Ex-Harper immigration minister calls out Scheer over 'factually incorrect' statements on UN migration pact

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is being called out by a former cabinet minister in Stephen Harper’s government for factual inaccuracies in a public statement Scheer made Tuesday in which he called on the Liberals to reject a UN agreement on migration.

'Scheer ... is factually incorrect: This Compact is a political declaration, not a legally binding treaty'

Leader of the Opposition Andrew Scheer speaks with the reporters as Conservative MP Michelle Rempel (left) looks on following Question Period in Ottawa, Tuesday December 4, 2018. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is being called out by a former immigration minister in Stephen Harper's government for factual inaccuracies in a public statement Scheer made Tuesday in which he called on the Liberals to reject a UN agreement on migration.

Speaking in the foyer of the House of Commons Tuesday afternoon, Scheer said his party strongly opposes Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's "plan to sign Canada on to the UN Global Compact on Migration."

Scheer said that by signing the compact, Canada would open the door to foreign bureaucrats directing its immigration policy.

"It gives influence over Canada's immigration system to foreign entities. It attempts to influence how our free and independent media report on immigration issues and it could open the door to foreign bureaucrats telling Canada how to manage our borders," Scheer said.  

"Canadians, and Canadians alone, should make decisions on who comes in our country and under what circumstances."

Chris Alexander, who once held the post of immigration minister under Harper, pushed back against Scheer's claim on social media.

"Scheer's statement is factually incorrect: This Compact is a political declaration, not a legally binding treaty. It has no impact on our sovereignty," he wrote on Twitter.

According to the text of the agreement, the compact is not a treaty but an agreement charting out how countries around the world can work together to mitigate the impact and stresses of increased global migration.

"The Global Compact is a non-legally binding cooperative framework that recognizes that no state can address migration on its own due to the inherently transnational nature of the phenomenon," the compact says.

The document goes on to say in the very next section that it "reaffirms the sovereign right of states to determine their national migration policy and their prerogative to govern migration within their jurisdiction in conformity with international law."

The part of the agreement that deals with how the media report on migration issues is referred to under objective 17 of the compact.

Former Conservative leadership candidate and Harper era cabinet minister Chris Alexander has taken issue with Scheer's characterization of the UN's Global Compact for Migration. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)

That section calls for an effort to eliminate "all forms of discrimination" in public discourse about migration issues.

The compact calls for the promotion of independent, objective reporting on the issue through the passage of anti-hate speech legislation and the withdrawal of public funding from media organizations that promote intolerance, xenophobia, racism and other forms of discrimination against migrants.

The agreement notes that any actions should always be "in full respect for the freedom of the media."

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen will sign the agreement on Canada's behalf next week in Marrakech, Morocco.

"We are proud of the leadership role that our government has played to bring countries together to collaborate in order to protect our robust immigration system," Hussen's press secretary, Mathieu Genest, told CBC News in an email. 

"We recognize that Canada is not alone in facing these issues and believe that a compact to promote safe, orderly and regular migration is an important step in the right direction."

"Today's press conference demonstrated to which lengths the Conservatives are willing to go to win over supporters of the Peoples Party of Canada," he added, referencing break-away former Conservative Maxime Bernier's new political party.