While a politician may wish something to be true, simply saying it in the House of Commons does not make it so.
Bill Blair, the newly-minted minister for border security, made a claim about the refugee system in question period Thursday that cannot be supported by the available facts.
“The system is working,” he said.
He was responding to questions about a new report by the Parliamentary Budget Officer, which pegged the cost of “irregular” — for which read “illegal” — migration at $340 million for the cohort of migrants who arrived in Canada in 2017-18 – a cost-per-migrant to the federal government of $14,321. (That does not include provincial expenses, which Ontario claims come to around $200 million. The PBO estimated a similar amount for Quebec. The federal government has reimbursed the provinces a total of $50 million.)
Technically, Blair is correct. The refugee system is working — in much the same way the Russian military’s Antonov Flying Tank worked during the Second World War.
In that case, the plane could leave the ground and drop a tank by parachute, albeit without crew, fuel or armaments. It worked. It just didn’t work well — and the project was rapidly abandoned.
The federal government should adopt a similar approach and go back to the drawing board.
The PBO report is revealing, and not just for the cost estimates. In fact, it emerges in a footnote the costs are likely more than $14,321 per migrant — Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada estimates the number at $19,000.
But during its investigation, the PBO team elicited some interesting responses from government departments that show how bizarre the migrant story has become.