Yesterday I had a good chat with a friend of mine who specializes in Canadian history with an emphasis on immigration history. I spoke of my misgivings about the changes done to immigration law and policies under the current conservative government.
Although I don’t often discuss partisan politics in this blog, I haven’t made a secret that I support open immigration policies and I believe society can only benefit from being open to immigration. And that is precisely one of the reasons I want to see an end to the Harper regime.
For years, the Canadian government worked to design an immigration system based on clear policies that reflected Canadian values and was non-discriminatory and objective. Power was removed from the immigration ministers and passed onto a bureaucracy so as to prevent immigration from becoming a tool in partisan politics and processes to proceed smoothly irrespective of who is in power or changes in government. A set of criteria was established defining the kind of skills Canada wanted from its immigrants and as long as the person fit that criteria, he or she was in.
Under the pretext of making the system speedier or cheaper, the conservative government has been granting more and more power to the minister of immigration who can decide on a case-by-case basis who gets in and who doesn’t. Prospective immigrants can no longer be sure if they will get a visa even if they qualify because under the new rules, if your file is not processed within a year, your case is simply denied and sent back. And now the government is proposing to limit the list of professions that qualify to 38 occupations.
In short, we are going back to pre-1967 policies. To a time when the government could speed up applications or select exclusively immigrants from a particular country or ethnic background because it felt they would “adapt better”. Policies that were racist, discriminatory, and subjective.