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:

 

 
Weekly:
 
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

John Ivison: A most convenient misstep for the Liberals in Burnaby South – and other related articles

A good example of ethnic politics going wrong.

First, an interesting political analysis by Ivison:

Occam’s razor, the problem-solving principle dating back to the 13th century friar William of Ockham, states that, other things being equal, simple explanations are generally better than more complex ones.

A medical equivalent, Zebra, guides doctors to reject exotic medical diagnoses in favour of more commonplace explanations.

“When you hear hoofbeats, think of horses, not zebras,” runs the logic.

It’s a good guiding principle for analyzing politics too. It is more often incompetence, rather than scruples, that makes the simplest explanation most likely. The relationships underlying political events are so complex that predicting outcomes from any action is a dubious business.

Yet sometimes, a case comes along where the more complex theory cannot be ruled out.

Take events in the riding of Burnaby South in British Columbia. The Liberals hemmed and hawed about running a candidate in the Feb. 25 byelection there, conscious that if they did so, they might inadvertently win and put paid to the political career of Jagmeet Singh, the federal NDP leader who is seeking a seat in Parliament.

Singh has found the learning curve in federal politics particularly steep, making numerous missteps in the full glare of the national media.

This past weekend, he failed to answer a question on a topic that had been all over the news. He claimed he hadn’t heard the question, but he left the impression that it is only the hard questions that he mis-hears.

Singh remains Justin Trudeau’s preferred opponent in October’s federal election and there was the very real prospect that, if defeated, he might be replaced by someone more seasoned.

The Liberals had the option of not running a candidate in Burnaby South — Elizabeth May’s Green Party decided to respect the old tradition of “leader’s courtesy,” not running against a federal leader trying to win a seat in the House of Commons.

Yet there were local pressures to run a Liberal candidate in the byelection, and it was decided it would be bad form for the ruling party to be so brazen about its preferences.

Step forward Karen Wang, a local daycare operator, who edged biotech scientist Cyrus Eduljee in a contested nomination.

Wang’s candidacy put Singh’s political future very much in doubt, given the seat was won by NDP MP Kennedy Stewart by just 600 votes over his Liberal rival in 2015.

It went unsaid by everyone that a Chinese-Canadian candidate might have extra cachet in a riding where nearly 40 per cent of voters are of Chinese descent.

At least, it went unsaid until Wang said it. Not only did she point out on a Chinese social media platform that she was “the only Chinese candidate,” she identified Singh as being “of Indian descent.”

It was a pretty blatant case of racism from the party that claimed so often in the last election that “a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian.”

Since Trudeau’s main line of attack in the next election will be to accuse the Conservatives of fomenting the “politics of division,” it was clear that he would not support a candidate emphasizing differences and playing on intolerance to get elected.

Wang said the “phrasing should have been different” and removed her Chinese language post but it was too late.

Early Wednesday Pacific time, the party issued a statement saying that Wang’s comments “are not aligned with the values of the Liberal Party of Canada” and said it had accepted her resignation. “The Liberal party has a clear commitment to positive politics and support for Canadian diversity and the same is always expected of our candidates,” it said.

Wang issued her own statement, apologizing to Singh, and saying her choice of words about his cultural background “was not well-considered and did not reflect my intent.”

Her resignation has left Singh alone on the left of the political spectrum in Burnaby South, facing Conservative Jay Shin and People’s Party candidate Laura Lynn Tyler Thompson. His victory would seem assured, if the Liberals don’t replace Wang. And yet they seem in no hurry to do so. When asked if there would be another Liberal candidate, Liberal communications director Braeden Caley said: “We’ll have more to discuss on that in due course.”

The most recent opinion poll in Burnaby South by Mainstreet Research suggested the byelection was turning into a two-horse race between Singh, with 39 per cent support, and Wang, with 26 per cent. The Conservatives will be more alarmed by the pollsters’ estimate of People’s Party support, at nine per cent, than the failure of their candidate to win the seat (Shin had the support of 22 per cent of the 740 people polled.)

Even with a margin of error of nearly four per cent, it’s clear that Burnaby South will stay orange if there is no Liberal in the race.

So back to Occam’s razor. Was this just a case of a reckless candidate gambling that if she played dog-whistle politics, it wouldn’t be heard beyond the Chinese community?

Or was the plan all along to throw the fight?

Nine times out of 10, it would be the former but the outcome of this electoral rumpus is extremely convenient for Trudeau. He has polished his own halo as the great unifier who will forge consensus and bridge divides.

And he has all but insured that an NDP leader yet to find his feet on the national stage staggers on to fight the general election.

