Canada's Immigration Debate

By: Rachel Marsden

A ship carrying 492 Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka has docked on Canada’s West Coast, prompting Conservative Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, to reiterate: “We will not hesitate to strengthen the laws if we have to because, ultimately, as a government, as a fundamental exercise of our sovereignty, we are responsible for the security of our borders."

Makes sense, right? Seems pretty innocuous? Wrong. Apparently the state can never be too soft on immigration—making such common-sense statements way too harsh.

Canada has always welcomed refugees—which represent nearly 10% of total annual immigration.

It has rightfully done so on a case-by-case basis of merit, not as a crash landing by entire mobs hailing from known terrorist and criminal havens. Not to say that the people aboard this latest ship of mass refugees (with more likely on the way) are terrorists, but refugee status in Canada currently permits any of them to roam free within Canada while they’re being processed.

If ultimately denied, there’s little chance that the state will hunt them down and deport them, if past history is any indication. Because the end result is a massive unleashing of unknown entities into a population with only basic security checks at the outset, rather than an evaluation of the merits of any kind of persecution case, what we’re manifestly witnessing is an invasion of sorts.

One would think that the Conservative prime minister’s message balancing Canada’s humanitarian obligations with its responsibility to ensure security and safety would seem pretty straightforward. He’s acknowledged that the refugees are going to be processed, but that this concept of boatloads of people from part of the world where there has been a recent longstanding civil war smacks of an abuse of the system. Or at least deserves a good debate in parliament and legislative consideration.

Not surprisingly, the Liberal opposition still finds fault with Harper’s measured stance: “There's a little bit too much on terrorism and human trafficking and not enough perhaps to indicate, I would say, a little bit of a level of compassion,” says one Liberal MP. “Just a sense of proportion on this whole thing would be nice.”

The government has already welcomed the ship of migrants ashore and is doing its best to process these people according to their humanitarian rights. It has given no indication that they’ll be prohibited from staying in the country. But when the obvious is merely pointed out in passing—the fact that they come from an area known for terrorist and criminal activity—the whole situation is suddenly seen as lacking in “proportion”?

Perhaps we can look to Liberal opposition leader Michael Ignatieff for a take on how he’d handle the situation: “This boat was in the water for 90 days and ... what was the government doing?

Now we've got a situation where they've docked and they have to have individual confirmation of each one of them.”

Ignatieff was then asked whether he’s was suggesting that the government should have turned the boat back before it got to shore. He responded that no, Canada isn’t Australia. Presumably he’s referring to Australia’s refusal to let boatloads of refugees land or to let any refugees freely roam the country until they’ve been fully processed, keeping them in detention areas where they are free to leave if they care to try elsewhere. Wow, sounds like a real human rights hell-hole.

Why aren’t boatloads of Australians headed for Canada?

Let’s say Harper had sent officials to board the ship and do some security checking on the passengers before they arrived ashore, if only to appease the Liberal opposition. And let’s say some of them failed the front-end security checks.

What would Ignatieff’s solution have been then? To toss them overboard? Make them swim back to Sri Lanka? Or wait until they arrived ashore in Canada before flying them right back home?

Does he have some magical means of avoiding this inevitable ugliness beyond ignoring it completely?

Let’s get real—and I speak as an immigrant to two different countries over the course of my lifetime (the USA and France): Anyone arriving in any country and wanting to settle and build a life there needs to understand that there’s going to be a certain amount of patience and hassle required. Paperwork, routine check-ins with authorities, medical tests.

And that’s in the best of cases. If you disembark, with no identification (or, worse, false identification) in a new country after a three-month sail on the high seas, I don’t think anyone in their right mind could possibly expect anything less than a major headache. If you’re a true refugee and escaping, say, death, then paperwork and processing shouldn’t really be that big of a deal. Only Liberals and assorted leftists seem to think otherwise, already in profuse apology mode over the inconvenience. In truth, we’re disturbing and inconveniencing the utopist liberal mindset more than the immigrants themselves.

What the Liberal opposition is essentially saying is that Harper should tone down the red-flagging rhetoric because it’s not very nice, and that he should have done SOMETHING before the ship arrived ashore—as long as that “something” didn’t involve turning the ship away.

This is a pure example of leftist rhetoric crashing hard up against the incompatible realities of the real world.

This is why the Canadian Liberal Party at the moment—and leftists in general—aren’t qualified to run Narnia.