What Kenney Didn’t Say About His Record in India
Kevin Lamoureux, MP
Liberal Party Immigration Critic
Citizenship and Immigration (CIC) Minister Jason Kenney recently tooted his own horn about the work being done at the Department, highlighting his office in Chandigarh and his recent trip to India. Unfortunately he left out a few key facts about his performance and trip.
Despite pretending to care about immigrants, Mr. Kenney sees them as economic inputs first and people second. He favours temporary visitors who work and then leave, not new Canadians who come to contribute to our economy and our communities. The proof is in his record.
Under the Conservatives, the number of temporary foreign workers accepted into Canada has almost doubled, but the number of new permanent residents has actually declined.
That’s hard on families—temporary workers live apart from their families for a year or two at a time; new immigrants worry about their families back home because they can’t bring them to Canada. It’s also hard on businesses, which have to constantly work to recruit and train new workers. It’s the wrong approach for our economy and for our society.
Last April, Kenney shut down the Skilled Worker Program and returned the applications of close to 280,000 who had applied before February 2008. He callously hit the delete button on people who were waiting to immigrate to Canada with their families. Kenney was picketed on his visit to the city of Amritsar, India, due to his actions.
Mr. Kenney cherry-picks approval statistics to paint himself in the best possible light. The truth is that a staggering 51% of visitor visa applications are rejected at the Chandigarh office.
He has gone furthest with freezing family reunification with parents and grandparents by refusing to accept any new applications for up to two years while he tinkers with the system.
His highly-touted solution to this problem is the Super Visa, which allows family members to visit for up to two years at a time over a decade. But the visa’s high cost and tough requirements keep it out of most people’s reach.
Finally, Minister Kenney’s mismanagement is depriving new immigrants their citizenship. Only 2.9% of permanent residents who were eligible for citizenship in 2012 received it, down dramatically from 76% in 2005 under the former Liberal government. Scores of people are being deprived of their right to vote and that is totally unacceptable.
The Chandigarh office that Mr. Kenney highlighted was actually established by the previous Liberal government, which carefully listened to the needs of Canadians for greater immigration services in the Punjab. The former Liberal government believed in a different approach than the Conservatives: instead of addressing the backlog of applications by coldly hitting the delete button and erasing them, the Liberal government responded to rising applications by investing in greater processing capacity abroad and in settlement services at home.
Canada has a long tradition of welcoming new immigrants with open arms—it’s time we started doing so again.