The “blame Stephen Harper” game won’t fool Canadians on Trudeau’s immigration and asylum failure
Blaming everything on Stephen Harper has been a favourite tactic employed by the Liberal government to avoid responsibility on a swathe of issues.
Nowhere has it been dished out with such tenacity and consistency as on the topic of immigration.
According to Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, the Liberals inherited a “broken system” from the former Conservative government and have been playing catch up ever since.
Disregarding whether this claim is true or not, the argument might have had some legitimacy in the early years of Trudeau’s term, but it now rings hollow approaching the next election.
Here are four reasons why the “blame Stephen Harper” claim doesn’t fool anybody.
They had four years to fix it
Blaming the last administration for your government’s failures only works for so long before people will start to doubt you.
Nearly four years into Justin Trudeau’s term, and very little has been done to fix the “broken system”. In fact, things have gotten immeasurably worse.
Only during this very last year of a potentially one-term government, have the Liberals put forward some half-baked solutions to the chaos at our border as a way to pander for undecided votes.
The current solutions are simply patch jobs on a sinking ship.
Forbidding asylum claimants from making multiple claims won’t even make a significant dent in the current backlog and regular intake. “Talks” with the United States about the Safe Third Country Agreement have gone nowhere, and streamlining refugees into the economic immigration system will only burden an already struggling ministry.
If the Liberals have failed to turn things around in four years, how are Canadians to expect that another term of the same old approaches will solve anything?
Record high intake of refugees and asylum seekers
Canada has officially resettled more refugees than any other nation in the world in 2018, according to the United Nations.
Of course the error is not in accepting refugees altogether but in the unjust border skipping which favours those who have the privilege to make it into the United States, while those waiting in squalid refugee camps get the shorter end of the stick.
Having the highest refugee intake in the developed world is not necessarily a virtue if Canada is unable to properly integrate and house legitimate refugees.
Refugees and migrants are currently being funnelled through overflowing homeless shelters and taxpayer funded hotels to accommodate the large influx in metropolitan areas like Toronto and Montreal.
Provinces are seeking more and more money from the government to properly deal with the situation and burden while the government is currently only offering a fraction of what is asked for.
While the government puts on airs that the situation is under control or the intake is being reduced, the Immigration and Refugee Board is struggling to barely keep up with processing the backlog of claims.
If the Liberals were serious about fixing a “broken system” they should start by reducing that backlog, not stretching it ad infinitum.
Attitudes towards immigrants have never been worse
The Liberals are solely responsible for the current negative attitudes towards immigrants in Canada.
Before Justin Trudeau was elected as prime minister, Canadians had a generally favourable view of immigrants and were willing to increase the quantity of newcomers into Canada.
Now? After nearly four years of Liberal mismanagement and nearly open border conditions, Canadians are thinking about immigration negatively. In 2014, only 36 percent of Canadians wanted to see our immigration targets reduced, four years later that number reached nearly half of the population (49 percent).
Polls show that this trend is affecting voters of all parties, even among Liberals, 41 percent of whom want to limit immigration.
While the Liberals continue to point fingers and call all critics “hatemongers” and “conspiracy theorists”, the truth is that there is nobody else to blame for the situation but themselves.
These attitudes do not come about in a vacuum, they are the result of a segment of the population feeling as though they have been lied to and not consulted. Further transparency, accountability and communication would fix the issue, but don’t expect any of that from Trudeau.
Asylum claim wait times will exceed five years
This point is probably one of the most shameful and least avoidable facts to plague the Liberal handling of the asylum system.
If the Liberals were keen on making things more efficient they wouldn’t let the asylum wait times balloon to over five years under their watch.
According to the latest estimates, the backlog is expected to reach a mammoth 100,000 claims by the year 2021.
This means that numerous asylum claimants will be left in Canada for this period before even reaching a decision on their claimant status.
Things have gotten so bad that the IRRB has even admitted that eliminating the backlog is no longer an achievable target.
The truth is, that this is all on Trudeau and Canadians should hold the Liberals accountable for the reckless handling of Canada’s once esteemed immigration and refugee system.
Roughly 3,200 Canadian National Railway workers, including conductors, yard workers, and trainpersons could go on strike just after midnight Wednesday, in an aggressive move that hopes to aid in finalizing a deal with the company.
