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GEORGE: Scheer silliness: Is it politics or simply business as usual?

December 11, 2018 - 12:59 PM

 


OPINION


The issue of sovereignty came up in a big way this week on the national stage.

It was brought to us by Andrew Scheer. He has created a paper tiger that he hopes will energize his base. And the media has run with it in a big way.

The U.N. compact on migration is an attempt by the United Nations to get nation states to acknowledge that the 60,000+ migrants who have died in transit over the past two decades are "a source of collective shame" and that we should at least try to minimize the human suffering associated with migration.

Scheer is calling for the Trudeau government to not sign this compact for fear of allowing the U.N. to dictate who we will allow to migrate to our country and to top that, dictate what we can and cannot talk about in our media concerning migration.

First of all, this compact is not a treaty and is not binding. Ex-immigration minister under the Harper government, Chris Alexander, even called Scheer out over his "factually incorrect" interpretation. Canadian academics are calling out the Tories for spreading misinformation as well.

Trudeau says Canadians should feel proud for doing something to address the refugee crisis.

There has been a lot of speculation as to what is motivating Mr. Scheer in this. Many say "politics". Could this be an attempt to whistle up the support that left with Mr. Bernier earlier this year? Or perhaps choosing to focus on sovereignty was to take the focus off of the 23 objectives of the compact, many of which run counter to Canadian conservatism's ideals as manifested in our politics over the past three decades.

Among the objectives the CBC has chosen to highlight in their coverage are: Collecting and utilizing accurate data to develop evidence-based policies and minimizing the factors that drive people from their country of origin.

To be fair neither the Conservatives nor the Liberals have ever thought either of these objectives worthy of incorporation in their decision making on any topic, not just immigration. Just last week, for example, the Liberals reiterated their support for continuing to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia and were called out for their failure to control oil and gas emissions.

War and climate change are the two main drivers of migration and our government's inability to do anything to contain either is telling.

For a party that has always focused on fiscal responsibility as one of its hallmarks, the Tories are certainly going down a strange path on this issue. Canada's sovereignty isn't at stake. This isn't a slippery slope to one world government. It is a half-hearted humanitarian response to a crisis of our own making.

Sovereignty is the card that needs to be played on trade issues, not immigration. Scheer is strangely quiet on the matter of investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) and how that has a direct impact on the ability of governments around the world to address environmental and social issues within their own borders.

No matter his motivation then, Mr. Scheer's silliness this week has definitely generated a ton of column inches in the media. Is he really worried that some foreign entity will be telling us what we can and cannot talk about in our publications and on our airwaves?

I can see how the 17th objective from the compact, "eliminate all forms of discrimination and promote evidence-based public discourse to shape perceptions of migration" could be a problem for some fringe media outlets. But the majority of journalists and their publishers seem to do a pretty good job of sticking to the facts and keeping their racial biases out of print already.

This tiger has no teeth and as heroic as Mr. Scheer may think he looks for attacking it, the reality is that this is simply business as usual in Canadian politics.

— Chris George believes one measure of a just society is found in how well it balances fiscally conservative economics with social responsibility and environmental soundness in all of its living arrangements.


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