PM pri­or­i­tizes his brand­ing over our bor­ders

National Post (Latest Edition) - - EDITORIALS -

The Lib­eral gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to send French- and Span­ish- speak­ing MPs to ad­dress Haitian and Cen­tral Amer­i­can di­as­po­ras in the U. S. has seem­ingly paid off: Cana­dian bor­der of­fi­cials have seen a no­tice­able drop in the num­ber of il­le­gal bor­der cross­ings, mainly in Que­bec. The surge, which saw 3,800 cross the Que­bec fron­tier in the first two weeks of Au­gust alone, has re­cently slowed to about 100 or so a day. The vis­its by MPs, in which they re­it­er­ated that there is no free pass into Canada, are work­ing.

That’s good. Fly­ing a few MPs to Florida and Cal­i­for­nia to ex­plain the law is money well spent if it stops thou­sands from il­le­gally en­ter­ing Canada. But this strange mi­gra­tion cri­sis — which turned into mil­i­tary tent cities, over­whelmed first re­spon­ders, and Mon­treal’s Olympic Sta­dium be­ing con­verted into a refugee camp — may still just be get­ting started.

A doc­u­ment ob­tained by Global News this week shows Cana­dian bor­der of­fi­cials be­lieve another, po­ten­tially larger, surge of mi­grants could be im­mi­nent. More than 300,000 cur­rent U.S. res­i­dents are there un­der im­mi­gra­tion amnesties set to ex­pire in the com­ing months. Cana­dian of­fi­cials know that false in­for­ma­tion about our im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies is al­ready cir­cu­lat­ing in those (largely Cen­tral Amer­i­can) di­as­po­ras, via so- cial net­works and lo­cal me­dia. Even a frac­tion of these peo­ple head­ing north would rapidly cre­ate a ma­jor bor­der cri­sis.

Proac­tive, pre­ven­ta­tive ac­tion is good. But send­ing MPs is only a start. The prime min­is­ter owns some per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity for this cri­sis, thanks to his self-serv­ing po­lit­i­cal pos­tur­ing af­ter the in­au­gu­ra­tion of U. S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, best il­lus­trated by his “Cana­di­ans will wel­come you” tweet. Sch­maltzy #di­ver­si­ty­isourstrength hash­tags not­with­stand­ing, Canada ac­tu­ally has strict im­mi­gra­tion reg­u­la­tions, and ar­rests those who cross the bor­der il­le­gally. These mi­grants are then en­ti­tled to a fair hear­ing. While some un­doubt­edly find a way to slide qui­etly into the un­der­ground econ­omy, these laws are gen­er­ally ef­fec­tive and thus im­por­tant. A prime min­is­ter should be big enough to pri­or­i­tize law en­force­ment over his own de­sire for ap­plause.

Is a mere fol­low- up tweet — clear­ing up the first, still af­fa­ble in tone, en­cour­ag­ing those in­ter­ested in re­lo­cat­ing to look into our process—too much to ex­pect? It might be. The prime min­is­ter thrives on on­line charisma, but fre­quently strug­gles in the off­line world of chal­leng­ing geopol­i­tics and un­in­tended con­se­quences. Ex­pect him to keep right on tweet­ing plat­i­tudes while leav­ing the dif­fi­cult af­ter­math for others to clean up.

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