Tuesday, October 29, 2013

By invitation only

There's been plenty of outcry over the Cons' latest omnibus budget bill. But I haven't yet seen any discussion of the changes it makes to immigration - and I'd think it's well worth looking in more detail at the additional steps the Cons are taking to slam the door in the face of would-be Canadians.

Now, the story is far from a new one. It was in 2008 that the Cons made changes which I discussed here and here - with the result that the immigration minister is effectively free to set whatever restrictions he or she wants in determining which applications for permanent residency are processed.

But the latest bill goes a step further. While current law provides that ministerial instructions govern applications actually received, the new provisions allow the minister to prohibit economic-class immigrants from even applying - again based on nothing more than arbitrary whims:
10.1 (1) A foreign national who seeks to enter or remain in Canada as a member of a class that is referred to in an instruction given under paragraph 10.3(1)(a) may make an application for permanent residence only if the Minister has issued them an invitation to do so, the invitation has not been cancelled under subsection 10.2(5) and the applicable period specified in an instruction given under paragraph 10.3(1)(k) has not expired.
Again, the nature of an "instruction" is left entirely up to the minister responsible (see section 10.3(1)(a)). So the Cons are once again setting the stage for discrimination by ethnicity, nationality or religion - or even based on criteria designed to filter out anybody who's not likely to prove a Con voter. (Or to be about as generous as possible, we can expect the few people who receive invitations to be those singled out and pushed for by the business community - again turning the immigration system into nothing more than a means of hand-picking a few corporate cronies or easily-exploited workers while locking the door to everybody else.)

And this time, the Cons aren't merely backing that discrimination up with a refusal to process existing applications, but with an explicit declaration any effort to become a permanent Canadian resident to is illegitimate in the first place. Which means it's well worth asking whether "don't call us, we'll call you if an employer tells us" properly reflects our attitude toward people who want to contribute to Canada's future.

[Edit: fixed wording.]

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