Provincial politicians have also reacted with concern to the increase in the number of refugee claimants. In 2018, Ontario Premier Doug Ford, then Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, and Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister issued a joint statement calling on the federal government to compensate the provinces for the increased costs associated with the arrival of irregular migrants and to expedite the decision-making process for applicant hearings. The Agreement does not apply to U.S. citizens or ordinary residents of the United States who are not nationals of a country (“stateless”). The 16-year-old agreement recognizes both countries as “safe” countries for migrants and stipulates that refugee claimants are required to seek refugee protection in the first country they arrive, meaning Canadian border guards would return to the U.S. all potential refugee claimants arriving in Canada at an official crossing point. Federal Judge Ann Marie McDonald ruled that the agreement violated a section of the Canadian Charter of Rights that states that laws or acts of state that affect liberty and security must respect the principles of fundamental justice. This changed with the election of President Donald Trump in 2016 on a remarkable anti-migrant platform and the announcement in 2017 by his government of the end of the temporary designation of protected status (TPS). While the largest group of people who benefited from TPS were from El Salvador (about 200,000), the appellation also included nearly 60,000 Haitians who have been living and working since a devastating earthquake in the United States in 2010. Section 102 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) allows for the designation of safe third countries for the purpose of sharing responsibility for refugee claims. Only countries that respect human rights and offer asylum seekers a high level of protection can be designated as safe third countries.
Amid this and other very public anxiety, an August 2018 Angus Reid poll showed that two-thirds of Canadians thought the arrival of asylum seekers in Canada was a “crisis.” Storm Alliance and La Meute, two far-right nationalist groups in Quebec, argued that the situation constituted an “invasion” of Quebec by “illegals” and regularly held demonstrations on Roxham Road with the patriote`s sovereigntist flag. In most cases, Canadians like to see themselves as open to immigration, especially in relation to the anti-migrant policy that prevails in the United States and many parts of Europe.