Canada has topped a survey ranking the reputations of the world’s developed nations, earning it the title of the “most admired” country in the world.
The annual Reputation Institute survey ranks the reputations of developed nations across the world on the basis of a variety of environmental, political, and economic factors. According to the survey, Canada now has the best reputation of any country in the world.
For 2015, Canada regained top spot in the rankings, having slipped to second place in 2014. Before that, Canada had held the top spot for three years in a row, from 2011 to 2013.
The latest survey places Canada’s southern neighbour the United States at a distant 22nd place. Norway is second on the list, with Sweden, Switzerland, and Australia rounding out the top 5 positions.
According to the Reputation Institute, Canada rates highly in several of the categories assessed in the survey, scoring high marks for its effective government, lack of corruption, friendly and welcoming people, and social support system.
The Reputation Institute gathered data from around 48,000 residents of G8 countries, with respondents asked to consider a variety of factors and rank the reputations of the world’s 55 richest nations (based on GDP).
Canada did lack in a few areas, with a lack of strong brand names and companies counting against it. Respondents also felt Canada did not offer any significant contributions to global culture. However, Canada was perceived to be a positive contributor in the most important categories.
The Reputation Institute also conducted a parallel survey ranking countries based on their self-image, or what their citizens think about their own countries. Australia ranked first on this survey, followed by Canada, Russia, India and Germany.
A comparison of the two surveys reveals that Russia had the widest gap between their self-image and how others perceive them, with China, India and the US also having a considerable gap between their internal and external reputation.
With only a quarter of the population of China, there is little possibility for the U.S. to continue its reign in the economic sphere unless China suffers a stunning collapse. However, during the next couple of centuries, Canada also has a surprisingly good chance of becoming an economic and cultural superpower.
With a population of only 35 million (in 2015), a famously frigid climate and a below-replacement fertility rate, Canada would seem an unlikely candidate to become a superpower. But Canada has three fundamental strengths that will almost certainly make a difference in the long run: natural resources, good government and an almost unbelievably tolerant and open culture.
In terms of natural resources, Canada is almost unmatched. In terms of renewable freshwater, Canada is exceeded only by the U.S. and Brazil. Its percentage of arable land, at 4.6 per cent, is relatively small, but this probably will increase as climate change proceeds and the glaciers retreat. Basically, there is room for a lot more people in Canada.
Good government is another hallmark of Canadian strength and according to Transparency International, Canada regularly ranks in the top 10 least-corrupt countries in the world. This is especially impressive given Canada’s rich endowment of fossil fuels, which usually causes countries to become more corrupt — a phenomenon known as the Resource Curse.
It is probably because of these high-quality institutions that Canada was able to implement universal health care. Universal health care definitely requires that citizens trust their government. In a country as diverse as Canada, attaining a level of public trust equivalent to that received by the ethnically homogeneous countries of Europe is quite a feat.
Canada’s strong institutions have allowed it to implement less controversial economic policies, such as a low corporate tax rate (15 per cent, compared with the U.S.’s 35 per cent). However, Canada’s immigration policy is its biggest win. Unlike U.S.’s immigration system which focuses on family reunification, Canada focuses on recruiting the best and the brightest economic immigrants.
The Federal Skilled Worker Program assigns prospective immigrants “points” based on language skills, education, work experience, age, existing job offers and a catch-all category called “adaptability.”
Canada now has a net annual immigration rate of about 0.57 per cent of its population, which has declined during the past decade. This corresponds to about a quarter-million immigrants a year. But with its strong record of assimilation, and a change in government policy, and increased resources to such programs, Canada might be able to increase this rate. With climate change making the country less frigid, Canada will certainly become a more attractive destination.
Even though it may be centuries before Canada competes with the likes of the U.S. in terms of total population, since it is starting from such a low base, in terms of an educated, high-skilled population, Canada may soon become pre-eminent.
What would the rise of Canada mean for geopolitics and global culture? Canada is one of the world’s freest countries, an unflagging supporter of tolerance, openness and human rights. Its immigration program could make it one of the world’s most multiracial countries.
New provisions now allow the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to revoke Canadian citizenship. The new Act received Royal Assent in June last year and included provisions to revoke Canadian citizenship from those dual citizens who are convicted of high treason, terrorism, and/or spying offences, depending on the sentence received.
