Fixing Immigration

The next possible trigger for a federal election, buried in Bill C-50, the budget implementation bill, is legislation to amend the Immigration Act. Anyone with half a brain sees the need for changes to our current points-based system, which with agonizingly slow speed selects the cream of the crop from immigration applicants, leading successful immigrants to believe their skills will be in demand. The lack of alignment of immigration with the labour market, coupled with the inane obsession of HR flacks with “Canadian experience”, leads to Canada’s role as an unhappy way station to the United States — or home — for many immigrants.

So the fact that the federal government has introduced legislation to deal with the backlog of 800,000 applications in an expedited fashion is a good thing. It’s too bad that, as with so many actions Tory, they couldn’t just leave well enough alone, but had to add some hard-to-swallow, unnecessary elements that are impossible for anyone who doesn’t, for whatever reason, trust them to accept.

The key problem? It doesn’t actually change the points system — it keeps it, but then allows the Minister to discard or retain applications using any criteria he or she likes. Don’t want any more Chinese immigrants? Check. Uneasy about the religious practices of a certain immigrant? No problem, just overturn the decision of the immigration officer who just approved the application. The legislation would also allow the Minister to make changes to policy without having to change regulation — a very significant new power.

Immigration lawyers and opposition parties are lining up against the amendments. Let’s just hope that in their zeal to scrap the unpalatable arbitrary powers of the bill they don’t overlook the urgent need for real reform of the immigration system.