Candice Malcolm is an author, columnist for the Toronto Sun and founder of the True North Initiative. Her latest book “Losing True North: Justin Trudeau’s Assault on Canadian Citizenship” is a well-documented challenge to the immigration policies of the current Liberal government. In this interview, Candice joins us at The Post Millennial to discuss Canada’s immigration policy, the aging population and illegal border crossings.
DZSURDZSA: The recently minted People’s Party of Canada supports reducing immigration levels by 50,000 a year to the Harper-era cap of 250,000. In your opinion what is a desirable immigration level for Canada to have?
MALCOLM: I was thinking about it and I think the pure number is sort of the wrong way to look at it. It’s not really just about how many people we want to welcome. I think the major underlying questions are: what kind of people and what is the mix of immigration? And then also how we are going to properly integrate these people and welcome them to the Canadian family.
Most Canadians will want fewer numbers of immigrants, as soon as you tell them what the current levels are, which is somewhere between 50,000 for this year, most people say that it is too much. I think Bernier is probably heading in the right direction, but again it will entirely depend on what the mix will be, and what kind of integration programs he’s going to have set up.
DZSURDZSA: That brings me to a different point; recently they changed the immigration laws to remove barriers on health conditions or disabilities. Do you think this a really bad move on the Trudeau government’s side?
MALCOLM: Absolutely it’s one of the most absurd issues you can think about and for us at the True North Initiative, it was one of the issues we heard most about, that Canadians were the most outraged about. The concept that we have of the universal healthcare program, is that you pay into the system, and then you take out of the system. We already have a problem with free-riding when it comes to many of the asylum claimants, who are completely bogus in their claims. They come to take advantage of Canadian generosity. One of the mechanisms within the immigration system, that was built in to prevent people coming in and abusing our system, was this limit preventing people with very serious illnesses from being able to migrate to Canada. It’s common sense.
Trudeau foolishly eliminated that provision. The records show that his government didn’t study the issue, they have no idea what the economic impact will be. They have no idea what the impact on the province will be. They’re basically offloading the cost onto the province. It really undermines the respect that people have for the immigration system.
DZSURDZSA: As an example, there was an individual who is seeking asylum in Canada, and they found out, and I’m not sure if he or his family knew, that he had Stage IV cancer. Which is a terminal illness, and he is going to be treated for it in Canada. Do you think this will be more common if there is another Trudeau government in 2019?
MALCOLM: I think that Canada already has a reputation for being completely gullible when it comes to stopping people from taking advantage of our generosity. There’s so many examples, and the healthcare one is just one. You can think of birth tourism. Women coming very late in their third trimester, staying at these boarding houses, many of them in Richmond, British Columbia. You’re giving birth, getting the Canadian passport, and flying home never to come back, only to give their child the passport so they can come and enjoy Canadian healthcare and Canadian education.
Most of the country has smartened up to the fact that there are people around the world who are willing to take advantage of opportunities in Canada. And Canada sets itself up, it doesn’t protect it’s systems, it’s programs, it’s universal social welfare programs. Instead we have these ongoing political battles where the Left Wing activists are constantly pushing to do more and more and it’s frustrating, both from an economic position, and also from a principle position.
DZSURDZSA: Excellent. Just to jump around a bit, because we are talking about healthcare, and how Canada essentially has a welfare system that everybody pays in to. We’re facing the problem of an aging population, and more people are putting pressure on that healthcare system. Do you think immigration is the best way to tackle the problem of population replacement, and if not, what other avenues can the federal government implement to deal with a rapidly aging population?
MALCOLM: It’s a really good question. The immigration solution is the best one that we’ve come up with. There has been a consensus by all the major political parties in Canada that we are going to be pro-immigration for economic reasons, to boost the economy, to increase growth, and to help fund our unfunded liabilities in the social welfare state.
The problem with the universal healthcare system is that its not pre-funded. The tax money that’s going in this year will also get spent this year and will not be put away for when those Baby Boomers really start using those resources in the last few years of their lives. There would be better economic management tools that would help us not be in this position we’re in right now.
