Sol­diers help with asy­lum seek­ers in Que­bec

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - MOR­GAN LOWRIE

SAINT-BERNARD-DE-LACOLLE, QUE. — Teams of Cana­dian sol­diers stretched can­vas across the metal frames of tents at a camp site near the Que­bec-U.S. bor­der on Wed­nes­day as they helped fel­low au­thor­i­ties cope with the crush of asy­lum seek­ers cross­ing into Canada.

The site, lo­cated on a flat stretch of grass be­hind the build­ing where asy­lum claimants are bused in from the bor­der, was ex­pected to ac­com­mo­date up to 500 peo­ple.

“We have about 100 per­son­nel here on the ground who will set up 25 tents in or­der to house ap­prox­i­mately 500 peo­ple,” Maj. Yves Des­bi­ens said in Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle.

“We’re go­ing to set up light­ing as well, and heat­ing and we’re go­ing to have floor­ing in­stalled.”

The sol­diers will have no role in se­cu­rity mat­ters and will not par­tic­i­pate in law-en­force­ment tasks. All but a few will re­turn to their home base once the site is fin­ished.

Ear­lier in the day, in nearby Hem­ming­ford, some 40 asy­lum seek­ers sat un­der white tents at an im­promptu re­cep­tion cen­tre that has sprung up on the Cana­dian side of a pop­u­lar il­le­gal bor­der cross­ing.

The at­mos­phere ap­peared re­laxed as bor­der crossers lined up for lunch boxes handed out by the RCMP and waited to board buses for the 10-minute drive to the Lacolle pro­cess­ing sta­tion.

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