“Canada is a very liberal country that believes in freedom of religious practice and equality between men and women. What is your opinion on this subject? How would you feel if your boss were a woman? How do you feel about women who do not wear the Hijab, Dupatta, Chador, Niqab or Burka?”
No, this was not a script for a Kellie Leitch campaign video. It was a query included on a three-page questionnaire given by RCMP officials to people who illegally crossed the Canadian-American border near Lacolle, Quebec.
Twelve thousand men, women and children have made the trek this year, most of whom have claimed refugee status on Canadian soil. A large number are Haitians, who fear they will be deported back to Haiti due to policy changes contemplated by U.S. President Donald Trump. Many others are claimants from Muslim-majority countries who no longer feel comfortable in America, and would rather apply for refugee status in Canada.
Under our Third Safe Country Agreement with the United States, Canadian officials can only turn these people back if they cross at legal checkpoints, not illegal ones. This has the perverse effect of encouraging illegal crossings at places like Lacolle, where a veritable industry of smugglers and drivers ferries people to the Roxham road crossing.
To stem this tide, the Canadian government could call on the U.S. to reopen the agreement and eliminate the loophole. But in the middle of NAFTA negotiations, with protectionist currents running at a fever pitch in Washington, there is no appetite for such a conversation. And so, the illegal crossings continue.
Instead, Ottawa’s response has been to throw money at the problem: hiring more border officials, erecting a temporary tent city in Lacolle, setting up cots in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium and building a second shelter in Cornwall, Ontario. And the RCMP has been tasked with ensuring the migrants do not present a security risk — a very real possibility when you have thousands of undocumented people simply showing up at your country’s doorstep.
Which is where the infamous questionnaire comes in.
“Due to the high volume of irregular migrants in Quebec,” said RCMP spokesperson Annie Delisle. “an interview guide was developed as an operation tool to streamline processing and provide consistency in the RCMP’s preliminary risk assessments.”
Read the full article on iPolitics.