(OTTAWA) Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hinted Wednesday that an announcement could be made regarding Roxham Road when US President Joe Biden visits Ottawa on Thursday and Friday.
“We may have something to announce,” said Mr. Trudeau during a scrum upon his arrival at the weekly Liberal caucus meeting when he was questioned about the possibility of promotions or of an agreement with the Americans.
“We have been working closely with the Americans for several months to restore the situation at Roxham Road and to look at the safe third country agreement,” he simply added.
Both the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mélanie Joly, and the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Sean Fraser, refused to comment on a possible outcome, contenting themselves with praising the meetings of the last few months with their counterparts where the subject was discussed.
The Safe Third Country Agreement ensures that a potential refugee arriving at an official Canadian border crossing and having first set foot on American soil is turned away since he must pursue his asylum claim in the first “place sure” where it arrived.
Thus, people still wishing to seek asylum in Canada cross the Canada-US border by makeshift crossings, and this, in many cases by Roxham Road, located in Montérégie. Once they are in Canada and have been intercepted by Canadian authorities after they officially set foot in the country, their asylum claim can be processed.
In the afternoon, while on his way to the House of Commons, Mr. Trudeau explained to reporters that the Americans have a “very different” perspective on protecting their border with Mexico than with Canada. Ottawa, he said, is trying to “reassure them” and find “something that will work for them [and] for asylum seekers.”
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre reiterated his demand that the Prime Minister order Roxham Road to be “closed” rather than try to find a compromise with the Americans.
“It’s really Justin Trudeau who has the ability to close Roxham Road,” he said. He should. It is he who indicates that it is the responsibility of Joe Biden to protect our borders. I believe that it is the Prime Minister of Canada who must protect the borders of Canadians. »
Mr. Poilievre also blamed Mr. Trudeau for the situation since when his political party was in power, “there was no illegal mass migration [at] Roxham Road or anywhere else, and we had the same border with the same country”.
The leader of the Bloc Québécois, Yves-François Blanchet, judges that Mr. Trudeau must raise the specter of unilaterally withdrawing from the agreement if the United States refuses to renegotiate it. “Usually it’s kind of speeding up a discussion a bit,” he said.
Mr. Blanchet, who continues to request “a brief meeting” with President Biden, also believes that only two scenarios can lead to a successful visit.
“It’s either you announce a real negotiation where everything is on the table – it could in the best of all possible worlds involve, in the interim, in the meantime, indeed a suspension – and if the United States is not open to this idea […] the Prime Minister of Canada […] should suspend the agreement. »
The New Democratic Party (NDP) is also calling for the suspension of the agreement. Its leader, Jagmeet Singh, argued that this would allow migrants to cross the border on a regular basis.
“Right now they have to do something dangerous, which [puts] a lot of pressure on the shoulders of provinces, cities,” he said.
In 2022, a record 39,171 people crossed the border irregularly, according to the number of interceptions reported by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.