TORONTO - Newly-minted Minister responsible for Border Security and criminal organizations, former Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair exposed a weak flank in his government’s plan/ non-plan to deal with “unregistered”, “irregular”, “undocumented” [therefore] foreign workers. He probably did not mean to do it, probably spoke without approval to mention it. That’s the way it goes when one is “scrummed” after a scripted announcement. Minister Blair had come to Toronto to deliver a cheque in the amount of $11 million for extraordinary expenses incurred by the City to accommodate and house “unanticipated borders- crossers” seeking asylum from the USA. Toronto claimed a more accurate figure of $64.5 million – only $53.5 million more than Ottawa was willing to give. The Province, Ontario – more specifically, the Premier, said the real figure should be $270 million for those additional costs failed Federal policy have imposed on Ontario. It’s just numbers. Neither government can be trusted with providing accuracy for a “moving target”. The latest numbers suggest that the number of border crossers are about 32,000. At roughly 40% “destined” for Ontario, Premier Ford is issuing an invoice for about $21,100 a head. Minister Blair, whose mandate letter has yet to be made public, has inherited a hot potato. As [part] Minister for Canadian Border Services he is responsible for removal of those “illegally resident”.
Or coming up with the money. Or telling Ford to justify the amounts. John Tory hasn’t, apparently. It gets worse. These “irregular” border-crossers are claiming asylum from a “safe third country” - the USA. Under the United Nations multilateral agreements so frequently touted as governing our multilateral obligations, an asylum seeker arriving from a “non-refugee generating nation” cannot expect to be accepted here. Canadian officials would be obligated to send them back…to the USA in this case. They could always ask President Trump; he seems pliable and co-operative, not. The idea at the base of the fear that Canadians express in respect of unexpected asylum-seekers is that their generosity might be strained: a guest costs money. These “uninvited” border- crossers represent a tax, a burden, on the generosity of the hosts, or so goes the logic of those who would reject these unwanted guests. Minister nonetheless opened a window of hope or expectation that the “duty to remove” can be mitigated. How? His Government appears to be exploring opportunities to locate the “aspiring refugees” in communities outside of Toronto. Places that are “willing to take them and are asking for them”, and will find them accommodation. He went on to add that there are employers who ”want them and need them”. Minister Blair seemed to express confidence that they will become self-sufficient and not be a drain on the public purse. But there is specific process his colleagues in Cabinet require their Departments to enforce, regardless of his confidence, the goodwill of other communities or the need of employers. Unfortunately, it is one that they are unwilling to apply to those already working, integrated and housed - at their own expense; at no cost to Toronto or to Queen’s Park. The Undocumented Workers: they are here; they are law-abiding and their employers cannot do without them. How ironic is it that the granting of status to these Undocumented Workers will cost the governments absolutely nothing. It’s time for Ministers Goodale and Hussein to step up to the plate before their Party meets the Tsunami that swallowed up Kathleen Wynne’s group.