Under the new provisions, the citizenship of dual citizens can also be revoked if they serve in another country’s armed forces or are found to be a part of an organized non-state entity involved in an armed conflict with Canada.
The federal government considers the revocation of citizenship to be an important tool for the protection of the value of Canadian citizenship and the safeguarding of the integrity of the citizenship program. With these changes, the government is aiming to protect the safety and security of Canada’s citizens, and ensure that criminals and those who take up arms against Canada will not benefit from Canadian citizenship.
The new revocation process
The new revocation process requires most revocation cases to be resolved by the Citizenship and Immigration Minister or a delegate. Cases falling under this category include those involving residence fraud, high treason, identity fraud, concealing criminal charges or convictions, convictions for terrorism, treason or spying offences, depending on the sentence received.
Complicated revocation cases involving crimes against humanity and war crimes, or fraud cases involving national security, or human or international rights violations and organized crime, will be handled by the Federal Court. The Federal Court, in such cases, will have authority for determining inadmissibility and ultimately, the revocation of citizenship. A removal order can also be issued in cases of serious criminality.
The Federal Court also has authority for deciding cases involving revocation of citizenship for those serving in another country’s armed forces or for being a part of an organized non-state entity involved in an armed conflict with Canada.
Legislative changes supporting revocation
To support the new revocation provisions, certain legislative changes have also been brought into force:
- Impact of revocation: A ten-year bar or permanent ban from re-acquiring Canadian citizenship depending on the circumstances. Those whose citizenship is revoked for fraud would be barred from obtaining citizenship for ten years, an increase from the previous bar of five years. Individuals whose citizenship is being revoked under the new provisions will be permanently barred from regaining Canadian citizenship.
- Renunciation: Individuals facing revocation cannot apply for renunciation of citizenship.
- Misrepresentation: Individuals who directly or indirectly withhold or misrepresent material circumstances relating to a relevant matter which can cause an error in the administration of this Act will be barred from citizenship. An individual who has been cited for misrepresentation will be barred from becoming a Canadian citizen for a period of five years following the finding of misrepresentation.
Canada’s Conservative government claims to be improving the immigration system and improving the processing of economic class immigrants and refugees. But it continues to neglect family class immigration. The processing times for family sponsorship are steadily increasing, leading critics to call the system uncaring, inflexible and inhumane.
It currently takes 27 months to sponsor a husband or wife already residing in Canada through the in Canada stream and almost four years to assess a sponsor’s eligibility to bring in their parents and grandparents – who then must wait several more years to complete the formalities at Canadian visa agencies abroad.
There are numerous anecdotal examples of families facing long delays. For some the view is that the federal government department has adopted an insensitive approach to the process.
Djordje Momcilovic has a dim view of the situation. “I’m a proud Canadian and grateful for the opportunities this country has given me,” says Momcilovic. “But I’m not proud that the Canadian government is promoting family values and reunion but in fact it is keeping and tearing families apart.”
Analysts confirm the work culture at the immigration department has become more rigid and inflexible since the Conservatives started governing in 2006, with the system becoming more centralized and an increasing disconnect between applicants and decision-makers.
NDP’s multiculturalism critic Andrew Cash says MPs are constantly bombarded with requests for assistance in dealing with immigration issues.
“We see all manner of stories that really break your heart and are costly for Canada,” says Cash. “This government has failed to deal with the backlogs, and it is wreaking havoc in people’s lives. Right now, our bureaucracy is in a very tough time. We are seeing it not just at Citizenship and Immigration Canada but in other departments and ministries, where more and more power and control is concentrated at the minister’s office.”
Immigration Minister Chris Alexander’s office has said that in 2015 Canada will grant permanent residency status to around 70,000 people under the family class.
“Anecdotal accounts are not necessarily more broadly representative or, unfortunately, even factual in some cases,” says Kevin Menard, spokesperson for Chris Alexander. “Each case is unique, and each is assessed on its merits based on the information applicants provide to officials. We are working to eliminate backlogs and reduce processing times. Our government is committed to reuniting as many spouses and partners as possible, as quickly as possible, while ensuring permanent resident targets are met for all immigration streams,” says Menard.
The Multicultural Association of the Greater Moncton Area (MAGMA) says that most new immigrants coming to New Brunswick are better educated and more affluent than before, with the majority qualifying under the provincial nominee program.
