mr. Biden’s arrival in the capital on Thursday was imminent did that message change.

An administration official said changes to existing accords, such as the Safe Third Country Agreement, are subject to complicated and uncertain administrative reviews that can last two to three years after a deal is struck. Given the unknowns around implementation and the risks of people trying to get to the border before a deal was in place, the two governments only wanted to disclose the deal when it could go into effect.

Ottawa shared similar concerns about the risks of pre-emptively announcing the renegotiated deal, a federal government official told The Globe Sunday. Moreover, the individual said that Ottawa’s view was that it wasn’t a done deal until it had gone through the regulatory process. They said that within the past few weeks, the federal government had still been lobbying for an accelerated administrative review from the U.S. and it was only assured last week of its completion.

The Globe is not identifying the U.S. and Canadian officials because they were not permitted to disclose the private deliberations.

Applying the Safe Third Country Agreement uniformly across the border has been a top priority for Mr. Trudeau’s government, which has been under increasing pressure from the federal Conservatives and Quebec Premier François Legault to stem the flow of migrants at Roxham Road.

Last year, almost 40,000 people crossed into Canada at unofficial border points to make an asylum claim. Most of them arrived at Roxham Road. Smaller but growing numbers of migrants have been crossing the border in the other direction, from Canada to the U.S. They have primarily been Mexican nationals, who can enter Canada without visas.

But the much more pressing issue for the U.S. is its southern border, where between 100,000 and 200,000 migrants cross at unofficial border points each month. In a nod to the significant challenges the U.S. faces with migration from Central America, Canada on Friday also announced it would accept 15,000 more migrants from that region through legal channels.

Officials from both governments said Canada’s pledge of 15,000 more spots spurred the implementation of the renegotiated Safe Third Country Agreement.

In a joint statement, the U.S. and Canada on Friday said the changes will deter irregular migration across the border. But advocates say it will only make the situation even more precarious for asylum seekers. That’s because it risks pushing migrants to more dangerous and irregular routes and makes them more vulnerable to exploitation from traffickers.

By noon Sunday, the Canada Border Services Agency said that under the new rules, two people had been returned to the U.S. and four were deemed eligible to make an asylum claim in Canada.

Amid the suite of issues highlighted during Mr. Biden’s official visit, wasCanada’s promised spending to modernize North America’s air defences. Ahead of the trip, the U.S. had said it wanted Canada to spend more and faster on its defence upgrades.

Canada’s lagging defence spending and slow procurement processes have frequently been a point of contention with the United States. On Sunday though, Mr. Cohen said the U.S. is “generally satisfied” with the federal government’s progress.

He noted that Ottawa agreed to accelerate the installation of next-generation over-the-horizon radar in the north; committed to base upgrades in time for the arrival of new F-35 fighter jets; and reiterated its commitment to raise defence spending to 2 per cent of GDP.

Mr. Cohen also noted that Canada is in the midst of a national defence policy review, during which the U.S. is receiving classified briefings on the government’s progress.

“There’s a real satisfaction that Canada is moving in the right direction,” he said.

Source: U.S., Canada kept migrant crossing deal a secret to avoid rush at the border

But Lilley, in the Sun, his ideology blinds him to the practicalities behind the delay:

Between when the Trudeau government signed the agreement to amend the Safe Third Country agreement, and when it came into force, more than 41,000 people crossed illegally into Canada at Roxham Rd.

After we add in the numbers for March, expect the final tally to be over 45,000 or the equivalent of adding the population of Chatham, Ont., via what the government calls “irregular migration.”

While the agreement was only officially announced last Friday when U.S. President Biden was in Ottawa, it was signed almost a year ago. The official document, now released, was signed by Canada on May 29, 2022, while Americans signed it on April 15, 2022.

The agreement said that it would come into effect at a later date, but coming into force at midnight 51 weeks after it was signed seems a bit much.

“Both of our countries believe in safe, fair, and orderly migration; refugee protection; and border security. This is why we will now apply the Safe Third Country Agreement to asylum seekers who cross between official points of entry,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday when announcing the changes.

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“After midnight tonight, police and border officers will enforce the agreement and return irregular border crossers to the closest port of entry with the United States.”

This is what should have been done six years ago when the problem started, but having started the problem, Trudeau tried using it for political advantage. He was effectively importing an American wedge issue into Canadian politics, illegal immigration.

Crossing at Roxham Rd. is illegal, which is why there were big Government of Canada signs facing the American side of the border stating that fact in clear language. It’s why the RCMP would issue verbal warnings as people approached, telling them it was illegal to cross, and they would be arrested.

Once they were in Canada, though, they could declare asylum and begin a legal process to stay here.

The Safe Third country agreement recognized that Canada and the United States were safe for refugees and required people to apply in the first of the two countries they landed in. The agreement was signed two decades ago to end the problem of refugee shopping by people who were turned down on the application in one country, turning to the other.

There was a loophole, though, in that the agreement only applied at legal points of entry. That loophole was exploited by people who were mostly economic migrants trying to get a shortcut into Canada.

When Donald Trump was president, Trudeau used Roxham Rd. to show that Canada was virtuous and welcoming of immigrants while Trump was not. He tried to bait those opposed to these illegal crossings by implying they were racist, he wanted to use this for his own partisan ends.

With Joe Biden in the White House, he no longer had that edge and post-pandemic, the numbers increased. With more than 39,000 people crossing in 2022, it was a record, and the numbers for January and February were off the charts.

People who crossed into the United States illegally on the southern border — into states like Texas — were being put on a bus to New York City. Once there, officials in New York offered them bus tickets to Roxham Rd.

With record crossings, Quebec declared it was full, and the strain on their social services was too great, so the Trudeau government started bussing people to Ottawa, Toronto and Niagara Falls.

Nothing about what has been happening was fair to anyone.

It’s not fair to Canadian taxpayers, asked to foot the bills for this make-shift system. It’s not fair to the people, mostly economic migrants, to be bussed around from place to place. It’s also not fair for the 2 million people in Canada’s immigration backlog looking to follow the rules.

It’s also not fair to people languishing in actual refugee camps around the world.

This should have been fixed years ago; once the deal was signed, it should have been implemented quickly.

Instead, Trudeau used and abused this file until it no longer served his political agenda.

Source: LILLEY: Deal to close Roxham Rd. was signed a year before taking effect

Canada’s immigration backlog has never been worse

The ever increasing backlogs understandably continue to attract attention. However, apart from CILA and a few individuals, haven’t seen any call for a pause in applications or heaven forbid, reduced levels, to address the backlogs:

In tandem with the increasing backlog has also been a precipitous rise in Federal Court cases from frustrated applicants demanding a reply from the IRCC.

They’re called “mandamus cases,” and it’s essentially an application for the court to order a response from IRCC. Before the pandemic there were only a few dozen mandamus cases per year. Last year, there were more than 400.

In prior statements, the federal government has largely attributed the crushing IRCC delays to the COVID-19 pandemic and the avalanche of refugee applications from Afghanistan and Ukraine. Last month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the formation of a special committee to figure out how to reduce wait times.

Amid history-making line-ups at Canadian airports and passport offices, an absolutely crushing backlog at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is putting them all to shame.

