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Quebec group launches private prosecution against Trudeau over illegal Roxham Road border crossings

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Quebec group launches private prosecution against Trudeau over illegal Roxham Road border crossings

Trudeau’s declarations have real-life consequences such as encouraging people to cross illegally into Canada at Roxham Road, the group’s head says

Author of the article:

Catherine Lévesque

Published Jan 12, 2023  •  Last updated Jan 12, 2023  •  3 minute read

A prominent Quebec author and historian at the head of a Quebec activist group has initiated a private criminal prosecution against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, claiming the prime minister has encouraged illegal immigration into Canada, in violation of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

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Frédéric Bastien, president of Justice pour le Quebec, alleges that Trudeau made comments that encouraged illegal crossings into Canada at the infamous Roxham Road border point between New York State and Quebec. Private citizens in Canada have the right to initiate criminal proceedings without relying on the Crown to initiate them. Bastien said he believes he has reasonable grounds to proceed with the prosecution, which if successful could result in the prime minister being subject to a fine or even imprisonment.


In his court filings, Bastien made reference to a widely publicized tweet by Trudeau in 2017 in which the prime minister said Canadians will welcome “those fleeing persecution, terror and war,” after U.S. president Donald Trump issued a travel ban for Muslim-majority countries and suspended refugee claims.

Bastien also pointed to comments made by Trudeau in 2022 suggesting that closing the irregular crossing at Roxham Road would not stop the arrival of asylum-seekers and that migrants would simply “cross elsewhere.”

Bastien said Trudeau is “not a normal citizen” voicing his opinion or using his freedom of expression, and that his public declarations had real-life consequences such as encouraging people to cross into Canada at Roxham Road.

“No one is above the law,” said Bastien of Trudeau. “It’s a matter of justice,”

Bastien, a professor at Montreal’s Dawson College, is a former Parti Québécois leadership contender who courted controversy with his 2013 book that accused a former Supreme Court justice of improperly interfering in the 1982 patriation of Canada’s constitution. The book led to a Supreme Court internal investigation, which failed to substantiate the claim.

Roxham Road, situated south of Montreal, has proven a popular way for asylum-seekers to avoid the Safe Third Country agreement, which prevents Canada from accepting refugee claims entering from the U.S. It has been a point of contention with Quebec as the province receives the bulk of irregular arrivals and is expected to provide social services for arrivals while the federal government evaluates the legality of their claims.

A recent compilation from the Journal de Montreal showed that a record number of 150,000 asylum seekers entered Canada since Trudeau’s 2017 tweet. Of that number, 91,000 entered through Roxham Road.

Quebec premier François Legault has been asking the federal government to permanently close the entry point, a position echoed by the Bloc Québécois, and  more recently by Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre.

The end of Roxham Road where thousands of asylum seekers have illegally crossed the border into Canada.The end of Roxham Road where thousands of asylum seekers have illegally crossed the border into Canada. Photo by Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press/File

Léger poll last May showed that 60 per cent of Quebecers wanted Roxham Road closed. Bastien said a poll commissioned by his own group, Justice pour le Québec (Justice for Quebec), found that 68 per cent of Quebecers strongly or moderately agree with that position.

“I think that people are actually very frustrated because this process is bypassing the law,” said Bastien. “There’s a way to actually migrate to Canada… if you’re a refugee, if you want to seek refugee status in Canada, we have some laws, we have some rules in this country.”

“And what is going on now is that basically the government is helping people to violate the rules to bypass the law,” he said. “The more that goes on, the more frustrated people get.”

A justice of the peace must determine if Bastien’s arguments have legal basis in order for the private prosecution to proceed.

Justice pour le Québec last year launched a court challenge against the City of Toronto over its support for a legal challenge against Quebec’s Bill 21, banning certain public service from wearing religious symbols on the job. It  It also launched a court challenge against the appointment of Governor General Mary Simon, claiming her inability to speak French disqualified her.

In December, Bastien himself launched a human rights complaint over a job posting at the University of Laval that prohibited white, non-disabled males from applying.