Ottawa has good relations with Central and South American countries. It has long offered them assistance of various kinds, and it has been pursuing free-trade agreements with many of them. This is the moment to make a priority of offering aid that addresses the most severe social conditions that are causing people to flee.
It’s also time to work with the international community to try to improve life and the lack of effective government in these countries. Costa Rica, to take one example, does not export desperate people. That’s because unlike some of its neighbours, it’s a stable and relatively well-governed society.
Ottawa should also consider increasing immigration from some Latin American countries, and granting refugee status to more people in their home countries so they can fly to Canada, rather than taking their chances on foot.
The best long-term solution is to work to avoid a situation where millions of people feel they have no choice but to flee. Accepting a few thousand more refugees into Canada is a generous gesture, but it isn’t remotely up to the scale of the problem. Until the failed societies from which people are running are made whole, the migrant crisis on our side of the world will only grow.