Prime Minister Stephen Harper says the government doesn’t want immigrants taking jobs that unemployed Canadians are available to do. He added that Canada will not allow the creation of a “permanent underclass” of foreign workers filling jobs here for long periods with no hope of citizenship.
The comments came during an appearance with Philippine President Benigno Aquino as he justified a clampdown on the temporary foreign worker program in Canada.
Due to a four-year limit imposed on how long temporary foreign workers can remain in Canada, thousands of workers are now being forced to return to their homelands.
Harper defended the changes by saying that the government doesn’t want immigrants taking jobs that unemployed Canadians are available to do.
“But just as importantly, we are making sure that when people come to this country to work and to work long term, they have the ability to move towards being permanent citizens of this country,” Harper said.
“This country is not going to have a policy, as long as I’m prime minister, where we will have a permanent underclass of temporary, people who are so-called temporary, but here forever with no rights of citizenship and no rights of mobility.
“That’s not the Canadian way we do immigration. So we’re going to make sure that that program does not drift in that direction.”
On April 1, 2011, the low-skilled workers lost their work permits due to a policy that was introduced requiring any temporary foreign worker who has been here for four years to leave.
In July 2014, the government moved to further restrict the use of foreign workers after criticism that the influx of these workers was causing lower wages and leaving Canadian workers unable to find work.
In 2013, 27,292 permanent residents were admitted to Canada from the Philippines, ranking third behind China and India. The two leaders used their recent meeting in Ottawa to announce that Canada and the Philippines would begin “exploratory” about a potential free trade deal.
Harper also announced that Canada would provide just over $3 million for security initiatives in the Philippines, including port and maritime security and the deployment of Canadian police trainers.
President Aquino thanked Canada for its humanitarian help in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, which killed an estimated 6,000 people. Canada dispatched military personnel to assist citizens displaced by the devastation and pledged $90 million in aid.
The Canadian Parliament is debating the country’s most significant national security reform in over a decade. The proposed act, known as Bill C-51, would supplement antiterror laws that were enacted following 9/11.
Bill C-51, proposed in January by the Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, is a highly politicized response in a parliamentary election year to the October terrorist attacks in Ottawa. With Conservatives controlling the House of Commons, it is widely expected to pass before Parliament breaks in June.
Bill C-51 facilitates information-sharing among federal institutions, with no robust limits on how that information may then be used (or misused). This is a remarkable development for a country that in 2007 agreed to pay millions to compensate a Canadian citizen who suffered foreign torture as a result of inaccurate intelligence-sharing. The legislation would also augment police powers to preventively detain or restrict terror suspects.
The law’s main goal, however, is to enhance the covert powers of Canada’s security services. Canada has a national police force and a mostly domestic intelligence service, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (C.S.I.S.). These organizations haven’t always worked well together. Spies and police have been known to unproductively chase the same targets. And spying has complicated police efforts to bring charges in open court: The C.S.I.S. often tries to protect its sources and methods in criminal proceedings that demand full disclosure.
The investigation into the 1985 Air India attack, when a bomb exploded on a plane en route from Toronto to New Delhi, killing 329 people, is a prime example of this disorganization. Bill C-51 gives primacy to the C.S.I.S. and allows it to carry out investigations without police assistance.
Bill C-51 would authorize the C.S.I.S. to “take measures, within or outside Canada, to reduce” national security threats. The government argues that this would enable a range of valuable actions, like allowing C.S.I.S. agents to speak with parents of potential terrorists.
If the bill is passed, the C.S.I.S. could block the return of Canadians fighting abroad; remove Web postings it found threatening; drain bank accounts; engage in disinformation campaigns; or bypass traditional police channels in order to detain suspects. The only limits explicitly spelled out in Bill C-51 are acts that would cause “death or bodily harm,” willfully obstruct justice or violate sexual integrity.
If foreign governments have so far avoided commenting publicly on the proposed legislation, two features should stand out for the international community. Bill C-51 would permit C.S.I.S. interventions beyond Canada’s borders and it would empower Canadian courts to authorize C.S.I.S. conduct that violates “any other law, including that of any foreign state.”
Bill C-51 would only require warrants in cases of potential violation of Canadian law or its national Charter, which almost never apply outside the country. Thus there would be little judicial oversight of C.S.I.S. activities abroad.
Moreover, Canada’s independent security review mechanisms are outdated. Canadian lawmakers rarely have access to classified national security information, which means that they generally don’t have enough details of active operations. Bill C-51 includes no provisions to correct this, or strengthen external watchdogs like the SIRC.
Bill C-51 faces stiff opposition from the New Democratic Party, and has ignited the concern of civil liberties groups, lawyers and academics. The Conservatives are eager to pass antiterror legislation before general elections in October and once enacted, Bill C-51 would most likely take effect immediately.
Despite growing protests, the Conservatives have signaled no serious interest in amendments, even as protests mount.
Ahead of the 2006 federal elections, Conservatives ran on a platform of building a true foreign intelligence service. Today, the party’s political leadership is attempting to reshape a domestically focused security agency into one with enhanced foreign powers. Only partially overseen by judges and even less accountable to national review bodies, it would be authorized to act beyond the law both at home and abroad.
Source: New York Times
In a bid to boost the efficient flow of people and goods while maintaining strong border security, the U.S. and Canada agreed on Monday to extend customs preclearance to border crossings by rail, land and water. Under preclearance, U.S. border officials work on Canadian soil to inspect and vet the goods or people seeking entry into the U.S.
Customs preclearance was already available to air travelers, but Canadian exporters have long complained that congestion at land and water crossings hampers their competitiveness. A few years ago, Washington and Ottawa pledged to integrate security efforts and accelerate the flow of trade, with President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper signing the Beyond the Border deal in 2011.
The most recent White House progress report on the 2011 U.S.-Canada border initiative said the two countries had made strides but acknowledged some important elements had fallen behind schedule, including a preclearance arrangement.
At a news conference in Washington, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Canadian Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney said the deal advances the shared interest of the two countries in beefing up perimeter security, while at the same time addressing economic competitiveness.
“This will reduce congestion and delays at the border, and increase efficiency and predictability in cross-border travel, tourism and transportation,” Mr. Johnson said, adding it would also strengthen the security of the shared border.
Mr. Blaney said it was critical for the U.S. and Canada “to manage the shared border in a way that doesn’t turn into a barrier to commerce or prosperity” even amid security threats.
The deal still requires the approval of lawmakers on both sides of the border. It wasn’t clear when and where facilities would be built to allow for the increased preclearance of goods and people.
The U.S. estimates that 300,000 people cross the U.S.-Canada border each day, while the two countries conduct $2 billion in the trade of goods and services daily, the largest trading relationship anywhere in the world.
The deal on preclearance comes as relations between the U.S. and Canada are being tested by the years long approval process for the Keystone XL pipeline.