According to numbers obtained from the IRCC by the immigration-focused publication CIC News, there are now 2.7 million people waiting for Ottawa to process their immigration application.

The backlog encompasses every application filed to IRCC, from citizenship to visas to requests for permanent residency. The backlog of citizenship applications alone stands at 444,792, while most of the list (1.7 million) is applications for temporary residence.

Not only is it the worst immigration backlog of all time, but it is growing exponentially with each passing week. This time last year, the backlog was just 1.5 million names, according to CIC News. In just the last 30 days, the list has grown by 300,000 — an increase of roughly 1,000 new applicants per day.

All told, there are now more people awaiting a reply from the IRCC than there are residents of Atlantic Canada. As of press time, the population of all four Atlantic provinces (including Newfoundland and Labrador) is roughly 2.5 million.

If the backlog continues to grow at the current rate, it will only be another four months until the number of applicants awaiting processing by the IRCC is equivalent to 10 per cent of the Canadian population of 38 million.

This has thrown immigration wait times into complete disarray at the precise time that Canada is touting itself as a haven for refugees, most notably from Afghanistan and Ukraine.

Many of those 2.7 million represent foreign nationals dwelling in a kind of awkward limbo as they spend years awaiting updates from the IRCC.

Last month, Pakistani man Kazim Ali told CTV he applied for Canada’s Express Entry program in 2020, when the estimated wait for a reply was six months. Two years later, he hasn’t heard a thing, bringing the life of he and his wife “to a screeching halt” as they delay career choices and even children until they can hear back.

An increasingly overwhelmed IRCC is also making it difficult to reliably schedule any event in Canada that involves foreign nationals. Last month, both a Montreal AIDS symposium and a major Toronto tech conference saw dozens of invitees unable to attend because of difficulties in obtaining Canadian visas.

In a recent report by the Business Council of Canada, Canadian employers cited “processing delays” as the top barrier to recruiting international talent.

“Frustrated by application processing delays, complex rules, and the cost of navigating the system, fewer than a quarter (of survey respondents) say the immigration system currently serves their business needs well,” it read.

In tandem with the increasing backlog has also been a precipitous rise in Federal Court cases from frustrated applicants demanding a reply from the IRCC.

They’re called “mandamus cases,” and it’s essentially an application for the court to order a response from IRCC. Before the pandemic there were only a few dozen mandamus cases per year. Last year, there were more than 400.

In prior statements, the federal government has largely attributed the crushing IRCC delays to the COVID-19 pandemic and the avalanche of refugee applications from Afghanistan and Ukraine. Last month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the formation of a special committee to figure out how to reduce wait times.

Source: Canada’s immigration backlog has never been worse 

Brian Lilley on Roxham Road (usual hyperbole about Trudeau’s tweet):

In the first six months of this year, more people crossed illegally into Canada at Roxham Road in Quebec than in all of 2019. The asylum seekers fast-track route may have all but shut down for much of the pandemic, but now it’s back in business with gusto.

According to the latest federal figures, 16,319 people entered Canada at “irregular” border crossings in Quebec between Jan. 1, 2022, and June 30, 2022. That includes 3,449 in May and 3,066 in June.

Those are the second- and third-highest months on record, surpassed only by August 2017.

By comparison, in 2019 a total of 16,136 people crossed at Roxham Road, and there were 18,518 illegal crossers in 2018 and 18,836 in 2017. The advent of COVID-19 saw the flow of asylum seekers at the Quebec-New York border slow to a trickle with just over 3,000 in 2020 and just over 4,000 in 2021, with most of them coming in December of that year.

This whole thing started when Justin Trudeau put out a tweet welcoming the world to Canada as then newly elected president Donald Trump threatened to deport people back to Haiti from the United States. What was lost on most is that Trump was ending a program that allowed people to stay in the U.S. if they were displaced by the earthquake or at risk following Haiti’s 2004 coup. Canada had ended a similar program years earlier under the Harper government and Trudeau had kept the policy in place and was removing people even as he criticized Trump.

With Trump threatening to do what Canada had already done, many looked north, and Trudeau welcomed them with open arms.

“To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada” Trudeau tweeted on January 28, 2017.

Days later, embassy staff from Mexico were writing to officials at Global Affairs seeking advice on how to handle people looking to declare refugee status in Canada.

“We are receiving an increasing number of enquiries from the public about requesting refugee status in Canada, and a number clearly having links with our Prime Minister’s tweet this weekend,” one email read.

It wasn’t just staff in Mexico. Word spread that Canada would take anyone as a refugee and many decided to use the illegal border crossing to skip dealing with the system.

Since then, more than 77,000 people — that’s more than the population of Belleville, Ont. or Chateauguay, Que. — have crossed at Roxham alone. The government has built special processing facilities there, establishing posts for immigration and RCMP officers to process people.

This is nothing short of the Liberals attempting to import another American political issue into Canada to wedge the Conservatives. In Canada, Conservatives support high numbers for legal immigration, something we saw throughout the Harper years.

What Conservatives don’t support is people who break the law.

This is where we get into word games. The Liberals claim no one is breaking the law, that these are asylum seekers and under Canadian — and international — law it is legal for them to seek asylum. The reality is, the government has giant signs warning people that it is illegal to cross at Roxham and the RCMP give verbal warnings that anyone doing so will be arrested for breaking the law.

They only claim asylum once arrested.

Nigeria is the biggest source of people crossing at Roxham and just 30% of the more than 16,000 who crossed there between February 2017 and March 2022 were accepted as valid refugees. For the more than 10,000 Haitians who crossed — the second-largest source country, just 23% were accepted.

Roxham Road has become a way for those looking to skip the long delays in legal, economic migration to get into Canada.

This isn’t how a properly functioning immigration and refugee system should work, but very little of what the Trudeau government is doing these days is working properly.

Source: LILLEY: Trudeau continues immigration games as Roxham Road sees record numbers

LILLEY: Feds allow illegal immigration to flourish while the legal system fails

Apples and oranges comparison between irregular arrivals and those who come through the regular immigration processes but does highlight the backlogs and the damage to trust in and credibility of government:

Canada has long had an immigration system that worked — one that we could be proud of — but right now, no one can say that. Like so many government services these days, the immigration system simply isn’t working like it should.

Now we face an incredible backlog for legal immigration while people stream across the border illegally at will, something that’s relatively new in this country.

Unlike in the United States, immigration has never been a political hot potato thrown around between the two main parties.

There have been differences throughout the years, with Liberals tending to favour increases in family reunification, while the Conservatives have placed an emphasis on economic migration. Both main parties have supported high levels of newcomers to this country.

I was born in this country, but only three years after my parents immigrated. That process, according to my mother, took only a few months.

But now, it’s too often taking years for people simply to have their application processed under what are called “express” conditions.

Right now, there is a backlog of more than 2.4 million applications, an increase of more than a 250,000 from just a couple of months ago. That’s an untenable position for our system to be in and a hopeless one for those waiting for word on whether they can come to Canada.

According to the federal government’s website, it takes 42 months to process the application of someone coming in under the federal skilled trade program. That works out to three years and six months just to have your application processed.

Who would want to wait that long?

The Quebec business class program takes 63 months to process applications, while the provincial nominee program “express” track takes 21 months. On what planet is 21 months processing time considered express?

