The major news coming from the first national leaders’ debate on Thursday was that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau didn’t bother showing up. With a record like his, full of broken promises, do you blame him?
But just as important as the absence of our Prime Minister were the topics covered — and those excluded from discussion.
According to a recent Angus Reid poll, 20% of Canadians believe immigration is a top election issue, and yet, none of the debate questions were even remotely tied to immigration.
Despite the best efforts of moderator Paul Wells, who asked Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer a question about Brexit, the conversation turned towards immigration — for less than one minute of the two hour debate.
During that time, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May told a string of falsehoods about our immigration system.
“I’ve heard you say it in the House, Andrew, you act as if people are illegals when they come here as refugees,” May said to Scheer.
First, using the term “illegal” as a noun is mean-spirited and derogatory, and yet, May herself does it in this exchange. A quick search on Open Parliament shows, by contrast, that Scheer has never used this pejorative term.
As Scheer attempted to explain the Conservative position on immigration — that it should be fair, orderly and compassionate, but that illegal border crossers jump the immigration queue — May jumped in to assert, “there is no queue for refugees!”
This is patently false. In fact, there are several different queues for refugees coming to Canada.
When refugees are fleeing a war zone, they move to refugee camps and register with UN officials. This registration process creates a queue for refugees, who then wait to be resettled to a safe country like Canada.
Every year, Canada aims to resettle about 50,000 UN refugees. The asylum seekers entering Canada illegally to seek asylum are bypassing this orderly queue and placing themselves at the front of the line.
But that’s not the only queue asylum seekers are hopping.
Because of the surge of illegal border crossings during the Trudeau years, the wait times for asylum claims to be processed has proliferated. According to the most recent Auditor General report, there is a backlog of 75,000 applicants.
This backlog causes asylum seekers to wait in limbo for their case to be heard in front of an immigration judge. The current wait time to see a judge is about two years, but could be as long as 11.
This means legitimate refugees who are fleeing war, violence and persecution must wait in a queue alongside bogus refugees looking to score freebies from the Canadian taxpayers. This is because Canada has no meaningful triage system to quickly reject asylum claims that are obviously false.
Finally, Canada’s refugee resettlement agencies prepare for an annual intake of about 50,000 refugees. Under the Trudeau government, Canada has, on average, also received an additional 50,000 asylum seekers per year.
Given the limited resources of these agencies, legitimate refugees will be stuck waiting for helpful services while those who crossed the border illegally and have weak asylum claims will be helped first.
No matter which way you look at it, illegal border crossers coming from the United States are jumping a refugee queue.
Defenders of the controversial UN Compact on Migration insisted that the goals of this global scheme were noble — including a new emphasis on correcting the record when public figures spread misinformation about immigration.
I look forward to those voices stepping up and correcting May for her fabrications — but I won’t hold my breath.