Screen All Immigrants and Refugees – No Open Borders

By: Graham Lane
Published: Winnipeg Sun, February 24, 2017

Despite the ongoing world turmoil, Canada has increased our intake of immigrants and refugees even while our closest allies (US, UK and Australia) consider shutting their doors. The unexpected UK Brexit vote followed by the shock election of Donald Trump can partly be attributed to concerns over keeping their borders safe. Should Canada dispense with secure border controls after watching a million migrants rush into Germany? Acceptance of ‘walking in’ refugees suggests just that.

Asylum seekers destined for Australia by boat are settled in refugee camps on the islands of Nauru and Papua New Guinea. Only in exceptional circumstances are those migrants allowed into Australia, which is considering banning (for life) of asylum seekers arriving by boat.

America, Britain and Australia have sent clear messages – borders are to be protected.

Too often political parties and mainstream media fails to acknowledge the importance of keeping secure borders for the safety and economic welfare of Canadians. Most of us believe that refugees should always be screened and thoroughly checked before letting them in.

Canada has long led the world in generous immigration policies, but those policies include tightly screening all applicants. Our strict standards screening applicants before letting them in made Canada the envy of the world – we shouldn’t give that up for ‘walk in’ migrants.

There is a simple way to differentiate refugees from immigrants: refugees have to leave their home country, immigrants prefer to leave. There are 21 million refugees in the world, Canada is committed to accepting 25,000-40,000 of them each year (more per capita than any other developed country).The political understanding has been clear: let in real refugees but, and, this is important, only after extensive screening. That is the job of our federal government: they should fulfill their responsibilities.

What we have with the recent influx of Somalian young men walking into Manitoba neither meets the definition of refugees nor upholds our standards for screening and selecting newcomers to Canada. Those now ‘walking in’ untested are mostly young men who have travelled to the USA on visitor or study visas. In the US, they decide to head for Canada rather than living with the risk that US will send them back home.

Noted last week in my column – but worth repeating: for now over 20-years Somalia is a dreadfully failed state. Canada granted only one Visitor Visa to a Somalian in the first nine months of last year, just one. This a very strong indication that our government has been uncomfortable with the security checks they have done on Somalians applying for immigrant status.

If our government allows an unrestricted wave of unscreened Somalian single men to just walk into Canada, get ready for a new element of insecurity along with a massive negative reaction from Canadians.

To allow this ‘walking in’ to go on unchecked would surely lead to a backlash from the general public, just as has been experienced in the UK, USA, Australia and many European countries. Canadians support accepting refugees, but not through the back door.

Maintain extensive screening and close the loophole allowing those that simply ‘walk in’. No to wide-open borders, however hard some pundits push for that risky agenda.

Graham Lane leads Manitoba Forward (manitobaforward.ca), seeking sensible policies.

Queue Jumping: Is Our Border Safe?

By: Graham Lane
Published: Winnipeg Sun, February 17, 2017

In the first 9 months of 2016, Canada issued only one visitor visa for a Somalian, only 5 in 2015. In comparison, 295 visitor visas for Yemen citizens were granted in the first 9 months of 2016. Somalia may be the worst failed state in the world, having that dubious distinction for now 20 years. Frankly, it must be impossible to always determine the good guys from the bad when assessing applicants from Somalia.

All overseas refugee approvals for Somalians are based on applicants living in UN Refugee camps, mostly in Kenya. There applicants are vetted by the United Nations and our own security apparatus, assisted by extensive input from the United States. Those lucky enough to have been granted a visa spent at least 6 to 18 months being analyzed from a security point of view. Successful applicants are either families or single women. Virtually no single men from Somalia have been granted refugee status when applying from overseas.

Last weekend 28 mostly Somalian asylum seekers simply walked into Manitoba. All or almost all single men. They were immediately processed and released into our community.

During the Obama administration, failed Somalian refugee claimants that made it to America were sent back to Somalia (Trump will likely continue with this policy). Under Harper failed Somalian refugees were only asked and not obliged to return to Somalia (anticipating danger back home).This means that any Somalians failing refugee claims in the USA can simply walk into Canada, knowing they will be allowed to stay in Canada, be granted Work Permits, and obtain the health and social benefits afforded to refugees – even though they failed to prove they were refugees.

Most Canadians are not aware that failed Somalian asylum seekers – regardless of security and criminality concerns – are allowed to remain in Canada (almost none being put into detention). If they simply walk into Canada- away from the border crossing – the country of First Safe Haven rule does not apply. They are allowed to make asylum claims without fear of being returned to the USA or Somalia, even if their claims of refugee status are refused.