Passenger rail services across Canada’s three largest cities would not be affected, though the job action that would affect freight services across the rest of the nation, according to the union.
Teamsters Canadian Rail Conference, which represents CN’s employees, submitted the required 72-hour strike notice over the weekend.
The union went on to say they hope to reach an agreement before the deadline, in order to address “safety and scheduling issues,” though workers are prepared to start the strike if expectations aren’t met.
“Our problem is not with the people in general, but with CN,” union spokesman Christopher Monette told CTV on Monday.
CN went on to say negotiations were still under way, and “has been offering binding arbitration to ensure train services aren’t disrupted,” reports CTV.
“We are disappointed that the [union] has initiated strike action, which will result in a significant disruption to service,” said CN’s vice-president of financial planning Janet Drysdale to The Globe. “We apologize to our customers and appreciate their understanding that safety is always our first priority.”
CN and the same group of CN employees were able to reach an agreement in the union’s previous strike negotiation back in 2015.
Workers for CN say they’re asking for more regulation around their long working hours, dangerous working conditions, as well as a fight against a lifetime cap on prescription drug coverage.
The dispute was partially sparked by CN’s announcement Friday that they would be laying off roughly 1,600 management and union positions, as the company faces future declining freight volumes and global trade tensions.
Swedish prosecutors have dropped an investigation into a rape allegation against Julian Assange, the infamous co-founder of the popular document-leaking Wikileaks.
The Australian native has avoided extradition to Sweden for close to eight years, having stayed in refuge at an Ecuadorean embassy in London in 2012.
Assange, who denies the allegations, was evicted from the embassy and has been sentenced to 50 weeks of jail time for breaching bail conditions, is being held at Belmarsh prison in London.
Swedish prosecutors originally intended to drop the rape investigation nearly two years ago, stating that they did not have the means to move forward with the investigation while Assange stayed in the Ecuadorian embassy, according to the BBC.
In May of 2019, Eva-Marie Persson, Sweden’s deputy director of public prosecutions, publicly announced the reopening of the case, due to their being “probable cause to suspect” that Assange had committed the alleged rape.
The alleged rape case against Assange was from a woman who claimed to have been sexually assaulted at a Wikileaks conference in Stockholm in 2010. Assange has vehemently denied all allegations against him, saying the sex was consensual.
In June of 2019, though, UK Home Secretary Sajid Javed approved the U.S.’ extradition request against Assange, where he is wanted on 18 counts of leaking American secrets, including the famous Podesta emails. Those leaks led Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to say Assange must “answer for what he has done.”
Now, though, that same Director of Public Prosecutions, Eva-Marie Persson says they will no longer be moving forward with the investigation.
“The reason for this decision is that the evidence has weakened considerably due to the long period of time that has elapsed since the events in question.”
He also previously faced investigations for accusations of molestation and unlawful coercion. These cases were dropped in 2015 due to statute of limitations laws.
A group of vegans are suing Burger King, and it’s all because of their “meatless” Impossible Burger.
While the burger itself is meatless, there lies a bigger issue that Burger King may not have disclosed to their faithful vegan customers: the Impossible burgers are cooked on the same grill as their meaty counterparts, meaning residue could contaminate the vegan patties.
Phillip Williams of Atlanta filed a class-action lawsuit, claiming that the Burger King did not disclose that the vegan alternative could potentially be at risk of having meat residue, and thus would not have paid a premium price for the specialty sandwich.
The lawsuit claims that Burger King doesn’t specifically disclose that its vegan burgers could be cross-contaminated with animal by-products, something that has left vegan groups furious.
Williams also points to several complaints made on social media that also point to the same issue. Williams is seeking to be compensated from Burger King, and will also seek to end the same-grill cooking of the two burgers in all restaurants.
Burger King, owned by the Brazilian Restaurant Brands International Inc, declined to comment to Reuters, saying it does not discuss pending litigation.
Burger King’s website points out that the Impossible Burger is “100% Whopper, 0% Beef,” but further states that “guests looking for a meat-free option, a non-broiler method of preparation is available upon request.”