It takes almost two years to sponsor a spouse and just shy of three years to sponsor your parents.

Meanwhile, anyone willing to take a flight to JFK in New York City and then make their way to Roxham Road in Quebec can simply walk across the border and be welcomed to Canada. The number of people crossing at Roxham Road has far surpassed pre-pandemic levels.

After dropping from 1,500 to 2,000 per month to just a few dozen a month during the pandemic, the numbers are now about double. For example, the 3,449 people who crossed illegally this past May is double the previous high for that month in 2018.

We are now seeing higher numbers than ever before enter Canada illegally, while our legal immigration system can’t process people.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault has called for the Roxham Road crossing to be closed, saying his province’s social services are being strained by a lack of federal action. Legault has rightly pointed out that many of those crossing aren’t refugees, they are economic migrants.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in response that closing the crossing won’t stop people crossing illegally, and instead has now started to transfer people to Ottawa and Niagara Falls.

All of this undermines faith in and support for our immigration system as a whole. How can Canadians, or those hoping to become Canadians, have faith in a system that can’t process applicants following the rules but can constantly expand for those going around the rules?

Like passports, customs and airport screening, the immigration department is another example of the federal government not being able to get the basics right.

If the minister can’t fix this, maybe he should look for applicants in that backlog who can and step aside.

Source: LILLEY: Feds allow illegal immigration to flourish while the legal system fails

LILLEY: Trudeau government not telling the truth on passport delays

Good hard hitting column and yet another of all too many instances of government management failures. As others have noted if government cannot deliver services in a timely manner, it undermines overall trust as well as the government’s failed “Deliverology” approach from 2016.

And it is not as if the government was unaware of the increase. IRCC’s department plan 2022-23 states:

“Due to travel restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, passport demand was low for the majority of 2021–22. Forecasts predict that a recovery to pre-COVID-19 demand will begin in Spring of 2022, and that demand for passports will continue to increase over the next three years. This growth will be due in part to applications being delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and an anticipated surge related to the renewal of the first wave of passports issued with a 10-year validity period.”

IRCC has the policy and program responsibility but Service Canada operates the public offices and the processing centres (and Global Affairs is responsible for international delivery). The disconnect between the plan and the lack of action to address the anticipated surge is striking.

Other areas of poor management can be seen in  the lack of passport data on open data since 2016, and the last Passport Canada report dating from 2017-18, with minimal data in both IRCC and ESDC departmental reports. The 2020 Evaluation Report highlights data weaknesses and unclear roles and responsibilities between the three departments involved.

On a personal note, when I worked at Service Canada 2004-7, we made a major effort to engage Passport Canada to provide application checking and verification through the Service Canada network (receiving agent). Our DM at the time was ambitious and insistent, wanting to roll the service across the network. In the end, a pilot project of three offices worked so well that Passport Canada overcame its resistance. But no appetite or discussion of delegating of authorities at that time:

The Trudeau government is once again lying to Canadians over why they can’t offer basic services, in this case passports.

The government is claiming there is a surge in applications when they are only dealing with about 55% of the volume they handled pre-pandemic.

According to the latest annual report of Passport Canada posted online, the department issued between 4.7 and 5.1 million passports per year from 2013 through 2018. That works out to a weekly average of between 90,000 to 98,000 passports.

In their statement Monday, the government said they had received 542,000 applications over the preceding 10 weeks, or an average of 54,200 applications a week and this is what is swamping the department.

“After two years of travel restrictions, Canada and many other countries around the world are seeing a significant surge in demand for passports. As is the case in many countries, the size and suddenness of this surge has created delays,” Minister Karina Gould said.

I get that this is more people than the department has seen since the pandemic started but staff should be able to handle 55% of normal volume. Instead, we’ve had months of long lines and delays.

Only an excuse

When I pushed the minister’s office on this, they presented a new excuse. Close to 80% of applications now come in via mail and about 25% of them have errors in the applications making the process longer. If the system were operating at capacity instead of just over half capacity, then I might buy this argument. But at this point it’s just another excuse to blame the public instead of a department that isn’t working properly.

One friend who applied for their child’s passport on April 2 still hasn’t seen it. Readers have written to me about waiting for more than seven months to get a passport they mailed away for.

Then there are the lines.

In Hamilton, a reader showed up just after 4 a.m. to find out they weren’t close to being the first person in line. In Victoria, the line started forming at 2 a.m. and in Prince Edward Island, they only wished they could line up at a local office instead of having to drive to Halifax or Moncton.

Truth about the lines

The people standing in lines outside of offices are doing so because they have travel booked in the next 45 days and the standard application process can’t handle them.

One gentleman I spoke to this week outside of Toronto’s downtown passport office said he had initially applied at a regular Service Canada office. After nearly completing the process, he was told his passport would go in the mail by the end of August, after his trip started. He was forced to stand in line for hours to get inside before navigating the bureaucracy to get his travel documents faster.

Canadians can normally turn to their Members of Parliament for help when they have trouble with an application or need something expedited. There’s a special line for MPs and their staff to call when helping deal with passport files.

John Brassard, the Conservative MP for Barrie-Innisfil, emailed to say his staff waited on that special line for five hours one day this week followed by an extra two hours on the line with the agent to process the files.

These problems have been going on for months and the government is only acting to deal with them now due to media and opposition pressure. It’s another example of the Trudeau government not working properly and not dealing with issues until they blow up.

Instead of wasting time trying to mislead Canadians by blaming this on a surge of applications Minister Gould should get busy whipping her department back into shape. If she can’t do that, she should resign.

Source: LILLEY: Trudeau government not telling the truth on passport delays

LILLEY: Jihadi Jack’s parents ask Canada to bring the Brit here

Classic example of off-shoring citizenship revocation. One of the examples against the previous Conservative government’s C-24, ironically that Lilley supported at the time if memory serves me correct:

The parents of British-born terrorist Jihadi Jack are seeking the help of politicians in this country to get him sprung from a Syrian prison to live a life of freedom in Canada.

Emails obtained exclusively by the Toronto Sun show that John and Sally Letts have approached MPs and senators asking for meetings to assist their son Jack.

Nikita Bernardi, a public relations consultant working on behalf of the family, makes an empathetic pitch for a man who has admitted to being a member of ISIS and willing to detonate a suicide bomb.

“Jack, who is 23, has been held without charge, and therefore arbitrarily and illegally, since 2017 by the Kurdish forces in overcrowded and unsanitary prison conditions,” Bernardi wrote last week.

Jack Letts was born in Britain in 1995, and beyond some trips to Canada to visit relatives, has never lived here. He was raised in the U.K., educated in the U.K., converted to Islam as a teen in the U.K., and went to Syria in 2014 at the age of 19 because he rejected life in Britain.

He is able to claim Canadian citizenship because his father is a Canadian who moved to Britain decades ago. His connections to this country, beyond asking for consular assistance, are negligible at best, but since the British government stripped him of his citizenship there in 2019, Letts may only be recognized as a Canadian now.

That doesn’t mean we should take him or lift a finger to help him, despite claims by Bernardi that Letts is owed, “assistance and protection as is necessary.”

