Transportation Minister Marc Garneau has chaired an committee looking into the current surge in asylum seekers at the Canada-United States border. They held their second meeting earlier this week where federal & provincial ministers from Quebec and Ontario, are working together to address the situation.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined the meeting, where they discussed the in-Canada asylum system, and reviewed the current situation from an operational perspective. Ministers Hussen (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship) and Goodale (Emergency Preparedness) gave an update on the situation and agreed that federal-provincial collaboration with community partners will be key.
Trudeau insists his government can handle the spike in migrants. “We will continue to defend the integrity of our immigration system, and remain careful stewards of an extraordinarily precious asset in the 21st century world, which is to have a population positivitly inclined immigrants, towards refugees, and understanding that being welcoming and open is a source of strength,” he said according to the CBC.
Task Force members examined the ongoing challenges, and are exploring strategies being put in place by federal and provincial governments. The Canadian Armed Forces has built a camp to house 500 asylum seekers near Montreal. Olympic Stadium was used until recently to house migrants as well.
Members agreed to identify ways in which the federal and provincial governments could better collaborate to increase data collection and data sharing, find suitable temporary accommodations for asylum seekers until their claims have been fully processed, and ensure that staff who are working to keep Canada safe are well supported. “Our meeting was very constructive,” Garneau said. The committee will meet again next week.
Conservatives Accuse Trudeau of creating a “Migrant crisis”
Conservative Immigration Critic Michelle Rempel held a news conference yesterday where accused Trudeau of creating a migrant crisis without a plan to fix it. In January Trudeau tweeted #WelcometoCanada following a crackdown on immigration by the Trump administration. “I think he’s giving false hope to people crossing the border,” She said according to the CBC.
Canada and the US have signed the Safe Third Country agreement. Those people claiming refugee status would have to apply to the country they arrive in, unless they meet certain exceptions. This applies only at official border crossings. Those crossing irregularly are met by RCMP, and taken to for processing. They are released after 48 hours, and allowed to remain pending the outcome of an asylum hearing. The New Democratic Party (NDP) want the agreement scrapped.
The CBC reports more than 6,000 people have crossed the New York/ Quebec border since July. The RCMP says that 3800 people have crossed during the first two weeks of August. “This is not a question of if we should have an asylums claim system in Canada, or if Canada should help the world’s most vulnerable. It’s a question of how.” Rempel said