There is one little secret Canadian Liberals and Conservatives don’t want people to know. They agree on the basic concept that more people for Canada is a good thing. It adds to the culture, and economy of the place.
The disagreement is about pragmatic concerns. Conservatives are known to focus on the question of how to get things done. What programs are needed? Language? Retraining? Housing? How do we make sure these people find the prosperity and happiness they have come to our country in search of? All reasonable questions to be asking. That’s all Ontario’s Minister in charge of immigration Lisa McLeod is asking. That’s all Toronto Mayor John Tory is asking. And Saskatchewan has now added their voice to the requests
The Liberals meanwhile go for the heart. They appeal to Canadians’ self-image of a generous, giving society. It works because it speaks to another of Canada’s universal truths, that the majority of us can trace our backgrounds back to another country. We know we have a fantastic country, why wouldn’t we want to share? To offer others fleeing persecution a safe place? To give others a chance at prosperity? It makes sense.
A tweet from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in January, 2017 reads: To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians welcome you regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength. #WelcomeToCanada”. It’s been liked 762,000 times, re-tweeted more than 400,000 times, and gotten 430,000 replies. The tweet was in response to a Trump administration decision to ban immigrants from a number of Muslim majority countries. The ban has been held up the US Supreme Court.
There isn’t any evidence yet it impacted the current issue of asylum seekers from the United States. But there are reports that it initially caused issues for Canadian bureaucrats fielding a high amount of enquiries on seeking refugee status.
There’s also the “Safe Third Countries” agreement. Translated: The first country you land in, is the one you must seek asylum in. So immigrants landing in the US must seek status there, those landing here in Canada must seek status here. It’s enforceable in all official border crossings.
Canada is a large country, and there are holes in the border literally in the middle of nowhere. That’s where people are walking across the border. They are arrested, and processed at an official crossing, then released. They are allowed to stay pending a hearing. This has been noted by Citizenship and Immigration on its twitter feed. “Crossing the US border into Canada between ports of entry is against the law and you will be arrested.”
The safe third countries agreement could become another point of contention between Canada and the USA. Because of the attitudes displayed by the Trump administration, does Canada officially still consider the US a safe place? It’s a question that might need to be answered sooner than the Liberals might like.