All doubts to this cynical view should be quelled upon learning that at the beginning of the year the Conservative government (who are not conservative when it comes to immigration) announced through the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, Conservative MP Jason Kenney, that the government planned to not only fast track the immigration process they also planned to increase targets. We read here:
Although Canadian officials are working to speed up processing time and, overall, welcoming more immigrants into the country, Kenney said there are no "magic solutions.”
While some might question the potentiality of immigrants taking jobs from Canadians, Kenney said he and other officials see things in a different light. In consulting with human resource leaders across the country, Kenney found that Canada is in need of more workers to fuel the economy. Shutting down immigration due to short-term economic instability, he said, would come at a hefty price.
"While other countries are talking about lowering their immigration levels, Canada plans to maintain its current high level of immigration," Kenney said. "We're taking the long-term view. Immigration remains key to addressing our demographic challenges and the needs of our labor markets."
With the assistance of your decoder ring you will understand that "the long-term view" extends no further than the next federal election. The Conservative government is a minority government that desperately wants to be a majority and it sees that majority in ethnic voters. Going back to no later than November of 2008 we read this in the Toronto Star:
Tories see ethnic voters as key to future majority
Nov 14, 2008 08:33 PM
WINNIPEG–The route to a majority government lies in the Conservative party's appeal to ethnic voters and new Canadians, says Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.
In a speech here tonight, Kenney laid out just how the party broadened its appeal to visible minority groups, and broke what he has described as 30-year patterns of voting support for Liberals that spanned two to three generations.
"Thanks to this, no Liberal seat in metro Toronto is a safe seat anymore. In the next election, the Liberals are going to have to defend every last one of them."
Conservatives have cited surprising support from the Chinese community in the Greater Toronto and Greater Vancouver area ridings, and an unexpected surge of support in the South Asian community, especially in Brampton-area ridings.
The Conservative party knows full well, as do all of Canada's federal parties, that without the co-operation of voter rich, immigrant heavy urban areas like Toronto, a majority government will be more difficult to come by today. And considering the gains made by the Conservatives in immigrant heavy ridings in Toronto and Vancouver they have no intention of blowing it by reducing immigrant targets in tough economic times.
Huge Liberal margins of victory in what were considered safe seats were reduced from 10,00-12,000 votes to 2,000.
Conservative MP Michael Chong, who has Chinese and Dutch roots, said in an interview there's no question there will be a massive voting block emerging in what he called the Greater Golden Horseshoe area, with population expected to grow to nearly 12 million in the next 20 years, many of whom will be new Canadians.
With riding redistribution to reflect the population growth, it will be a whole new ball game for all parties.
Kenney had insisted before the election that breaking the Liberals' hold on visible minority communities "was a long-term project" but now he says that the results exceeded his wildest dreams.
Since the immigration system is racialized (by which I mean ethnic immigrant groups use it to import more of their own to offset the host majority population and other immigrant groups) any reduction is a set back to the colonial aspirations of many immigrant communities. A reduction is also taken personally as an attack against them and therefore perceived as racist. So ethnic block votes are used like currency, given to which ever political party will assuage their concerns and assist them in their long term colonial goals. And Canada's political parities are more than willing to play along all for the sake of individual careers.
Jason Kenney's announcement to maintain high immigration targets in an uncertain economic environment reeks more so of satisfying short term political aspirations than meeting long term economic goals. Indeed, its politically self-interested "let them eat cake" indifference to the many struggling Canadians, including immigrants, who have suffered job losses is unnerving. Who are these "human resource leaders" anyway? How many did he talk to? How long did he talk to them? Did he even talk to any at all? These details are never given. We are always told by our officials that they have talked to the "experts" and invariably the "experts" always say Canada needs more immigrants.
But all is not lost (I hope). It seems Jason Kenney and the conservatives had an epiphany and now are saying that they may have to "rethink" immigration targets given economic forecasts. We read here in the Toronto Star:
Rising jobless rate may curb immigration
Weak economy may mean a rethink of how many newcomers we accept
Feb 11, 2009 04:30 AM
Richard J. Brennan
OTTAWA – Rising unemployment could force the federal government to nudge shut the door on thousands of foreigners looking to make Canada their new home, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says.
