On Monday, during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would not accede to the demand of NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan, who wanted him to suspend Canada's Safe Third Country agreement with the U.S. because of the separation of illegal immigrants’ children from their parents. Trudeau stated he refused to “play politics” over the issue.
Kwan ranted, “The United States is forcibly separating migrant children from their parents when they enter the U.S. to claim asylum. This cruel and unusual practice is Trump’s way of stopping migrants from crossing. The U.S. also announced that they would no longer provide asylum in cases involving domestic and gang violence. This practice is a blatant violation of every international law.”
Trudeau rose to his feet, and countered, “Mr. Speaker, from the very beginning I’ve been very clear on the role Canadians expect of me, to stand firmly and unequivocally for our values, for our interests, to protect Canadians and make sure that we’re doing well, as well as having a constructive relationship with the United States. That’s what we are going to remain focused on, and you may have noticed, Mr. Speaker, that over the past years, we have been very strong in our advocacy, not just within Canada, to be welcoming as a country for refugees and asylum-seekers, but also to promote that around the world, to encourage other countries to understand that people arriving to our shores are a potential benefit to our communities."
Kwan went a step further: “The U.N. Human Rights Commissioner condemned this policy and called it unconscionable. This is destroying lives. If Canada does not step up, then we are complicit. Nearly 2,000 children have been sent to mass detention centers and over 100 of them are under four years old. Will the Prime Minister stand up for migrant children and suspend the Safe Third Country agreement?”
Trudeau answered, “ Canadians always stand up for human rights everywhere around the world and we will continue to. But what we will not do is play politics with this. We understand how important it is to be firm and unequivocal as we protect and support human rights around the world, and we will continue to do that, both by example and by engagement with the world. That’s what Canadians expect of this government, Mr. Speaker, and that’s what we will continue to do.”