François Legault is directly challenging his counterpart Justin Trudeau, urging him to close Roxham Road, where a record flow of people are crossing the border illegally, an “unacceptable” and “impossible” situation for Quebec to handle.
• Also read: Chemin Roxham: Quebec expects a record year for asylum seekers
“The federal government must face up to its responsibilities,” stressed Prime Minister Legault, recalling that Quebecers pay taxes so that Ottawa takes care of managing the borders.
Our Parliament Office reported Wednesday morning that Quebec is seeing a record number of illegal crossings on the Roxham Road this year, more than 35,000 at the current rate, equivalent to more than a hundred crossings a day.
“We don’t have this (reception) capacity,” said François Legault in a press conference.
In addition to the maximum capacity achieved for temporary accommodation, Ottawa currently needs up to 14 months to process the files of asylum seekers.
“A sieve,” Boulet complains
In the meantime, the Quebec government has to take on a large part of the financial support paid to applicants, especially to send the youngest to school. “The real problem is the processing time,” said the Prime Minister.
For Labor Minister Jean Boulet, Roxham Road is “a sieve”. “This is internationally recognized,” regrets the minister, who found out about certain promotional tools used by smuggler networks.
For his part, PQ leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon accuses the Legault government of waiting too long.
“The case has dragged on for five years,” he regretted.
Liberal MP Carlos Leitao says it would be “counterproductive” to close Roxham Road immediately.
“These people aren’t going away, they’re going to find another way to come back (to Canada),” he noted.
Québec solidaire also believes that closing this transition point immediately would be a “simplified” way of tackling a complex issue.
QS parliamentary leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois calls for a “humanistic and pragmatic approach” to deal with the situation.
All agree that the agreement between Canada and the United States and safe countries, which as it stands encourages asylum seekers to take the Roxham Road, needs to be reviewed urgently.