Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is promising to end illegal border crossings by asylum seekers entering Canada outside official points, and says his government would focus on economic immigration and helping to protect the refugees in greatest danger.
Holding a campaign event this morning at Roxham Road in Quebec, an unofficial border crossing that has become a flashpoint in Canada’s immigration debate, Scheer said the flow of people coming to Canada outside border points has led to a “crisis in confidence” in the immigration system.
Between January and August this year, RCMP intercepted 10,343 people entering the country from the U.S. outside legal border points, the vast majority of them at Roxham Road. That’s down from 14,125 in the same period in 2018.
During a campaign event in Markham, Ont. ahead of Scheer’s announcement, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said he’s pleased that people will have an opportunity to see the infrastructure the Liberal government built to screen and process new arrivals. But he stressed there are no “shortcuts” in Canada’s immigration system and everyone is subject to the same rules.
“There are no skipping steps with our immigration system. Everyone arriving in Canada goes through the same immigration system, a full, rigorous immigration system that is being applied,” he said.
Trudeau said Canada continues to work with partners in the U.S. and around the world to spread that message, and talks continue on a possible update to the Safe Third Country agreement.
That agreement requires asylum seekers to make their claim for protection in the first safe country they arrive in. The agreement makes an exception for those who arrive in Canada outside of official border points.
Trudeau said Canadians remain in favour of immigration because they understand it benefits the economy and their communities.
“It only stays positively supported by Canadians because they have confidence that our immigration system works. And it works,” he said.