This may be the rare occasion when the hoofbeats are made by zebras.

Source: John Ivison: A most convenient misstep for the Liberals in Burnaby South

Secondly, revelations by Michelle Rempel, not substantiated but believable, that Wang wanted to run as a Conservative but was rejected:

The Conservative Party of Canada rejected Karen Wang as a potential candidate before her short-lived Liberal Party candidacy in the Burnaby South byelection, according to MP Michelle Rempel.

Rempel said Wang approached her party, wanting to run in the 2019 federal election.

“The Conservative Party of Canada said no to this candidate over a year ago,” she said. “There was a reason for that.”

Rempel would not specify what that reason was.

“My understanding is that there were some discussions with this particular individual and the party decided for reasons regarding her judgment, that became clear today, to not allow her to run for us,” she said.

Rempel made the comments at a press conference in Burnaby Wednesday afternoon. She was joined by Conservative candidate Jay Shin, who is running in the Feb. 25 Burnaby South byelection. The Calgary-based Parliamentarian called the press conference to call on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to initiate a review of Canada’s immigration screening process.

Rempel’s comments came just hours after Wang dropped out of the race. She came under fire for a WeChat post in which she identified herself as the “only Chinese candidate” in the byelection and pointed out that her opponent, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, is of Indian heritage. The post was translated from Chinese and reported by StarMetro Vancouver.

“My choice of words wasn’t well-considered and didn’t reflect my intent, and for that, I sincerely apologize to Mr. Singh,” Wang said in a statement. “I have deep respect for him as the leader of his party and for his public service – and I would never want to diminish that in any way.”

Rempel condemned the WeChat post, calling it “racism plain and simple.”

Shin said he was shocked by Wang’s comments.

“I’m offended as a Korean person, as a Korean-Canadian,” he said. “There’s no place for that.”

The NOW has reached out to the Liberal Party and a representative of Wang’s for comment.

Wang ran for the B.C. Liberal Party in the 2017 provincial election, losing to New Democrat Anne Kang. When the NOW asked her earlier this month why she had chosen to run with the federal Liberals after running for a party often aligned with the federal Conservatives, she said she had always been a supporter of the Liberal Party of Canada due to its core values, including diversity, liberty, multiculturalism and national unity.

Source: Conservatives rejected Karen Wang before her short-lived Liberal candidacy, MP says

Third, two different columns in the Toronto Sun, the first by Candice Malcolm, not acknowledging similar practices by the Conservatives, the second by Brian Lilley basically a plague on all their houses with respect to courting ethnic votes:

This is what a postnational multicultural state looks like.

On Wednesday, the Liberal candidate in the Burnaby South by-election resigned after sending a controversial message through the Chinese social media platform WeChat.

In a Chinese-language post, Karen Wang told her supporters to vote for her because she is “the only Chinese candidate” in the race, and to vote against NDP candidate and party leader Jagmeet Singh, noting that he is “of Indian descent.”

This sort of crass appeal based solely on race and identity is off-putting and unwelcome to most Canadians. But it should come as no surprise that race-based ethnic politics takes place across Canada.

And while the Liberal Party can try to back away from Wang’s message, her appeal to identity politics is straight out of the Liberal playbook and echoes the politics and policies promoted by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

In late 2015, Trudeau was interviewed by The New York Times magazine about his vision for Canada.

The American publication fawned that “Trudeau’s most radical argument is that Canada is becoming a new kind of state, defined not by its European history but by the multiplicity of its identities from all over the world.”

Forget about our traditions of ordered liberty that date back to the signing of the Magna Carta. And forget about our constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy — arguable the most successful form of government in human history — or our commitment to Western liberal ideals.

That type of “European history” is unimportant in Trudeau’s Canada.

Instead, Trudeau said “there is no core identity, no mainstream in Canada… those are the qualities that make us the first postnational state.”

The race-based message from the Liberal candidate mirrors this type of thinking. Wang’s appeal is the inevitable conclusion of Trudeau’s identity politics and his dream of a post-national Canada.

For instance, in her WeChat message, Wang does not call herself “Canadian” or even “Chinese-Canadian.” Instead, she identifies as “Chinese” and calls Singh “Indian.”

Just like Trudeau said, there’s no mainstream, no core identity in Canada. Newcomers don’t have to change anything about themselves when they move to Canada, so why would they bother to adopt a Canadian identity?

Likewise, Trudeau has downplayed the emphasis on language — eliminating the citizenship language test for many newcomers. It’s no surprise, then, to see politicians pandering in different languages to various ethnic communities.

Trudeau’s fixation on identity politics led him to appointing cabinet positions based solely on gender. While 26% of MPs are women, Trudeau promoted 50% to his cabinet.

