Prime Minister Justin Trudeau talks a big game about evidence-based decision making.
But when it comes to key decisions, Trudeau more often governs based on platitudes and emotion rather than facts and data.
On Monday, Citizenship and Immigration Canada released an audit evaluating the refugee and asylum reforms introduced by the Stephen Harper government.
Despite criticism from Liberals — they’ve already scrapped these reforms — the non-partisan civil servants who evaluated the program gave it rave reviews.
Under the Tory reforms, refugee applications were processed five times faster than before and the number of bogus refugee claims plummeted.
After years of study and careful amendments, the Tories brought in checks and balances to curb fraud and abuse, while providing more support to refugees who truly needed our help.
But with a shrug of his shoulders, Trudeau abandoned these reforms and brought back the old, dysfunctional system.
That includes our comically lenient asylum laws that allow any person from anywhere in the world to come to Canada and claim to be a refugee.
Once in Canada, these claimants immediately become eligible for gold-plated social services, including health care and welfare benefits above and beyond what Canadian pensioners receive.
They get full access to our courts, taxpayer-funded legal aid and all the protections of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
A fraudster coming from the United States gets the same treatment as a persecuted Christian fleeing war-torn Iraq.
Even if an immigration judge finds the case to be bogus, according to UN refugee definitions, the claimant still has the right to appeal the decision.
They can drag out the deportation process for years, even decades, all while living comfortably on the public dime.
Because of our lax laws, Canada used to receive tens of thousands of asylum seekers each year, including overwhelming numbers of bogus claims.
We attracted legions of human smuggling rings and known criminal networks, and spent billions of dollars propping up this charade.
We would get nearly 1,000 refugee claims per month from Mexico alone.
Hence why, in 2009, the Harper government brought in tougher laws and required people from Mexico to get a tourist visa before coming to Canada.
The policy worked. The number of asylum claims from Mexico fell sharply, and the Mexicans who did claim asylum in Canada were much more likely to be bona fide refugees.
But our Mexican counterparts didn’t like the visa. They found it embarrassing and inconvenient. And so, caving to international pressure, Trudeau announced this week he will remove the visa requirement for Mexican visitors.
When asked if the government had conducted a formal review of the Mexican visa policy, Immigration Minister John McCallum admitted it hadn’t.
Typically, Canadian rules only allow the government to lift a visa requirement for countries that make up less than 2% of the total refugee claims.
In 2008, the last year before we required a visa for Mexican travellers, Mexican visitors to Canada made up 26% of total asylum claims.
More than one in four asylum seekers were from Mexico. And about 90% of these claims were eventually rejected or abandoned.
So, why are we scrapping the visa?
Trudeau tells us he cares about evidence-based policy making.
His decision to scrap the Mexican visa, however, shows he cares more about optics and feeling good than about protecting our safety and the integrity of our immigration system.
This column appeared in the Sun papers on June 30, 2016