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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Irregular migration issue also discussed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chris Selley: Conservatives need pressure release on Islamic extremism, but Manning panel on terrorism was bonkers

Good commentary by Selley:

Goodness knows conservatives could use some pressure-release on the question of Islamic extremism. Ten days ago, four leadership candidates — including two former cabinet ministers — attended a rally whose premise was that a private member’s motion in the House of Commons was a step toward Sharia law and an attack on free speech.

Alas, the terrorism panel released no pressure at all.

“Motion 103 … is essentially akin to the blasphemy laws,” said Raheel Raza, president of the Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow. (M-103 isn’t a law of any sort, and never will be.) She took umbrage at the suggestion by M-103’s sponsor, Liberal MP Iqra Khalid, that “more than one million Canadians … suffer because of Islamophobia … on a daily basis.”

Raza: “Seriously? As though in Canada racism and bigotry, only against Muslims, is an everyday issue?” (Six parishioners were recently murdered in a Quebec City mosque. M-103 condemns “all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination.”)

Thomas Quiggin of the Terrorism and Security Experts network then rattled through a deck of slides that would have left an uninformed viewer thinking most every mosque in Canada — including the Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec City, site of the massacre — was funnelling funds to extremist groups. He suggested the English-language media didn’t report on a pig’s head having been delivered to the mosque a year earlier. (They did. Why wouldn’t they?) He suggested intelligence officials should have known about the pig’s head, and that the mosque was supporting extremists, and that the gunman was intending to take his revenge — Quiggin suspects — for that support.

“The cycle of violence has come to Canada as it has in France, Belgium, Germany, the Middle East, and we can no longer deny this,” said Quiggin, and that’s bonkers. The facts in evidence were the attacks in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu (one dead), Parliament Hill attack (one dead) and … Quebec City, where the victims were Muslims at prayer!

There are things being said in some Canadian mosques that would cause outrage if they were more widely reported. Why they are not more widely reported is a good question; political correctness is a very plausible answer. But Manning attendees were promised a sober look at the problem, including an effort to “define how serious (it) really is.” What they got were two alarmists. Policy has never been the Manning conference’s forte, but I swear panellists used to mildly disagree with each other now and again, and to have vastly superior resumes.

Four years ago, after Tom Flanagan’s comments about child pornography and Wildrose candidate Alan Hunsperger’s “lake of fire” missive, Manning warned conservatives against “intemperate and ill-considered remarks by those who hold … positions deeply but in fits of carelessness or zealousness say things that discredit the family.” The first question from the audience at the terrorism panel was whether Raza thought it should be illegal to call Muhammad a pedophile.

She didn’t. Neither do I. But this kind of nonsense has great potential to harm the Conservative Party, Michael Chong said Friday in an interview; the last place it should be happening is at Manningstock. And Chong is fairly emblematic of the mess the party now confronts. He supported M-103, a meaningless motion. But he also supports doing away with the hate-speech section of the Criminal Code, a very meaningful restriction on free speech. He supports a simple, revenue-neutral, Economics 101 carbon tax to fight emissions, instead of command-and-control regulations.

He was roundly booed for the later during Friday’s leaders debate. Mainstream Conservatives, never mind the new fringe, sneer that he ought to run for the Liberals.

Source: Chris Selley: Conservatives need pressure release on Islamic extremism, but Manning panel on terrorism was bonkers | National Post

Shannon Proudfoot has an only slightly more gentle take:

The Manning Centre Conference, the pre-eminent gathering of Canadian conservatives, opened in Ottawa on Friday morning with a panel discussion that sounded a stark note of alarm, with a contrarian streak: Islamic extremism exists in Canada, and to believe otherwise is dangerous naiveté.

The discussion was billed as “Leading the Response to Islamist Extremism and its Ideology in Canada,” one of the break-out sessions planned by the Manning Centre, which provides research, training and networking for Canadian conservatives.

The morning panel featured Raheel Raza, president of the Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, which describes its mission as “oppos(ing) extremism, fanaticism and violence in the name of religion,” and Thomas Quiggin, a self-styled security and terrorism expert who runs the Terrorism and Security Experts network.

….But regardless of his inaccuracies and misleading connections, Quiggin’s arguments seemed to resonate with at least a segment of the Manning Centre audience. They indulged him by turns with disapproving murmurs and incredulous gasps as he theatrically laid out the supposed creeping influence of Islamist extremism in Canada.

As Quiggin worked himself into high dudgeon over what he claimed was the Islamization of Canada’s public schools, out in the audience, the 50-ish woman once again sighed and shook her head in disgust.

