In ridings across the Greater Toronto Area, the topic of immigration has been an important issue for many constituents. With the rigorous process of visa permits, foreign credentials and immigrant status, there are many misconceptions thrown around within the political realm.
On Friday morning, Canadian Minister of Immigration Jason Kenney spoke in one of the most diverse electoral districts in the country; Don Valley West. Kenney discussed what the minority Conservative government has accomplished in regards to immigration, what their goals are if re-elected and attempted to clear up incorrect statements made by Liberal opponents.
“A few optimistic choices have been clarified in this election in the past week or so,” said Kenney, speaking in Conservative candidate John Carmichael’s campaign office
. “We're not supposed to talk about polls, but it's something we can't ignore right now. What they do tell us is this: This is a choice between a strong Conservative government, led by Stephen Harper, by keeping our taxes low, making our economy strong and creating jobs.”
The Immigration Minister then said the other choice is to elect a New Democratic Party that will do to the country what the NDP did to the province of Ontario from 1990 to 1994 – Bob Rae was the NDP Premier and stunningly defeated Liberal Premier David Peterson.
“The choice couldn’t be more clear. We want a strong vibrant Canadian economy,” said Kenney, speaking in front of Don Valley East Conservative candidate Joe Daniel
. “We have to elect John and Joe and other Conservatives in the GTA. The other party’s support is collapsing.”
Past and Present Statistics
According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada
statistics presented by Kenney Friday, after five years of governing the country, the Conservative Party has increased immigration by seven percent from 2006 to 2010. Meanwhile, from 1993 to 1998, the Liberal Party lowered the number of immigration by 32 percent.
In a broader sense, the Liberal average immigration levels from 1994 to 2005 were 222,500 compared to the Conservatives’ amount of 254,000 during their five-year reign.
Furthermore, Kenney explained that the Liberal record on immigration created a “backlog of 108,000 for parents and grandparents,” which also led to higher wait times for these potential immigrants to 64 months.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s policies on immigrations have led to an average of 14 percent more immigrants per year – 2010 was the year where the highest number of immigrants came to Canada “in almost 60 years.”
According to Kenney, the Conservatives also cut the Right of Landing Fee
in half – the Liberal Party introduced this $975 fee on new immigrants – and Harper’s Conservatives later “tripled funding for settlement services to $600 million” ($1,000 to $3,000 per immigrant).
Earlier this month, the Prime Minister spoke
at Novo Plastics in Markham, just east of Toronto, where he introduced the foreign credential loan assistance platform, which would provide immigrants the money to enhance their education and training and pay for institution fees, such as training materials, exam costs and others.
“We understand the importance of credential recognition to the financial security and well-being of new Canadians and their families, as well as the Canadian economy,” said Harper.
Kenney reiterated this platform and said this would assist immigrants more in order to help their families and sustain a better life.
The Immigration Minister further stated that many immigrants who work at jobs in their field are asked to upgrade their diplomas, but can’t afford it because they used up all of their savings just to immigrate to Canada.
“Many would have to get one or two survival jobs just to support their families.”
In February, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced
that his government will introduce efforts that will increase family reunification in 2011. “A re-elected Harper Conservative government will welcome more parents and grandparents in 2011 than in 2010,” said Kenney.
“We believe in the importance of family reunification as one of the objectives of Canada’s immigration policy. That’s why we are increasing our planning range for family class immigrants this year to allow up to 65,000 immigrants into Canada.”