“Unfortunately, the Canadian government continues to take no action towards repatriating Jack,” Bernardi wrote.

You can’t repatriate someone who has never lived here.

He went to fight in Syria, something he and his family have denied for several years. But a 2019 interview with the BBC shows Letts discussing his work with ISIS and desire to be a suicide bomber — if needed — in battle.

“I used to want to at one point, believe it or not,” Letts told the BBC. “Not a vest. I wanted to do it in a car. I said if there’s a chance, I will do it.”

In 2019, when the Brits pulled citizenship from Letts, then-public safety minister Ralph Goodale said the government was disappointed with the British government’s “unilateral action to offload their responsibilities.”

Asked for comment Monday, Marco Mendicino, the current public safety minister, declined to comment on any specific case, but a spokesperson said criminal charges and prosecution could be in the future of any extremist traveller who comes to Canada.

“It is a Criminal Code offence to travel abroad to engage in terrorist activity. If an extremist traveller is seeking to enter Canada, federal departments work together to tailor an approach to address the threat that the individual may pose,” said spokesperson Craig MacBride.

He added that the government could use tools, including peace bonds, the no-fly list, and revocation of passports in dealing with such travellers.

The family has filed complaints against both the British and Canadian governments and with the United Nations. Bernardi wrote that Canada can be held responsible for anything that happens to Jack while he is in a Kurdish prison.

Did the Canadian government send him to Syria to fight with one of the most blood-thirsty groups the world has even seen? No, they did not — he did that on his own.

There are Canadians, actual Canadians born here or who have lived here at least, held in foreign prisons for various crimes. We don’t get them all back, and we don’t have to try.

If Letts gets out of that Kurdish prison, he is Britain’s problem, not ours.

Source: LILLEY: Jihadi Jack’s parents ask Canada to bring the Brit here

Lisée – Et maintenant: l’endoctrinement [on federal antiracism training guide]

Jean-François Lisée picks up on Brian Lilley’s critique (LILLEY: Feds’ anti-racism training deals with political agendas, nothing else), albeit in a more sophisticated mannner:

Les fonctionnaires fédéraux ont-ils droit à la liberté de conscience ? Pour peu qu’ils soient respectueux des normes et des lois et de leurs collègues de travail, ont-ils droit à leurs propres opinions sur l’histoire de leur pays et sur l’état des relations raciales ? La réponse est désormais non. Il existe une doctrine d’État que les fonctionnaires doivent apprendre et internaliser, quelles que soient leurs expériences de vie ou leurs visions du monde. Un document fédéral officiel obtenu par le Toronto Sun grâce à la Loi sur l’accès à l’information est à la fois fascinant et scandaleux. Il s’agit du Parcours d’apprentissage dans le cadre de la lutte contre le racisme. La chose irait de soi si l’apprentissage en question portait sur les pratiques discriminatoires à éviter, les bienfaits des politiques d’accès à l’égalité, les normes, les recours et les sanctions. Mais le document s’attaque aux opinions qu’on peut avoir — et qu’on ne doit pas avoir — sur les causes, l’histoire et la définition du racisme. Les participants sont appelés à « apprendre, [à] désapprendre et [à] réapprendre ».

Par exemple, peut-être avez-vous la conviction que le Canada fut fondé sur une volonté de créer un pays distinct de l’expérience états-unienne, mettant en équilibre les intérêts de plusieurs anciennes colonies, dont le Québec francophone, et voulant maintenir un lien fort avec la couronne britannique ? Peut-être pensiez-vous que, parmi les graves imperfections du pays, il y eut la mauvaise part faite aux Autochtones et des pratiques répréhensibles envers des minorités de couleur ?

Si vous jugiez que, contrairement à l’impact structurel de l’esclavage dans l’histoire états-unienne, ces événements malheureux ne constituaient pas l’essence même de l’existence du Canada, l’État canadien vous rabroue officiellement. Vous êtes porteurs d’un « mythe » et de « déformation des faits historiques » qu’il faut désapprendre. La réalité, présentée comme un « fait » qui n’est pas ouvert au débat, est que le racisme est au cœur de l’expérience canadienne, un de ses fondements. L’existence même du Canada est une agression.

Trudeauiste bon teint, peut-être oserez-vous faire valoir que le multiculturalisme est une politique officielle depuis un demi-siècle et que le Canada est en passe de s’affranchir de son passé honteux ? Vous avez tort. Je cite : « Chaque institution était et est toujours utilisée pour prouver que la race existe et pour promouvoir l’idée que la race blanche est au sommet de la hiérarchie des races et que toutes les autres lui sont inférieures. » Chaque institution était et est toujours, en 2021, raciste. Et si vous tiquiez devant le concept de racisme systémique, cramponnez-vous, car la doctrine officielle a franchi un nouveau cap. Le document décrit ainsi la situation actuelle du racisme canadien : « Un groupe a le pouvoir de pratiquer une discrimination systématique au moyen des politiques et pratiques institutionnelles. » Oui, on est passés de systémique à systématique.

La doctrine vous rabroue doublement si vous osez procéder à des comparaisons avec les États-Unis sur le nombre des victimes ou sur l’intensité du dommage causé. Le document est explicite : « Le racisme est tout aussi grave au Canada. » Fin de la discussion. C’est un dogme.

Il y est aussi question d’esclavage, et le document prend bien soin d’indiquer que ce fléau fut répandu au Canada, y compris en Nouvelle-France, ce qui est vrai. Les fonctionnaires qui l’ignoraient peut-être sont aussi informés que les Autochtones furent victimes de l’esclavage. Mais le document omet de signaler que les nations autochtones pratiquaient l’esclavage entre elles avant l’arrivée des Européens, et après, et qu’elles ont participé à la traite des Noirs sur le continent. Je souhaite bonne chance au fonctionnaire qui oserait soulever ce fait historique lors d’une formation.

Puisque le racisme est défini étroitement, comme l’oppression d’une race par une autre, et jamais d’une ethnie par une autre, il n’est nulle part question du fait que les Britanniques, des Blancs, ont voulu déporter d’autres Blancs, des Acadiens, ou que les Canadiens français furent pendant deux siècles victimes de discrimination. Le colonialisme est un élément fondateur du pays (c’est incontestable), mais pas la Conquête (c’est loufoque). Notons que l’antisémitisme est aussi passé sous silence, un angle mort problématique dans la culture woke.

On y parle évidemment du privilège blanc, qui peut être personnel, institutionnel ou structurel, intentionnel ou non. Tous les fonctionnaires blancs doivent donc apprendre qu’ils sont, par défaut, coupables de racisme. C’est dans leur nature. Le caractère univoque et culpabilisateur de la formation est à couper le souffle.

Prenons un instant pour réfléchir à l’existence même de ce document officiel.

Nous avions entendu Justin Trudeau déclarer à plusieurs reprises qu’il avait, lui, la conviction que toutes les institutions canadiennes étaient coupables de racisme systémique. Il est rare que le premier ministre d’un pays accable ainsi la totalité des institutions qu’il a pour charge de diriger, de représenter et, au besoin, de réformer.

