Many Canadians believe that someone like Donald Trump could never be elected in Canada. But the troubling truth is that the leader of the Conservative Party, Andrew Scheer, shares much in common with the US President — particularly when it comes to refugees and immigrants.

From Scheer calling out “illegal border crossers” to Trump telling refugees to “make their own countries great again” instead of coming to the U.S., both of these men know how to demonize immigrants in a way that appeals to their voting base. Below, we look at a few examples of just how similar the leaders have ended up sounding when talking about immigration and refugees.

1) Trying to turn refugees into a political football

At a recent town hall hosted by the Surrey Board of Trade, Andrew Scheer commented on irregular border crossings, saying that Trudeau has made Canada far too welcoming to refugees since his 2017 tweet in response to the Trump travel ban.

“There’s a sign on the border that says it’s illegal to cross into Canada,” Scheer says, to thunderous applause. “Human trafficking groups are actually taking payments to help people come cross into Canada…that sure does sound like illegal activity to me.”

Sound familiar? That’s because we’ve been hearing similar phrases from Trump for almost two years now.

Trump has made numerous claims that human trafficking a serious problem at the southern border, saying “This really is an invasion of our country by human traffickers. These are people that are horrible people bringing in women mostly, but bringing in women and children into our country.”

But according to the Washington Post and other outlets, there is little conclusive evidence of massive sexual or human trafficking originating across the Mexico-US border.

Both Scheer and Trump are grasping at issues to justify their hardline stance against refugees.

2) Fear-mongering about refugees and public safety

Scheer has recently ramped up rhetoric about Canada’s immigration system, claiming that someone who came to Canada as a child — and was arrested years later as an adult in Kingston — indicated that refugees threaten public safety. In a statement posted to the Conservative Party’s website, Scheer says that he’ll keep fighting against Trudeau’s “attempts to weaken Canada’s national security laws and implement real policies to ensure that Canada’s streets and communities are safe” – implying that the current screening procedures aren’t nearly strict enough.

Part of Scheer’s official statement on the Conservative Party’s website:

Scheer’s false dilemma analogy of Canada’s “lax screening” is similar to Trump’s efforts to scale up vetting and border security since he came into office in January 2017 and immediately issued a travel ban to seven Muslim-majority countries. Throughout his presidency he has repeatedly called for an end to “chain migration,” even after it was later revealed his own in-laws benefited from it.

Both Scheer and Trump misdirect public concern over safety towards refugees, when incidents of homegrown terror and violence are much larger threats to people’s security.

3) Calling for an end to birthright citizenship

In the summer of 2018 Andrew Scheer called for an end to birthright citizenship in Canada. He cited “birth tourism”, where parents who are not Canadian citizens come to Canada to have their child in order for it to get citizenship, as an issue his party will tackle. There’s no evidence that indicates birth tourism is even a problem in the country.

Trump has vowed to do the exact same thing in the United States, saying he’ll sign an Executive Order to end birthright citizenship even though it would possibly contravene the American Constitution. Both Scheer and Trump have tried to demonize first-generation citizens in their own countries.

4) Peddling conspiracy theories about a UN migration agreement

Both Andrew Scheer and Donald Trump opposed a UN migration agreement in late 2018. The document in question laid out principles to guide rules on “safe and orderly” movement around the world, and was originally agreed to by every UN country except one: the United States.

But Andrew Scheer embraced far-right conspiracies, suggesting that the agreement — which is not legally binding — could erase Canada’s borders. One National Post columnist concluded that Scheer’s statements on the matter were cribbed from far-right fringe voices.

But with the Conservative leader’s embrace of far-right fear-mongering over an anodyne UN agreement on immigration, we are deep into the fever swamp. It is disturbing and frankly embarrassing to see.

Unsurprisingly, Scheer was mainly echoing ideas already expressed by Donald Trump. In 2017, Trump declared his opposition to the agreement, claiming it would “undermine the sovereign right of the United States to enforce our immigration laws”.

Andrew Scheer clearly believes that recycling Donald Trump’s discredited fear-mongering about immigrants and scapegoating of refugees will help propel him to victory in the 2019 election. But Canada is not the United States, and it remains to be seen whether voters will buy the Scheer-Trump rhetoric attacking newcomers to this country.


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