Suggesting that the federal government has no long-term plan to quell the rash of asylum seekers illegally entering Canada, two Conservative Members of Parliament are opening discussions on the topic at a town hall meeting in Brandon on Tuesday.
Brandon-Souris MP Larry Maguire and Calgary Nose Hill MP Michelle Rempel – who currently sits as Official Opposition Critic for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship – will host the Town Hall on Border Crossers on Aug. 14 at 7:30 p.m. in the Riverview Curling Club on Maryland Avenue in Brandon. The meeting will allow area residents to voice concerns, ask questions and garner information on the issue, which has been a concern in communities along the country’s border with the United States in Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba since 2016.
Maquire said he has received more than 500 emails and letters about the issue since it came to light more than a year and a half ago, adding that it is a regular topic of conversation when he visits with constituents.
Through the first six months of this year, more than 10,700 people were stopped by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police while crossing into the country from the U.S. between legal ports of entry. About 95 per cent of them entered the province of Quebec, but in Manitoba, the situation has been particularly urgent near Emerson, Man. directly south of Winnipeg.
“The Liberal government has not shared any information with us on how many have stayed in Manitoba while they await their hearing or where they are currently living,” Maguire told the Westman Journal a week before the town hall meeting.
“We also don’t know any of the specifics regarding how many of the individuals in Manitoba have actually received their hearing or have been denied and, therefore, have received a deportation order.”
Although the number of illegal border crossers has declined in recent months, the federal government in early June set aside $50 million for the three provinces to deal with the costs of housing the migrants. As of the end of last month, $3 million of that total was dedicated to Manitoba, with Quebec receiving $36 million and Ontario $11 million.
Recent polling suggests that most Canadians feel the federal government does not have a distinct plan regarding the influx of asylum seekers coming to Canada. Maquire said he and Rempel want to clarify the Conservative’s position on the issue.
“Canadians expect our refugee system to be fair, orderly and compassionate. It is imperative that we get control of the situation,” he said.
“Canadians must trust the system is working and is benefitting our country. (Prime Minister) Justin Trudeau should be ensuring Canada’s immigration system runs in a planned manner. Instead of putting forward concrete solutions, the Prime Minister has chosen to spend hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on temporary, band-aid solutions.”
“We... don’t know any of the specifics regarding how many of the individuals in Manitoba have actually received their hearing or have been denied and, therefore, have received a deportation order.” – Larry Maguire, Brandon-Souris MP
Although the federal government has promised funding to help provinces deal with the issue, Maguire suggests the costs associated with what have been termed “irregular” border crossers are far higher. According to documents he requested from the Parliamentary Budget Officer, the situation has cost the federal government at least $270 million. This number did not include the costs borne by provincial or municipal jurisdictions.
“There are so many aspects to this issue and there are various levels of governments and departments who are dealing with it,” Maguire said. “(The town hall) will have ample opportunity for people to ask questions and we will certainly be taking back all of the comments when Parliament resumes in September.”
Constituents wishing to attend the town hall are asked to RSVP by emailing Maguire at Larry.Maguire@parl.gc.ca or calling his Parliamentary office at (613) 995-9372.