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NDP’s hidden immigration pledge a concern

NDP’s hidden immigration pledge a concern


Candice Malcolm



Thomas Mulcair. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

In the battleground ridings of suburban Toronto and Vancouver, politicians are doing whatever they can to impress Canada’s ethnic populations. All three major parties go out of their way to woo these communities and propose policies specifically designed to get the attention of immigrant voters.

Political strategists used to believe that in order to win a majority government in Canada, you had to win a significant number of ridings in Quebec. That is no longer true.

Many now believe, instead, that the path to winning a federal election runs through courting new Canadians in suburban ridings.

That is why we see more and more politicians visiting Gurdwaras and doing photo ops at Chinese restaurants. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with politicians appealing to new Canadians. It’s a great example of our welcoming and accepting nature, and the success of Canada’s immigration system in general.

Politicians, however, get themselves into trouble when they start saying different things in different languages, and especially when they pit newcomers against native Canadians.

Sometimes a policy that sounds good to immigrant ears will raise major alarm bells with the rest of the country.

The most famous example of such ethnic politicking gone wrong was back in 2009 when former Liberal MP Ruby Dhalla introduced a bill to expand the social benefits given to newly arrived immigrant seniors.

The Brampton area MP wanted to change the rules to allow new immigrant seniors the ability to collect Old Age Security (OAS) after just three years in Canada, often without ever having paid into the system.

Her proposal may have polled well amongst some immigrant communities, but it more than backfired throughout the country. It became an infamous example of how not to pander to the immigrant vote.

OAS is already one of the largest expenditures in the federal budget, accounting for about one of every five dollars spent. Allowing new Canadians to start receiving OAS after just three years, opposed to the current ten, would have cost taxpayers an estimated $700 million dollars per year.

Not surprisingly, the bill – alongside Dhalla’s political career – went down in flames.

Why would Dhalla propose such a bill? As it turned out, even most immigrants disagreed with her proposal.

Dhalla was trying to appeal to a small group of new Canadians who want their relatives to receive the generous social entitlements promised to Canadian seniors.

But the proposal simply didn’t pass the common sense test. It was especially devious because Dhalla only wanted to discuss her proposal with ethnic media.

Dhalla isn’t alone when it comes to promising the moon to newcomers. It would seem the NDP are now going down a similar path, as they’ve recently begun promising significant increases in the number of senior citizens being sponsored into Canada.


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