According to MAGMA communications coordinator Justin Ryan, immigrants coming to New Brunswick in the past would arrive in relatively poor shape.
“Now we’re getting people who are coming here who are much more well educated, much more affluent; however the barriers are more in terms of turning their experience and professional skills into something that is useful for us locally,” said Ryan.
Ryan says most immigrants are from South Asia, South East Asia and the Middle East, and that fewer than 10% of MAGMA’s clients are refugees.
“Around 80 per cent of immigrants who come to New Brunswick actually come under the provincial nominee program. So they’re coming here as well-educated professionals. They’re coming here with higher language skills, and they’re coming here as entrepreneurs,” he said.
It is not known exactly how many foreign doctors have come to Ontario with dreams of becoming licensed physicians, but HealthForceOntario, which provides service to those doctors, estimates that since 2007 there have been more than 15,000.
Last year, Ontario’s six medical schools chose just 70 of them to become residents. While foreign doctors face long odds of practising medicine in Ontario, the federal government has made it easier for them to immigrate here.
Doctors come to Canada from across the globe with many different specialties: oncology, heart surgery, pediatrics, family medicine, radiology, ophthalmology, pathology, critical care medicine and internal medicine to name a few.
Despite the background of foreign trained doctors, it has always been tough for foreign doctors to pass the medical licensing examinations. Stories of doctors driving cabs are more than urban legend. But in recent years, it’s gone from bad to worse. Foreign doctors are elbowed out of the way by an unlikely group: Canadians who get rejected by medical schools here, go abroad to study in places such as the Caribbean, then apply for residency in Ontario.
In just eight years, the number of Canadians seeking to return has grown to 800 from about 250. In 2014, they took two-thirds of the 200 or so residency positions Ontario funds for international medical grads.
A 2011 Ontario health ministry-funded report found some residency programs nixed the applications of foreign doctors because they graduated from medical school too long ago, and didn’t consider their vast amounts of clinical experience in their own private practices.
Foreign doctors may now indicate on their applications their most recent clinical experience, but it’s unclear how that’s weighed by those who oversee selection of residents at Canada’s 17 medical schools.
Ontario’s health ministry defended the application process, while acknowledging that improvements are being planned.
For decades, Canada has been considered an international leader in welcoming and integrating newcomers. New data shows this long-established reputation of openness may no longer hold true.
The new data from the Migrant Integration Policy Index, or MIPEX, which will be officially released at Ryerson University on Wednesday, reveals that Canada’s performance has declined. This is Canada’s first dip since it was added to the index in 2008.
The one-point drop marks a turning point in our trajectory as a leader among countries that welcome immigrants. And it is likely only the start. It comes at the end of a decade of seismic change in Canadian immigration, thanks to the governing Conservatives, the results of which we are only beginning to see.
MIPEX is a benchmark tool compiled in consultation with scholars and institutions from 38 countries measuring laws and policies under 167 policy indicators on migrant integration.
Thomas Huddleston of the Migration Policy Group in Brussels, which compiles the index scores and has been tracking international performance since 2006, says, “Canada’s lower MIPEX score raises serious questions about the intentions and impact of the government’s new turn on immigration policies.”
Over the last year, the Ryerson Centre for Immigration and Settlement and the Global Diversity Exchange contributed to the index by collecting information on newcomer integration along a range of social and political dimensions.
It has been found that, especially on the issues of family reunification and access to citizenship, Canada is moving backwards.
Becoming a Canadian is harder now than it was just a few years ago. The MIPEX scores indicate a steady decline in “access to nationality” from 71 points (out of a maximum of 100) in 2010 to 67 points in 2015.
This poor performance reflects recent and successive policy changes under Stephen Harper’s Conservatives since 2006. For example Ottawa has raised the fee for citizenship applications to more than $500 for an adult (a mark-up of 430 per cent since 2013) and made the citizenship test more difficult to pass. If those holding dual citizenship are deemed to have committed certain crimes against the state, Ottawa is now able to revoke Canadian citizenship with minimal formalities.
The government’s choice of revoking citizenship as opposed to using the existing criminal justice system is an indication of its tendency to view immigrants as something less than Canadians. Harper has gone on record to say that Canada has no intention of creating an underclass of immigrants. Actions speak louder than words.
