Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Another Immigration Post

Chantal Hébert is at it again. Apparently, no matter what the issue, the Liberals are doomed to failure. Anyway, this time the issue is immigration. Hébert argues that immigration may be the issue of the next election. I agree. However, who a debate on immigration favours is another issue. She cites the Ontario election and the Québec reasonable accommodation hearings as proof that Canada is ready for a new approach to immigration. Okay, let's break this down. First, we are conflating two issues. The Tories have a piece of the budget bill on how people are admitted into this country. That's issue one. The reasonable accommodation committee and religious schools issue are issue two. On issue one, Hébert is right, the system has its problems and Canadians would like to see the process improved. However, this debate is highly technical and bureaucratic and makes for poor stump speeches. Which bureaucrat decides who gets in, is just not a sexy issue. Concerns about political meddling are sexy. A debate on proposals for reform to the immigration application process, while probably necessary, would put the country to sleep. What's more, the parties agree on most points.

On issue two, the question is how do we best integrate immigrants into our society. However, the electorate is not crying for change. Far from it, they are arguing against any changes to the status quo. John Tory's school funding proposal was rejected, not out of Islamophobia as some have claimed, but out of a desire to maintain the system of integration through education which has existed in this country for the last few decades. The reasonable accommodation debate in Québec is pretty much the same thing. The issue is not immigration as a whole or even immigrants in particular. There is an apprehension, unjustified in my opinion, that the most recent wave of immigrants is not fitting in as well as others have in the past. This apprehension is largely a case of xenophobic fear-mongering by some individuals and poor history in regards to previous waves of immigration. What is being debated in Québec and what was debated in Ontario is whether we change our processes of integration. The answer is no. This is what Hébert is missing. Canadians are not demanding change on the second issue, they are demanding a continuation of the status quo. In Ontario, they rejected separate schools. In Québec while the origins of the reasonable accommodations hearings are more sinister and negative, the hearings are still a call for the continuation of the status quo. Thus, while M. Dion may need to propose a solution to the problems regarding entry into Canada, he would be well suited to adopt Dalton McGuinty's position on the question of integration. The system works. Not perfectly, but it works and it is part of what defines us as Canadians. Any improvement to that system can not and should not divide Canadians.


Anonymous said...

Your out to lunch if you think Canadians are not screaming for changes to the immigration system.
You can add the justice system( I prefer the penal system), health care(what a joke of a system it is)
and just about any government program designed to employ people at taxpayer expense with little or no benefit to the people of Canada.
HRC comes quickly to mind as programs to do away with altogether.

Anonymous said...

Definitely. The system works in theory, it just needs the resources to work in practice. And your take on Hebert is pretty much on target-- she has been wrong before, and will be wrong again.

In fact, Liberals are strong on the immigration issue, and there's evidence that Harper's reforms will be the thing to take them down.
Check out:

There's also an open letter in the comments to that post, which is pretty interesting. Some of Dion's strongest supporters among immigrant groups and communities are putting the pressure on.

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