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Which party is the more 'pro-immigrant'

Who is more “pro-immigrant” – the Liberals or the Conservatives?

Who is more “pro-immigrant” – the Liberals or the Conservatives?

Let’s look at the overall numbers.

For the past 20 years, Canada has received an average of about 234,000 new permanent residents per year. Between 2001 and 2005, the Liberals brought in an average of 240,000 permanent residents per year, and when the Conservatives came to power in 2006, they averaged about 247,000 per year.

Two weeks ago, the Tories surprised the nation when they announced that they had set a 50-year record by landing a whopping 280,636 new immigrants in 2010.

Interestingly, the Tories had previously reported to Parliament that they were only planning to bring in 240,000-265,000 immigrants for 2010. So, how is it possible that the government overshot this very carefully managed inventory of immigrant visas? After all, weren’t we in an economic downturn?

When announcing this record influx of newcomers to Canada, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced “While other Western countries cut back on immigration during the recession, our government kept legal immigration levels high.”

Kenney didn’t really explain why he admitted more immigrants last year than the maximum he told Parliament he would admit for 2010. Furthermore, Kenney has no plans to maintain this level, reporting to Parliament that he is only going to admit 240,000-265,000 new immigrants in 2011.

Cynics might think, quite rightly, perhaps, that Kenney’s banner year has something to do with the fact that Canadians are facing a federal election this spring. How better to draw the “ethnic” or “multicultural” vote than to announce a record intake of new immigrants?

If this is so, the Liberals are in no position to complain. They pulled the same stunt in 2005 when they admitted 262,000 immigrants just as they were about to go to the polls. This was a sharp increase over 2004 when they admitted 235,825 newcomers, and an even greater increase over the year before which saw only 221,348 immigrants.

If it’s just about numbers, it’s clear that the Conservatives have brought in more immigrants in the last five years than their Liberal counterparts did in the previous five-year period.

However, being “pro-immigrant” is not just about numbers.

The Tories have created, and are continuing to create, havoc with many aspects of our immigration program. For example, they are in the midst of a full-frontal assault on the rights of Canadians to bring their parents and grandparents to Canada. Also, they are about to seriously impede the ability of refugees to make out their case before our Immigration and Refugee Board.

In the past five years, the Tories have made promises they didn’t keep and made blunders which could have been avoided by listening to others.

Next week, I will review some of the less “pro-immigrant” aspects of the Tory immigration record.

Guidy Mamann, J.D. practices law in Toronto at Mamann, Frankel Sandaluk LLP and is certified by the Law Society of Upper Canada as an immigration specialist. For more information, visit www.migrationlaw.com or email metro@migrationlaw.com

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