Monday, April 21, 2008

Conservative Immigration Reforms Redundant

Putting quota on the number of refugee applications and on the number of grandparents and parents that can be sponsored, may free up some time to process skilled worker applications and in this respect the Conservative immigration “reforms” have been welcomed by some. However, as Guidy Mamann of the immigration law firm Mamann & Associates notes the immigration minister already has such powers to fast track. (HT Red Tory)

“In an interview last week with CTV’s Mike Duffy, Finley confirmed that our backlog now stands at about 925,000 applications. The government maintains that the Minister needs these powers to cherry pick applicants who are needed here on a priority basis. She was asked by Duffy, if under the present system, the department was able to fast track, say a welder who was desperately needed in Fort McMurray. Finley answered “The way the law stands now we have to process the oldest application first. If that person is number 600,000 in line we’ve got a lot of applications to get through before that”.

This is simply not true. Our current legislation states that the federal cabinet “may make any regulation ... relating to classes of permanent residents or foreign nationals” including “selection criteria, the weight, if any to be given to all or some of those criteria, the procedures to be followed in evaluating all or some of those criteria… the number of applications to be processed or approved in a year” etc. In fact, in the case of Vaziri v. The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, the Federal Court held in September 2006 that our current legislation “authorize[s] the Minister to set target levels and to prioritize certain classes of PR applicants” without even a regulation being passed. Accordingly, Finley has more than enough power under our current legislation to make virtually any changes that she wants subject to the Charter.”

So what are the Conservatives really up to? The legislation is just a smoke screen. The evidence suggests that the Conservatives real aim is to allow more unskilled or semiskilled guest workers in inorder to do such things as undermine a burgeoning labour movement in the oil sands and for that they need cover. After all, it goes without saying that short sighted crony capitalism is recipe for disaster. There is ample evidence that armies of disenfranchised workers, whether they be illegal or guest, are a great way to, create an underclass, suppress wages, encourage black marketing, increase xenophobia and racism.

Rather than pandering to various immigrant groups and pretending that allowing someone to sponsor their grandparents or a criminal adult son (e.g., Robert Dziekanski) with no money, skills, education or ability to speak French or English is not ridiculously stupid policy that should scrapped ASAP, the Liberals need to sketch out a vision for what the party aims to accomplish by targeting skilled immigrants. The vision I hope that the Liberals would put forth is this. By allowing upwards 400,000 – 500,000 young, skilled, multi lingual, educated immigrants a year Canada hopes to 1) advert a looming demographic crunch and 2) come to posses the most educated, diverse and skilled workforce in the world. In order to make this vision a reality the following is likley necessary.

1) Only allow people to apply for refugee status while in Canada. Canada can search out refugees in times of crisis.

2) Limit family unification to spouses and dependents under 18

3) Re gig the points system so that more emphasis is placed on youth

4) Greatly increase the number of immigration officers in second world countries, such as Brazil, with large pools of young educated workers who speak English. (It is unacceptable that in a country of 185 million that interviews are only conduced in Brasilia and Sao Paulo and not in other cities, most notably Rio)

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