Mais bon, c’était son avis personnel. Que ces notions soient débattues dans les universités, dans les panels, à la radio ou dans les journaux est une chose. Mais il ne s’agit plus désormais d’opinions discutables parmi d’autres. Les fonctionnaires fédéraux sont désormais contraints de participer à des formations où on leur dit que cette vision du monde est la bonne, que c’est la ligne juste, et que s’ils pensent autrement, ils doivent désapprendre, pour mieux apprendre. Il s’agit ni plus ni moins que d’endoctrinement.

On voudrait savoir qui a décidé que la théorie critique de la race était devenue doctrine d’État ? À quel moment et dans quel forum ? Qui a acquiescé à cela ? Et surtout, comment infirmer cette décision absurde qui est une atteinte frontale à la liberté de conscience ?

Source: Et maintenant: l’endoctrinement

LILLEY: Feds’ anti-racism training deals with political agendas, nothing else

While not a great fan of Lilley’s commentary, I do give him credit for bringing this GAC/Foreign Service Institute guide to public attention.

While his criticism is overstated, some of the guide is overly simplistic, woke or splitting hairs (e.g., that reverse racism against white people doesn’t exist because of power dynamics, racism in Canada is the same as USA while there are both commonalities and differences) and doesn’t acknowledge some of the progress, albeit imperfect, that has taken place over the last few generations. Government training material should be more balanced in its treatment:

Wearing blackface is an act of white supremacy but so is seeking to be objective. These are some of the things you will learn if you happen to work for the federal government and are taking their latest anti-racism course.

Documents obtained under access to information show a real stretch on the definition of racism.

Source: LILLEY: Feds’ anti-racism training deals with political agendas, nothing else

#COVID-19: Comparing provinces with other countries 16 December Update

Main news continues to be with respect ongoing sharp spike in infections in most provinces and countries along with consequentdeath rate increases:


Infections per million: California ahead of New York, Sweden ahead of Italy (the Swedish model keeps on looking worse by the week)
Deaths per million: USA ahead of Quebec, Prairies ahead of Canada less Quebec
And Sun Media’s Brian Lilley painting a slightly more positive picture of Ontario than warranted (Ontario’s relative position within Canada reflects the upsurge in Western Canada):

If you listened to much of the media and the opposition parties, you’d think that Ontario was handling the COVID-19 crisis worse than anywhere in the country — perhaps worse than much of the world.

Despite all the problems that Ontario has faced, and I have written extensively about those, compared to our neighbours and similar jurisdictions, the province continues to perform well in the face of a horrific virus. This thought was brought to mind as I watched the first vaccines being administered. In Ontario, it was a nurse at the University Health Network giving a shot to a personal support worker from a long-term care centre.

Premier Doug Ford was nowhere to be found.

In neighbouring New York State, Gov. Andrew Cuomo actually conducted a live video conference with the nurse getting the first shot, inserting himself into the story in a way that only Cuomo can. The New York governor continues to receive praise for his handling of COVID and recently received an Emmy for his press conferences during the pandemic.

The media and the American establishment love Cuomo and his handling of the pandemic; it’s a shame his record is so abysmal. More on that in a moment.

Listening to opposition leaders here, you would think Ontario was in far worse shape than neighbouring New York.

“Today’s exploding COVID cases should be a wake-up call for Mr. Ford,” NDP Leader Andrea Horwath tweeted.

Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca said that Ford’s priorities this fall were not looking after the people.

“He was focused on helping his buddies and forgot about the rest of us,” Del Duca said Tuesday.

When it comes to critiquing Ford’s handling of the pandemic, I’ll take a back seat to no one. I’ve been critical of his handling of long-term care, the length and style of his lockdowns and the collateral damage they have wrought, but criticism needs to be based in some kind of reality.

Could Ontario have done better in dealing with long-term care in the first wave? Absolutely. The province though made decisions based on the information before them. After watching emergency rooms be overwhelmed in China, Italy, in New York City, the province put scarce resources into hospitals. COVID-19 hit differently here than elsewhere: the general population was ready, a small portion of our long-term care homes were not.

The majority of homes still have not had an outbreak.

Now, back to that comparison.

On Tuesday, Ontario, with a population of 14.7 million reported 2,275 cases. This was the highest ever, due in part to a change in how cases are counted, but let’s take the number at face value. There were also 921 people in hospital and 20 deaths. New York State, with a population of 19.4 million, reported 10,353 new cases, 5,982 people in hospital and 128 deaths on Tuesday.

Deaths from COVID-19 would be the stat that matters most and while Ontario has 27 deaths per 100,000 of population, New York State has 183 per 100,000.

Within Canada, Quebec is the only province the comes close to Ontario in terms of population, international travel, urban density and other factors. With a population of about 8.5 million, Quebec has recorded 89 deaths per 100,000 of population or 3.3 times the rate of Ontario.

Other neighbours with similar populations fare no better.

Ohio is at 84 per 100,000, Pennsylvania at 98, and Michigan at 113.

In fact, were Ontario an American state, we would be the 45th lowest state in terms of COVID deaths per 100,000 and were we an independent country, we would be below most of the industrialized world. Only Japan would be among the G7 nations that would be lower than Ontario.

The province can always do better, and it must.

That requires targeted and constructive criticisms rather than what the opposition is offering up.

Source: LILLEY: Ontario outperforms much of the world in dealing with COVID

Double standards? PM and Scheer merit sympathy for wish to be with their families

At a time when the issues surrounding how governments and society should respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and the corresponding health and economic crisis, one can never underestimate the propensity for silly and shallow commentary.

And the media also pays far too much attention to these superficial issues.

I am sympathetic with political leaders who want to spend time with their families during these difficult times and do not find the actions by the PM and Andrew Scheer to be unreasonable.

As unfortunately to be expected, some Conservative commentators commentators can’t resist the temptation to take aim at PM Trudeau’s going to Harrington Lake to be with his family.

And also, as expected, no sooner than their commentary and tweets are out the corresponding story regarding Andrew Scheer travelling back to Ottawa with his family on a government jet along with two MPs in a confined 9 passenger jet.

Just as previous columns expressing outrage over PM Trudeau’s personal staff were undermined by revelations of Scheer’s excessive compensation for personal expenses (paid by the Conservative party).

As Norman Spector suggested in a tweet, the government could have reduced the risk by sending a separate plane for Scheer and his family despite the additional cost.

The more egregious examples are below, starting the Candice Malcolm:

While ordinary Canadians are facing hefty fines for breaking coronavirus-related public health orders, it appears that the same rules don’t apply to the prime minister and his family.

On Sunday Sophie Grégoire Trudeau posted pictures of herself with Justin Trudeau and their children on Instagram taking part in Easter festivities. According to the advice of public health officials, Trudeau violated the government’s social distancing rules.

“Even though families across the country are having to get a little creative and celebrate a bit differently this year, we’re all in this together,” Grégoire Trudeau wrote on Instagram.

Since March 29, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau and their children have been living in Harrington Lake, Que. while Justin Trudeau has remained in Ottawa.

As Justin Trudeau and his wife and children now live in separate households, the family should be practicing social distancing.

Social distancing means that individuals should avoid contact with those that live outside their household, including family members.

On Friday Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam told Canadians celebrating Easter and Passover to stay home this year.

“We need to not let down our guard. The safest plan for your holidays is a staycation for the nation,” she said.

Dr Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, added that celebrations should be limited to members of your household.

