Federal Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer is demanding that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau not sign a UN pact on migration, saying Canada’s immigration policies should not be dictated by an international agreement.
“Canadians want their government, not foreign entities, to be in control of our immigration system, a system that is orderly, compassionate and fair,” Scheer said during Tuesday’s Question Period.
“Will the prime minister assure Canadians that he will not sign onto the United Nations Global Compact on Migration.”
The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration’s text was finalized and agreed to in July and is due to be formally adopted next week in Marrakesh.
The pact bills itself as the “first-ever” global agreement on a common approach to international migration. It includes 23 objectives that range from stabilization efforts in countries seeing large numbers of residents leave, protection for migrants while they are in transit, and integration in their destination countries.
While the pact is not legally binding, it has proven controversial.
The United States has refused to sign on, Australia has since walked away, and controversy over the pact continues in the European Union, with at least six member nations shunning the accord.
As migrant numbers have swelled in Europe, Canada has faced a surge of asylum seekers at its borders.
The language surrounding the thousands of asylum seekers that flow over Canada’s border from the U.S. every year has been a hot-button issue, with the governing Liberals careful to use the term “irregular” border crossings rather than “illegal.”
Trudeau dismissed Scheer’s comments Tuesday, saying his government is committed to facilitating and encouraging a healthy immigration system.
“We are going to continue to stand up for immigration, knowing that defending diversity is a source of strength and welcoming people through a rigorous immigration system from around the world is what has made Canada strong and, indeed, something the world needs more of, not less of like they want to bring in,” Trudeau responded.
Every irregular border crosser who came to Canada over the last year cost the federal government on average $14,321, according to a report published last week by the parliamentary budget officer.
By Tania Kohut