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The Kenney way: right or wrong?

Canada’s Immigration Minister Kenney is determined to improve Canada’s immigration system, transforming it into a fast and flexible system by focusing on jobs, growth and prosperity that will benefit Canada and its people. There is nothing wrong with improvement in any system albeit will never be one hundred percent as there has to be always room for improvement. But improving a system within any government is not an easy task since you cannot please the opposition and then there are the “people” of the state on whom a politician relies on for votes. Minister Kenney is a strong vocal person and carries well delivered statements to the Harper government to implement changes to the immigration system. Critics state that he wants power over the immigration system or that he wants to be “God” to the immigration system or even call him “Minister of Deportation”, is there some truth to this? Perhaps, but to succeed in a life of politics, one has to be bold, speak out and follow through without letting media, critics or the Opposition tear you down. It is a career that not everyone can do. Kenney aims to attract immigrants with key skills and investment potential that Canada currently lacks in its policies.

Is it right that non-Canadian criminals remain in Canada abusing the law and taking advantage of the many appeals given to them which keeps them in Canada to re-offend? Of course not, so in his quest to urgently remove immigrant criminals from Canada should receive no arguments and given a thumb’s up. Kenney has proposed a new law to the Harper government that any non-Canadian sentenced to more than six months in jail should be automatically deported.

“If you are a foreign national and you want the privilege of staying in Canada, don’t commit a serious crime… I don’t think that’s too much to ask people.” 1

Two examples that I came across to justify Minister Kenney’s argument and why he feels so strongly to change are:

  • A Jamaican citizen who was convicted in Canada of multiple criminal offences, Mr. Gayle was able to remain in the country long after a 1991 deportation order, because of the immigration appeals process. In 1996, he shot two Toronto police officers, killing one of them and
  • Walford Uriah Steer, who somehow managed to remain in Canada long enough to be convicted of more than 70 criminal acts by the time he was arrested again last year and charged with multiple prostitution offences involving a 16-year-old girl.

These are extreme cases among a list of offenders who were sentenced to less than two years in prison who should have lost their right to appeal to the Immigration and Refugee Board. Minister Kenney’s proposal will only see those sentenced to less than six months having the ability to use the immigration appeals process. The energy, time and Canadian tax payer’s money spent on these appeals could be placed on those immigrant files that truly need it. It is without a doubt that if this “bill”, being called the Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act, is passed there will be a part of our population that will find an argument against it but as Canadian citizens we cannot lose focus on the main concept behind this “bill”. The only argument I can see is that the “Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act” could go against the Charter of Rights; the government can decide that the Act is the right thing to do but it does not necessarily mean it is legally right thing to do.

On the other hand it was wrong for Minister Kenney to cancel all applications filed before 2008 for foreign workers and their families after years of waiting and hoping is definitely wrong in my books. Due to the overwhelming backlog of Federal Skilled Worker applications, Kenney proposed that the way to reduce the backlog would be to come up with a priority list with positions that were currently needed in Canada but this meant leaving out skilled workers not on the list of sought-after occupations. Could this be considered a wrong decision on Kenney’s part? Perhaps, although it somehow is logical since part of his job is to expedite the processing of Federal Skilled Workers. The “wrong” part here is that those who applied under the Federal Skilled Workers process after February 27, 2008 and who matched the priority list, had their applications processed within six to twelve months while other skilled workers who applied before February 27, 2008 had their application returned with a complete refund. Changes are welcomed by everyone especially if these changes mean faster processing but changes must be fair to all applicants. Today 300,000 applications have been eliminated bringing the backlog of 420,000 applications to 160,000. According to Minister Kenney, the new system was created

“to making our immigration system truly fast and flexible in a way that will sustain Canada’s economic growth and make Canadian economy better and wealthier”2>.

As a politician though, he blames the previous Liberal government for creating the backlog and being unfair to federal skilled workers but at the same time does not respond when questioned as to his government being unfair to those applicants who waited over ten years to be processed and now have been wrongly done by having their application eliminated.

So is Kenney’s way right or wrong? He is a politically strong minded and perhaps seeks some power within the immigration system but you have to break down each and every new or soon to be implemented change to way the pros and cons, it would be the only way to determine if Kenney’s way is right or wrong (or to be more precise if the decision is equally beneficial to Canada and the immigrant); not a straight forward answer.

Frances Puglisevich
Immigration Program Student at Ashton College
under the tutelage of Jose Godoy Toku


References:

1 and 2 Minister Kenney at “National associations of Professional Regulator Bodies meeting”

Kenney Seeking To Become “God” Immigration Minister
Sweeping immigration changes to give new power to minister
Kenney launches crackdown on foreign criminals who abuse appeals process to delay deportation
Kenney is right to speed up deportations
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A Summary of Recent Changes to Canadian Immigration

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