Scheer sends Trudeau a letter calling for end to border 'queue jumping'
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer stands during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, June 13, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
OTTAWA -- Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking him to table a plan to immediately stop "queue jumping" by the ongoing influx of illegal border crossers.
Last week, Scheer and his Public Safety critic, Pierre Paul-Hus, visited Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Que., where the vast majority of irregular migrants have arrived this year after crossing the Canada-U.S. border through the now well-worn path at Roxham Road.
Scheer says he went to the site to witness first-hand the "epicentre of the crisis at our borders."
In his letter, Scheer says he also met this week with other immigrants and refugees who say friends and family who've applied to enter Canada through the regular channels are now waiting longer for their files to be processed "due to those jumping the line illegally."
He calls on Trudeau to table a plan to immediately stop what he calls "the queue-jumping and public safety crisis at our borders."
"Canadians are concerned, both about the safety issues this crisis has caused and with the unreasonable delays for those seeking to move to Canada who have followed the rules and now must wait longer," he wrote to Trudeau on Friday.
A copy of the letter was provided to The Canadian Press.
An official in the prime minister's office said they had not yet received the letter and could not comment.
But Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen's office did not mince words in its response to Scheer's assertions.
Asylum claims are processed by the arm's-length Immigration and Refugee Board, which means there is no impact on wait times for immigration applications processed by the Immigration Department, including government and private sponsorships of refugees, Hussen's press secretary, Mathieu Genest said.
"While this has been explained many times, the Conservatives continue to perpetuate misinformation to pit communities against each other. If a briefing on the immigration system would be helpful for Mr. Scheer, we would be happy to organize one," Genest said.
Newly released statistics from the department show the number of irregular migrants who arrived in Quebec dropped in May by 28 per cent compared to April. This would indicate government's outreach efforts are working, Genest added.
He was also critical of Scheer for suggesting irregular migrants are jumping Canada's immigration queues.
"They are demonizing families who are seeking protection and they are pitting immigrant communities against one another. This is not only irresponsible, it is dangerous," Genest said.
"While they are fanning the flames of fear, we are steadfast in our resolve to protect the safety of Canadians and respect Canadian and international laws."