(This column originally appeared in the Toronto Sun)
By: Candice Malcolm
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has finally — finally — let it be known that Canada does not have an open-border immigration policy.
After months of sending mixed messages to potential refugees, implying that Canada accepts everybody, Trudeau finally mustered the courage to speak out against illegal immigration.
“Canada is an opening and welcoming society,” Trudeau said during a press conference Sunday. “But let me be clear. We are also a country of laws.”
“Entering Canada irregularly is not an advantage. There are rigorous immigration and customs rules that will be followed, make no mistake,” said Trudeau.
This is a good first step for the prime minister, albeit, a little slow on the uptake. And, frankly, Trudeau’s new law and order message may be too little too late.
Delivered on a summer Sunday to a small group of reporters, Trudeau’s firm stance will reach a fraction of the audience of his previous open-border declaration.
Back in January, amidst the chaos of U.S. President Donald Trump’s ham-fisted travel ban, Trudeau sent out his now-famous message on Twitter.
“To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada”
This post has been shared over 420,000 times on the site and viewed millions of times. It also received glowing news coverage around the world.
Trudeau’s message was featured in dozens of U.S media reports, from mainstream outlets like the New York Times and PBS, to popular new media sites like Breitbart and Vice, as well as niche cultural outlets like W Magazine and Teen Vogue.
In the U.K, it was covered in all the major publications, including the BBC, Daily Mail, Guardian, Sun and Independent.
It doesn’t stop there. International news agency Reuters filed a story about the tweet, which was picked up by countless international news outlets.
It was featured prominently by Aljazeera, the state broadcaster of the Qatari dictatorship, with a large audience throughout the Middle East.
Trudeau’s feel-good tweet also made news in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates, Israel, Australia, Japan, Germany, Greece and Spain.
Trudeau has a knack for going viral. Of all his carefully staged PR stunts, this tweet has outdone them all.
It’s taken on a life of its own.
Along the way, Trudeau’s vague language has been interpreted as an open invitation to all aspiring refugees.
In the past six weeks, nearly 7,000 asylum seekers have been intercepted along the Canada-U.S. border in Quebec alone.
There were some 3,000 migrants caught crossing illegally in July, and another 3,800 during the first two weeks of August.
No wonder Trudeau finally spoke up. The number of asylum applications in 2017 has already surpassed the total in 2016.
Canada has received applications from 25,496 asylum seekers in the first seven and a half months of 2017, compared to 23,920 in all of 2016.
For comparison, during 2014 — the last full year of the previous Harper administration — Canada received 13,455 asylum applications.
Media reports have claimed that many of the current wave of asylum seekers were enticed to come to Canada through social media messages.
Was this a hoax, as has been reported, or was it an honest misinterpretation of Trudeau’s viral mantra that Canada will welcome the world’s refugees?
If Trudeau really wanted to stop the...(READ MORE)