GRAND FORKS-Conservative Canadian lawmakers visited Grand Forks for a wide-ranging talk with Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., that touched Donald Trump, NAFTA and more, dealing with border and immigration issues in particular.
Canadian officials on Tuesday, April 18, expressed worries about an increasing flow of "illegal migrants" across the border, raising concerns about the criminal history and dangers they pose, and asked Cramer how the U.S. is handling the situation.
"The cold-hearted ogre would say 'This is no longer our problem,' but that's not really the case," Cramer said, arguing that "harmonization" between the countries' immigration policies would cut down on such movement. Migrants, he said, are naturally drawn to the country with the less stringent policies.
"Some would argue yeah, well, Donald Trump is scaring them over there," Cramer said, as Ted Falk, a conservative member of Parliament who represents a portion of the southern Manitoba border, spoke up.
"It has less to do with that than with our prime minister," Falk said, referring to Canadian leader Justin Trudeau. "Our prime minister is out there tweeting 'Welcome to Canada, no matter who you are or where you're from, you're welcome in Canada.' Well, that isn't accurate, first of all. We're like you-we've got our requirements."
Falk added that he hopes the U.S. government can put pressure on Canadian officials to put more stringent immigration policies in place.
The meeting, held in a boardroom at UND's Center for Innovation, was attended by five members of Canadian Parliament: Candice Bergen, Robert Sopuck, Larry Maguire, James Bezan and Falk. All are Conservative politicians from Manitoba.
Cramer said the event was one of a string of meetings he's had with Canadian leaders during his time in office to help build relationships and boost business ties.
The meeting covered a range of topics, from trade to the Great Lakes. A discussion of national defense was closed to observers, which Cramer later said pertained to NORAD-the North American Aerospace Defense Command, which is jointly coordinated by the U.S. and Canada.
On trade, Cramer pointed out U.S. concerns in some areas, such as Mexican sugar and Canadian dairy. Cramer said Trump was "softening" in many trade areas "as he's learned more."
"The degree to which you have, and we have, producers and their groups that feel strongly that NAFTA is good, he's (listening)," Cramer said. "I think now we're talking about tweaks, as opposed to 'This is the worst deal in the history of the world and we need to tear it up.' "
Sopuck pointed out that Canada is a significant consumer of American manufacturing.
"When I was spending time in the oil sands, almost every big machine came from the states. The Caterpillars, the John Deeres, the backhoes, the tractors-everything," he said. "I just hope the people know how much of their manufacturing goes to the oil sands."