Published Wednesday, April 19, 2017 2:59PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, April 19, 2017 10:05PM EDT
The RCMP intercepted 887 people trying to illegally enter Canada in March, with the majority of those asylum-seekers picked up in Quebec. The new figures, released by the federal government on Wednesday, show that the wave of people trying to enter Canada between official border points continues to rise. In total, 644 were picked up in Quebec in March, 170 in Manitoba and 71 in B.C. Alberta and New Brunswick both recorded one border crossing each.
In February, 658 people were intercepted. Dozens more are believed to have crossed in April, but those figures have not been released.
The winter crossings are sometimes treacherous. Some asylum seekers have attempted to make the journey in the dead of night in freezing cold conditions to avoid running into law enforcement. Anecdotally, some asylum seekers have said that U.S. President Donald Trump s stance on immigration — specifically, his controversial ban on travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries — was the reason they made the journey.
Some border towns have raised safety concerns over the issue, while volunteer groups have opened up support centres in some communities.
They need to get more manpower out here. Our RCMP are so stretched, they can t do anymore. They re doing everything they can, Beverly Robb, a resident of Piney, Man., told CTV News. In Saskatchewan, a woman was charged with smuggling and arrested near the U.S. border with nine foreign nationals in her vehicle. Officials allege she had large amounts of cash in her home.
In Manitoba, an asylum seeker was arrested after allegedly assaulting a border guard. Officials say the guard required medical attention. Border officials have confirmed that three asylum seekers who posed a threat to public safety were arrested in Manitoba in the last four weeks. Residents of Emerson, Man. have seen a steady stream of asylum seekers cross the border for several months. The community s reeve says locals are becoming increasingly worried.
With not getting any of these numbers, and we know there s some criminals coming in through the mix of all these people jumping across the border, the local residents are getting a lot more concerned, reeve Greg Janzen said.
New evidence of the steady crossings is expected to add more pressure on the federal government to respond to the ongoing issue. In a statement to CTV News, a spokesperson for Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale responded to the new numbers. Read the full statement below:
While the vast majority of immigration to Canada is carefully planned and managed in an orderly fashion over the long term, the flow of spontaneous asylum seekers are much smaller and largely unpredictable. These are people who feel they are in danger or at risk, and once they get themselves into Canada by whatever means, they claim asylum in this country for their personal protection. They represent only a fraction of all the newcomers we welcome every year, and do not impinge on the regular system. In March there continued to be an increase in asylum claims and intercepts of irregular border crossers. In cooperation with our partners, the Government of Canada is constantly analysing these trends and planning for possible developments.
Canadian authorities are managing the increase in asylum seekers in a sound and measured way, applying our laws and procedures to keep Canadians safe while fully respecting all of this country’s international obligations. The majority of irregular migrants are holders of visas for the United State, so they passed a US security screening. Once in Canada, they receive further security screening from the RCMP and CBSA. To be clear – trying to slip across the border in an irregular manner is not a “free” ticket to Canada. The asylum seekers are apprehended and secured by police or local authorities. Their identities are determined from both biographic and biometric information. Health checks are done. Their records are examined for any immigration, criminal or terrorist flags against both Canadian and international databases. Those who cannot be identified, are a flight risk or pose a danger to the public can be detained. They all go before the quasi-judicial Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) to adjudicate their status through due process. If they are found to be inadmissible without a valid claim, removal procedures are begun.
To handle these matters thus far, CBSA and the RCMP have made internal adjustments to ensure they have the right personnel and tools in the right places to deal with existing circumstance safely and securely. As the situation evolves, these professional organizations will advise as to what extra resources may be required.
KABUL Afghan President Ashraf Ghani met Sunday with U.S. National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster and discussed mutual co-operation in Afghanistan s fight against the Taliban and Islamic State group. A statement released Sunday said both sides talked about bilateral relations between the two countries in the arenas of security, counter-terrorism, regional issues and economic development. Ghani said in the statement that terrorism is a serious threat to security and stability in the region and the world and that if it is not defeated, it could affect the lives of future generations.