Most of those Somalians crossing the border at Emerson are single men, most having already been refused as refugees by the US Government. While almost all entered the USA with passports and visas, apparently friends or agents tell them to throw the documents away when they cross the border to Canada. Fortunately, at least they are fingerprinted – we can determine who they are from FBI data bases in the USA.

We live just north of the largest Somalian community in the USA. Given the US Government’s growing concerns over security, it is likely that fewer Somalians will be granted refugee status in the USA. This means there is no end in sight of asylum seekers crossing our border at Emerson or elsewhere As the weather warms up, the numbers could rise substantially as more people prepare to make the trip.

Canada should and does welcome properly vetted real refugees – but the wave of walking-in Somalians strongly suggest that we should change our Country of First Safe Haven rules. Those crossing into Canada away from border crossings should not be given special privilege simply because they evade initial screening at the border.

Graham Lane leads Manitoba Forward (manitobaforward.ca).

BRIAN PALLISTER, insecure procrastinator?

By: Graham Lane
Published: Winnipeg Sun, February 10, 2017

Premier Pallister should make up his mind on Hydro and other major files before delivering his upcoming budget.

In a pre-election interview with CBC’s Donna Carrera, Pallister revealed he had been constantly bullied when growing up due to his then bad teeth. Quite the surprise that a successful business man, athlete, musician, politician and father, now Premier, had such self-doubt and insecurities.

It seems those insecurities have manifested themselves into the new government. Watch in amazement its lack of action on important files. Insecurity and lack of direction has resulted in career civil servants referring to his government as the New NDP.

Since Franklin Roosevelt was first elected in 1933, governments talk about what they would do in their first 100 days. Not so with Mr. Pallister. His plan was to spend considerable time in Costa Rica, just like he did as the leader of the opposition. There was no 100 day plan for the government, no action plan of any consequence. The only plan was avoiding the big decisions. And, even when little things were done, they are represented as if they were monumental, when in fact they were relatively minor.

While 80% of the government’s operating budget relates to health, education, and family services, nine months after the election and yet no announcements of any significance for those departments. We still wait for the penny to drop.

What surprised almost everyone was his appointment of a cabinet with most ministers knowing virtually nothing about their portfolio. A lawyer in charge of health, a financial advisor responsible for justice, a farm specialist responsible for education and immigration, a teacher for finance, etc.. Long-standing critics, such as Myrna Driedger, a nurse that spent almost 17 years waiting to be health Minister, were purposely side-tracked. This mismatching was clearly done to ensure that Ministers would not be experts in their field, just fine for our insecure new Premier.

Our Premier was adamant about not being seen as a cost cutter, and wanted so much to be liked, that facing a crisis- Manitoba Hydro – he froze. Paralysis despite promising to halt construction and re-think the plans. More than enough information had been accumulated and provided for his new government for him to have the options well thought out. Enough to determine if the then-remaining unspent budget for Hydro’s massive expenditure would pay for themselves or not and require subsidization by ratepayers and taxpayers. Enough to call an inquiry.

Instead of doing a Net Present Value of the remaining costs, using the latest estimates on future revenue and costs and cost of capital, the Pallister Government procrastinated until it was too late. Then Hydro was roped in to complete the ill-conceived construction and extend Hydro’s borrowing level to $25 billion or more. We are left with a utility that has no value, requiring massive subsidies for decades.

Yes Mr. Pallister – you did have a choice – and you chose to do nothing. So far, this is what we have seen from the new government. Your choice as to subsidizing Hydro should be known and reflected in the coming budget.

With so much to be done in Manitoba, the Province is crying out for a political voice – for a leader who will get things done.

Graham Lane leads Manitoba Forward (manitobaforward.ca).

Step Aside Premier Pallister – You Failed

By: Graham Lane
Published: February 6, 2017, Winnipeg Sun

Sanford Riley, Chair of Manitoba Hydro’s board of directors, recently announced that 900
employees would be let go along with three sacrificial executives. Furthermore, he forecasts a
series of double-digit annual rate increases – unless a desperately needed government bailout
comes.

No real surprise to the many knowledgeable critics of Hydro’s expansion, just far too late to save
ratepayers’ and taxpayers’ hides.

Premier Pallister, before the election, pledged to stop Bipole III and hold a public review of the
highly questionable $25-billion plan. Virtually every critic believed him, rejoicing in the upcoming
demise of the NDP government’s control over Hydro.

The problem is Pallister broke his promises and let the expensive boondoggle continue while his
new board studied the situation. It is impossible for Brian Pallister to not have known that
Hydro’s expansion was highly questionable. Yet, he allowed the expansion to continue while his
new board got up to speed: a very bad decision.

