Advertisement

Manitoba should welcome migrants stuck at US/Mexico border, says Axworthy

Lloyd Axworthy in his role as Foreign Affairs Minister back in the mid-90s.
Lloyd Axworthy in his role as Foreign Affairs Minister back in the mid-90s. Global News / FIle

He’s the chair of the World Refugee Council and a former Minister of Foreign Affairs, but first and foremost, Lloyd Axworthy is a Winnipegger.

Calling in to 680 CJOB from a conference in Marrakesh, Morocco, Axworthy said Thursday that his hometown could set an example by welcoming refugees and migrants from Central America.

“We’re a big country, and boy, when you see what’s happening in other places, we’re a blessed country,” he said.

“There’s lots of room, there’s lots of space, and I think a lot of people in Winnipeg have shown incredible warmth and reception to refugees.

“What’s interesting about this, is this is in North America. We’re not talking about a place that’s thousands of miles away – this is our own continent.”

In his capacity with the World Refugee Council, Axworthy recently had a chance to visit refugee camps at the U.S.-Mexico border, and called the experience both moving and dismaying.

Story continues below advertisement

“These people just finished walking 1,000 miles for what they thought might be a chance to escape from the kind of violence in their home area, then found out the gate was shut and that tear gas was being used,” he said.

“It was particularly poignant with the women involved, because the Americans have eliminated the criteria of gang violence or domestic violence as grounds for applying for refugee status.

“It was really, really sad. I saw these women who were making a huge effort with their kids to find some way for safety and security, only to find the options were closed.”

Axworthy said he recognizes that his proposal is a controversial one, as the debate over refugees and immigration continues to heat up, but that he thinks Manitoba has seen the benefits of increased immigration over the past decade, and could continue to reap the benefits.

“One think I think people in Manitoba recognize is that one of the real major contributions to economic growth in the province in the last 10 years is through immigration,” he said. “That’s given us a real spurt and a real diversity and a lot of investment.

“I agree with the concern this needs to be well-managed, so we’re not talking about people who are illegal, we’re talking about people who would come through the regular procedures.”

Story continues below advertisement

WATCH: Stuck in limbo: Manitoban asylum seekers wait to hear if they can stay

Click to play video: 'Stuck in limbo: Manitoban asylum seekers wait to hear if they can stay'
Stuck in limbo: Manitoban asylum seekers wait to hear if they can stay

Sponsored content

AdChoices