Both Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and his U.S. counterpart, Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, emerged from their meeting in Ottawa on Friday “perplexed.”
That was Kelly’s description, though he said it could be applied to all the players in the room. Those players were, of course, discussing what I prefer to call the raging refuge crisis on the U.S.-Canadian border but which Goodale has routinely dismissed as something his Liberal government has well in hand.
Perplexed was a choice word with which to anoint an increasingly bizarre and unravelling border crisis. For many Canadians, “outraged” might be more appropriate. But the phenomenon of “asylum seekers” that now confronts a small and isolated border town such as Emerson, Man., which sits on the border with North Dakota, is surrounded by so much political absurdity that it at times seems to have been pulled from a Monty Python sketch.
Two events occurred in January that spawned the asylum seeker movement: U.S. President Donald Trump’s temporary travel ban on seven countries and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s response to Trump’s executive order.
Trump’s initial travel ban, which was overturned by the U.S. courts, should not have provided any impetus for any so-called refugee to flee to Canada. It was not a “Muslim ban” as oft-reported, nor did it affect refugees already residing in the United States. But it did provide a good excuse to come to Canada, especially after Trudeau suggested we had an open border in a Twitter statement.
Trudeau’s tweet, now considered either courageous or stupid, notorious or noteworthy, infamous or celebrated, was certainly an open invitation to refugees, anywhere in the world, to come to Canada because apparently we had no intention of either vetting them or stopping them.
Was it an official statement or an off-hand suggestion? That is the most vexing problem with government via social media because it can be either and both at same time; but the conditions it shapes cannot be managed quite as easily. I find it deeply ironic that the liberals who excoriate Trump for his obsessive activity on social media cannot see that Trudeau has demonstrated the same flair for promulgating policy on the web as his American counterpart.
But if you want absurdity, take Goodale’s visit to Emerson last weekend. Goodale appeared to be functioning in his own bureaucratic world of illusion as he suggested the situation was “in hand” and that the “law was being enforced.” It was difficult not to laugh. But his explanation was a tour de force of Orwellian newspeak and truly worthy of a 1984 Award, if such an item exists. Goodale claimed that, “Charges in relation to the crossing of the border cannot be laid until after the case of the particular individual under immigration rules has been finally disposed of.”
Wow. You have to work hard to manufacture nonsense like that — believe me, I know. I wrote government talking points, and this kind of disingenuous nothingness is only achieved with a profound and dedicated desire to obfuscate the public.
But the crowning achievement of Goodale’s trip had to be his announcement of $30,000 for the local volunteer fire department in order to keep up their good work of apparently processing illegals, which of course is not what a fire department is supposed to be doing.
But if the situation at the border is absurd, it is also untenable. We cannot persist in monitoring an open border that was created in cyberspace by a prime minister who often appears detached from reality. We cannot allow bogus “refugees” to walk across the border when real ones are standing in line. We cannot abrogate our sovereignty and security as a nation by declaring everyone and anyone is “welcome” in Canada.
Everybody is not welcome and this Liberal government needs to state that emphatically and unequivocally before an absurd reality transmutes into a catastrophic one.
David Krayden is a former Air Force public affairs officer and Parliament Hill communications manager who has worked in print, radio and television journalism. He writes and speaks about Canadian politics.
Ottawa Sun by David Krayden
March 11th 2017