Pallister was ‘buried’ by information and advice from many experienced professionals and
experts that had studied Hydro’s plans. Their concerns were articulated in extensive studies and
media reports, all based on relevant market research and valid risk concerns. Unanimously,
they lobbied Pallister and his colleagues, seeking an immediate halt and inquiry upon a PC
election win. Before the election, Pallister welcomed all efforts to save the public’s purse.

Pallister won the election but, surprise surprise, and despite further urging by many
knowledgeable critics, he didn’t follow through. He brought in a new-to-hydro board which spent
about $10 million a day before coming to the same conclusion as the critics had laid out in
graphic detail well before. The problem with the new board was they didn’t realize the depth of
the hole that the NDP dug for Hydro. As a result, the new board and Pallister’s government
continued the Bipole III, Keeyask dam, and Minnesota tie-line projects.

A big mistake by the new board and Premier Pallister; a tragedy for Manitobans.

The result of the long delay before what was already known became accepted by the new board
is that billions of dollars more will be lost, billions that will likely be collected in the future from
ratepayers, including suffering lower-income households heating their homes electrically.

We will see energy poverty if Pallister’s government doesn’t pick up the tab and leaving industry
and the general economy to be seriously damaged for generations to come. If Pallister had
stopped the madcap building spree right after the election — as he promised — further wasted
billions could have been saved.

Blame the NDP; blame Hydro executives; blame the old and new Hydro boards; even blame the
opposition parties during the NDP years: yes! But, in particular, now also blame Mr. Pallister.
His blunder should be recognized and acted upon immediately. His incredible mistake will likely
have a greater impact on our economy than all the other decisions combined that the PCs make
during this term.

His blunder is so big in fact that Mr. Pallister should step down and enjoy his Costa Rican
property. Let the PCs elect a new leader and Premier, one that would listen and work for the
people of Manitoba, starting by authorizing the promised, but never held, broad independent
inquiry of Hydro.

Ratepayers and taxpayers deserve nothing less.

Graham Lane leads Manitoba Forward (manitobaforward.ca).

Why Aren’t We as Mad as Hell?

By: Graham Lane
Published: Winnipeg Sun, February 3, 2017

Our neighbours to the south demonstrated collective anger when they elected an unruly, inexperienced political outsider and billionaire as their President. Donald Trump, under the America First banner, promises major changes to immigration, taxation and international trade. A similar sense of resentment is also found in England’s vote to leave the European Union and growing dissatisfaction in continental Europe.

Canadians change governments naively believing that the replacements will act in the interest of taxpayers as they promise. Yet, time after time we are disappointed as the new regimes end up acting like the ousted.

New governments – federal, provincial, municipal – of whatever stripe they paint themselves, quickly focus on separating taxpayers from their money rather than reforming services and reducing the deep levels of waste in the public sector. Politicians forget that the money they spend comes from the citizenry that put them in power and they default to seek the favour of groups who might provide them votes at election times.

New governments invariably come into power also promising a new era of openness, transparency and accountability. Once in office, they pay lip service to those attributes. Like their predecessors, new governments hide information and distort truths to serve their own interests. They keep their eyes on what is truly important for them – having gotten power, staying in power. Power is both pleasant and addictive, providing prestige, money, and taxpayer-paid trips. Post politics they enjoy rich pensions while mining past connections.

Consider our current federal, provincial and municipal governments. All to one degree or another follow a script that has been in place through Canada’s 150-year history. The actions taken are ones best for them, not ‘us’. Are discarded options involving spending reform and service innovation disclosed and examined before parliament, provincial legislature and municipal councils? Rarely, and never in whole.

Knowing the selfish nature of governments, why are taxpayers so compliant as they are so regularly fleeced? Forget demonstrations, let alone riots in the streets, such actions are left to the indigenous population. Yet, there is anger. Try the 38,000 Ontario households unable to pay their hydro bills due to Kathleen Wynn’s destructive green energy policies.

Low-income Manitobans will soon join them.

The stumbling Pallister government chose to allow Hydro to continue to decimate our disposable funds. When will a needed public inquiry be held? Never it seems, though once promised. It would allow us to know just how this enormous boondoggle came about. A real review would likely reveal criminal fraud, waste and absolute foolishness.

On the municipal beat, Mayor Bowman funds a sure to be underused and incredibly expensive Bus Rapid Transit system while raiding the water utility for more cash and constantly seeking new and higher taxes. Trudeau is no better – massive deficits plus the latest unnecessary funding bauble for spendthrift politicians everywhere – a carbon tax. Count on it to make our industries even less competitive than they are now. Depreciating our currency is but the first step to penury.

Why are we so placid? What will it take to get mad enough to really hold government accountable? Are we placid sheep, uttering not much than an occasional plaintive bleat?

Do we need Trump-like outsider politicians to shake things up?

Graham Lane heads up Manitoba Forward (manitobaforward.ca)