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Trudeau’s ‘all are welcome’ immigration system damages its integrity: Scheer – National

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Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says the prime minister damaged the integrity of Canada’s immigration system when he tweeted two years ago that Canadians will welcome all those fleeing persecution, terror and war.


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Scheer says Canada ‘can’t afford four more years of Justin Trudeau’

“In terms of illegal immigration, we have seen this problem grow for the past few years. We all remember Justin Trudeau’s famous tweet where he couldn’t resist jumping in on Twitter and tweeting out all are welcome,” Scheer said Friday at a town hall in suburban Vancouver held by the Surrey Board of Trade.

“Well, people have taken him up on his word. The problem is that that damages the integrity of our immigration system and people who are trying to come to Canada the right way are now having to wait longer,” he said to applause from members of the audience.

In January 2017, Trudeau posted on Twitter: “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada.”

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He made the post shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning entry of citizens from seven countries with majority-Muslim populations for 90 days.

The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada says 34,854 refugee claims were made by irregular border crossers between February 2017 and September 2018 and of those 3,142 – or nine per cent – were accepted. Some 2,429 were denied and 28,314 are pending. It says there has been an “influx” of irregular border crossers.

Trudeau recently warned people to be wary of fear-mongering about immigration, suggesting the issue will be a hot-button topic during the federal election campaign this fall.


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Scheer said he has met people who spent years in a refugee camp waiting to enter Canada and don’t understand why someone can enter through upstate New York.

The parliamentary budget officer recently reported that the influx of asylum seekers at the border is on course to cost Ottawa more than $1 billion, he added.

NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan has criticized the Conservatives and Liberal Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen for using the word illegal to describe people crossing the U.S. border seeking asylum. Hussen said he was using the word to describe the act of crossing the border outside of a normal point of entry, but he had never described asylum seekers themselves as “illegal.”

WATCH: Everyday Canadians can’t afford 4 more years of Trudeau: Scheer






Asked by a reporter about his use of the word illegal, Scheer said there’s a sign at the border that says it’s illegal to cross into Canada outside of regular checkpoints.

He said when he talks to new Canadians, they express frustration at how long it took them to be allowed into the country compared with people crossing the U.S. border.

“To see a government that allows people to come and jump the queue and skip the line, that frustrates them,” Scheer said.


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The Conservatives were probably planning to highlight immigration policies in the election, but the new People’s Party of Canada led by former Tory MP Maxime Bernier is likely causing them to double down on the issue, said political scientist Hamish Telford of the University of the Fraser Valley.

“It’s going to be a wedge issue and it’s going to place the Conservatives and the People’s Party on one side and the Liberals and the NDP on the other side,” Telford said in an interview.

Asked whether the People’s Party is pushing him farther right on immigration, Scheer replied: “It’s not about left or right on this issue. It’s about what’s right for Canada. I’m going to continue standing up for principles and not be worried about the politics of it.”

Bernier’s party has promised to reduce the total number of immigrants to 250,000 a year, increase border security and end reliance on the United Nations for refugee selection.

WATCH: Scheer says Trudeau won’t say how much carbon tax will cost






Telford said Trudeau’s 2017 tweet and welcoming stance toward Syrian refugees likely haven’t lost the Liberals any supporters and may have actually gained them some progressive voters. But it has also produced an angry reaction among those who oppose the Liberal policies, he said.

The electorate has become more polarized since 2015, he said, noting that in the last general election campaign the Conservatives floated the idea of a hotline to report immigrants bringing in “barbaric cultural practices” and it was poorly received.

“Since then, I think that people who are … tough on immigrants or refugees have frankly been emboldened by the Trump administration in the United States and perhaps movements in Europe as well.”

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‘Business as usual’ for Dorel Industries after terminating go-private deal

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MONTREAL — Dorel Industries Inc. says it will continue to pursue its business strategy going forward after terminating an agreement to go private after discussions with shareholders.

« Moving ahead. Business as usual, » a spokesman for the company said in an email on Monday.

A group led by Cerberus Capital Management had previously agreed to buy outstanding shares of Dorel for $16 apiece, except for shares owned by the family that controls the company’s multiple-voting shares.

But Dorel chief executive Martin Schwartz said the Montreal-based maker of car seats, strollers, bicycles and home furniture pulled the plug on a deal on the eve of Tuesday’s special meeting after reviewing votes from shareholders.

