For Canada Day, 2012, Immigration Lobby’s Gift to Canadians : Outright Sabotage

For Canada Day, 2012, Immigration Lobby’s Gift to Canadians : Outright Sabotage

In a recent court action, Canada’s Immigration lobby and its supporters have again demonstrated that their interests are the complete opposite of those of most Canadians. In fact, the immigration lobby’s efforts to promote their own interests amount to outright sabotage of Canada’s immigration system and to the destruction of the lives of  hundreds of thousands of Canadians.

Earlier this year, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced that he would be introducing measures to reduce a backlog of around 1 million immigrant applicants. He stated that he would be removing 280,00 skilled worker applicants from the 1 million list. Many of these applicants had been on the list for up to 10 years.

In response, several Canadian immigration lawyers recruited about 900 skilled worker applicants who were in the 1 million backlog and, launched a federal court suit on behalf of those 900, The lobby’s ultimate aim was probably to have the court declare that Canada had to admit all of the other 280,000 skilled workers who had applied to come to Canada.

A few weeks ago, the federal court ruled in the immigration lobby’s favour.

The ruling is not completely clear. It is possible that new legislation may minimize potential damage from the ruling. However, at present, the ruling implies that the 280,000 applications may now have to be processed. The applicants could then be admitted to Canada—regardless of whether Canada needs them. This will definitely be good for immigration lawyers’ bank accounts. But it will certainly not help hundreds of thousands of skilled unemployed Canadians who will now have to compete with more immigrants that Canada does not need.

The judge’s ruling seems to have considered  Section 11 of Canada’s 2001 Immigration Act which states “…The visa or document SHALL be issued (to an immigrant applicant) if , following an examination, the (visa) officer is satisfied that the foreign national is not inadmissible and meets the requirements of this Act”.

In order to prevent the backlog from growing higher than 1 million and to give him the ability to reduce the backlog, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney changed the words “shall be issued” to “may be issued” in 2008. The good news in the ruling is that it implies  that Kenney’s  change in the wording is legal and that it applies to all those who applied from 2008 to the present

But the bad news about the 280,000 who applied from 2001 to 2008 remains. Kenney recently stated that he would return the application fees these 280,000 applicants had paid. If they wished to re-apply, they could do so. Because the list was enormous, removing them from the 1 million backlog list would significantly decrease the backlog.

James Bissett, the former Executive Director of Canada’s Employment and Immigration Service (now known as Citizenship and Immigration Canada), says that this could be a major setback for a very necessary change. Mr. Bissett states that former Immigration Minister Elinor Caplan was responsible for the wording “shall be issued” in Canada’s Immigration Act which Parliament passed in 2001. That Act replaced the previous Act and it remains in place today.

According to Mr. Bissett, the phrase “shall be issued” should never have been put into the Act because doing so meant that if problems arose, it was much more difficult for the federal government to change the Act. Instead, Mr. Bissett says, the government should have put the phrase into the “Regulations” for the Immigration Act. This would have allowed the government to quickly make changes if major problems such as immigrant applicant backlogs developed.

Mr. Bissett says that major problems began appearing soon after Canada’s Immigration Act was passed in 2001. An increase in applications undoubtedly fitted former Immigration Minister Caplan’s overall intent which was to open Canada’s immigration doors even wider. However, her own Liberal government soon saw that she had made a very serious error. Caplan’s successors tried to change the Act, but ran into problems from the immigration lobby who used the courts to block  actions that would retroactively change the Act.

Mr. Bissett compares the way that Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Department now works under Caplan’s 2001 Immigration Act with the way it worked when Canada introduced its points system in 1967. This system granted points to skilled workers based on a number of factors such as language proficiency, education, etc.  At the time this system was implemented, Canada’s Immigration Department was connected with its Employment Department.

Together, these departments compiled a list of occupations in Canada which had a surplus of workers and another list of occupations which needed workers. If potential immigrants applied to enter Canada in occupations in which Canada did not need workers, they were automatically refused entry. Mr. Bissett refers to this as an example of Canada’s “Tap On–Tap Off” immigration policy. He says this policy prevented backlogs from forming.

According to Mr. Bissett,  Immigration Minister Caplan, in composing the current Immigration Act, bowed to the immigration lobby and paid no attention to the “Tap On–Tap Off” policy which had, for many years, very well served all Canadians, particularly Canada’s unemployed.

Since then, the immigration lobby has succeeded in getting many Canadians to change their focus from the plight of unemployed Canadians to the plight of unnecessary, unemployed immigrants. Portraying itself as humanitarian, it has used tactics such as blaming Canada’s professional associations for not quickly recognizing foreign credentials in many professions. Going further, it has demanded that the federal government apply pressure to these associations in order to help immigrants find jobs.

Critics of the immigration lobby have pointed out that the big problem with these demands is that they are irrelevant. The real point is that if Canada had retained its policy of not allowing entry to immigrants whom it did not need, the skilled worker backlog would never have happened.

Although Mr. Kenney has still not dealt with the most important immigration issue of all, Canada’s unjustified high yearly intake, the highest per capita in the world, he deserves praise for his many efforts to clean up some of the immigration disaster that Canada has endured for over 20 years.

On the other hand, the actions of Canada’s immigration lobby and its supporters should be recognized for what those actions really are : outright sabotage of Canada’s immigration system and outright promotion of policies which have destroyed the lives of many Canadians.