There are a lot of women out there who would want to have more children and start families sooner if they could afford it, but they feel in this economy and with the housing market, that they can’t afford to. I hear from a lot of my friends that they can’t afford to have more kids or they can’t afford to have kids. Maybe there is something there that the federal government could be doing, to encourage or provide incentives for Canadians to have bigger families. I’m not sure about, from a Libertarian perspective, I don’t know about having the government creating incentives for families to have more children.
DZSURDZSA: It seems like a lot of the discussion, at least public discussion around immigration, is largely informed by mainstream media outlets. They’re the ones who basically put a boundary around what you can talk about, or what is acceptable to criticize. In a recent column for the Toronto Sun, you criticize mainstream media outlets for putting a pro-immigration spin when crimes are committed by refugees, like the murder of Marrisa Shen in Burnaby, B.C.. What is the invested interest by media companies like the CBC to put a spin on these stories, and are you implying there is a implicit collusion between media and the government going on?
MALCOLM: First of all, there is definitely an implicit collusion between the Trudeau Liberals and members of the mainstream media. It’s plain as day, I laid it out in previous columns, and through a bunch of tweets.
Take the issue of the illegal border crossing. When a person crosses an international border, not at a port of entry, that is illegal and there are signs across the entire 49th parallel, the entire Canada-US border that say “Do Not Cross, It Is Illegal”. There are countless stories of people getting arrested crossing this border at unofficial ports of entry. What’s happening at Roxham Road, what’s happening in rural Quebec and rural Manitoba is people are breaking the law to come into Canada. And if you look at the news six months ago, you look at the stories last summer, the media almost universally used the term “illegal border-crosser” or “illegal immigration” because that’s technically what it is.
All of a sudden, a couple months ago, the immigration minister Ahmed Huseen came out and said that it was un-Canadian and intolerant and bigoted to use the word “illegal”, and that they preferred “irregular”. All of a sudden you see the entire media switch tunes, and start using the term “irregular”. The CBC, CTV, Global, they all start using the term “irregular immigration”, which doesn’t make sense to most people. It doesn’t roll of the tongue when you say “irregular immigration”, you don’t really know what that means, it’s a very technical insider term to describe what is clearly illegal immigration.
DZSURDZSA: To hone in on the issue of illegal border crossings. Border crossings from the USA into Canada, and vice versa, fall in the scope of the Safe Third Country Agreement, which denies passage between the countries, because both nations are considered to be “safe”. However, the agreement does not take into account non-traditional points of access, like those found on the border of Quebec. Do you believe there could be a diplomatic solution to amend the agreement, to include the omitted passageways, and do you think the US would be interested in such a deal?
MALCOLM: It’s definitely a loophole. When someone crosses illegally, they can’t technically be turned away by the Canadian border officials. They get arrested, and by the time they get transferred they’re inside Canada, and they can make that asylum claim.
It’s a tough one, essentially the Americans didn’t want to negotiate this deal in the first place and it took a lot of diplomatic efforts to get the deal signed. You say that issue happens both ways, but most of the problem is people coming from the US into Canada. That’s most of the problem, and in many cases the US is just happy to see them out of their country.
It would be tough diplomatically to negotiate a new deal with the Americans, especially with everything else that is going on with the issues with NAFTA and with Trump’s hard-nosed position when it comes to immigration and national security. I think there are other ways Canadians could fix this problem, if they couldn’t get a deal with the US.
One of the obvious solutions would be to build a fence, some kind of wall, along the most popular border crossings. I’ve been to Roxham Road, I’ve seen the flow of individuals. I think 96% over the summer happened at this one crossing. If you put up a barrier, and made it very clear that people could not cross there, I think it would send a message not just to migrants but to the human smugglers and human trafficking rings that are truly coordinating this whole thing.
You’d have to be pretty naive to not know that it’s human smuggler and human traffickers that are coordinating this on the US side. Putting up a barrier at the locations they cross would be a symbolic message to those people that the jig is up, and Canadians are not going to allow for a porous border or our border laws to be undermined.
I’m not saying we should build a fence across the entire border, that would be unreasonable. The truth is that these migrants are not sneaking in across the entire border. The vast majority are happening at these small, very specific locations, and you could get ahead of them by targeting these locations.
DZSURDZSA: To keep the conversation on the United States, what effect has Donald Trump’s approach to immigration had on the debate around immigration in Canada? Has it largely opened up new avenues of discussion, or has it made it more hostile? What do you think?
