The House

Could Canada see another wave of asylum seekers?

This week on The House, we talk about the escalating trade fight between China and the U.S. and its potential impact on Canada with former diplomat Phil Calvert. We also explore whether Canada could see a repeat of last summer when hundred of asylum seekers illegally crossed the border into Canada with immigration minister Ahmed Hussen. Plus, we talk cyber attacks and changing threats with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
Roxham Road is the #1 destination for asylum seekers hoping to cross illegally into Canada. The road dead ends in the bush in upstate New York, a meter from Canada. (Susan Ormiston/CBC )

The minister of immigration and the head of Canada's Customs and Immigration Union are at odds when it comes to what they consider the appropriate approach to handling an increase of irregular border crossings from the U.S.

While Ahmed Hussen is emphasizing more education and outreach as the key, union head Jean-Pierre Fortin is pleading for more resources at the border.

Over the Easter long weekend, approximately 600 people crossed into Quebec along the now-infamous Roxham Road.

There's no official port of entry along the road, but 190 people crossed illegally on Thursday alone. 

For a crossing that has seen about 60 people per day over the last few months, the number increasing threefold could foreshadow what Quebec could expect in the summer months.

"It is a clear indication right now... that there will be a major influx over the coming weeks," Jean-Pierre Fortin, president the Customs and Immigration Union, told CBC Radio's The House.

The head of Canada's Customs and Immigration Union is at odds with the immigration minister when it comes to what he considers the appropriate approach to handling an increase of irregular border crossings from the United States.

If the summer sees another mass exodus to Canada, Fortin is concerned the border guards will be understaffed and under resourced.

Ahmed Hussen, however, says activity at the border has been relatively steady, and there may not be cause to classify it as another rush like last year's.

"How you get ahead of it is you're always vigilant, you track the numbers, you also track the different nationalities that are coming in and you tailor your messaging to those people," Hussen told The House.

We explore whether Canada could see a repeat of last summer when hundred of asylum seekers illegally crossed the border into Canada with immigration minister Ahmed Hussen.

Canada could become collateral damage in U.S.-China trade war

China's government vowed Friday to "counterattack with great strength" if President Donald Trump goes ahead with plans to raise U.S. tariffs on an additional $100 billion worth of Chinese goods and said negotiations were impossible under current conditions. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Canada may not be able to avoid the fallout from a trade war between China and the United States, according to one of Canada's former director generals for North Asia.

"The problem for us and other trade partners is that this is a unilateral measure," Philip Calvert told The House.

"The U.S. system is the complainant, judge and executioner on this."

China's government vowed Friday to "counter-attack with great strength" if President Donald Trump goes ahead with plans to raise U.S. tariffs on an additional $100 billion worth of Chinese goods and said negotiations were impossible under current conditions.

Trump's decision came a day after Beijing announced plans to tax $50 billion US in American products, including soybeans and small aircraft, in response to a U.S. move this week to slap tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese imports.

"China's reaction has been kind of measure for measure," Calvert explained.

"A trade war between our two largest trading partners cannot go well for us."

It may seem that measures against the U.S. would allow Canada to fill gaps in the market, he added, but it's not that simple.

The U.S. would likely turn their products to other countries, which would create competition for those markets.

We talk about the escalating trade fight between China and the U.S. and its potential impact on Canada with former diplomat Phil Calvert.

NATO's efforts to adapt to changing threats

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says cyber attacks blur the lines between peace and war. (The Associated Press)

NATO's secretary general says he is "confident" Canada will continue to play a large role internationally, especially when it comes to responding to cyber attacks and terrorism.

Canada's expertise, provided to NATO's relatively new intelligence division, has been helpful in adapting the alliance to a shifting digital landscape, Jens Stoltenberg told CBC Radio's The House.

However, NATO nations still need to do more to stay ahead of cyber threats and terrorism, he added.

"It means that we need higher readiness," he said. "We have to be able to react very fast when we see that we're under attack."

Nations need to guard against online attacks but real-world terrorism by extremist groups like ISIS remains a potent threat, Stoltenberg said.

In March, NATO's chief military policy adviser sounded out Canada on the kind of commitment it might make to the alliance's expanded training mission in Iraq.

The Canadian military has a handful of combat engineers in the war-ravaged country under the NATO banner, training Iraqi soldiers in the finer points of bomb disposal. Canada also has troops contributing to the U.S.-led coalition.

But Stoltenberg said Canada could afford to expand those efforts.

"I hope that Canada can play an important role in providing trainers and expertise," he said.

"I'm confident that Canada will continue to do more in the alliance."

NATO's secretary general says he is "confident" Canada will continue to play a large role internationally, especially when it comes to responding to cyber attacks and terrorism.

Sale of Chagall masterpiece expected to net millions more than National Gallery paid

On May 15, Christie’s will offer Marc Chagall’s La Tour Eiffel as a highlight of its evening sale of Impressionist and modern art in New York City. The canvas, from the National Gallery of Canada, is being sold to benefit the Acquisitions Fund. (National Gallery of Canada/Christie's)
  When the National Gallery of Canada auctions off one of its two Marc Chagall paintings next month, it will not only raise the money to buy what gallery director Marc Mayer says is a more significant work of art, it will make millions of dollars in profit.

Mayer tells CBC that the gallery's La Tour Eiffel was bought back in 1956 for just $16,000 — roughly $146,000 in today's dollars. The expectation is that when the painting is auctioned next month by Christie's, it will fetch anywhere from US $6 million to $9 million (that's $8 to $11 million Canadian). Some believe the painting could fetch even more.

It's the kind of return that gives new meaning to the term 'art appreciation'.

"We were trying to match stickers in this case because we didn't want to risk not raising enough money with smaller, less significant things," Mayer said in an interview airing on CBC Radio's The House.

"We thought (of) one thing that we can live without, that would not be a national tragedy, and I don't think selling this particular painting by Chagall is a national tragedy… All of the people who had the responsibility to weigh in on this... the eight people with PhDs in art history who are part of the process of deciding this, agree."

Mayer acknowledged that not everyone agrees. When CBC News broke the story of the sale this week, the outgoing head of the Canadian branch of the International Association of Art Critics called the sale an act of "monumental stupidity" and said it should be stopped.

"Future generations will not forgive the gallery for that loss," Ninon Gauthier said.

The director of the National Art Gallery director, Marc Mayer, talks about the decision to auction off one of the gallery's two Marc Chagall paintings next month to raise the money to buy what he calls a more significant work of art.

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