Immigration bill could be tough to sell
Massive Backlog; Issue has potential to trigger election
Andrew Mayeda, Canwest News Service Published: Monday, April 21, 2008
Last week, the government launched an advertising campaign that promises the proposed changes will create an immigration system that is "flexible, fast and fair for everyone." The print and radio ads, which are being funded by public coffers, will run for the next few weeks in ethnic-media outlets. The ads have cost about $60,000 so far, but the immigration department could not say what the final tab will be.
The vast majority of Canadians outside of immigrant and ethnic communities have no clue as to what the reforms to the immigration act are all about and I doubt they even care. But they should care about immigration because it is changing this country in fundamental ways and some of their concerns - such as increasing traffic congestion, rising housing prices, threats to farmlands and green spaces, job prospects, etc. - have an immigration component to it one way or another.
The fact that ethnic media outlets are being targeted shows how Canada's immigration policy has been wrestled away from Canadians and surrendered to the hands of immigrant groups and those who make their livings serving them. This is unfair and undemocratic because immigration affects all Canadians. If immigration policy cannot be hammered out without the blessing of immigrant groups then effectively immigrant and ethnic groups, a minority of the population, are writing it. The conflict of interest is apparent and Canada has lost control of its borders and its sovereignty. Since immigration is the introduction of a foreign people into a host society then immigration is a sovereignty issue.
Government officials say the campaign is designed to clear up misunderstandings about the bill, which gives the immigration minister more power to fast track the applications of certain types of immigrants. The government says that will help reduce the backlog, which has reached 925,000 applications, while making the immigration system more responsive to labour-market needs.
Senior Conservatives say they never expected immigration to be an election trigger when the party took power more than two years ago. But that could very well happen. The Conservatives have rolled the immigration bill into the broader budget-implementation bill, which is automatically considered a matter of confidence in the government.
The NDP and the Bloc Quebecois oppose the bill. The Liberals have trashed it as anti-immigrant, but have stopped short of voting it down in the House of Commons.
But Liberal MPs are coming under increasing pressure from some ethnic groups to oppose the bill. Last week, a coalition that includes the Chinese Canadian National Council and the Canadian Arab Federation staged a demonstration at the Toronto constituency office of Liberal MP Bob Rae. The coalition is threatening not to vote Liberal if the party doesn't oppose the bill.
Not vote Liberal? Yeah right!!! I like this quote from this anonymous senior Conservative source.
"We believe that it's going to be vicious trench warfare, and the vast majority of the native-born Canadian population will be completely oblivious to it, because this vicious trench warfare will play itself out at the doorstep and in the ethnic media," said a senior Conservative source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
He's right. The vast majority, at some 80%, don't know what is going on. This is all being played out in the House of Commons and in the ethnic news media. It is the concerns of ethnic and immigrant groups that are relevant and they are being informed and updated on the issue. In a way this is a form of closed door politics where the concerns of most Canadians are being marginalized or treated with indifference. This is undemocratic and is illustrative of how powerful ethnic politics has become in Ottawa where a foreign people are writing policy and can influence party decisions to the point of calling a general election when most Canadians, those of the host population, don't want one.
If the government is defeated and a general election is called it is because immigrant groups wanted it, not out of a loyalty to Canada but out of a commitment to their people living in foreign countries. I think there is some racism at the root of this because we Canadians are "the other" to them and that needs to be offset. Canada is also too white and we all know that is a bad thing that needs to be remedied. But the question that comes to mind is whose country is this anyways?