The Conservatives’ restrictive policies have led to fewer immigrants becoming Canadian citizens. Only 26 per cent of immigrants who landed in Canada in 2008 became Canadian citizens in 2014 as opposed to 79 per cent in 2000. This becomes a problem when non-citizens are paying taxes, sending their children to school, and are committed to Canada.
Although Canada has traditionally scored high on family reunification, its scores are declining there too. Of particular concern, the score measuring eligibility for sponsoring family members dropped from 79 in 2010 to 64 in 2015.
It is now more difficult for immigrants to sponsor family. In 2013, Canada admitted almost 80,000 newcomers or 27 per cent of all immigrants to Canada, under the family stream. These immigrants are crucial to a successful settlement and integration experience because they provide social supports ranging from supplementary income to daycares and emotional assistance.
Recently, Ottawa has made numerous changes to family reunification policies including raising the sponsorship commitment from 10 to 20 years, increasing the income requirement for sponsoring parents and grandparents by 30 per cent, and instituting a longer period during which a sponsor must meet this requirement.
The younger generation too will find joining their families in Canada more difficult. The federal government reduced the age of dependants from 22 to 19, and exceptions for full-time students or financially dependent children are no longer available.
Canada’s story of exceptionalism is widely regarded by others as a model in how it manages immigration and succeeds in integrating immigrants. However, the evidence now portrays another story, one that is somewhat more tarnished than we know.
The new data signals a shift and encourages us to reflect on the most alarming trends and redirect where necessary. But there is some good mixed in with the bad. Canada still leads in labour market integration, anti-discrimination and creating a sense of belonging for newcomers.
Canadians have until the Fall to reflect whether the current policy direction under the governing Conservatives is the preferred choice. A federal election will take place on October 19, 2015.
As part of his coverage of the TNW European Conference last month, The Next Web’s Andrii Degeler sat down with 500px co-founder Oleg Gutsol.
Gutsol, along with Evgeny Tchebotarev, was a co-founder of the Toronto-based photography start up. In the article Gutsol shares his story of being ousted from 500px by his successor and board.
The Next Web’s article focuses on the lessons learned by Gutsol which includes over overcoming obstacles like a lack of funding from Canadian investors as well as never quite finding the right cultural fit with employees.
Tchebotarev echoed this last point with a guest article on Techvibes in 2013 titled The Biggest Challenge of a Startup Founder.
The funding issue was eventually solved after two funding rounds of more than $9 million from VCs including Andreessen Horowitz.
The most interesting comment Gutsol makes is around the entrepreneurial drive of Canadians. “The most driven and energetic founders I’ve met in Canada are actually immigrants,” Gutsol says. “My approach is also very different from typical Canadian. They’re all very friendly, very nice, very relaxed, so when I started to tighten the screws, many people were shocked.”
Gutsol’s opinion goes a long way to support the importance of the fledgling Canadian Startup Visa.
But it is hard to take his comments seriously when he trashes Canadian entrepreneurs, employees, and investors while completely overlooking that he was responsible for hiring and culture as CEO.
And they is plenty of irony in the fact that he was ultimately fired by US-born successor and US venture capital investors.
The Intent to Travel to an Ebola Affected Country (EAC)
Situations could arise where the CIC receives information of the applicant’s intent of travelling to an Ebola Affected Country (EAC). Typically, the CIC could obtain this information through the Call Centre. In this scenario, the CIC would need to reassess the file for determining whether the Ministerial Instructions (MIs) describe the applicant or not. According to the Ministerial Instructions (MIs), the specifications contained in the Ministerial Instructions (MIs) describe an applicant if the applicant:
- Applies for temporary resident status and,
- Now intends travelling to an Ebola Affected Country (EAC)
On receiving the information about the applicant’s intent to travel to an Ebola Affected Country (EAC), the office receiving this information would need to:
- E-mail the Case Management Branch and,
- E-mail the office processing the application
These e-mails would notify the Case Management Branch and the office processing the application to conduct a proper follow-up.
The e-mail must contain:
- The subject line as: “URGENT EBOLA – UCI – Intent to travel” and,
- Detailed notes in the body of the e-mail, which outline the applicant’s statements
The Actual Travel to an Ebola Affected Country (EAC)
Officers would need to note that the Ministerial Instructions (MIs) do not describe an applicant if:
- The application is in process and,
- The applicants indicate that they travelled to an Ebola Affected Country (EAC) in the period between the day the office received the application and the day an officer assesses the application
The officers would need to refer the file to the Case Management Branch as listed above. This is despite the fact that the applicant does not intend to travel to an Ebola Affected Country (EAC).
