In suburban Toronto and Vancouver, politicians are doing their best to impress Canada’s ethnic populations. All three major parties are going out of their way to court these communities and propose policies specifically designed to attract the attention of immigrant voters.
It has long been a belief of political strategists 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 and many now instead believe 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 conducting photo ops at Chinese restaurants. It is great that politicians aspire to appeal to new Canadians and is an excellent way to display the success of Canada’s immigration system in general.
However, politicians, however, get themselves into trouble when they start saying different things in different languages, and especially when they pit newcomers against native Canadians.
A policy that sounds too good to immigrant ears will raise major alarm bells with the rest of the country. The most famous example of such an attempt that went wrong was in 2009 when former Liberal MP Ruby Dhalla introduced a bill to expand the social benefits given to newly arrived immigrant seniors. The bill, as well as Dhalla’s political career, went down in flames. 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.
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. Despite not displaying their immigration policies anywhere on their website, the NDP has begun privately touting their plans to boost the number of parents and grandparents sponsored to immigrate into Canada.
Last week, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair told a group of South Asians in Surrey that family reunification for grandparents would be a top priority for him as Prime Minister.
Meanwhile, the NDP have repeatedly opposed the Conservative governments’ requirement that sponsors must purchase private health insurance before bringing their parents and grandparents into Canada. The Tories paused new applications for parents and grandparents sponsorship in order to deal with a backlog of applications, but also created the “super visa” – a 10-year multiple entry visa that allows seniors to visit Canada without draining the country’s social services.
Thomas Mulcair’s vision is to bring more elderly immigrants into Canada to enjoy the benefits received by Canadian seniors. However, it hardly seems fair for a person to come to Canada, having never worked or paid taxes in the country, and then receive the same benefits as those who’ve been working and paying into the system for most of their lives.
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The NDP has criticized the recent changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker program that will force many people waiting for permanent residency to leave the country, and has called on the Canadian government to grant them an extension of stay.
The changes require all temporary foreign workers who have been working in Canada for four years to leave starting from April 1.
The NDP has sent a letter to Ministers Pierre Poilievre and Chris Alexander, calling for a reprieve for TFWs who have pending permanent residency applications. The NDP argues that this would also benefit employers who have invested time and money to train these workers.
“These workers had the courage to come to Canada, and they worked hard, followed the rules and contributed to our economy because they were told they could eventually apply for Canadian citizenship. This Conservative government has broken that promise,” says NDP citizenship and immigration critic Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe.
“It seems unjust and cruel treatment to them to say now you’re leaving because the government has chosen an arbitrary date of April 1st,” says NDP employment and social development critic Jinny Sims. “The Conservatives have systematically taken away pathways to citizenship for lower-skilled temporary foreign workers. And now, with this completely arbitrary deadline, they are forcing individuals who have already applied for permanent residency to leave the country,” she added.