January 20, 2017 – As Canada is held as a world leader in accepting and integrating new immigrants, there are also key figures within Donald Trump’s sphere who believe America should copy elements of how newcomers are selected here.
The filtering of immigrants that takes place under the Express Entry System has apparently piqued the interest of Trump’s inner circle, given the system south of the border is geared towards reuniting families.
It seems a big jump that Canada’s immigration system, often hailed by Liberals as an example of how it should be done, may also be copied by Trump, known as a staunch protectionist.
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But the idea of awarding points to candidates based on education, work experience, age and other factors is one supported by both Liberals and Conservatives.
Express Entry is only part of the Canadian system, facilitating the selection of immigrants for the Federal Skilled Worker Program, Federal Skilled Trades Program, the Canadian Experience Class and each of Canada’s Provincial Nomination Programs.
The Trump team’s interest is focused on the idea of using points to select immigrants – a narrow part of a wide-ranging Canadian immigration system.
There is also a key and fundamental difference between the countries – America’s border with Mexico.
Canada is insulated in that it only has a direct border with the U.S., from where the motivation to cross illegally is minimal.
The equilibrium of the relationship between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico looks set to change as Trump takes aim at the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which he describes as ‘the worst trade deal ever signed’.
All these factors play in to Canada’s positive attitude towards welcoming immigrants, and the role they play in helping the Canadian economy grow.
Trump has promised to crack down on U.S. immigration, and introduce aggressive screening of Muslims wanting to enter the country. At one time during his election campaign he spoke of requiring all Muslims to sign a register.
New federal Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland believes Canada has assumed the mantel of world leader on positive attitudes towards immigration and international trade following the election of Trump and Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.
She recently told the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations: “The complexity of the international situation presents enormous possibilities for Canada. I believe we are the best-placed country in the world to emerge from this complexity.
“Out of all industrialized countries, Canada is the only one to go up against this tendency. Canada is defending an open society and saying: ‘We are open to immigration … we are open to trade.’”
Freeland is keen to promote the message that Canada is open for business to the global economy, the opposite of the rhetoric coming out of its major competing nations.
There are fears Canada could be under threat from Trump’s plan to either tear up or make wholesale changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Trump has been significantly more negative towards Mexico, the other member of NAFTA, highlighting plans to build a wall along the border as a key policy during his election campaign.
In terms of immigration, there is a feeling Canada could benefit from bringing in skilled workers no longer welcome in the U.S. and the U.K.
Traditionally Canada has struggled to hold on to its bright young people, with an estimated 350,000 of them lured to Silicon Valley or other parts of America.
They could be about to be forced to beat a retreat back home, and Canada is waiting with open arms to welcome them.
Conservative estimates suggest Canada will have 182,000 vacancies in the technology sector by 2019. The growing sector is driving the economy, with 71,000 companies employing 5.6 per cent of the workforce and responsible for 7 per cent of the country’s output.
More people are employed in technology than a combination of oil and gas, mining and forestry – a startling indication the Canadian economy is undergoing a significant transition, meaning it needs workers with the right expertise.
The British Columbia city of Victoria is growing as a technology hub, but companies are spread all over Canada looking for the right kind of people to help them grow. There are jobs everywhere for those with the required qualifications.
The message is simple: If the U.S. and the U.K. no longer want these skilled workers, Canada is ready to take them.
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