Coming up on two years since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s infamous “Welcome to Canada” tweet, and nearly 38,000 irregular border crossings from the United States later, it is still easy to argue the country does not face any kind of migration crisis. Few if any of those crossing the border seem to represent a security threat — and since everyone seeking asylum, by definition, has to check in with authorities, we can hope bad actors will be weeded out. Many of those applying for asylum may well be economic migrants, not bona fide refugees; but there are far worse things than being overrun with hard-striving immigrants eager to make a go of it in a new country. It remains true that compared to the number of asylum-seekers other countries have dealt with in recent years, Canada hardly faces a challenge at all.
The Conservative opposition in Ottawa, and more recently the PC government in Toronto, have rudely declined to be sanguine. The former has demanded the government stop the flow of migrants; the latter has stridently demanded compensation for the cost of caring for the new arrivals who can’t fend for themselves. There has been no shortage of progressive commentators eager to hold them to account, arguing they are misrepresenting the issues or “dog-whistling” to racists, and citing all the reasons listed above.
At some point those commentators will have to hold the government to account as well, I’m afraid. As the Parliamentary Budget Officer confirmed this week, the Liberals have allowed — at the very least — a bureaucratic crisis to firmly take hold. Manageable as Canada’s irregular migration problem ought to be, the feds have utterly failed to manage it. As of Sept. 18, the backlog of all asylum cases was nearly 65,000 people. That’s the most this century, and more than triple what it was at the end of Trudeau’s first year in office. The PBO projects the wait time for refugee claims to be finalized will be three years by 2020.