Adrian Wyld The Canadian Press Poilievre argues that there is “no need” to review the Agreement on safe third countries or even to suspend it to “close” Roxham Road.
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre calls on Justin Trudeau's government to “close” Roxham Road within 30 days, which he says can be done without having to mess with the Safe Third Country Agreement .
“That's the solution we need. […] Let's bring common sense home. Let's protect our immigration system,” he said in the foyer of the House of Commons on Tuesday, adding his voice to Quebec Premier François Legault, who also wants such a closure.
Pressed by reporters to explain how it would be possible to “close” Roxham Road without first having to conclude discussions with the Americans on the renegotiation of the Safe Third Country Agreement, Mr. Poilievre said refuted the premise of any such questions.
” You are wrong. Obviously this is not the case because we closed the passage during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was possible,” he replied.
The agreement that binds Canada to the United States ensures that a potential refugee presenting himself at an official Canadian border crossing and having first set foot on American soil is turned away since he must pursue his asylum claim in the first “place of safety” he arrives at.
Thus, people still wishing to seek asylum in Canada cross the Canada-US border by makeshift crossings, and this, in many cases by Roxham Road, located in Montérégie. Once they are in Canada and have been intercepted by Canadian authorities after they have officially set foot in Canada, their asylum claim can be processed.
In 2022, a record number 39,171 people thus crossed the border irregularly, according to the number of interceptions reported by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
François Legault has been hammering for months that Quebec can no longer stem this influx. According to him, Quebec's reception capacity has been exceeded and the pressure on public services is untenable.
On Sunday, he wrote to his federal counterpart, Justin Trudeau, to demand that all people crossing Roxham Road be redirected to other provinces.
The Trudeau government has been repeating for months that closing Roxham Road would not be a solution and that discussions with the United States are progressing to renegotiate the Safe Third Country Agreement.
“If we closed Roxham Road, people would pass elsewhere. We have a huge border that we are not going to start arming or putting fences on, “said Mr. Trudeau in particular.
Mr. Poilievre argues that there is “no need” to review the agreement or even suspend it to “close” Roxham Road.
“We are a country. We try to complicate things too much. A country has borders. The prime minister is responsible for borders. This is an exclusively federal responsibility. There is no other country [or] international body that controls our borders,” he argued.
The Leader of the Official Opposition said the deal is not not even to the heart of the problem. In his eyes, only Mr. Trudeau is responsible for the current “chaos”.
The Canadian Prime Minister, according to Mr. Poilievre, “indicated to people that it is the best way to come to Canada” than to go through Roxham Road.
In 2017, while the ex -US President Donald Trump enacted controversial migration policies, Mr. Trudeau said in a Twitter post: “To those fleeing persecution, terror and war, know that Canada will welcome you.”
It was also in 2017 that an influx at Roxham Road was first noticed.
“Before Justin Trudeau, we didn't have this problem. We had the Safe Third Country Agreement and we did not have this problem. So the problem is not the deal, it's not Joe Biden, it's not even the refugees. It's Justin Trudeau,” concluded Mr. Poilievre.
He believes that closing Roxham Road would save resources, which could be used to reduce immigration processing times.
For their part, Bloc Québécois and New Democrats are calling for the suspension of the Safe Third Country Agreement.
– With the collaboration of Michel Saba