2019 TRUDEAU REPORT CARD C+ Overall, Immigration B

The intro to the section on immigration, largely written by Howard Duncan (I participated in an earlier report card). A downgrade from last year’s A-.

A bit overly harsh, as any government whatever its stripe would have found the influx of asylum seekers difficult to manage given the legal, policy and operational constraints.

The critique of the government’s communications, while valid in terms of its overly downplaying the issue and too much “virtue signalling,” underestimates the challenge given the tenor of debates south of the border and in Europe, and their crossover into some Canadian debates:

The influx of irregular border crossers continued to rise this year,and so have public discourse and import. On the one hand, the Trudeau government should be commended for its response in balancing between two very different views on the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA); demands to ‘close the loophole’ and outlaw any asylum claimants from the US, and calls for the complete suspension of the STCA, questioning whether the US can be considered a ‘safe third country’ at all. The Trudeau Government managed these conflicting calls by upholding Canada’s legal and moral obligations to allow individuals claiming asylum to have a fair hearing.

While practically and programmatically, the government has done an acceptable job at responding, they haven’t done a good enough job of explaining what they are doing, and why they are doing it. The Liberals have allowed the Canada-US border issue to develop into a very volatile political issue due to an outrageous lack of communication and coordination.

This is exemplified in the way the government has responded to provincial governments that raised concerns (such as the Ford government in Ontario). The Liberal response was not aimed at addressing legitimate concerns of the governments, but rather deflected all concerns by pointing fingers and labelling governments as racist, exclusionary and a disgrace to Canadian values. This attitude along with the divisive comments has only antagonized those who don’t share Liberal political ideologies. Concerns from major host cities such as Montreal and Toronto about the mounting costs of refugees and the strain of refugees on public housing and social services reflects a complete lack of coordination in all levels of government.

The failures in communication are mounting. The failure by Minister Hussen to clearly communicate to the Canadian public what’s happening in Roxham Road (a favored border crossing in Quebec) and Emerson, Manitoba (another border crossing) is a case in point. Trudeau’s own town hall comments have further managed to blur the line between refugees and asylum seekers in public discourse.

These lapses reveal a very large weakness within the Liberal government in building
and sustaining the consensus and support necessary to see difficult policies through to fruition. By taking a moral high ground, the Trudeau government has yet to demonstrate true leadership on immigration. The Liberals have allowed a policy problem, key to realising Canada’s future prosperity, to become an issue of politics. As a result, immigration has become a deeply divisive political issue and will be a subject of much debate in the upcoming elections.

While practically and programmatically, the government has done an acceptable job at responding, they haven’t done a good enough job of explaining what they are doing, and why they are doing it. The Liberals have allowed the Canada-US border issue to develop into a very volatile political issue due to an outrageous lack of communication and coordination.

This is exemplified in the way the government has responded to provincial governments that raised concerns (such as the Ford government in Ontario). The Liberal response was not aimed at addressing legitimate concerns of the governments, but rather deflected all concerns by pointing fingers and labelling governments as racist, exclusionary and a disgrace to Canadian values. This attitude along with the divisive comments has only antagonized those who don’t share Liberal political ideologies. Concerns from major host cities such as Montreal and Toronto about the mounting costs of refugees and the strain of refugees on public housing and social services reflects a complete lack of coordination in all levels of government.

The failures in communication are mounting. The failure by Minister Hussen to clearly communicate to the Canadian public what’s happening in Roxham Road (a favored border crossing in Quebec) and Emerson, Manitoba (another border crossing) is a case in point. Trudeau’s own town hall comments have further managed to blur the line between refugees and asylum seekers in public discourse.

These lapses reveal a very large weakness within the Liberal government in building and sustaining the consensus and support necessary to see difficult policies through to fruition. By taking a moral high ground, the Trudeau government has yet to demonstrate true leadership on immigration. The Liberals have allowed a policy problem, key to realising Canada’s future prosperity, to become an issue of politics. As a result, immigration has become a deeply divisive political issue and will be a subject of much debate in the upcoming elections.

The concern is not with immigration numbers, but with the government’s ability to project the public’s opinion and manage these flows in a financially responsible way. Irregular border crossings have come to a halt during these vicious winter months, following several cases of frostbite. Yet another run at the border is expected in the coming months.

All eyes are focused on how the Liberal government will respond.

….

Source: Trudeau Government Report Card 2019