At the Manning Conference, an alarming view of Islam

At the Manning conference, identity politics continue to torment the Conservatives

Interesting. Conservatives really need to come to terms with this given just how much their outreach strategy to ethnic voters collapsed in ridings with strong visible minority populations, as well, it appears, being offside mainstream Canadian values:

Toronto Star columnist Chantal Hébert was blunt about the mini existential crisis the conference was exposing.

CTV Journalist Mercedes Stephenson, Sun Media Journalist Anthony Furey, Journalist Chantal Hebert and MacleanÕs Journalist Paul Wells take part in a panel during the Manning Centre Conference in Ottawa on Friday, February 26, 2016. iPolitics/Matthew Usherwood

“Why did Justin Trudeau win the niqab debate on an issue he should’ve lost (according) to the polls? Because his stance on the niqab debate, which is a policy stance, goes to who the Liberals are. You could set your clock on Justin Trudeau saying what he said about the niqab,” she said.

“I look at your party and the niqab, and I don’t know who think you are. If you can, explain it….There are issues that brand a party beyond tone. And before you set out, you need to decide who you are.”

Back in the other room, where Scott-Marshall was explaining the results of their survey, she spoke of a type of free association exercise where participants were asked what words came to mind when they heard Conservative.

There were some positives, but also negative descriptors in line with what Weston had heard at peoples’ doors: “Old, outdated, and mean.”

When the survey drilled down further into how Canadians felt about common terms in the political vernacular — liberal, progressive, democrat, centre, independent, left-of-centre, socialist, conservative, libertarian, radical — they got a strong negative reaction to “conservative”.

“The most common negative reaction is to the word radical, not surprising probably. Although the second most common negative reaction is actually to the term conservative.” Scott-Marshall said.

“Just over a third of Canadians, 36 per cent, say they have a negative response to the term conservative when they hear it. And only 20 per cent say they have a positive response. Something to bare in mind just in terms of maybe negative…baggage that’s being associated with the term Conservative now.”

At the Manning conference, identity politics continue to torment the Conservatives

Canada stands with peaceful Muslims, Kenney says

In contrast to the PM’s messaging and wedge politics on security, radicalization and Canadian Muslims, and the Conservative Party’s fundraising machine, Minister Kenney borrow from President Obama’s language:

Kenney, who is also Harper’s longtime multiculturalism minister, noted the cost borne by Muslims facing extremist elements around the world.

“The vast majority of the victims of this dystopian vision of the caliphate from Nigeria to the Philippines are innocent, peaceful Muslim people who simply want to raise their families in peace and security,” Kenney told the Manning Networking Conference, a conservative policy gathering.

“And we stand with them, we stand with them around the world, we stand with them in Iraq today, we stand in defence of the vast majority of Muslims who reject this cult of violence. Canadians are in solidarity with them.”

Since the attacks this winter in France and in Denmark by Islamic extremists, the Tories have spoken out about their fight against “barbaric cultural practices” and against women who would cover their faces with the niqab during citizenship ceremonies. “Not the way we do things here,” read one Conservative party online message.

Harper referred specifically to mosques as places of radicalization, and unlike U.S. President Barack Obama has offered no messages of outreach to the Muslim community in the past several months.

“The prime minister of this country has a responsibility to bring people together in this country, not to divide us by pandering to some people’s fears,” Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said recently.

Harper’s office pointed to a speech the Prime Minister made in December in which he expressed gratitude to those Muslim Canadians who spoke out against attacks that killed soldiers in Ottawa and Montreal last year.

Kenney also rejected the suggestion the party has alienated Canadian Muslims, pointing out he is a frequent visitor to mosques and islamic community organizations, and that his government has offered support against islamophobic vandalism and threats.

He also noted the help the community has offered in combating homegrown terrorism.

“We commend leaders and grassroots members of Canadian Muslim communities for having co-operated with police and intelligence services in reporting incidents or individuals who might be of concern,” said Kenney.

“Indeed our security and police agencies will confirm that potentially violent instances have been prevented, radicalization has been diminished thanks to the proactive co-operation of many in the Canadian Muslim communities so I think that message is clear.”

But it matters that this more inclusive language is made by a Minister, no matter how senior, rather than the PM himself, suggesting the triumph of wedge politics over the very real need, in any counter-radicalization strategy, to have the support of the Muslim communities.

Canada stands with peaceful Muslims, Kenney says – The Globeand Mail.

Interestingly, the Ottawa Citizen account of the speech neglected to mention any of these messages, focussing on Kenney’s hard-line messaging on the risks of further terrorist incidents (valid) and justification of C-51 (not).

Kenney says homegrown terrorism a ‘reality’ in Canada