While Ottawa is sticking by its pledge to accept 240,000 to 265,000 permanent residents this year, the worsening economic outlook may prompt the government to rethink that target in the coming months, Kenney said yesterday.
"We don't want people coming to Canada and facing unemployment. We need to be sensitive to the changing labour market, and if we need to make modifications, we will."
The unemployment rate stands at 7.2 per cent in Canada, and 8 per cent in Ontario.
Kenney said Canada, which accepted 247,000 permanent residents last year, so far "stands alone" by maintaining its levels for permanent residents.
If the government didn't want people coming to Canada only to face unemployment, and I'd add underemployment, then it should have reduced immigration targets a long time ago when the evidence kept mounting that the current immigration system is not working due mostly to the large number of immigrants coming to the country. But like I've said, immigration is about votes, not long term economic goals.
"I don't know of another developed country that is planning to maintain its current levels of permanent residents," Kenney told the Commons immigration committee. "I have to add a clear caveat. Obviously, the economy is changing on a weekly basis. We have to monitor the situation very closely."
Federal and provincial immigration officials plan to meet next month and decide whether to tinker with the target.
But Kenney made clear his preference is to stick with the target, calling new immigrants the "fuel" of the economy, once it turns around.
We don't know what the economy will look like when it turns around or what jobs will be left since many of the good paying manufacturing jobs that have disappeared may be gone for good. Will the economy be one full of part time, temporary, seasonal, contractual, low wage, retail, service sector jobs that will need "fuel" to run? It's anyones guess meaning it is speculative which is what Jason Kenney is doing. In fact, it has has been speculation and assumption, political necessity aside, that has been driving the pro mass immigration position all this time.
If Jason Kenney is reading this (and maybe even NDP immigration critic Olivia Chow) here is some news that may help you make a decision.
Here, from May of 2008, we read immigrants face higher unemployment.
Back in November of 2008 the Conservative government's own finance minister, Jim Flaherty predicts unemployment to rise in 2009 (yet calls for sustained and increases in immigration targets were made by the Conservative party.)
Here we read that 70,000 full time jobs were lost in December of 2008 and that employment in the manufacturing sector had fallen 380,000 since 2002.
Here we read, from February 2009, about once "booming" Alberta expecting job losses to hit 15,000.
Here you can read the latest StatsCan report from February 6, 2009 on the latest job figures. In it we learn that:
Employment fell by 129,000 in January (-0.8%), almost all in full time, pushing the unemployment rate up 0.6 percentage points to 7.2%. This drop in employment exceeds any monthly decline during the previous economic downturns of the 1980s and 1990s.
The loss in January follows other declines in recent months. Since October, employment has fallen by 213,000 (-1.2%), the result of full-time losses.
Here we read that job losses are worst on record with job losses expect to mount.
You can also add the thousands of personal stories about the people who lost their jobs and the attendant fear, anxiety, depression, and stress that comes with it; who have families and have lost their homes or may lose their homes. Maintaining high immigration targets will not help them. Regarding the "long term view" for immigrants we read this from the Toronto Star.
Job market takes years to recover from recession
Immigrants, women and youth hardest hit by rising unemployment during previous slumps
Feb 09, 2009 04:30 AM
The federal budget predicts that the unemployment rate will be 7.5 per cent over the course of the coming year, meaning that around 1.4 million Canadians will be looking for work every month.
Statistics Canada already puts that figure at 7.2 per cent, and the budget doesn't see a return to the 2008 unemployment level of 6 per cent until sometime in 2013 or 2014.
Indeed, during the last three decades Canadians have lived through three recessions, and each time the unemployment rate increased sharply and quickly and persisted for years before declining slowly and sluggishly.
Past recessions also teach us that when workers with a good deal of job experience lose relatively well-paying jobs their fall in earnings is substantial and permanent.
Displaced workers are the refugees of the labour market, taking years to find a new employer and suffering a substantial loss in their standard of living that will never be recovered. It is this threat that has focused attention on the automobile, manufacturing and related sectors.
When these jobs are lost, government-sponsored training may not be much help. The provinces have already received significant funds for job-market training through the Employment Insurance program since the mid-1990s, and now the budget has given them a $1 billion more.
