More concerned about the safety of refugees than their own safety, a random polling of people in downtown Brandon showed support for increased refugee supports.
The support backs Premier Brian Pallister’s funding announcement of the day, which will see the introduction of 14 emergency housing units for refugee claimants, the hiring of a refugee response co-ordinator and $110,000 in funding for Welcome Place to support services for refugee claimants.
This reaction comes after weeks of news reports about an influx of northbound asylum seekers crossing the Canada-United States border illegally at a handful of points, including at Emerson.
One of about a dozen people randomly polled in downtown Brandon on Thursday, Jing Wang said that it’s been heartening to see Canada’s collective response to refugees.
Having immigrated to Canada from China about two-and-a-half years ago, she said that the recent image of RCMP members assisting a child crossing into Canada illegally from the United States made her proud to be here.
Respondent Jen Weedon said that her primary concern is for the security of immigrants and refugees, and an anonymous respondent said that he couldn’t blame people for trying to get out of the United States given the current negative political climate around immigration south of us.
Donna Robleski shared a similar sentiment, saying that she just hopes refugees have places to go and the resources and the resources they need.
Others noted that border security is adequate and that they don’t have any concerns, such as Jelle Geurts, who said that during a recent trip to the United States he faced more questioning coming back in to Canada, as a Canadian citizen, than he did when entering the United States.
Not everyone polled is in agreement about border security.
Norman Parker said that he supports the immigration policies of U.S. President Donald Trump, and Olga Cooke said that background checks need to be strengthened.
Still, the dominant sentiment of support for welcoming refugees did not surprise Brandon East Progressive Conservative MLA Len Isleifson, who said that "Canada itself is built on immigration."
"We have people, whether it’s legal or illegal, crossing our borders into Manitoba and we have to ensure their safety and the safety of people in the border areas," he said. "We need to provide resources to the organizations that support these refugee claimants."
While he said that he’d change his tune if something happened to the contrary, Isleifson said that there doesn’t appear to have been any added threat as a result of the recent influx of illegal border crossings.
"I’ve heard of families coming across with their children in the middle of the night and that’s concerning given our weather," he said. "These people are here and we need to ensure that the supports … are properly funded and looked after."
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Should the Canadian government be doing more to enforce border security?
Garry Nasby -- "No. It’s too much hassle going across the border already."
Melanie Noah -- "Yes, I think they should. It seems like every day people are coming in."
Jing Wang -- "No. I think Canada’s nice."
Donna Robleski -- "I think they just have to ensure they have places to go and work."
Jen Weedon -- "Yes, I think more for the security of immigrants and refugees."
Norman Parker -- "Yes, because I think Justin Trudeau should follow Donald Trump’s example (on immigration) rather than just make himself look good."