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February 17, 2011 / mike54martin

Immigration Cuts

Hard on the heels of several self-congratulating interviews over the fact that Canada welcomed a record 280,000 new immigrants in 2010 Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is in full throttle backspin over the leaked information that his Department intends to slash immigration this year. The numbers in different reports vary but it appears that the so-called ‘economic class’ immigrant numbers will be reduced by 7% and the federal skilled workers class by 20%. There will some minor increases in the provincial allocations but the overall immigration levels are scheduled for a sharp nosedive.

Almost anyone who knows anything about immigration is reacting with astonishment and puzzled questions as to the rationale of these moves by Kenney and the Conservatives. On almost level they just don’t make sense and as usual with the Tories the truth is buried beneath a veil of secrecy. So what is the Tory motive?

One theory is that they want to reduce the number of immigrants bringing their families with them to Canada and the impact of these latest cuts will certainly slow this process down. According to immigration lawyer Richard Kurland it will mean that new Canadians will have to wait up to 13 years to get a visa to have their parents or grandparents join them in their new home. In real numbers it is expected that the targets for family reunifications will be lowered from 15, 300 in 2010 to 11,000 in 2011.

A second and more popular theory is that the Conservatives want to narrow down the number of immigrants so that only those who agree with them will be allowed to enter our country. Their clear bias for the last number of years has been to actively discourage Muslims and people from Arab countries from coming to Canada. A few examples of this behaviour stand out. They include the funding cuts to a prominent Canadian Arab association, a Conservative MP’s private member bill to ban “veiled voting”, and the Bev Oda/Harper decision to cut $7 million dollars in CIDA money from KAIROS, for supposedly pro Palestinian support.

The Tories are trying to use immigration as a wedge issue that plays one group of Canadians against the other. We are supposed to resent the Tamil refugees who tried to come to Canada to avoid being persecuted or killed at home because they somehow ‘jumped the queue’. We are supposed to favour people who settle in British Columbia (read Asian) over people who settle in Toronto or Ottawa. (read Arab, African or Muslim) And to show our displeasure we are going to support them when they cut funding from settlement agencies in these centres to provide more support to the West coast.

Immigration should not be a political football. These are real people with real lives we are talking about here. The good news as reported in a previous post (see We are not Conservatives…) is that Canadians don’t buy the Tories feeble rationale and more and more people are realizing that they are just blowing smoke while they try and light a conservative fire under us.

Canada either needs immigrants or we don’t. And all data and statistics show that Canada with an aging population and a massive geographical base will continue to need immigrants for a long, long time. Not that the Conservatives have any interest in science or statistics. They have an ideological position and that will drive their immigration and every other policy. And statistics be damned!!

Canada is a country of immigrants and with the exception of our aboriginal peoples all of us or our ancestors came here from another land. We have a treasury of riches and resources that is not just ours to hoard and profit from. We have an obligation to share our bounty with the other 6 or 7 billion people in the world. The Conservatives, despite their professed Christian beliefs just don’t get it and likely never will.

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