“They were talking generally there about a much, much higher mass arrival situation — not what we’re dealing with. What we’re dealing with is definitely a very high, steady increase of numbers and it is obviously taxing our agencies and our borders, but we are able to redeploy resources and personnel as needed and able to deal with the situation as it unfolds.”
— Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, CBC Radio’s The House, Aug. 5, 2017.
Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen was warned by his officials that irregular crossings across the Canadian border could be on the rise this summer, which would require him to rethink the way the Liberal government is handling the situation.
But the minister said what his officials were talking about in the briefing note, which the CBC obtained under the Access to Information Act, was not the increased stream of asylum seekers crossing into Quebec from the United States in the last few weeks, but a “mass arrival” scenario.
Are the asylum-seekers in Quebec really outside the realm of massive, irregular arrivals as the minister suggests?
Spoiler alert: The Canadian Press Baloney Meter is a dispassionate examination of political statements culminating in a ranking of accuracy on a scale of “no baloney” to “full of baloney” (complete methodology below).
This one earns a rating of “no baloney.”
Why it matters
The previous Conservative government encountered a scenario in 2010 when the MV Sun Sea, a ship carrying 492 Tamil migrants who intended to claim refugee status, was intercepted off the B.C. coast. Another vessel, the MV Ocean Lady, had arrived with 76 Sri Lankan migrants the year before.
The Conservative government responded with a crackdown on so-called irregular arrivals, including legislation aimed at helping them respond more quickly — and more aggressively — should the situation happen again.
If today’s government considers the asylum seekers in Quebec part of a mass arrival, it could use that legislation to respond — but the provisions are widely considered to be a blunt instrument.
Over the past few weeks, the number of people passing illegally into Canada from the U.S. near the border crossing in Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Que., has risen steadily, and is now about 250 or 300 people every day.
Many of the asylum seekers are originally from Haiti and decided to make a move after the U.S. government…