In Saskatchewan at least, Canada’s leaky southern border might not be so porous after all.
On Wednesday, the RCMP announced it had foiled a scheme to smuggle nine foreign nationals into the country under cover of night between points of entry at North Portal and Northgate, in the province’s southeast corner. After a four-month investigation, in co-operation with border agents on both sides of the 49th parallel, the RCMP took the asylum-seekers into custody and laid human-smuggling charges against a 43-year-old Regina woman.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials later revealed three other people have been arrested in connection with the case — two Canadian citizens and one Nigerian citizen.
Many in this province had been wondering how long it would be before we joined our neighbours in Manitoba as a target for border-jumpers. Over the past few months, the town of Emerson — about five hours east of North Portal — has seen an unprecedented influx, reacting to the tough talk of U.S. President Donald Trump, who has threatened mass deportations of illegals.
Now that we know what we’ve long suspected — that Saskatchewan’s vast spaces and sparse population makes it a good spot to cross the border undetected — we need to take a deep breath and relax. This isn’t the time to fall prey to the hysterical xenophobia that politicians around the world have whipped up in recent months.
Recently, for instance, federal Conservative leadership candidate Maxime Bernier has suggested deploying the Canadian Forces to guard the border, a move Emerson Reeve Greg Janzen described as “overkill.” Fellow Tory hopeful Kevin O’Leary also chimed in, proposing the use of the “notwithstanding clause” in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to prevent illegal border-hoppers from claiming refugee status.
Both candidates, in our view, are just playing politics with the issue. And while we’re not satisfied with the Trudeau government’s response to the problem — it was aptly described this week as a “government of inaction” by Manitoba Tory MP Ted Falk — we’re not ready to declare martial law just yet.
After all, thanks to the vigilance of the CBSA and RCMP, last week’s human-smuggling plot did not succeed. It would be naive to think every such scheme is doomed to failure, but it’s still comforting to know efforts are being made to stem the flow of asylum-seeking queue-jumpers into Canada.
It’s also important to remember that people seeking asylum — especially those entering via the U.S. — are coming here to find a better life, not to cause problems. Although they shouldn’t be allowed to circumvent the appropriate channels for claiming refugee status, only the most hard-hearted among us would deny them a shot at the Canadian dream altogether.
Those aren’t the values upon which this country was built.
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