Irregular border crossings into Canada have become an issue of national concern after over 31,000 people claimed asylum in the northern country in the course of a year, most of them coming into Canada after crossing the long land border with the United States.
A new poll by independent research institute Angus Reid has found that 65% of Canadians believe their country has received "too many" irregular border crossers "for Canada to handle," with just 29% saying the number was "manageable."
Furthermore, some 67% of respondents view the present situation as "a crisis," agreeing that "Canada's ability to handle the situation is at a limit." Polling found that concerns over the irregular border crossings issue are shared by people across the political spectrum, but strongest among conservative-leaning voters. At the same time, a plurality of 48% of those polled said they would trust Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer more to deal with this issue, with 35% saying they trust Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to handle the problem.
58% said Canada has been "too generous" toward illegal border crossers, with 40% of saying they believe most refugees are really people looking for economic opportunities. 27% said they believe most are genuine refugees, and 34% said the ratio was close to 50/50. 78% agree that the government should assign police and immigration officers to secure unguarded areas of the border and use technology such as surveillance drones to assist.
Angus Reid's poll, conducted between July 25 and July 30, interviewed 1,500 members of the Angus Reid Forum, an online panel. The poll has an estimated margin of error of 2.5%.
According to Immigration, Refugees & Citizenship Canada figures, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police intercepted 10,744 people making irregular border crossings in the first six months of 2018. During the same period, The Canadian Border Services Agency processed some 14,310 asylum claimants, with another 11,400 processed by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
The poll comes amid growing pressure by federal Conservatives and provincial governments demanding that Ottawa do something to deal with the irregular border crossers issue. Barring a snap election, Canadians will go to the polls in 2019 to elect a new government. A July Ipsos poll showed the Conservative Party leading the Liberals 37% to 33%, with the NDP, the Green Party and the Bloc Quebecois projected to receive 21%, 5% and 3%, respectively. Prime Minister Trudeau has fared better than his party, enjoying a 55% approval rating, with support in his leadership thought to have been boosted after he fulfilled his campaign promise to legalize marijuana, as well as his pushback against Trump on trade.