On April 1 the government of Quebec introduced strict travel restrictions across the province, including police checkpoints to prevent unnecessary travel in and out of Quebec.

Since the restrictions began, police have prevented 2,300vehicles from crossing the Ottawa-Gatineau border.

How Justin Trudeau’s trip to the family retreat in Harrington Lake would be considered necessary travel is not clear.

On Friday a family of four in Oakville was fined $880 for rollerblading in a parking lot of a community centre. The family says there was no indication anywhere that they were not allowed to be in the area.

In recent weeks hundreds of Canadians have also been fined for breaking public health orders, most of them for not following social distancing rules.

Source: Double standard: Trudeau violates social distancing rules

And the similar if not plagiarized one by Brian Lilley:

Justin Trudeau showed once again on Easter weekend that he doesn’t play by the same rules as everyone else, not even the rules he tell us to follow.

It was just last Friday that the PM was telling the whole country during his daily address that you couldn’t go see family for Easter.

“This weekend is going to be very different. You’ll have to stay home. You’ll have to Skype that big family dinner and the Easter egg hunt,” Trudeau said, standing outside of Rideau Cottage on the grounds of Rideau Hall in Ottawa.

That statement was followed up by this one.

“During the long weekend, we will all have to stay home. We cannot have gatherings for dinner and we’ll have to be creative to organize an Easter egg hunt inside the house,” Trudeau said.

So what did he do this weekend?

He got in his motorcade, with his full entourage, on Saturday afternoon and drove to the PM’s summer residence at Harrington Lake. From one cottage to the other, it is about 27 kilometers, it crosses a provincial boundary and goes through at least three municipalities.

In other words, Trudeau did exactly the opposite of what he, his own medical experts and the premiers of Ontario and Quebec have been saying. Ontario’s Doug Ford and Quebec’s Francois Legault have told people not to go to the cottage and to stay in our primary residence.

This is all part of flattening the curve we are told and making sure we don’t spread the virus. Quebec has even imposed travel restrictions within the province and for more than a week now, people trying to cross from Ottawa into Gatineau have been turned back unless they are essential workers.

No visiting the cottage, no shopping, no visiting family, no going on a drive through Gatineau Park. If you don’t live there, you are turned back.

Trudeau lives by different rules, though.

In normal times I would get this. I don’t begrudge him the fact that he travels with a big entourage; I get that being PM carries risks most of us can’t dream of. That said, these are not normal times.

Most of us would have loved to have visited family this weekend but we didn’t. We stayed home.

My parents are a short drive away and yet I have not seen them since they got back from Florida more than three weeks ago and I won’t see them soon.

Health officials warn against visiting anyone that you don’t already live with.

We are told time and again, including by Trudeau, that these are the sacrifices we have to make to fight COVID-19. On Saturday — just before he hopped in the motorcade and broke all the rules — Trudeau invoked the sacrifice of the men at Vimy Ridge to encourage us all to follow the rules.

Then he went to the cottage to see his wife and kids who have been living there for weeks and guess what, they had a big Easter egg hunt outside and posted it on social media.

At times like this, we need leaders who will lead by example; this weekend, Trudeau was not that leader.

He was showing he doesn’t follow the rules he sets for the little people and by posting the photos online, he and his family were openly mocking us.

Source: LILLEY: Trudeau’s cottage visit mocks us and the rules he sets

The one column by Ryan Tumulty who at least gives both equal treatment:

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer brought his wife, Jill, and five children to Ottawa aboard a small government jet, along with two other MPs, during a time when health authorities are encouraging people to keep socially distant.

The government has dispatched planes to pick up MPs in western Canada to allow them to attend the House of Commons in person for emergency votes that have taken place since the Commons stopped sitting in mid-March.

As the CBC first reported, the flight aboard the nine-seat Challenger jet picked up Green Party parliamentary leader Elizabeth May and Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough in British Columbia, before collecting Scheer in Regina along with his wife and children.

Public health officials across Canada have encouraged everyone to stay home due to the crisis and to avoid all non-essential travel and keep a two-metre distance from others.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also travelled over the weekend, heading to Harrington Lake, which is about 25 kilometres from his home, Rideau Cottage, in Ottawa.

Trudeau’s wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, posted a photo online of the prime minister and his three children on Sunday at the cottage.

Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, has discouraged people from going to their cottage properties.

“Urban dwellers should avoid heading to rural properties, as these places have less capacity to manage COVID-19,” she said in early April.

Meanwhile, May confirmed every seat on the Challenger plane was full once Scheer’s family boarded, but she said everyone did their best to limit potential spread.

“I wore my mask. I kept the best distance I could keep under the circumstances,” she said.

May said she was extraordinarily grateful to be offered a seat on the flight, because otherwise, even after driving to Vancouver, she would have had to board multiple commercial flights.

“It was still going to be three airports going through Vancouver, going through Toronto to get to Ottawa.“

She said she was offered the flight by the government and initially told it would be her, Qualtrough and Scheer on board. May said afterwards she was given the chance to object when Scheer asked to bring his family, but she understood where they were coming from.

May said the deciding factor was knowing that if Mrs. Scheer and the children were not allowed onboard they would have had to make their way to Ottawa by commercial flights.

“It is a personal family decision. I am not going to put myself in their shoes,” she said.

Scheer’s spokesperson Denise Siele said the trip made more sense than other possible options.

“This one way trip resulted in less travel than Mr. Scheer flying back and forth every time the House sits, or flying the entire family on commercial flights through multiple airports,” she said in an email.

She said the Scheer family would now be remaining in Ottawa.

“After spending several weeks in Regina over the March break, Mr. Scheer and his family will be based out of Ottawa for the rest of the spring session.”

Simon Ross, a spokesperson for the Government House Leader, said the government has sent several flights to bring MPs and senators to Ottawa for emergency sittings.

“During these exceptional circumstances brought on by pandemic, when possible the Government has sought to accommodate government aircraft requests from MPs and Senators.”

May said she returned home on the government plane Saturday, after the house rose, with only her and Qualtrough on board.

Source: Government’s COVID-19 rules don’t seem to apply to Andrew Scheer and Justin Trudeau

Scheer vows crackdown on those trying to ‘game’ Canada’s refugee system

As many have noted (see below), light on specifics but clear focus on dispelling the (Liberal) narrative that the Conservatives are anti-immigration, xenophobic and racist. Strongest message from him on inclusiveness and rebuking those who are. He has set the bar for Conservative candidates, and no doubt the media and others will be watching candidate nominations accordingly.

Scheer is completely correct in stating that questioning immigration policies and program management should not be dismissed as racists or bigots but debated on the merits of the arguments. The Liberals are all too quick to jump on that charge.

But how these arguments are framed, which words are used, the meetings one attends, the audience one targets are equally important (and applies to all parties).

While the focus on border management was expected, the ducking the question of immigration levels was not. Going back to an annual plan makes little sense given that a multi-year plan assists other levels of government and settlement organizations plan. One can question whether the levels are too high or low in the current plan (a case can be made either way).

