“Apparently Trudeau is not handling the illegal migration, mostly from the US, very well. Canadians want a more conservative approach,” I said after Vicky brought us a couple of beers. Camp was unusually pensive and thought about a response for a few beats.
“Not sure what they want? More armed border guards along the 7000km, mostly open border and how do you stop them walking into Canada, claiming refugee status? Many of them have no IDs or papers, either tossed them or lost them. You can’t turn them back since the US will not let them back in and you can’t shoot them and you can’t ignore them.”
“When Trudeau tweeted that ‘all those fleeing persecution, terror and war are welcome, regardless of faith’ he scored an own goal since at the same time Trump told those with temporary status to leave. So they came to Canada.”
“Yes, we now have more illegal asylum seekers then legal ones,” Camp said, “and it’s not getting better. It seems that the rule of law has broken down and the process has been completely derailed. There was already a backlog of legal claims which now has exploded with the influx of illegal claimants. The waiting list today is up to 20 months for a claim to be heard.”
“The federal government says ‘we’re dealing with a challenge’while the conservative opposition calls it a crisis,” I said.
“Globally we’re nowhere near crisis level,” Camp said. “Only 0.2% of the worldwide refugee population has ended up in Canada according to the UNHCR. Transfer that number to the Sunshine Coast with a population of say 30’000; that would be 60. I don’t think that constitutes a crisis. Globally the refugee population rose to 25 million last year, half are children, the highest number since WWII. On a percentage basis we’re not in the top ten and for that matter neither is Germany. Sweden received 170’000 claims last year, which in Canada would be the equivalent of 600’000. Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey are the top three destinations and in those countries the unprecedented influx of refugees is a crisis.”
“How do you know all this?” I asked.
“Well I get most of that from this article in the Globe and Mail from last week. Here it is.” Camp shoved the paper in front of me. While I concentrated on the article he focused on his pint.
“It says here that there is nothing illegal if someone crosses the border by whichever means is taken or goes to a port of entry. The term ‘illegal border crossers’ stigmatizes people as law-breakers when there is nothing unlawful at the point of entry. So what’s the fix? How can this be addressed without appearing xenophobic or cruel?” I asked, shaking my head.
“Trying to cut the wait time in half by some means would be a good start,” Camp said.
“And separating refugees from immigrants and migrants in the public’s mind would be another step.”
“You two ready for a refill?” Vicky asked. “You seem awfully busy. What is it this week that keeps you two so agitated?”
“Refugees,” Camp said, handing her his empty glass, “and I don’t mean the song by Tom Petty,” Camp said.
Vicky looked perplexed. “I don’t know any refugees personally,” she said. “Do you?”
“Not really,” I had to admit, “but apparently it’s a calamity in Ontario and Quebec.”
“I have to feel sorry for anyone running away from their home and country for whatever reason. I can’t even imagine what that’s like.”
“You’re right Vicky, none of us do. We travel around the world as tourists and avoid places of conflict. Refugees escape those places and then are treated as outcasts wherever they land.”