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editorial

The Conservative Party position on the influx of asylum seekers along the Quebec border is that the Liberal government created a “crisis” and are now "without a plan” to fix it.

Every word of that position is wrong. The Trudeau government has not handled the border file perfectly, but the Conservatives are overreaching wildly in their critique.

Take the popular Tory notion that a Justin Trudeau tweet, posted in tacit response to Donald Trump’s so-called Muslim ban in January, 2017, is responsible for the migrant surge.

The suggestion is absurd on its face, considering the overall contrast between the Trump administration’s virulent hostility to immigrants on the one hand and Canada’s longstanding global reputation as a haven for immigrants on the other.

Conservatives have also described the border situation as a “crisis.” Again, let’s look at the facts. In 2017, the RCMP intercepted just over 20,000 asylum seekers between official border crossings. That’s not a low figure, but neither is it something a country of 36-million people can’t absorb easily.

It is also a manageable influx, given that the majority of asylum seekers enter through Roxham Road, in Quebec, where immigration, border and law-enforcement officials are working together to process them in an orderly fashion. Calling this a crisis is hyperbole.

Finally, consider the Conservative charge, voiced by the party’s immigration critic Michelle Rempel, that the Liberals “have done absolutely nothing to restore order and to manage our borders.”

In their last budget, the Liberals put up $173-million for speedier processing at the border and subsequent adjudication of refugee claims. They budgeted $50-million for temporary housing. They sent officials to diaspora communities in the United States to dissuade people from coming to Canada. They persuaded U.S. officials to curb visitor visas to Nigerians. That is not doing “nothing.”

Yes, the Liberals have erred at times in their handling of the border issue. But the Conservatives lose credibility every time they exaggerate the scope of the problem, Mr. Trudeau’s complicity in it and the government’s purported inertia in sorting it out.