Language Test For Citizenship Eyed

Language test for citizenship eyed

Sat, March 21, 2009

TORONTO — Immigrants who can't speak either English or French should be denied citizenship until they can, according to the federal immigration minister.

Jason Kenney made his comments about the need to make a greater effort to integrate new Canadians into the labour market at an immigration conference in Calgary yesterday.

His plan, though, has caught the ire of the Canadian Arab Federation who called the minister a hypocrite.

Kenney's comments came a day after he said his government would not renew a $478,000 grant to the CAF, expiring at the end of this month, to offer English as a second language classes.


“It's a contradiction, which shows his real motive is to silence us,” said Mohamed Boudjenane, executive director of Canadian Arab Federation. He said the minister can't say more immigrants need to learn English, while cutting nearly $500,000 in funding for ESL classes for new Canadians in Toronto.

“He's speaking out of both sides of his mouth, ” said Boudjenane.

But Kenney said recently the CAF's contract was not being renewed because of political reasons, specifically that the CAF is anti-Semitic.

The group came under fire from Kenney and others when the federation's president, Khaled Mouamar, said Canada should regard Hamas and Hezbollah — both groups the government lists as associated with terrorists — as “legitimate organizations,” even reportedly calling Kenney a “professional whore” for supporting Israel.

Alykhan Velshi, spokesman for Kenney, said those new Canadians currently being taught ESL through the Canadian Arab Federation would not be left out in the cold, and the federal funds would flow to another organization.

“There won't be any interruption in service delivery for individuals currently using CAF's services, and I suspect the quality will improve once CAF stops administering the program,” he said.