MALCOLM: Both. Anyone who is talking about immigration will face the name-calling that the Left has created. There’s this fear and hysteria around Donald Trump. A small part of that is justified, but most of it in my opinion is really overblown and so as soon as you start to talk about an issue like immigration security, the Left and many in the mainstream media will quickly name-call and start comparing you to Trump or someone like that.
We see that with Trudeau and his cabinet, they’ve taken to calling everyone racist and bigot and un-Canadian if they’re talking about immigration. On that side, there has been a negative impact in Canada.
On the plus side, because he’s talking about it, he’s taking a tough stance, he wants to fix the US, which is way worse than the Canadian system let’s be honest, they have a way bigger problem with the illegal immigration and fewer controls over who enters their country. Trump is addressing those issues, and I think that many in Canada want to see something similar from their government. I don’t really have a yes or no answer on that one, I think that the times are generally changing in Europe, the UK, the US, more and more countries are focusing on immigration security and on making sure that our borders are controlled. Hopefully that will help Canadian politicians find the will to tackle these issues.
DZSURDZSA: To end on a broader note; immigration is a central domestic policy issue. Why do you think today it’s so hard to debate immigration openly? It seems like with the government, with the mainstream media, not a lot of people are talking about it, or they think the conversation has already ended.
MALCOLM: I think it can be tough, I mentioned earlier about 22% of the Canadian population is foreign-born. They’re immigrants, and because of that we feel like any conversation that is negative about immigration might be a slap in the face to those people who are immigrants or new Canadians.
Canadians are polite, we don’t want to create uncomfortable situations. Most people avoid talking about it, or some people believe that just having a conversation like we’re having, and talking about the more technical aspects, is racist. I’ve encountered that with some critics on Twitter and on social media, that they truly think it is racist just to talk about immigration.
If you don’t follow to a tee, the consensus of the elites, it’s because you must hate people from other cultures, or other countries, or that you are xenophobic or whatever. And I think that shows an ignorance of the issue, and a group think hatred of open discourse and free speech. Unfortunately, we’re seeing a lot of that in different areas of public life, but I think that you can have a nuanced, responsible, robust conversation about immigration, and we have every right to do that as Canadians. I think that we should be able to have a say and share our opinions when it comes to the future of our country and immigration, and help shape the future of our country. And that’s part of the reason why I started the Truth North Initiative, so that we could have a robust conversation, a nuanced conversation on immigration.
We’re not saying that immigration is bad, we’re not saying that people from other cultures shouldn’t be welcome. On the contrary, we’re saying that we should make sure that we’re choosing the people, if we’re gonna bring in refugees from the Middle East, and maybe we should be, let’s pick the dissidents, pick the people who have been oppressed under an Islamist regime that have fled a dictatorship. Let’s pick the persecuted minority groups, the Christians, the Yazidis, the gays, people who have truly been oppressed. Let’s not just say anyone from the Middle East, who doesn’t like their government can come to Canada.
DZSURDZSA: Now on the True North initiative. What do you think groups or think-tanks like True North, what do you think their role is to guide the government, or to show the public reasonable immigration policies, what are some of the avenues that True North, uses to do this?
MALCOLM: I think my experience, the reason I started True North was I worked in the Federal Government, I worked in the Department of Immigration, and what I noticed was that there’s just tons of special interest groups on the Left that lobby for, frankly, reckless and irresponsible programs… Some of the ones that I talked about earlier in this interview.
There wasn’t any one representing the common sense, Every-Day-Canadian, reminding the government about the costs and some of the burdens of these programs produce. The idea was to create a countervailing force to all this left-wing activism that takes place in Ottawa. The idea was to create this platform to have a robust conversation. We do it on multiple fronts, we have the public policy front, where we write papers and proposing legislation. On the other side, we have outreach to the population of Canada, we have journalism and social media and information that we help put in the media, to keep a balance so that it’s not just a new story that has five voices that are all left-wing, all calling for more immigration or all defending really egregious refugee or immigration policies. We try to at least insert the other side so that journalists might feel shamed into taking a more balanced approach. We do that through social media and our own investigative journalism. We try to get involved in the discussion, in the conversation, insert facts and keep the conversation balanced, and provide a platform for different kinds of voices that can articulate ideas and issues that aren’t often represented in the mainstream media.