But why stop at gender? The next logical step is to expand this thinking to other identities, like ethnic background and language groups. Why wouldn’t a postnational Canada have quotas to proportionately represent every ethnic group?

In November, Trudeau said he rejected Canadian nationalism, seemingly conflating it with ethnic nationalism found in Europe and throughout the world.

Canadian nationalism, however, is not based on race or ethnicity, since Canada has always been pluralistic and racially diverse. Instead, our nationalism is defined by patriotism — a love of country and commitment to our heritage and shared values.

Patriotism is the glue that holds our diverse country together, and without it, we devolve into tribalism — divided by bloodlines and ancient feuds from foreign lands.

Trudeau has engineered these changes and created a toxic brew in Canada: lax integration policies juxtaposed with a forced multiculturalism that downplays Canadian values and divisive identity politics that demonizes Canadian heritage and identity.

Source: MALCOLM: Raced-based politics natural outcome of Trudeau’s ‘postnational state’

Karen Wang’s career as a Liberal Party of Canada candidate came to disastrous end on Wednesday as the party dumped her over stupid, and quite frankly racist comments.

It was such a change for a woman whose Twitter profile bragged about being the Team Trudeau candidate in the Burnaby South byelection. The party itself had just the evening before tweeted its support of her.

The official Liberal Party account tweeted “Add Women Change Politics” and called Wang an incredible candidate just hours before this story broke.

Now she’s out, brought down by a crass attempt to use race and tribal politics to win the byelection.

In a posting on Chinese social media platform WeChat, Wang spoke of the size and importance of the Chinese community, then she made the stupid, racist comments.

“If we can increase the voting rate, as the only Chinese candidate in this riding, if I can garner 16,000 votes I will easily win the by-election, control the election race and make history! My opponent in this by-election is the NDP candidate Singh of Indian descent!”

I love the flourish with the exclamation point on Singh’s Indian heritage, she is screaming loud and clear that she means don’t vote for the brown guy.

Well that wouldn’t work for Justin “Diversity is our Strength” Trudeau and after about 15 hours of hand wringing, Wang was fired.

The official line is she resigned, I’m sure her resignation was what I call “voluntold.” Give us your resignation or else.

In her statement, Wang apologized to NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, kind of.

“My choice of words wasn’t well-considered and didn’t reflect my intent, and for that, I sincerely apologize to Mr. Singh,” Wang said in a statement.

In its own statement the party said Wang’s comments, “are not aligned with the values of the Liberal Party.”

No kidding, they shouldn’t be aligned with anyones values.

Yet in some ways Wang thrust into the open the kind of ethno-politics that all the parties have played for years.

Every party has pandered to ethnic, religious or linguistic communities for votes. They will make sure certain ridings have candidates from a specific group if that group is a large enough voting bloc.

I’ve always found it off-putting and wished the parties would stop.

Voters should be picking candidates to vote for with the best policies for their riding, not the same skin colour or ethnic background.

Parties should pick policies to run on that align with their values and are in the best interests of Canada, not so they can attract certain ethnic voting blocs.

Ms. Wang was in many ways playing the game that has been played too long in Canadian politics, albeit more crassly.

Her statement and apology are weak and she needs to say more.

If this were a white candidate, especially a white male candidate, the fury over these comments about not voting for Singh because he is of Indian descent would be deafening.

Wang cannot be allowed an easy escape, nor can the Liberal Party be let off the hook, simply because she is an Asian woman.

There is the idea that I have heard from anti-racism activists that racism only comes from white people. It’s a foolish claim. Anyone can be racist and Wang’s comments show that.

Saying, “My choice of words wasn’t well-considered” does not gloss over the fact that she told supporters vote for me, I’m Chinese and he’s not.

Wang’s initial reaction to the media stories on this also shows she doesn’t understand why it was wrong, she told the Toronto Star it was just bad communication.

“The phrasing should have been different,” she said.

It wasn’t the phrasing that was the problem Ms. Wang, it was the intent of your post.

This kind of politics has no place in Canada. I’d like to say I hope we never see it again, but that is wishful thinking.

The best we can do is call it out when we see it.

Source: LILLEY: Wang’s resignation shows dangers of playing ethno-politics 

Lastly, some good on the ground reporting on the reaction of the Chinese Canadian community in Burnaby South: ‘It makes us look bad’: Burnaby’s Chinese-Canadian community reacts to Karen Wang’s resignation over WeChat post

Wang’s effort to rescind her resignation was rightly rejected: Ousted candidate’s story takes another strange turn, this time into a parking lot