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February 4, 2011 / mike54martin

Canadians Still Positive about Immigration and Immigrants

Canadians Still Positive about Immigration and Immigrants

 A recent study by the German Marshall Fund in the United States has confirmed that despite years of anti-immigrant policies and actions by the Conservative Government in Ottawa Canada is still a welcoming society for newcomers.

The annual survey Transatlantic Trends: Immigration polled residents of large migrant-receiving countries in the West, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain. What it found was that while support has dipped a little overall Canadians have a much more favourable opinion of immigrants than Europe or our neighbours to the South.

Full poll results including specific comments on Canada are available at:

http://www.gmfus.org/trends/2010/

This survey comes at a pivotal time for Canada as the right wing forces continue their attack on newcomers. This assault is being led by our very own Minister of Citizenship Jason Kenney who while lobbying for votes from some existing Canadian immigration groups with an appeal to conservative values, slams others, particularly Muslims as being somewhat less than good Canadians if they don’t completely assimilate.

The Feds actions over the past couple of years bear witness to their intention to re-define who is can be considered a “real Canadian”. It doesn’t apparently include Tamils who were almost decimated in Sri Lanka, nor people who belong to Muslim organizations who in any way dare to criticize government policy. They back up their threats by imprisoning Tamil refugees and de-funding settlement services in the Toronto region, the highest immigration area in all of Canada.

The Tories are aided in this effort by not just the Sun tabloid media chain, but even by such august press organs as the Globe and Mail and the Ottawa Citizen who regularly run op-eds attacking Canada’s immigration policies with little rebuttal. They have successfully reframed the narrative about immigration in Canada from being a vital part of our economic and social life into some form of problem that must be fixed.

They also have their very own lobby group, the Centre for Immigration Policy Reform whose Board of Directors includes a failed Reform party candidate, a Senior Fellow at the conservative Fraser Institute and Brian Mulroney’s former Chief of Staff. The Advisory Board includes three Fellows from the Fraser Institute, a National Post columnist and Salim Mansur, a self-indentified dissident Muslim.

Not surprisingly the Centre gets its major support from the Fraser Institute but its ideas come straight from the American right wing. Their suggestions for “useful analyses of immigration and refugee issues” include the Federation of Americans for Immigration Reform whose mission is “Working to help the American public convince Congress that United States immigration must be reduced”. They oppose amnesty for immigrants who are already there and also led the opposition to the Dream Act which would let young Americans who have been in the country for years pursue a path to becoming full citizens as long they can continue to contribute positively to society.

There are many powerful forced arrayed against the most traditional of all Canadian values, that we are a kind and welcoming nation. We are after all, with the exception of the First Nations, all newcomers to this country. If we want to keep these values we must be prepared to act by speaking up against any further plans to “reform” our immigration laws and regulations a la the United States. It’s time for the rest of us, the still silent majority, to speak.

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