“Independent shareholders have clearly expressed their confidence in Dorel’s future and the greater potential for Dorel as a public entity, » he said in a news release.

Dorel’s board of directors, with Martin Schwartz, Alan Schwartz, Jeffrey Schwartz and Jeff Segel recused, unanimously approved the deal’s termination upon the recommendation of a special committee.

The transaction required approval by two-thirds of the votes cast, and more than 50 per cent of the votes cast by non-family shareholders.

Schwartz said enhancing shareholder value remains a top priority while it stays focused on growing its brands, which include Schwinn and Mongoose bikes, Safety 1st-brand car seats and DHP Furniture.

Dorel said the move to end the go-private deal was mutual, despite the funds’ increased purchase price offer earlier this year.

It said there is no break fee applicable in this case.

Montreal-based investment firm Letko, Brosseau & Associates Inc. and San Diego’s Brandes Investment Partners LP, which together control more than 19 per cent of Dorel’s outstanding class B subordinate shares voiced their opposition to the amended offer, which was increased from the initial Nov. 2 offer of $14.50 per share.

« We believe that several minority shareholders shared our opinion, » said Letko vice-president Stephane Lebrun, during a phone interview.

« We are confident of the long-term potential of the company and we have confidence in the managers in place.”

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Anglais

Pandemic funds helping Montreal businesses build for a better tomorrow

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Many entrepreneurs have had to tap into government loans during the pandemic, at first just to survive, but now some are using the money to better prepare their businesses for the post-COVID future.

One of those businesses is Del Friscos, a popular family restaurant in Dollard-des-Ormeaux that, like many Montreal-area restaurants, has had to adapt from a sit-down establishment to one that takes orders online for takeout or delivery.

“It was hard going from totally in-house seating,” said Del Friscos co-owner Terry Konstas. “We didn’t have an in-house delivery system, which we quickly added. There were so many of our employees that were laid off that wanted to work so we adapted to a delivery system and added platforms like Uber and DoorDash.”

Helping them through the transition were emergency grants and low-interest loans from the federal and provincial governments, some of which are directly administered by PME MTL, a non-profit business-development organization established to assist the island’s small and medium-sized businesses.

Konstas said he had never even heard of PME MTL until a customer told him about them and when he got in touch, he discovered there were many government programs available to help his business get through the downturn and build for the future. “They’ve been very helpful right from day one,” said Konstas.

“We used some of the funds to catch up on our suppliers and our rents, the part that wasn’t covered from the federal side, and we used some of it for our new virtual concepts,” he said, referring to a virtual kitchen model which the restaurant has since adopted.

The virtual kitchen lets them create completely different menu items from the casual American Italian dishes that Del Friscos is known for and market them under different restaurant brand names. Under the Prasinó Soup & Salad banner, they sell healthy Greek options and their Stallone’s Sub Shop brand offers hearty sandwiches, yet the food from both is created in the same Del Friscos kitchen.

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Downtown Montreal office, retail vacancies continue to rise

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Some of downtown Montreal’s key economic indicators are heading in the wrong direction.

Office and retail vacancies in the city’s central core continued to climb in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to a quarterly report released Thursday by the Urban Development Institute of Quebec and the Montréal Centre-Ville merchants association. The report, whose first edition was published in October, aims to paint a socio-economic picture of the downtown area.

The survey also found office space available for sublet had increased during the fourth quarter, which may foreshadow even more vacancies when leases expire. On the residential front, condo sales fell as new listings soared — a sign that the downtown area may be losing some of its appeal to homeowners.

“It’s impossible not to be preoccupied by the rapid increase in office vacancies,” Jean-Marc Fournier, the former Quebec politician who now heads the UDI, said Thursday in an interview.

Still, with COVID-19 vaccinations set to accelerate in the coming months, “the economic picture is bound to improve,” he said. “People will start returning downtown. It’s much too early to say the office market is going to disappear.”

Public health measures implemented since the start of the pandemic almost a year ago — such as caps on office capacity — have deprived downtown Montreal of more than 500,000 workers and students. A mere 4,163 university and CEGEP students attended in-person classes in the second quarter, the most recent period for which figures are available. Border closures and travel restrictions have also brought tourism to a standstill, hurting hotels and thousands of local businesses.

Seventy per cent of downtown workers carried out their professional activities at home more than three days a week during the fourth quarter, the report said, citing an online survey of 1,000 Montreal-area residents conducted last month.

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