Liberals need to step-up and own the border crisis

Leaky border (300 dpi)

It seems like just yesterday Justin Trudeau’s Liberals were chastising the Conservative government for avowing there was any such thing as Canadian values.

My my, how things have changed.

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen took aim at his provincial counterpart in Ontario’s new government, Lisa MacLeod, last week, calling her “not Canadian” for criticizing the Liberals’ mishandling of the border crisis.

The assertion that MacLeod bleeds insufficient amounts of red and white came amidst Hussen’s claims that Premier Doug Ford’s government has “chosen to use false language,” which he characterized as “divisive,” “fearmongering,” and “very dangerous.”

What MacLeod and Ford had actually done was call on the feds to pay for the mounting costs of illegal — or “irregular,” as they like to say — border crossings.

The Ontario government says it has about $177 million wrapped up in this already.  When asylum seekers are waiting for a hearing, housing and social assistance costs fall to the provinces.  With some government estimates warning the wait time for a hearing could balloon to 11 years, Ontario could be on the hook for over a billion dollars when all is said and done.

All for a problem the federal government has allowed to fester.

Much of this could be reined in if the Liberals passed a law closing the loophole in the Safe Third Country Agreement that gives more favourable treatment to those who cross the border illegally, rather than at a sanctioned point of entry.

But instead of focusing on the actual problem, Hussen is going after the critics.  Last week, it was Doug Ford’s “tone.”  Now, it’s Lisa MacLeod.  I suppose I’m on deck for the next condemnation after writing this column.

It isn’t just Hussen, however.  Justin Trudeau’s principal secretary, Gerald Butts, weighed in on the controversy with his own ad hominem attack.

“Enough is enough,” he tweeted on Saturday.  “It’s time to stand up to this divisive fear-mongering about asylum seekers.  Let’s not allow the alt-right to do here what they’re doing elsewhere.”

It’s important to point out that Butts wasn’t taking aim at a few Twitter trolls, but at Canada’s federal and provincial conservative politicians.

He doesn’t like what they have to say, so they’re “alt-right.”

This type of knee-jerk response is right out of the playbook of campus social justice activists who label those with whom they disagree as racist or something-phobic to silence them — and to shut down the debate.

No one can seriously say there isn’t an important discussion to be had about what’s happening at Canada’s borders.  Having this is increasingly difficult when the Liberals insist on shutting down those raising the concerns.

If you’re not with them, you’re against them.  That’s essentially what Hussen and Butts are saying, as though the government-of-the-day’s immigration policies are as central to Canadian identity as Tim Hortons and maple syrup.

Criticizing lawmakers who refuse to uphold the law is the exact opposite of “not Canadian.”  It’s what every patriotic Canadian should be doing when the country’s borders are being treated as malleably as they are.

Sure, Justin Trudeau half-heartedly acknowledged in the House of Commons that entering Canada between legitimate border crossings is illegal, but that hardly had the reach of his infamous “Canadians will welcome you” tweet from January of 2017.  That tweet directly caused a spike in asylum requests, according to documents obtained by the National Post.

The federal government creates the problem.  The provincial government pays for it.  Then the federal government condemns the province for complaining about it.

I hope most Canadians see through this arrogance.  How can a government honestly say it represent all Canadians when it behaves as though everyone else is the problem.

It’s a wonder we still have an Official Opposition.

It’s yet another example of Justin Trudeau’s worldview though.  Every issue that crops up is somehow someone else’s fault.

Small business tax changes?  That was the fault of tax cheats and greedy business owners.  Groping a reporter at the Kokanee Summit festival?  That one’s about how all men need to re-evaluate their behaviour.  Busted for a Bahamas vacation with the Aga Khan?  The ethics commissioner doesn’t know how to define friendship.

Justin Trudeau has been prime minister for coming up on three years, and Canadians have yet to see his government take accountability for anything.  If the latest standoff is any indication, I don’t hold out hope this will be changing anytime soon.

Andrew Lawton is a fellow at the True North Initiative and a Loonie Politics columnist.

More from Andrew Lawton     @andrewlawton

The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.

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