Liberals compare PQ leader to Trump for wanting to close Roxham Road border crossing
By wanting to close Roxham Road to prevent irregular entries of asylum seekers in Quebec, the Parti Québécois and its leader are behaving like Donald Trump, says the interim Quebec Liberal Party leader Marc Tanguay.
In a press briefing at the National Assembly on Tuesday, the MNA for LaFontaine compared his political opponents to the former U.S. president, who preached the construction of a wall to prevent illegal immigration from Mexico to the United States.
Tanguay did not hesitate to call the PQ proposal a "deportation policy."
"I find it quite difficult to accept that a political party wants to close Roxham Road," he said. What are they going to do, send the Sûreté du Québec to arrest the people? Put them back on the bus that brought them here and send them where? Come on!" Tanguay said.
"For all intents and purposes, when the Parti Québécois says we have to stop immigrants from coming through, that's building a wall, like Trump said, with security guards," he added.
The Liberals preach "orderly immigration" but put the ball back in Ottawa's court.
"Ottawa needs to renegotiate the safe third country agreement," said Tanguay. "I hope they already have a strategy and a timeline."
"We want the U.S. to take more responsibility, not just be a bridge," continued the Liberal leader. "They must not allow individuals to take these people, who need help, and put them on a bus. They are not a commodity."
The leader of the Parti Québécois, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, explained again Tuesday morning how he planned to stop the massive entry of asylum seekers through Roxham Road.
The MNA for Camille-Laurin has been hammering away for several weeks now that if Ottawa does not act clearly and quickly to stem the crisis, the Quebec government can and should close Roxham Road.
Since the province has jurisdiction over its roads, it would be possible, according to St-Pierre Plamondon, to prevent access to Roxham Road, as New Brunswick had done for its roads leading to Quebec during the pandemic.
When pressed by reporters, he was unable to say how law enforcement would proceed.
"It's not up to me to define how the police would intervene," the PQ leader said during a press conference at the National Assembly.
"What we are saying is that if the federal government, after six years of using the road, intends to make it permanent, it will take an intervention from Quebec. I did not say that the SQ would intercept people," he said.
"I said that they have the authority to close the road, to block it. So, at that point, Roxham Road becomes an enclave managed by the feds and the LPC donors, but it becomes unusable because we have jurisdiction."
St-Pierre Plamondon reminded reporters that the closure of Roxham Road during the pandemic reduced the number of asylum seekers to 3,000 to 4,000 annually; since its reopening, there have been 10 times that number.
The PQ leader added that asylum seekers would be forced to present themselves at official border crossings to enter Canada. "These crossings should be used so that their arrival is not chaotic, but orderly," he argued.
This is the only way to protect these immigrants from smugglers who abuse their vulnerability, a phenomenon that St-Pierre Plamondon describes as a "criminal network of human trafficking."
Quebec's immigration minister, Christine Fréchette, told a press scrum that the Parti Québécois proposal to have Quebec provincial police manage the border instead the feds "made her laugh."
"The PQ is living in a parallel world," she said. "Border management is a federal responsibility."
Fréchette reiterated that the current problem at Roxham Road demonstrates the "urgency" for Ottawa to "solve the problem for good," notably by renegotiating the safe third country agreement.
"Trudeau must negotiate," she said. "If he has other solutions, let him do it. That's his responsibility."
Québec solidaire also believes that the PQ is on the wrong track by wanting to close Roxham Road and that it is the duty of Quebec to welcome and protect refugees.
"The PQ is confused," said co-spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois. "If we were to unilaterally close Roxham Road tomorrow morning, other illegal roads would unfortunately appear, and it would make it even more difficult to document the people who enter."
The MNA for Gouin believes that St-Pierre Plamondon is "playing politics" on the backs of asylum seekers.
"It's easier than proposing pragmatic solutions to the problem," Nadeau-Dubois said in a press conference.
Instead, Quebec solidaire is calling for the safe third country agreement to be suspended while it is renegotiated, which would force migrants to cross borders in a "legal, safe and orderly" manner.
"We must recognize that this migration flow exists," added Nadeau-Dubois. "It can be done, but in a humane way."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Feb. 7, 2023, with the financial assistance of the Meta Fellowship and The Canadian Press for news.
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