UN Global Migration Pact is a high risk, low reward document unworthy of Canada’s signature

In light of the government’s recent announcement of a $600 million bailout package to Canadian media companies, the signing of this pact only increases the amount of pressure on media companies to conform to the governments positions and soften their reporting on them.

Lucas Holtvluwer Montreal QC

Barring a drastic change of plans from the Trudeau government, Canada will sign on to the UN’s “Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration” next week in Marrakech, Morocco. Hyped as a “historic” event, this pact aims to promote a “common understanding, shared responsibilities and unity of purpose regarding migration, making it work for all.” This lengthy 34 page document contains 23 objectives and corresponding broad policy suggestions for countries to use in the efforts to meet said objectives. Included in these objectives are calls to increase data driven policy decisions, improve legal documentation of migrants and “prevent, combat and eradicate” international human trafficking.

Clamping down on press freedom

However, the agreement also includes provisions which encourage member countries to crack down on media reporting that is not favourable to migration by adjusting journalistic and advertising standards and removing funding from outlets that “systematically promote intolerance, xenophobia, racism and other forms of discrimination towards migrants.” In light of the government’s recent announcement of a $600 million bailout package to Canadian media companies, the signing of this pact only increases the amount of pressure on media companies to conform to the governments positions and soften their reporting on them. To be clear, media companies should not be racist or xenophobic in their reporting, that much is obvious. However, the concerning portion of this policy recommendation is that the definition of these terms, particularly “intolerance” and “discrimination,” is rather ambiguous and ripe for abuse.

Differing views on the pact

Many proponents of this pact see it as an opportunity for countries around the world to come together and solve the problems of migration on a global scale. Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, International Development Minister Claude-Marie Bibeau and Canadian UN representative Jean-Nicolas Beuze said just as much in their Macleans article praising it as a “plan that holds the promise of improving the lives of millions of people.” Critics of the agreement, including Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer, have voiced concerns about the effect it might have on domestic policy, particularly as a resource for legal decisions concerning Canadian immigration cases. Despite it officially be listed as a non-binding agreement, many countries have rejected the pact on national sovereignty grounds, including notable Canadian allies like the U.S., Israel, and Australia. While some nations like Hungary pulled out because of a fundamental disagreement of the pact’s stated benefit of migration, most countries who declined to sign did so out of concern that a global pact on migration would lead to less control over sovereign borders.All told, the vast majority of countries seem to agree on the need to address the problems caused by mass migration but disagree on whether this requires a global solution or not.

The pact is intolerant of criticism

That’s why the agreement’s language surrounding media coverage of immigration is so important. Many of the supporters of this pact find any disagreement with it to be nonsensical—after all, who would oppose helping needy migrants?EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos was quoted in the German paper Die Welt expressing exactly this sentiment, saying he didn’t understand why countries would oppose this pact. If there’s no good reason to oppose the pact, why not ban any media coverage that doesn’t tow the line of the U.N. view of migration then? If they aren’t in favour of helping out migrants in need, they must be racist and xenophobic right? This is the kind of thinking that is so pervasive among the upper echelon U.N. types and leads to these dangerous suggestions of curtailment of press freedom.While the agreement does contain positive aspects including commitments to reduce “structural factors” leading to mass migration and strengthening the “transnational response to smuggling of migrants,” it fails to properly address some of downsides migration and only sees it as a “source of prosperity, innovation and sustainable development in our globalized world.” Recognizing that migration can affect countries in “different and sometimes unpredictable ways,” instead of expanding on these ways, the pact actually seeks to dispel any “misleading narratives that generate negative perceptions of migrants.” What these “misleading narratives” are is unclear. However, were one to point out some of the adverse effects of migration including economic costs and cultural effects, there is a strong chance such critiques would fall under the “misleading narratives” category.

Canadian intolerance

The same approach of minimizing the negative effects and attacking the critics of immigration policy as hustlers looking to promote misleading narratives or stoke intolerance can be seen right here in Canada as well.The governing Liberals have frequently attacked their immigration critics as “intolerant” with Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen going so far as to call Ontario's Minister of Children, Community and Social Services Lisa MacLeod “Not Canadian.”

The pact is not the right solution

Despite the approach of the current Canadian government, as a nation with a long and proud history of safe, orderly and merit based immigration, Canada should not take an unnecessary risk of signing on to this flawed agreement. While its intentions may be good, the pact’s lack of respect for alternative immigration viewpoints, failure to address the negative effects of migration, and encouragement of governmental interference with the free press make it unworthy of Canada’s signature. This clumsy, ill worded, and narrow minded U.N. document is not the tool Canada should use to help address the problems caused by mass migration.


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