Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Jason Kenney Playing the Conservative base for Suckers

Jason Kenney
"There continue to be acute labour market shortages in certain businesses, certain industries and certain regions. And our government believes that the worst thing we could do during this time of economic difficulty is to starve those employers, who are growing, of the labour that they need fuel their prosperity in these difficult times."

Let there be no mistake about what the Conservatives are doing.

The number of guest workers allowed in has exploded since the Conservatives came to power and whereas the typical guest worker was once an American transferred to a branch office in Canada, the fastest growing category of guest worker is now the unskilled type with poor language skills. The Conservatives have not done this directly. They have turned over a greater percentage of the immigration file to the provinces and Western provinces in particular have used the program to undercut labour. The Canadian tax payer has paid through the noise to have cheap labour sent in from other countries for the sole purpose of cutting wages of the Canadian tax payer. Forget Conservative talk about such provincial programs bringing in much needed skilled workers, this was the kind of positions Alberta was hoping to fill through its guest worker programs this summer: Front desk clerk, short order cook, baker, maid, assembly line worker, server, buser, bellhop, valet, and cafeteria worker, laundry attendant, pet groomer, general labourer, and hair dresser. All that is required of such would be immigrants is that they score 4 or 24 on the language assessment. In other words, they can still be functionally illiterate and still get it in.

It takes a great deal of chutzpah to Kenney to talk about wanting to avoid “the kind of ethnic enclaves or parallel communities that exist in some European countries” and then go about encouraging the very thing that led to the creation of these communities in Europe, viz., importing gobs of unskilled guest labour.

Jason Kenney
"That would indicate to me that the vast majority — something like 90 per cent of these claimants — are actually trying to immigrate to Canada through the back door of the refugee system and I think that's unacceptable. That's basically queue jumping."

This is just a lot of hot air designed to play to a Conservative base that does not read a lot and so does not know when it is being pandered too. The National Post Chris Selley nailed it.

I can't say I'm totally sure what he's talking about. As designed, the system is pretty much incapable of being abused or violated. Its guiding principle is: get your feet on Canadian soil and you can claim refugee status-period, no exceptions. Forget not-so-badly-off Mexicans and Colombians. If George Galloway had been allowed into Canada, he could have claimed asylum. Britney Spears could have thrown herself on our mercy after her show in Montreal last week. President Barack Obama, during his visit to Ottawa. Alexander Ovechkin, when he played in Toronto on Tuesday. Anyone, no matter their means, where they came from or how they got here, can claim refugee status in Canada, and they can pretty safely count on being here long enough to make the threat of eventual deportation worthwhile. If nothing else, any children born while they're here would automatically be Canadian citizens. That's a lot of reward for not much risk.

Selley also alluded to the elephant in Kenney living room. Namely, the biggest hurdle to reforming the refugee system is insuring that refugees are processed quickly, that they cannot delay deportation with endless appeals and that there is mechanisms in place to insure they leave the country when they are ordered out. Regardless of the merits of their case, the longer refugees remain in country the greater the likelihood that they will stay. Under the Conservatives things have gotten worse much worse. It now takes a refugee claimant a year and half to 2 years to get a hearing. Under the Liberals that number was one year. The problem is that the Conservatives have failed to fill vacancies on the immigration and refugee board at a time when more claims were pouring in than ever. If Kenney was truly serious about reforming the system he would see to it that such hearings happen in a manner of months, limit or eliminate appeals and ensure that there is a system set up to sure that failed claimants have left the country. However I would not hold my breath. The Conservatives flatly refuse to do the one thing that is not the least bit politically controversial and that would arguably help speed up the process the most. That is, they have ruled out increasing the size of the board to insure that refugees are processed faster.

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