The Kenney way: right or wrong?

Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, Jason Kenney, has been undaunted in his zeal to adjust many aspects of the Canadian immigration system. Is he doing the right thing? There is no simple answer.

Several directions taken by Mr. Kenney do make sense. These include:

  • One of the latest proposals (Bill C-43, the Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act) shows a determination to limit the number of appeals for removal of those foreigners that are convicted of criminal acts. Furthermore, the allowance of appeals to IAD is now available only to those who received sentences of less than 6 months (the previous limit was less than 2 years). As well, grounds for H&C defenses have been removed for those involved with more serious crime1. Additionally, deportations can now be sought in the interest of “public policy considerations”. That description allows for the Minister to disallow, among other reasons, the entrance of those who promote “hate speech”2.
  • The focus on jobs and growth has been expressed through his encouragement of PNP’s that line up foreign workers with jobs in the regions within the province where the need is specific.
  • His use of statistical research also provides him with reasons to place more emphasis on those that speak one of the official languages more fluently. This enables better adaptation and income results3. In some cases, however, the requirements have been lowered. The lower bar for some skilled worker occupations allows for easier access to Canada thus providing a way to improve language skills while earning enhanced Canadian experience points (should those eligible want to pursue PR application at a later date).
  • The addition of the “designated country of origin” list pursuant to refugee claims will provide for a fast-track appeal system to eliminate those that come here for illegitimate reasons4. Mr. Kenney does recognize, however, that there are differences in laws and cultures of nations, even democratic ones. Those differences that CIC deems to be in contravention of Canadian ideals are still worthy of appeal.
  • The elimination of free supplemental health benefits for refugees that are not available to most uninsured Canadians5.
  • Measures to recognize and compare foreign education/training credentials are being pursued. Efforts are being made to connect Canadian training or upgrade programs to those who have recognized (but substandard) international credentials.
  • Introduction of the Parents and Grandparents Super-visa has allowed more of these relatives faster and easier temporary residence in this country. Once here, they have 10 years (via renewals every 2 years) to find an applicable stream that may enable them to become permanent residents while residing with their families, if they so choose and qualify.

Those directions by Mr. Kenney that are contentious include:

  • The increase in the power of the Minister to allow or disallow applicants to this country6 based on his own conclusion (though up to scrutiny) reached on each case’s totality of information. His motive is to eliminate delays around committee, judicial, or publicly debated decision-making processes. On the other hand, this power could be seen as “dictatorial”.
  • Mr. Kenney’s approach to the FSW program is in conflict to that of the PNP programs in that he feels it is necessary to expand the federal programs instead of encouraging the expansion of the PN programs (within the guidelines set out under expanded and modified IRPA and IRPR texts). The proven success of many PNP’s warrant more, not less provincial influence.
  • Elimination of the backlog. When the minister reduced the queue of applicants by disallowing all claims prior to February 20087, he broke a pledge by the Canadian government that all foreign applications will be treated fairly and according to the rules of proper and orderly consideration.
  • Not encouraging the use of licensed RCIC’s. In order to streamline and expedite applications to this country, shouldn’t using a professional ICCRC member be a preferred option in dealing with government bureaucrats within the immigration and border services departments? Considering the new rules, regulations and penalties that Mr. Kenney has implemented, it just makes sense to promote these professional services.
  • One cannot accuse Mr. Kenney of being ineffectual as a minister, though (as the opposition critics have reminded us) some of the directions he has taken are easily criticized.

    I have to give Mr. Kenney credit for working hard and staying busy promoting his vision of a “Conservative” immigration system. But his leanings toward other western nations’ policies and programs and adjusting them to a Canadian reality leaves one to wonder if Canada should be concentrating more on the old system of integrating the poor and desperate as a priority over the skilled and educated.

    One has to wonder if these somewhat radical changes will be all-for-not if a NDP or Liberal government is elected next time. Will they rescind the changes?

    The minister recently announced a pause in the acceptance of applications for the Federal Skilled Worker Program and the Immigrant Investor Program8. He stated the department will be working on the backlog while he announces even more changes over the coming months.

    Also stated was his intention to consult with the provinces and territories. Let’s hope that he takes seriously the advice and expertise given him by his provincial counterparts and other government agencies. His embracing of recommendations from the provinces will go a long way in his goal to re-elect the Conservative government in Ottawa.

    The question of whether the minister is right or wrong depends on one’s political leanings. Should the focus be on economics? Family reunification? Helping the desperate around the world?

    Conservative Minister Jason Kenney’s primary focus is on the economics of immigration. For now, it is what it is, like it or not… at least until the next election.

    William Howie
    Immigration Program Student at Ashton College
    under the tutelage of Jose Godoy Toku

    1 Government of Canada Introduces the Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act
    2 Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act – What will it do?
    3 Transforming the Immigration System: Then and Now
    4 Designated countries of origin
    5 Refugees: Health Care
    6 Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act – What will it do?
    7 Transforming the Immigration System: Then and Now
    8 Breaking: Temporary Moratorium on Some New Immigration Applications

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