Mr. Speaker, please excuse my haste. It usually takes half an hour to resume debate, so you have caught me a little off guard. However, when we are well versed in our file and especially when the issue is so important, the words flow freely.
We were talking about illegal immigrants who cross the border on a small path while hundreds of thousands of people around the world obey the laws and rules, go to our embassies, work with officials, and wait years to have the privilege and pleasure of coming to Canada to enrich our country. For more than a year, because of the Liberal government's inaction and complacency, tens of thousands of people have been illegally crossing our border. We condemn that.
Even Quebec's Liberal government recently hit the roof. It is not often that we see four ministers hold a press conference where they slam the federal government for leaving the Quebec government to fend for itself. The federal government was refusing to pick up a $146-million tab, even though everyone recognizes that the illegal migrant crisis was caused entirely by the Liberal government's poor decisions and by the tweet the Prime Minister sent out one Saturday afternoon on Twitter.
Liberal ministers had some harsh words to say. David Heurtel, Quebec's minister of immigration, diversity, and inclusion, said, “The new reality with respect to migrants calls for a new approach.... The status quo is unacceptable.”
Jean-Marc Fournier, the minister responsible for Canadian relations and the Canadian Francophonie, said, “Today is the first time a claim submitted 20 months ago is being heard, never mind being decided on.” Wait times are far too long.
The Liberal premier, Philippe Couillard, added, “This is a serious warning, not just a negotiating tactic.”
The federal Liberal government, for its part, reacted with an arrogant response from the Minister of Immigration, who said we should “avoid causing undue suffering to families who are seeking protection” and “creating delays at the border and triggering an unacceptable humanitarian situation”.
The Prime Minister created this unacceptable humanitarian situation and the suffering of these migrants with the tweet he posted and his total lack of responsibility in this regard. That is why we are now faced with a situation that requires immediate action.
It is ridiculous that 21,000 people illegally crossed the border last year, 91% of them in Quebec. It is ridiculous that, since the beginning of 2018, over 6,373 people have crossed the border illegally. Unless something changes, it is expected that approximately 400 people will illegally cross the Canadian border every day.
It is time the government took action and came up with a plan. We are all proud to be Canadian, and we are all descended from immigrants or first nations people. Most Canadians are descended from immigrants. I am the son of immigrants. My parents came here on August 22, 1958, almost 60 years ago.
If we want our country to continue to move in the right direction, people need to follow the rules set out by the government. We need to send a clear message to the world that we welcome people from around the world but that they cannot gain privileged access to our big, beautiful country through a little path in the woods.
That is why we are calling on the government to come up with a clear, specific plan to facilitate immigration and help immigrants in Canada.