Three federal ministers will be on the hot seat in Ottawa today during marathon meetings of the Commons immigration committee on irregular migration.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, Border Security Minister Bill Blair and Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen will all answer questions at the special summer session about what the opposition Conservatives have called a “crisis.” Adam Vaughan, parliamentary secretary to the minister of social development, will also also appear during the three back-to-back-to-back meetings.
Witnesses appearing before the committee also include border and RCMP officials, refugee lawyers, municipal officials and representatives from Amnesty International and the UN’s refugee agency in Canada.
Ontario’s Minister of Children, Community and Social Services Lisa MacLeod, who recently locked horns publicly with Hussen on the issue, will be a witness.
Blair visited Lacolle, Que., on Monday and posted several tweets from the location where thousands of asylum seekers have bypassed official border points to walk into Canada from the U.S.
“Today’s visit reaffirms #GoC’s work in closely monitoring the flow of #asylumseekers and responding as needed,” one of the tweets from the Public Safety account reads.
Minister Bill Blair is briefed at the Lacolle port of entry where he met with partners <a href=”https://twitter.com/CitImmCanada?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@CitImmCanada</a>, <a href=”https://twitter.com/CanBorder?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@CanBorder</a>, <a href=”https://twitter.com/rcmpgrcpolice?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@rcmpgrcpolice</a> and local officials. <a href=”https://t.co/D3Lvl2WZ1O”>pic.twitter.com/D3Lvl2WZ1O</a>
Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel tabled the motion for the “emergency” meetings, noting that the influx of asylum seekers is putting a serious strain on some cities like Montreal and Toronto. Many people will lose their temporary housing at university dorms early next month as students prepare to return to class, and shelters have already reached maximum capacity.
Rempel is holding a news conference at 9 a.m. ET in advance of the meetings. CBCNews.ca is carrying it live.
She accused the Liberal government of adding strain and costs to the provinces, and ruining what has traditionally been a balanced, orderly and fair immigration system. Ministers have used “fear and division” to dampen criticism and silence debate, she said.
“Justin Trudeau has no intention of restoring the system back to fairness and compassion. What’s worse, he has done so without any plan to budget or pay for the costs of this decision,” she said. “His failure to manage Canada’s border is an urgent matter of public interest and Canadians are demanding action.”
Rempel said the Liberal government has failed to produce a comprehensive, costed plan to deal with the spike in irregular border-crossers and has “normalized” the trend.
Statistics from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) show the RCMP intercepted 10,744 people at irregular border crossings between January and the end of June this year. Last month there were 1,263 irregular border crossers, down from 1,869 in May 2018.
The Liberal government has credited outreach efforts and public awareness campaigns, including those on social media, for the decrease.