In an interview on ABC s This Week, said that in the past the U.S. didn t have as reliable a partner in the Afghan government as the U.S. would have liked but with Ghani in power that has changed.
Now we have a much more reliable Afghan partner and we have reduced to considerably the degree and scope of our effort, he said. Afghan forces have worked to combat the Taliban since the U.S. and NATO formally concluded their combat mission more than two years ago and shifted to a support and counterterrorism mission. This is the first visit by a U.S. official since the U.S. military dropped the biggest non-nuclear bomb it has ever used Thursday killing 94 militants in eastern Afghanistan.
WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Jeff Peitsch, CEO of Bonify, in the production hall by the nutrient tanks for the grow rooms. On the eve of historic legislation paving the way for the legalization of marijuana in Canada, Manitoba s second licensed producer finally got the green light from Health Canada. It s been a three-year journey for Bonify. CEO Jeff Peitsch said that time allowed the company to increase its scale and scope of operations, which may make the company more valuable in the long run.
The first batch of seeds will arrive next week at the undisclosed inner-city location. Bonify has built 100,000 square feet of production space that s ready to go, and it has an additional 220,000 square feet of capacity under the same roof. In addition, the locally owned company it s closely held and well-funded by a handful of Manitoba residents has bought several acres of surrounding land that will give it one million square feet of production capacity.
“Our vision at the outset was not just to be a producer of cannabis for the local market but, in fact, a global leader of cannabis and cannabis-derived products,” Peitsch said. When it filed its application with Health Canada in 2014, it contemplated 30,000 square feet of production.
“The actual licence processing took quite a bit longer than we had initially anticipated,” said Peitsch, who was the chief operating officer of CancerCare Manitoba for 10 years before getting into the pot business.
“We figured if this was going to take additional time, let s build additional capacity and additional value in other aspects of our operations to maximize efficiency when the time comes,” he said.
Bonify is approaching $10 million of capital investment before a single plant has grown. It has been operating a mail-order hydroponics equipment business for the past two years. It s likely not made a dent in the massive investment required, which includes more than $2 million in security infrastructure that features 200 closed-circuit cameras throughout the space; and a reverse-osmosis water-distribution system with a tank farm and mechanical setup that would put many local craft breweries to shame. In addition to Peitsch s experience in the business he s worked at Novopharm Biotech (now Viventia) the facility general manager, Mark Smolenski, worked at Biomira Inc. and Abbott Laboratories.
Peitsch said Health Canada inspectors suggested its facility design exceeds most standards and could define best practice in a few areas.
“We are building a very credible organization with very credible people,” he said. There are 15 people on staff and it will likely add 40 or 50 positions by the end of the year. Bonify still has to prove itself, but it seems to have ticked all the boxes before starting production, including extensive engagement with physicians and medical-marijuana patients and having a modern automated growing facility that will drip in precise amounts of moisture and nutrients depending on the strain of marijuana being grown and the growing technique being deployed. Delta-9 Bio Tech, the other licensed producer in Manitoba, is switching its production to hydroponics. Bonify will use a variety of growing techniques.
Bonify has started reaching out overseas. While there are no agreements in place, Peitsch said the company is engaged in discussions with third-party entities globally. The annual global marijuana market is estimated at about $340 billion, so it s natural that a new Canadian company would scope out international opportunities. Canada will be the first G7 nation to legalize marijuana. Capital is pouring into the market. Canopy Growth Corp., one of the largest in the country, is worth $1.7 billion. Earlier this year, Alberta-based Aurora Cannabis Inc., acquired a 20 per cent stake in the first Australian company licensed for research and cultivation of medical cannabis for human use.
Aurora recently raised $75 million in convertible debt, its third debt offering in about six months. Last week, it announced the $7-million acquisition of a Montreal company that has a 40,000-square-foot cannabis-production facility but has yet to be licensed by Health Canada.
Peitsch said Bonify has received a serious proposal from U.S. investors to acquire 100 per cent of its operations even before it s had the chance to begin production.
“We held off because we think we can add a great deal more value and build something that is special here,” he said.