Emerson reeve says military at border would be overkill

The reeve of Emerson says bringing in the military to monitor the border between Canada and the United States would be unnecessary and is instead calling for more RCMP officers.

Statement comes after Conservative leadership candidate proposes bringing in troops

The reeve of the municipality of Emerson-Franklin, Greg Janzen, said deploying the military to the U.S.-Canada border would be overkill but he would like to see more RCMP officers in the area. (Angela Johnston/CBC)

The reeve of Emerson says bringing in the military to monitor the border between Canada and the United States would be "overkill."

On Monday, Conservative leadership candidate Maxime Bernier said he would consider temporarily deploying Canadian Forces to help watch for those crossing the border anywhere other than an official crossing, similar to how government responds to natural disasters.

Emerson Reeve Greg Janzen said his town needs more police officers, not the military.

"I think at this time using the military would be an overkill," he said.

Janzen estimates between 30 and 50 asylum seekers come through Emerson each week.

"It's ongoing, it's every day now basically," he said. "We're going on seven or eight weeks now of this continual growth of border jumpers."

Most, he said, are caught by RCMP and brought to Canada Border Services officials for processing. Others, however, end up knocking on doors of homes and businesses in the community looking for help.

"There are a few slipping through that the RCMP missed or [they were] busy taking other people in," Janzen said.

Conservative candidate and former CBC broadcaster Kevin O'Leary also offered suggestions Monday on addressing the rising number of asylum seekers.

He suggested Canada use the notwithstanding clause of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to prevent anyone crossing irregularly from claiming refugee status.

Such a proposal would contradict the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, which Canada signed in 1969. Signatories agreed not to penalize asylum seekers who cross borders illegally.

Conservative member of Parliament Ted Falk (Provencher) praised both leadership candidates in a written statement for getting "the discussion moving on this issue" and "proposing ideas for Canadians to debate publicly.

"The Liberals, however, are unwilling to put forward any possible solutions or even debate this in the House of Commons. The Liberal government has all of the resources but none of the ideas. Their only promise to Canadians is that they will 'monitor' the situation," Falk wrote.

Janzen said he wants to see more action from the federal government before the warmer spring weather makes it possible for even more people to cross into Canada on foot near his town.

"Nothing is being done other than more RCMP," he said.

Emerson is still waiting on the $30,000 Ottawa promised to help offset costs for emergency services in the community, which have been deployed to rescue stranded and lost asylum seekers.

Janzen blasted federal Liberals last week for not including extra funding to help refugees in 2017 budget.

with files from Cameron MacIntosh