The general points – promoting private sponsorship of refugees, emphasizing economic immigration, improving language training, improving foreign credential recognition – are long standing Conservative policy approaches that they also emphasized when in government. Providing a low-skilled workers a path to permanent residency is new to my recollection (current stats indicate that only higher skilled workers transition to permanent residency in significant numbers). And of course, closing the loophole in the STCA with the USA requires US agreement, and the Liberal government is already taking steps in the regard.

And interestingly, but not surprisingly, not a word about any changes to citizenship (the Liberal government reversed the Conservative  expanded ages for knowledge and language testing along with citizenship revocation in cases of terror or treason).

Starting with the points on the CPC website:

As Prime Minister, Andrew Scheer will:

  • Work to immediately restore fairness, order, and compassion in our immigration system
  • Put an end to illegal border crossings at unofficial points of entry like Roxham Road
  • Close the loophole in the Safe-Third Country Agreement that allows some people to skip the line and avoid the queue
  • Safeguard and emphasize economic immigration
  • Set immigration levels consistent with what is in Canada’s best interests
  • Stand up for families and ensure that spouses and children can be reunited
  • Improve language training
  • Ensure that our system prioritizes people facing true persecution
  • Improve credential recognition and make it easier for new Canadians who have existing skills that meet our standards to ply their trades here
  • Work to reunite survivors of genocide, who have already resettled in Canada, more expeditiously
  • Bring back the Office of Religious Freedom so that we can protect our shared humanity and promote interest in the dignity of all people
  • Promote the private sponsorships of refugees

Conservatives have cleaned up Liberal messes in immigration before and we are prepared to do it again… with fairness, order, and compassion as the pillars of our efforts.

Source: Andrew Scheer’s Immigration Plan

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says he would restore fairness and faith in the integrity of Canada’s immigration system by cracking down on those who “game” the refugee process and supporting newcomers who help boost the economy.

In a pre-election speech on immigration policy, Scheer blamed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for eroding public trust in the system by failing to stop the flow of people crossing into Canada from the U.S. outside official border points. The Liberals, he argued, have undermined Canada’s legacy of welcoming newcomers through a system based on compassion, the rule of law and human rights.

“Among the people I hear from most often on this point are new Canadians themselves, people who have played by the rules and arrived in Canada fair and square,” Scheer said to supporters and invited guests from diverse communities during a party-organized event in Toronto.

“They are most offended at Trudeau’s status-quo, where some are able to jump queues, exploit loopholes and skip the line.”

In a speech called Unity in Diversity, one in a series of five speeches on his vision for Canada, Scheer set the stage for an election campaign that’s expected to see divisive immigration issues become key points of debate.

He boasted about the Conservatives’ past record in reducing processing times and backlogs, and outlined in broad strokes some measures his government would take if it’s elected this fall.

Scheer said Conservatives would not set arbitrary immigration levels, but rather be guided on an annual basis based on Canada’s best interests.

“That number may change every year, and I’m not going to get into a political debate, or worse, an auction about immigration numbers,” he said. “The number will reflect what Canada needs and, just as importantly, who needs Canada.”

Refugee, economic immigrant policies

He also said a Conservative government would:

  • Do more to promote privately sponsored refugees.
  • Safeguard and emphasize economic immigration.
  • Improve language training so newcomers can succeed economically and socially.
  • Improve credential recognition to make it easier for newcomers to practise their professions and trades.
  • Provide low-skilled workers a permanent path to residency, making sure wages are fair and taking steps to prevent abuse of workers.
  • Close a loophole in the Safe Third Country Agreement to prevent people from entering Canada at Roxham Road in Quebec and other illegal crossing points.

The Liberals have been under fire for failing to control the border during a surge in the number of people crossing into Canada from the U.S. outside official border points. About 40,000 people have crossed illegally in the last two years.

Scheer accused Trudeau of playing wedge politics on the immigration file by responding to criticism with “rhetoric and personal attacks.”

“We should be able to have an immigration debate in this country without the government calling its critics racists and bigots,” he said.

Scheer said the Liberal approach is “dangerous” because it reduces legitimate criticisms to “cheap partisanship” and devalues the real threats of racism, bigotry and extremism.

Hateful forces

“To ascribe those motives to those who simply want stronger security screening procedures, or fewer people entering the country illegally, makes a mockery of such hateful forces,” he said.

The Liberals lost no time in tearing into the Conservatives’ approach to immigration and refugee policy.

In a Liberal Party news release issued before Scheer was to take the podium, Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen accused Scheer of embracing “the same sort of extreme right wing anti-immigration rhetoric that has become pervasive among right-wing populist parties around the world.”

Hussen also took aim at the Conservative legacy on immigration, saying the party made “reckless” program cuts that were called cruel and unusual treatment by the Federal Court.

“From stoking fear with snitch lines and cutting refugee health services, to running ads that peddle false information and outright conspiracy theories, Canadians know that Conservative politicians see immigration policy as a way to fear monger and divide Canadians,” Hussen said in the release.

Superior views ‘absolutely repugnant’

On refugees, Scheer said his “deeply held personal convictions” are based on universal equality, and said the notion that someone’s race, religion, gender or sexual orientation would make them superior is “absolutely repugnant.”

The Conservative leader also spoke of how his beliefs about helping those in greatest need were shaped by his mother, who died a couple of years ago, and her commitment to helping refugees and the most vulnerable people. Canada must continue to be a place of refuge for those truly in need, he said.

“This strikes at the very fairness of Canada’s immigration system, and there is absolutely nothing fair about forcing the oppressed and the persecuted, like the Syrians my mother helped, to wait longer for Canada’s help while others cross the border illegally from places like upstate New York,” he said.

Hussen’s release defended the Liberal record in office, insisting the Trudeau government has restored confidence in the immigration system by investing in resources to attract newcomers, shorten wait times and ensure fairness.

“Canadians don’t want to go back to the old days and old divisive ways of Stephen Harper and that’s what Andrew Sheer has to offer.”

Source: Andrew Scheer unveils his vision for Canada’s immigration system | CBC News

Commentary of interest

From John Ivison of the National Post:

In his immigration address, Scheer offered the perfect riposte to the suggestion that he is sympathetic to white supremacists and the tapeworm of intolerance and bigotry.

The Conservative leader was explicit – “there is no room in a peaceful and free country like Canada for intolerance, racism or extremism of any kind,” he said.

He reinforced his belief that immigration is a net positive contributor to the Canadian economy. But he was critical of a Liberal Party that has, he said, undone the progress on the immigration file made by previous Conservative governments to speed up processing and eliminate backlogs.

The failure by the Trudeau government to stem the flow of illegal migrants has led to a growth in the number of people who think immigration should be reduced, and in those who have lost faith in the fairness of the system.

Most of all, he censured the Liberals for calling its critics racists and bigots.

Scheer said his faith and upbringing instilled in him a commitment to social justice that flows from conservative principles of individual responsibility.

He said his late mother had helped Syrian refugees settle in Ottawa and that they had reciprocated her compassion by visiting her in hospital.

The Liberals have said they will increase Canada’s immigration target to 350,000 by 2021; Maxime Bernier’s fledgling People’s Party wants the number next year to be cut to 250,000. Scheer said the numbers game is a “red herring” – that the economic and social reality will dictate the level.

