Resisting the pull of cynicism since 1969.

Monday, March 24, 2008

A question for supporters of the Conservative immigration legislation

I know a thing or two about Canada's immigration system, having been through it myself. I know that there's a rigorous points system that awards more points to people trained in jobs the country currently needs, to experienced workers, to educated people, to younger people, and to people who have ability in one or both of Canada’s official languages. I also know that it's quite difficult to get enough points to qualify--I myself barely did, once upon a time.

Now, the Conservatives are proposing to change that system. The changes would give new powers to the Minister of Immigration, allowing that office to do three things:

a) accelerate applications
b) reject applicants who otherwise meet all immigration criteria
c) discard applications from specific countries.

The current Immigration Minister, Diane Finley, is claiming that these changes are necessary in order to "make it easier to get more people here faster." But the thing is, only the first provision--the one allowing the minister to accelerate applications--could actually result in more people coming to Canada, more quickly. The other two new provisions must therefore have different aims. Supporters, such as this commenter at the Globe and Mail site, are saying that these changes would give preference to "those with the skills we need right now." But this is the very thing the existing points system already does. It's the whole idea behind it.

So, to supporters of this proposed legislation, I ask: what is the purpose of provisions b and c above, i.e., granting the minister the ability to reject applicants who otherwise meet all immigration criteria and discard applications from specific countries? And how would the new system help Canada reach its goals better than the current, points-based one?


Mike said...

IP, I'm anxiously awaiting how they try to spin giving arbitrary, unaccountable powers to a single person as somehow "democratic" and "fair"

There is nothing in this legilsation that is remotely so.

Paladiea said...

I wouldn't put it past the Conservatives to reintroduce the head tax on non white immigrants.

Or more likely, people of colour (And TEH M00ZLEMS!!1) will have their applications arbitrarily denied.

West End Bob said...

Excellent questions, IP.

Let's see how the Libs handle this situation. My initial guess is they won't . . . .

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

west end bob,

At the moment, I'm more curious about how Conservatives will defend the legislation itself than I am about how the Liberals will defend their potential support for it.

RossK said...


As a non-CRRAPtacularist, I don't have 'the answer'....but if I was on 'the list', and if I was waiting for my 'orders', I think the answer might be something like the following.....

"These changes will allow the New Government of Canada to make REAL progress such that the immigration process will, in the future, be used to move our country forward by acquiring the expertise and the skills that we need while at the same time ensuring that that our true North will remain safe, strong, and free (from undesirables).

Oh.... wait.....that stuff in the brackets..... forget about that.


Real, answer hiding behind the 'noble lies' answer?.... "It will allow us to politicize this process too...."


janfromthebruce said...

What about the real reason - just in time guest worker program - where they speed up delivery of workers, with no messy citizenship resources and settlement assessories necessary.
This isn't about doctors - this is about cheap worker programs.
And this is not about immigration or refugees - this is about production. It kills two birds in one stone - cheap and over supply of labour and dampens national worker demands for better working conditions, better pay and benefits.

It's best to look at what they are not saying about this legislation to see where they are going with this.

Anonymous said...


Also would lead to an increase of guest workers staying past their visa expiry dates, creating a glut of illegals and leading deliberately or not, to the kind of tension we see south of the border.

No wonder your party leader appeared on Lou Dobbs. He must have seen this coming long before many of us.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

Dear everyone,

This post involved a simple question, with no partisan jabs in any direction. There's really no reason to bring that kind of thing into a post through the comments when it isn't already there, you know? So cease and desist already, willya?

Any answers to the questions? Or have all the Tories been scared off by the mean and nasty progressives?

JG said...

Okay. I don't like these reforms one bit - too much arbitrary power in a single person, as Mike says, and the continued attempts to downgrade the family reunification category (and I've no doubt that that's the intent here) is troubling. Setting aside the fact that many immigrants coming under the "skilled workers" category can't actually find work in their field, it seems obvious to me that bringing family members along would be very helpful to getting new arrivals established here, as it provides a stronger "support network".

KevinG said...

Josh said: " Setting aside the fact that many immigrants coming under the "skilled workers" category can't actually find work in their field, it seems obvious to me that bringing family members along would be very helpful to getting new arrivals established here, as it provides a stronger "support network".

At the risk of heading off topic, this would only be true if the reason they can't find work or can't get established is because they don't have a support network. I've seen nothing to support that assertion and it's not obvious to me that is an impediment.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

Josh and Kevin,

It seems that no Tories are going to bite on the questions in the post, so veering slightly off topic doesn't seem like much of a loss at the moment. Alas!

Ben (The Tiger in Exile) said...

All right, I'll bite.

I'm kinda neutral on the legislation, but I'll make a case for it.

The case for (a) is self-evident -- we need workers in certain areas quickly, they want to come, and so let's connect those two desires and get things done.

(b) and (c) could be viewed as extensions of (a) -- a way to clear the backlog. With the way the points system has worked out, there are apparently hundreds or thousands of men in India training as domestics in order to game the system. (So I've heard, anyway.) Which is ridiculous.


Of course, the trouble with creating work-arounds to the bureaucratic horror show is that they very quickly themselves become just as bureaucratic. So there's probably no getting away from this problem in the medium term.

But hey, the Tories are going to take a crack at it.

Ben (The Tiger in Exile) said...

Just asked my Obama-loving but Harper-supporting dad for his take -- as I believe he actually supports these specific reforms -- and he adds that he thinks getting too rules-based in a system like this is a bad thing, and that the Minister of Immigration, as an elected and therefore somewhat accountable official, is therefore someone whom we can put some more discretionary powers in.


Unlike my old man, I'm a cynic -- I think that whatever gains are made in the short run will vanish once the "ministerial discretion" part becomes more rules-based and, again, bureaucracy-laden.

It's the nature of the beast -- the points system, when it was first implemented in 1967, was one that immigration officials could use at entry points: American draft dodgers with a college degree, a job offer, and five hundred bucks in their pocket could get landed immigrant status. Times change, and the system gets more and more convoluted.

So this is destined to put us right back where we started, I say.

Ben (The Tiger in Exile) said...

So there are your Tory takes. :-)

Have at it.