Impossible Foods Inc, the company responsible for the vast majority of the meatless-burger craze, said in a recent interview that their products were designed for “meat eaters” who were looking for ways to reduce their animal-based food consumption, and not necessarily for vegans and vegetarians.
“For people who are strictly vegan, there is a microwave prep procedure that they’re welcome to ask for in any store,” said Dana Worth, Impossible Foods’ head of sales.
Restaurant Brands International has its headquarters in Toronto, and also owns popular donut and coffee chain Tim Hortons.
Indigenous TMX interests sidelined as premiers, opposition leaders posture in minority government lead-up
As opposition leaders and provincial premiers postured last week over meetings with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, lost in the chatter was the power indigenous people wield–arguably quite a bit in this minority government the Liberals find themselves attempting to manage.
Like Parliament, and the rest of our divided country–Wexiteers, Quebec separatists and everyone else somewhere in between–indigenous interests are a scatter-shot amalgam of pro- and anti-development camps, or like Assembly of First Nations Grand Chief Perry Bellegarde, who plays it right down the middle on matters like Trans Mountain.
And the elephant in the room is TMX, a twinning of an existing bitumen pipeline from Edmonton to Vancouver; a project that Trudeau nationalized in 2018, then earlier this year offered to sell lock-stock-and-barrel to indigenous people.
Since Trudeau’s offer, three buyers have emerged: Western Indigenous Pipeline Group, Project Reconciliation and Alberta Iron Coalition. As well, a fourth Métis concern from provincial settlements in Alberta who are already affected by the oil patch and say they are being left out of future development decisions.
Given this overlooked dynamic, it’s rich to hear Bloc Quebecois leader Yves-Blanchet stridently remark that he would love to help Alberta, just not its “petrol-state” ambitions, while his province aims to use and export Alberta’s cleanest “petrol-product” (i.e. natural gas).
This of course, while the province’s biggest liquid natural gas pipeline and along with Énergie Saguenay’s export terminal, will run Environment Minister Catherine McKenna’s all new, C-69 regulatory gauntlet.
New Democrat leader Jagmeet Singh’s threat of voting no-confidence his first crack after the Throne speech–in early December after the House of Commons reconvenes December 5 and a Speaker is elected–is as unlikely as it is dubious.
The NDP began #elxn43 with a significantly smaller campaign war chest than its frontline competition, and would putter on fumes through a winter, snap election that most everyone in Canada would resent.
But Trudeau only needs one of the runner-ups to keep his minority government alive, and could end up leaning on Blanchet as much or more than Singh.
And this Wednesday, Trudeau will unveil his new cabinet that speculative coverage indicates could be larger than his previous gender-balanced executive.
With finishing TMX an apparent priority, according to Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau, Amerjeet Sohi’s now-vacant Industry portfolio, will be one appointment to watch.
And without any Grit MPs in Saskatchewan or Alberta there has been much speculation about who Trudeau could tap for cabinet representation for either province, whose premiers have serious issues with Trudeau.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney continues to use TMX in limbo as a cudgel, while Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, whose province is challenging the federal carbon tax’s constitutionality, said Trudeau was uncompromising on the tax.
Moe had asked for a pause on the carbon levy and told reporters he wanted more pipelines to tidewater than just TMX–following the meeting, Moe more or less described a recalcitrant Trudeau and said that Canada could “expect more of the same”.
Which makes TMX so vital for Trudeau and the Liberals. It’s supposed to be their grand compromise with the oil patch and western tidewater shots, even grandfathered past C-69, sweeping new environmental legislation that Kenney and other detractors call the “no more pipelines bill”.
Gazoduc, which includes a 782 km pipeline, is but one of several projects undergoing C-69’s new assessment process and will test Kenney’s and other bill detractors’ no-pipeline claims.
But TMX is far from a done deal and short of building it by fiat; an option available but never wielded by Trudeau or his predecessor Stephen Harper, during an era of indigenous reconciliation, a pending Federal Court of Appeal’s decision hangs over the entire affair.
Six First Nations were granted leave to appeal cabinet’s second approval of the project–one these groups successfully made against National Energy Board’s first permitting–and their latest case remains before the court.
On the other side of this indigenous TMX equation are literally dozens of groups looking to a buy a stake in the project with the possibility to create division within the pro-development indigenous set.