Source: Citizenship and Immigration
Officers would need to carry out certain activities, once they determine that the Ministerial Instructions (MIs) describe an applicant. Therefore, they would need to:
- Cancel the application in the Global Case Management System (GCMS) or the Field Operations Support System (FOSS)
- Send Letter A to the applicant and,
- Retain the application for a period of two years
In some cases, the situation might be that the application is already in process. In this scenario, the officers would need to:
- Make copies of the documents provided by the applicants
- Keep these copies on file
- Return the original documents to the applicant and,
- Keep the file in accordance with the standard retention and disposition schedules prescribed for a refused Temporary Residence (TR) file
The officers would also need to return or refund the fees for cancelled applications under these Ministerial Instructions (MIs), as appropriate.
Permanent Residence: New Applications
The intake office would need to cancel certain applications in the Global Case Management System (GCMS) or the Field Operations Support System (FOSS). They would do this if they determine that the Ministerial Instructions (MIs) describe any member of the family.
In this scenario, the officers would send Letter A to the applicant. Thereafter, they would need to retain the application for a period of two years. The officers would also need to return or refund the fees for cancelled applications under these Ministerial Instructions (MIs), as appropriate.
Permanent Residence: Existing Applications
Situations could arise where the officers determine that the Ministerial Instructions (MIs) describe any member of the family. In this scenario, the officers have the authority to process the application up to a point, where the authorities would make a final decision. Therefore, the officers would not need to return the fees to the applicant.
If the decision appears to be an approval, the officers would need to:
- Put the application on hold
- Send Letter B to the applicant
- Request that the applicant provide the following information for each family member:
- Documentary evidence of when the family members resided in an Ebola Affected Country (EAC)
- Documentary evidence of when the family members left the Ebola Affected Country (EAC) and,
- Documentary evidence of where the family members have resided since leaving the Ebola Affected Country (EAC)
- However, officers would only follow this course of action if the applicant subsequently contacts the CIC and indicates that they have not resided in an Ebola Affected Country (EAC) for more than three months
- If the officer is satisfied that the applicant has not lived in an Ebola Affected Country (EAC) for more than three months:
- The officer would approve the application in accordance with the existing procedures
- If the officer is not entirely satisfied that the applicant has not lived in an Ebola Affected Country (EAC) for more than three months:
- The officer would continue to keep the application on hold
Officers would need to follow the procedures given above at any point in the processing stage. This is particularly applicable before the authorities send the visas physically to the applicant. Officers have the authority to cancel a visa counterfoil in a passport. However, they can only do this if they come across new information that indicates that the Ministerial Instructions (MIs) describe the applicant. In this scenario, the officers can place the application on hold.
In some situations, the decision might appear to be a refusal. In this scenario, the officers can refuse the application in accordance with their regular procedures.
Approved Permanent Resident Visa Applications but Control Documents Not Yet Issued
The officers would need to assess certain applicants again to see if the Ministerial Instructions (MIs) describe the applicants. They would do this for:
- All applications to which the Ministerial Instructions (MIs) apply and,
- All applications where the authorities have rendered a favourable decision, but have not yet issued a control document i.e. the permanent resident visa
Prior to issuing a control document, the officers would need to verify the applicant’s travel document i.e. passport. In particular, they would need to check whether the applicant’s travel document bears any stamps that suggest that the applicant might have travelled to an Ebola Affected Country (EAC).
The officers might come across certain applicants who do not require a visa. In this scenario, the officers should not request for passports from these applicants proactively.
The officers would also need to look for any information that indicates that the applicant:
- Has resided in Ebola Affected Countries (EAC) during the last three months prior to making the final decision
- Has travelled to Ebola Affected Countries (EAC) during the last three months prior to making the final decision and,
- Has transited through Ebola Affected Countries (EAC) during the last three months prior to making the final decision
If they find these indications, the officers can conclude that the Ministerial Instructions (MIs) describe the applicant. Therefore, in this scenario, the officers would place the application on hold.
Source: Citizenship and Immigration