What’s re­ally wrong with UN’s mi­gra­tion pact

National Post (National Edition) - - EDITORIALS -

Ot­tawa is get­ting set to sign Canada onto an­other showy in­ter­na­tional agree­ment, the United Nations’ Global Com­pact on Mi­gra­tion. You’ve prob­a­bly heard of it in re­cent days be­cause cer­tain rightwing com­men­ta­tors in Canada and abroad seem rather ag­i­tated about it.

The ag­i­ta­tion is fairly overblown. The com­pact isn’t worth de­fend­ing, and we’ll get to why it’s a bad idea in a mo­ment. But de­spite what you may have heard, it wouldn’t ac­tu­ally com­pel Canada to de­mo­bi­lize our border guards and wel­come car­a­vans of mi­grants across our border to set up camp in Win­nipeg. The non-bind­ing agree­ment is typ­i­cal of doc­u­ments of the sort: dozens of pages of pro­gres­sive fluff that will be signed with great fan­fare, cel­e­brated with the manda­tory cock­tail par­ties, im­me­di­ately ig­nored by all the sig­na­to­ries and then es­sen­tially for­got­ten about.

The gen­eral goal of the com­pact — safer and more hu­mane lives for mi­grants and refugees — is fine. But the grim re­al­ity, as is al­ways the case with in­ter­na­tional law, is that the coun­tries that would bother to ad­here to the com­pact are al­ready treat­ing mi­grants with proper con­cern for the rule of law. Canada, for ex­am­ple. And those coun­tries apt to treat mi­grants poorly won’t be much im­pressed by yet an­other pa­per-shuf­fling ex­er­cise at the UN.

It is, in other words, ex­actly the sort of ephemeral wisp of noth­ing­ness that will prompt the Trudeau gov­ern­ment to fall all over it­self in its ea­ger­ness to sign and then in­ces­santly tweet about.

And that’s the real dan­ger of agree­ments like this. It’s not that this will re­sult in Canada’s iden­tity be­ing swept away by a tidal wave of for­eign­ers, but that it will give the Lib­er­als a fig leaf to ob­scure the very real pol­icy fail­ures on the im­mi­gra­tion file that have oc­curred un­der their watch. It was just days ago that the fed­eral au­di­tor gen­eral re­ported that the re­cent surge in il­le­gal mi­gra­tion into Canada has com­pletely over­whelmed the gov­ern­ment’s abil­ity to process the in­com­ing num­bers, at a cost of hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars to the Cana­dian tax­payer.

This is­sue has been a slow-mo­tion train wreck for the Lib­er­als, and it’s some­thing they need to fix be­fore it com­pletely guts pop­u­lar sup­port for im­mi­gra­tion, which has al­ready be­gun to show signs of strain un­der this gov­ern­ment.

But fix­ing ac­tual problems is hard work. Why worry about that when you can just fly your min­is­te­rial en­tourage to an­other UN party and toast to a point­less agree­ment while loudly cel­e­brat­ing your gov­ern­ment’s com­pas­sion on so­cial me­dia? Tweets make govern­ing so much eas­ier.

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