On Friday, the federal Conservatives proved that, while they can talk a big game on immigration, they are certainly no friend of it.
In 2005, the Liberals admitted more than 262,000 new immigrants to Canada. When the Conservatives took over in 2006, they reduced this number to 251,649. In 2007, the Conservatives slashed another 15,000 from this total when they admitted only 236,689 new immigrants. This number fell well short of the Tories’ 240,000-265,000 target they had promised Parliament in October 2006. As a result, Canada has closed its doors to more than 36,000 new immigrants over the past two years.
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Interestingly enough, these facts did not get in the way of the Tories announcing last week that, in 2007, they admitted “the highest number of newcomers in Canada’s history.” In order to support this mind-boggling claim, the Conservatives included as “newcomers” foreigners who arrived here on work or study permits even though they are only here temporarily. (My advice to foreigners arriving in Canada seeking temporary admission: Never describe yourself to a border officer as a “newcomer” to Canada as that could easily suggest a permanent, as opposed to a temporary, intent.)
On Friday, the Tories also introduced a bill to amend our immigration laws.
This bill proposes to amend the very cornerstone of our immigration legislation. Our current legislation states that a foreign national must apply for the appropriate visa or document to enter Canada. If they meet each and every requirement of the act, the visa or document “shall” be issued to them. The feds want to change this word to “may.” It is proposed that Parliament give the minister the power to direct the manner in which the department disposes of its caseload. In other words, even if you have paid a fee, waited for years, and met all our criteria, the minister has no obligation to issue the requested visa or document. The denial would not count as a “decision.” Since the denial is not a “decision,” there may be no appeal. Put differently; imagine purchasing a movie ticket and standing patiently in line only to be randomly told that you will not be admitted.
The bill also proposes to cut into the immigration departments’ ability to admit foreigners to Canada on humanitarian grounds. The proposal would limit such consideration only to those who are physically here. This may close the only avenue available to children and spouses abroad of Canadian citizens and permanent residents that are not sponsorable because they were undeclared and/or not examined when their sponsor was landed in Canada.
Any such encroachment on our collective ability to be compassionate in any circumstance should only be approached with great care.
Guidy Mamann practises law in Toronto at Mamann & Associates and is certified by the Law Society of Upper Canada as an immigration specialist. Reach him confidentially at 416-862-0000 or at