The Conservative Party says that, if elected, it will tell the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to stop cancelling arrest warrants for people facing deportation that it cannot find.
The pledge came just hours after a Global News investigation revealed that the CBSA cancels Canada-wide arrest warrants issued for various immigration violations, including deportation orders.
“Cancelling warrants for those ordered deported is unacceptable and a Conservative government will fix this broken process,” said Conservative Party spokesperson Simon Jefferies.
Jefferies said the Conservatives would also hire an additional 250 CBSA officers to enhance border security.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, meanwhile, said Friday that when a removal order has been issued, it’s essential that it’s followed through with.
“We believe that when someone has been ordered deported, that should be carried out,” Scheer said.
Trudeau blames Conservatives
According to the CBSA, arrest warrants for people facing deportation cannot be cancelled in cases that involve national security threats, possible war crimes, human rights violations or criminality, including when someone is suspected of having committed a crime.
On Friday, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau would not say if he’d tell the CBSA to stop cancelling warrants in cases where someone is facing deportation and where their whereabouts are unknown.
Instead, Trudeau said the government of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper made “massive cuts” to the CBSA. He called these cuts “extremely unfortunate.”
“We of course take responsibility for protecting the integrity of our borders and our immigration system extremely seriously, which is why we’ve made massive investments and we will continue to support the important work that the CBSA and immigration officials do every day,” Trudeau said.
A Liberal spokesperson added that the government passed Bill C-21 in December giving the CBSA the authority to track people who leave Canada, which the government has said will reduce the number of wanted people in the future. The Liberals also say they’ve directed the CBSA to increase deportations and to prioritize removals of failed refugees who entered Canada at unofficial border crossings.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh also did not say if he’d direct the CBSA to stop cancelling arrest warrants when a person cannot be found. He did, however, express concern about warrants being cancelled.
“People expect our immigration system to have integrity and this is showing that our system doesn’t have integrity,” Singh said. “We need to make sure the process is followed appropriately and then that all steps are followed through with.”
Kelly Sundberg, a former border agent who is now a professor at Mount Royal University in Calgary, says Canada has been cancelling arrest warrants for people facing deportation since before the CBSA was created in 2003.
Before cancelling a warrant, the CBSA considers the amount of time someone has been wanted in Canada without being detected, plus the age of the wanted individual.
The CBSA said officers may also visit a person’s last known address before cancelling a warrant, but it doesn’t know how many warrants have been cancelled without finding the wanted person because its database is not designed to track this information.