Liberals’ radical immigration changes
Whenever I hear that the new federal Liberal government is preparing to undo a policy or law put in place by its Tory predecessors under Stephen Harper, I remember Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s boast on the day he and his cabinet were sworn in. Finally, he gloated, “we have our country back.”
Gag. As if Canada isn’t Canada without the Liberals in charge.
Nowhere is this pompous self-congratulation more evident than on immigration. The Liberals seem set to dismantle many of the former government’s attempts to make immigration match better with Canada’s economic needs and to ensure new Canadians integrate more fully into Canadian society.
The Liberals saw Tory initiatives – such as beefing up the citizenship exam – as too harsh, even racist (even though immigration levels remained the same). So “we’re going to be producing radical changes,” Immigration Minister John McCallum told The Hill Times last week.
Among the anticipated changes are two that don’t initially seem to go together, but actually do.
First, the Libs are going to do away with the detailed citizenship exam for all immigrants aged 14 to 64 in favour of an easier multiple-choice test for those 18 to 54.
Then – and this is the key change – they intend to do away with the requirement that newcomers be proficient in either official language, English or French.
How do these seemingly unrelated “reforms” go together? Simple, together they make it much easier for the Liberals to admit more of the parents or even grandparents of new Canadians.
This is a reenergizing of the “family reunification” program brought in by the Liberals in a big way in the early 1980s, then continued with enthusiasm by the Mulroney Tories and the Chretien and Martin Liberals.
Before the early ‘80s, family-class immigrants (as opposed to economic-class immigrants) made up a tiny portion of Canada’s total annual intake. By the time the Harper government came in, by some calculations the family class made up nearly 45%.
There is nothing wrong granting entry to the moms, dads, grandparents or other family members of immigrants. It’s an understandable human instinct to want to have family close.
The problem is for taxpayers.