By Jim Scott
Everyone who has dabbled in politics has their favourite ‘rules-of-thumb’. One is: “if you’re explaining you’re losing your message.” Another: “If they’re making you angry, you’re losing your argument.”
Recently, PM Trudeau has found himself scrambling to explain what did or did not happen eighteen years ago while he was partying in British Columbia. His opponents are gleeful not so much because Trudeau has had to defend himself against charges that he “groped” a female reporter, but more so because he has since elevated himself to holier-than-thou status and now his feminist halo is slipping. Repeated attempts to downplay the female reporter’s version of events only highlight the conundrum facing celebrities and political figures recently. The #MeToo movement is trying to chastise all mankind, (not “personkind”), and “gee I didn’t know she wasn’t into my advances” isn’t going to cut it. The more ways the PM tries to slice this thing, the worse it sounds.
That’s not to say some explanations aren’t welcomed. It would be helpful for instance if Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen explained what cities and provinces can expect from the federal government to handle the influx of border crossers who started to show up last year. Now numbering in the tens of thousands, they have been offered temporary housing and other considerations that have begun to pinch on certain budgets. It was recently pointed out that some of these folks have been placed in student dorms, but of course, students will need those soon and someone is going to have to move. The province of Quebec has apparently racked up extra costs in excess of $146 million and Toronto has incurred $64 million. Somebody better start explaining soon what the Liberal plan is for this looming crisis besides accusing Canadians of being “irresponsible, divisive, fearmongering” and “not Canadian.”
This pattern of angrily slinging buzzwords at opponents in lieu of actually saying something helpful is becoming Liberal strategy. Minister Hussen might be frustrated that Canadians are not thrilled with people strolling over the border and claiming refugee status but it is an issue that rankles many. Technically speaking, one is allowed to cross anywhere along the border as long as one reports to Canadian authorities. The common assumption is that all these folks are taking advantage of a loophole under false pretenses but the loophole is there for a reason.
In a National Post article on July 11, 2018, (“Irregular of illegal?”), Tristan Hopper uses the example of Soviet chess champion Igor Ivanov who leapt from a plane onto the tarmac at Gander NL in 1980. Obviously, jumping out of a plane without using the stairs and running across a busy runway would be frowned upon under ordinary circumstances. Instead, Ivanov, representing a Cold War coup, was “never prosecuted after being given political asylum.”
Not analogous to our new friends wandering across cornfields in Manitoba and Quebec these days, but we have to be cautious about any conclusions. Clearly, they are not being driven from a war-torn country, so much as being driven by cab and calmly dropped off. They appear to be under no threat in the US except for being called out for over-staying their welcome there. (Haitians were given temporary asylum after the horrific earthquake that shattered their island home in 2010. Many no doubt settled down into better lives in America and have no wish to go back). Average Canadians are questioning the motives of people who carry their luggage out of a peaceful country and claim to be ‘refugees’. The law stipulates that their cases must be adjudicated based on this claim, not on whether other Canadians are simply sceptical. That however, is not a basis for angrily denouncing the sceptics. Surely, the present influx from the US, unaccompanied by any humanitarian crisis on the other side of the 49th, calls for our refugee response to be re-examined. Certainly, we need more adult communication from the government whose purpose is to serve us, rather than invective and lecturing about how morally righteous they see themselves.