But the fact of the matter is that they are hard-pressed to produce any credible evaluations that this money has produced results for workers displaced from long-term jobs. For these workers, the pay will never be the same, training or no training.
This part is important:
But the other important lesson from the early 1990s was how hard the recession was on immigrants, the other significant group of newcomers who are likely to be among the most vulnerable this time round.
An important made-in-Canada policy that led to the 1990-92 recession being worse than it need have been was the decision to maintain high immigration levels without paying sufficient attention to how the job market would respond.
The government at the time actually increased the number of immigrants through the entire course of that business cycle downturn, and in 1993 it surpassed a quarter of a million, its highest level up to that point and the second highest ever.
Many of these newcomers headed to parts of the country, Toronto in particular, that were hardest hit. The result was higher joblessness, lower pay and higher poverty rates.
In fact, virtually all of the increase in poverty during this period was accounted for by those newly arrived to the country.
We shouldn't let lessons of the past interfere with future political careers. There are some in government that do speak the voice of reason. Liberal senator from New Brunswick Pierrette Ringuette is calling for a "Canadians First" jobs policy as reported here.
Liberal senator urges halt to foreign workers to give Canadians first chance at jobs
Feb 12, 2009 04:30 AM
Richard J. Brenna
OTTAWA–A Liberal senator is calling for a "Canadians First" jobs policy, saying that temporary foreign workers should be banned from the country for stealing jobs from the growing ranks of unemployed Canadians.
New Brunswick Senator Pierrette Ringuette is urging the Conservative government to halt the foreign worker program "so that Canadians will have the first opportunity to obtain these jobs and to work in Canada."
This, of course, is blasphemy.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney called Ringuette's comments "really unfortunate," saying that despite rising unemployment, some jobs across the country are going unfilled.
Some jobs going unfilled? Such as? And are they jobs that necessitate the importation of 260,000+ immigrants? The Liberal party, experts at ethnic vote pandering distanced themselves from the senator.
The Liberals yesterday said that the senator's comments do not represent official party policy. But Liberal MP Maurizio Bevilacqua (Vaughan) accused the Conservatives of being "fixated" on temporary workers.
The New Democratic Party, the alleged party of labour, is more concerned about attracting immigrant votes than it is with protecting the needs of the working class. That is becuase the NDP is more of an urban party than it is a rural party, as voting patterns suggest, and many urban voters are immigrants. If the NDP did care about working Canadians it would heed the call of senator Ringuette and demand a "Canadians First" job policy and a reduction in immigration targets. Instead we get no such thing from NDP immigration critic (more like cheerleader) Olivia Chow. Not only does she champion more immigration her only complaint with temporary workers is that they are not made permanent residents.
NDP MP Olivia Chow (Trinity-Spadina) also wants to see the number of temporary workers curbed, saying they drive down wages and take Canadians' jobs. Rather than focus on bringing cheap temporary labour into Canada, the federal government should be allowing in more immigrants as permanent residents.
"I believe that temporary foreign workers do drive down wages," Chow told reporters after question period.
Chow said there are Canadians who are prepared to do the work these temporary foreign workers are filling now "if you pay them proper wages."
Somehow, to Olivia Chow, it is temporary workers who drive down wages and not an over supply of labour as a result of mass immigration. This is a logic bordering on self imposed ignorance that is driven by the political need to pander to ethnic voting blocks and, I suspect, to safeguard the steady flow of Chinese nationals into Canada. Olivia Chow herself is a Chinese immigrant and her riding constitutes Toronto's Chinatown. For immigrant communities it is a source of ethnic communal pride to see so many of your nationals in the country.
New Brunswick Senator Pierrette Ringuette can say what she did becuase her job is safe. A senator's position is a political appointment, one that is for life. Elected officials do not have such guaranteed job security and with each party seeking a majority position every nominee is constrained by what he or she can say publicly.
This is especially true when it comes to immigration. When urban "ethnic votes" can swing the results in many ridings in Canada's seat rich urban centers the coveted majority government is on the line. Even if your seat is in a rural area you better say the right things about immigration or risk hampering your career and advancement through the party. Many of Canada's politicians have adopted a pro mass immigration position and a favourable view of multiculturalism out of political necessity and not sincere conviction. When it comes to protecting Canadian jobs the only jobs Canada's elected officials care about are their own.