Liberal minister slams Conservatives' 'half-baked' immigration policy
Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen arrives for a cabinet meeting in Sherbrooke, Que. on Thursday, January 17, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Published Tuesday, January 22, 2019 6:03PM EST
OTTAWA – Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen is taking aim at the federal Conservatives' immigration policy, calling it "half-baked," prompting scorn from the Tories' point person on the file.
Facing questions about the federal government's handling of asylum seekers and the ongoing irregular border crossings, Hussen defended his approach, while swiping at the Official Opposition's proposed alternatives.
"I haven't seen anything from the Conservatives, they don't have a plan. You know what their plan is? To militarize the border," Hussen said. He went on to say that the Conservatives want border or immigration officials placed along the border where there are no official entry points.
Hussen said the federal government doesn't have the resources for that kind of "half-baked, impractical plan."
"I hope that they can bring concrete, reasonable proposals to the table," he said.
The federal Conservatives have said they want the entire Canadian border designated as an official port of entry in an effort to stem the flow of what this government and human rights groups consider "irregular" -- or "illegal" as the Conservatives describe it -- migration.
Meanwhile, Hussen has launched outreach abroad in an effort to curb the number of asylum seekers looking to Canada, and has earmarked funding to help accelerate the processing of these people and work through the backlog, and Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction Bill Blair is in talks with the U.S. about renegotiating the Safe Third Country Agreement.
Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel was outraged by Hussen's remarks, and compared them to a 2006 liberal attack ad that said the Conservatives wanted to have more soldiers in Canadian cities. It was pulled at the time after being heavily criticized.
On social media she called Hussen’s remarks "desperate, Un-Canadian, divisive fearmongering" and in a follow-up statement Rempel called his militarization comment "ridiculous and over the top."
"The Prime Minister has offered precisely zero solutions to reduce the flow of illegal border crossers into Canada and has instead chosen to make permanent the abuse of Canada’s generous asylum system at a total cost to the taxpayer of $1.6 billion and counting," Rempel said.
"We expect a higher level of discourse from this government and return to a discussion about policy, rather than desperate partisan attacks."