But the federal Conservatives have long been pro-immigration – in 2015, levels were at an historic high of 271,833 and over the course of the previous decade 2.8 million people had arrived as permanent residents, mainly from countries like the Philippines, India, China and Pakistan.

Scheer said he would safeguard and emphasize economic migration, at a time when the mix planned by the Liberals will see economic class migrants decrease as a proportion, compared to family reunification cases and refugees.

“We need the world’s best and brightest to choose Canada,” he said.

The focus on economic migrants might reduce the Conservative Party’s appeal in immigrant communities that like the Liberal pledge to bring in grandparents. But Scheer attempted to patch up the relationship with ethnic communities that deserted the Conservatives at the last election by pointing to the things that unite them – hard work, entrepreneurship, faith, family, free worship, and respect for the rule of law.

“The Conservatives are alone in being the last true ‘big tent’ national party,” he said.

Harper won three elections by portraying his party as moderate and mainstream.

By refusing to pander to the resentful backlash against newcomers that has been a hallmark of authoritarian populism elsewhere in the world, Scheer has frustrated his critics and given the Conservative Party the prospect of growing support beyond its base.

Similarly, the decision to drop a previous pledge to balance the budget within two years blunts Liberal claims that Scheer will cut billions from public services. The acknowledgment that he will not be able to make $20 billion deficits disappear in two budgetary cycles is a recognition of voters’ fundamental hypocrisy – they want lots of government spending and lower taxes.

In a previous speech, Scheer said dramatic spending cuts are not necessary to balance the budget – “simply taking a responsible, measured approach to spending growth will go a long way”.

That sounds a lot like the budget balancing itself. But it is very much in keeping with his predecessor’s approach – incremental progress, rather than smash-the-system revolution. That doesn’t seem particularly scary or weak.

Source: John Ivison: Andrew Scheer slowly revealing policies that appear neither scary nor weak

From Campbell Clark of the Globe:

Andrew Scheer’s big immigration-policy speech was not about immigration policy, but about telling the country that he’s not a bigot.

That section of the speech, laying out the Conservative Leader’s personal commitment to diversity and equality, and telling racists they have no place in his party, was personal, and it was important.

Good thing, too. The parts about immigration policy were a bust.

Still, at this particular juncture in politics, it is notable that a big chunk of the Conservative Leader’s speech could have fit in one of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s familiar paeans to diversity as our strength. Mr. Scheer’s speech was entitled Unity in Diversity.

That’s not only because Mr. Scheer has been accused by Liberals of stirring up divisions over immigration, and of being unwilling to unequivocally distance himself from anti-immigrant extremists. It’s also because there’s the People’s Party of Canada – headed by Mr. Scheer’s former leadership rival, Maxime Bernier – trying to feed off anti-immigrant sentiment and take Tory support.

Mr. Scheer presented a tribute to Canadian diversity that ran through the contributions of Indigenous peoples and successive waves of immigration from all parts of the world, closing the list with “Muslims afflicted by oppression and civil war,” and “Gays and lesbians escaping literal extermination simply for being who they are.”

He was going out of his way to respond to what he called “dangerous” false accusations that his party accepts extremism.

He has said that before. But this time, Mr. Scheer rooted that in his personal beliefs and his faith, describing respect for diversity and equality as “one of my most deeply held convictions.” He talked about his late mother volunteering to help Syrian refugees.

“I believe that we are all children of God. And therefore there can be no inferiority amongst human beings. And that equal and infinite value exists in each and every one of us,” he said. “I find the notion that one’s race, religion, gender or sexual orientation would make anyone in any way superior or inferior to anyone else absolutely repugnant.

“And if there’s anyone who disagrees with that, there’s the door. You are not welcome here.”

Those words alone won’t be enough to convince everyone. Yet, they certainly aren’t the kinds of phrases you will find in Mr. Bernier’s speeches, or on his Twitter account. He rooted diversity and equality in his own beliefs. And it is important for Canadians to hear leaders of their major political parties say that.

The problem is that the rest of his speech was so full of unclear, empty phrases that it won’t reassure anyone about how he will apply those principles to immigration.

After all, Mr. Scheer wasn’t entirely wrong when he complained the Liberals paint his party as a bunch of extremists. Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, for example, accused the Conservatives in January of planning to “militarize” the border to keep out asylum-seekers. Mr. Hussen had twisted a preposterous Conservative proposal – to turn the whole border into an official border crossing – into gun-toting fear.

Yet, Mr. Scheer still uses dramatic rhetoric about the immigration system breaking down, but proposes such vague or half-baked solutions that it allows his adversaries to fill in the blanks.

On Tuesday, he bemoaned the fact that tens of thousands of asylum seekers have crossed the border at unauthorized locations. He suggested, somewhat obliquely, that they are queue-jumpers. But he didn’t propose a real solution to change things, anyway. He said he would close a loophole in a Canada-U.S. agreement so those people could be returned to the United States, without acknowledging the obstacle: The U.S. doesn’t want to do that.

Mr. Scheer said he’d “emphasize” economic immigration, but extolled the virtues of every other category.

How many people should Canada let in each year? Mr. Scheer criticized people who promise to lower the numbers, “without considering the economic impact.” Presumably, that was a shot at a rival, Mr. Bernier, but it also applies to a politician he has courted as an ally, Quebec Premier François Legault. Mr. Scheer also criticized the Liberal government for setting higher immigration targets “without adequate services in place.”

So what should the number be? Whatever “is in Canada’s best interests,” Mr. Scheer said.

He didn’t give the slightest hint of what that means.

No, there wasn’t much immigration policy there. But there was something else – a public embrace of diversity and equality as a core principle. In today’s politics, that matters.

Source: Andrew Scheer’s diversity speech is personal, but short on immigration policy details
The Toronto Sun take by Brian Lilley:

Andrew Scheer says Justin Trudeau has undermined support for immigration in Canada, and he wants to fix that.

Speaking in Toronto’s northern suburbs in the immigrant-heavy area around the airport, Scheer laid out his plan for fixing the system while criticizing Trudeau’s handling of the file.

“Under Trudeau, a record high number of Canadians believe that immigration should be reduced,” Scheer said.

“Worse, Canadians have lost faith in the fairness of our system.”

This has happened, Scheer said, because of the inability of Trudeau and his team to deal with illegal border crossers that — in his words — “game the system.”

Under the previous Conservative government, immigration levels stayed at near-record levels and support for the system remained strong.

While the Conservatives were happy to bring in more than 250,000 landed immigrants per year, they also cracked down on those who abused the visa system or tried to get around the rules.

The Liberals increased the annual immigration target to 340,000 by 2020.

While doing that, though, they have also allowed 43,000 people to cross into the country illegally — mostly at a single irregular border crossing in Quebec.

They have also loosened visa rules meant to stop bogus claims, including from countries like Mexico.

According to reports, more than 400 criminals have entered Canada to traffic drugs for Mexican cartels, and asylum claims have spiked from 260 when the visa requirement was lifted in 2016 to more than 3,300 in 2018.

Scheer says these types of abuses have prompted Canadians to lose faith in a system that, at one time, was a success story for the world to emulate, “of different people — humanity in all its diversity — living together, working together, succeeding and celebrating together as one.”

“One country — the true north, strong and free,” he added.

Source: LILLEY: Scheer strikes right note on immigration