The Kenney way : Right of wrong?

MacLean’s magazine named Jason Kenney as one of Canada’s “100 Leaders of the Future”; “one of Canada’s leading conservative activists” by the Globe and Mail; and “one of 21 Canadians to watch in the 21st century” by the Financial Post magazine. On May 13, 2009, Maclean’s magazine, in association with the Dominion Institute, L’actualité and presenting sponsor Enbridge presented Kenney with the award for “Best Overall MP”. Maclean’s magazine named Kenney the “hardest working” MP of 2011, citing overwhelming support from all political parties who recognized Kenney’s constant “20-hour work days” and “permanent 5 o’clock shadow.”

Kenney has been the Harper government’s representative to ethnic communities in Canada. The Toronto Star has stated that Kenney more frequently travels to events held by nine ethnic groups in particular: Koreans, Chinese, Jews, South Asians, Persians, Poles, Jamaicans, Filipinos, and Vietnamese. Kenney justified his efforts to gain ethnic support by stating:

“You observe how these new Canadians live their lives. They are the personification of Margaret Thatcher’s aspirational class. They’re all about a massive work ethic.”

In April 2009, Kenney officially launched Asian Heritage Month to “better understand the rich diversity the Asian Canadian community brings to Canada”.

Minister Kenney’s supporters and fans talked about him being perhaps the best ever Citizenship and Immigration Minister and they like his recent policies. Aside from Minister Kenney, there are former ministers with tremendous contribution in shaping Canada’s immigration system. As Immigration Minister in 1962, Ellen Fairclough introduced new regulations that mostly eliminated racial discrimination in immigration policy that put Canada ahead of other leading countries like US and Australia. Clifford Sifton, the 19th century minister of the interior who encouraged massive amount of immigration to Canada and whose policies were instrumental in building this nation. Kenney is referred to as the most activist immigration minister since Sir Clifford Sifton and continue to introduce policies that are changing Canada’s immigration system. There are people who question these policies and it’s benefits to the country or whether the approach will serve Canada well in building a stronger economy.

At a time when many Canadians are unemployed, particularly in Ontario and Quebec, Kenney is admitting massive numbers of newcomers, some 462,000 in 2010 if you include temporary workers, along with 210,000 foreign students crowding into Canadian universities. Most settle in or around Montréal, Toronto and Vancouver where prime farmland is being turned into housing tracts, compromising not only Canada’s food security but, along with condo construction, inflating the housing bubble to a dangerous degree.

The minister might talk about attracting employable immigrants, but in reality most of the remaining 82 per cent are in Canada only because they are someone’s relatives. Unfortunately, these newcomers, many of whom lack skills that would make them employable, become net consumers of services costing as much as $23 billion a year in excess of what they pay in taxes. Despite this, Kenney intends to increase the quota for parents and grandparents admissions, at least in the short term, even though this will be extremely costly. Estimating from a recent study of health care costs for the elderly by David Dodge, the former Bank of Canada governor, each sponsorship of a relative aged 65 or more will cost taxpayers about $192,000 over his expected lifespan of 20 years. If Kenney admits all 165,000 in the current backlog, health-care costs will increase by a total of $31.8 billion or $1.6 billion per year. And Canada’s workforce needs? Stimulating a nation’s productive capacity by piling a large labour force onto a large resource sector might make sense if carefully planned.

A recent Kenney proposal would allow it to select its own labour pool, at wages 15 per cent below the average, which could adversely affect everyone’s wages. All this suggests that Jason Kenney, while addressing some problems in the system is also creating new ones and that’s before considering national security and social issues caused by unnecessarily high levels of immigration.

Permanent residents convicted of a crime and jailed for six months or more in Canada would have their immigrant status revoked with no right to appeal under a proposed legislation. The restriction of the appeal eligibility from the current two years for all foreigners, including permanent residents, is part of the Conservative party’s election platform to expedite the removal of foreign criminals from Canada and enhance public safety, said Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.

“The Harper government is putting a stop to foreign criminals relying on endless appeals in order to delay their removal from Canada during which time they continue to terrorize innocent Canadians,” said Kenney.

“Canadians are generous and welcoming people, but they have no tolerance for criminals and fraudsters abusing our generosity.”

The Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act would prevent foreigners inadmissible on the grounds of security, human or international rights violations or organized crimes from applying to stay here on humanitarian grounds. It would also ban their family members from entering Canada.

Minister Kenney announced plans to make it easier for skilled tradespersons to immigrate to Canada to address the shortage in certain skilled trades and as part of his plan to transform Canada’s immigration system. The high demand will result in a Federal Skilled Worker Trades Category that will separate the program for skilled tradespersons. The proposed FSWP Skilled Trades program would create a means for skilled tradespersons to be assessed based on criteria geared towards their reality, putting more emphasis on practical training and work experience rather than formal education. The new skilled trades stream would avoid some of the complexities of the traditional points grid. Skilled trades applicants will, however, need to meet minimum language requirements, given the importance of language as a determinant of immigrant success.

“Above all, our Government remains focused on promoting economic growth and long-term prosperity,” said Minister Kenney. “Attracting skilled tradespeople is important for maintaining Canada’s momentum in the global economy.”

These are all part of Minister Kenney’s plan to re-design the country’s economic immigration system by bringing in major changes.

Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Jason Kenney is actively and attentively engaged in reforming the immigration system and while some of his policies are effective, the results and impact of his policies in the future of our nation as a whole will determine if his way is right or wrong.

Mary Jone Causing Buchholtz
Immigration Program Student at Ashton College
under the tutelage of Jose Godoy Toku

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