My latest story on the big immigration shake-up underway in Canada was published last week by telegraph.co.uk. It was based on the annual immigration report to parliament, along with more detailed figures published subsequently that set out the target quotas for all residency applications in 2013.
Interested in moving here? Wondering what’s going on?
Well, the quota for accepting foreigners isn’t actually changing. As in 2012, the target is for a maximum quota of 265,000 “economic migrants” – including those applying as skilled workers under the points-based system, students and young people doing temporary jobs abroad.
But the type of people they’re letting in is being modified. There’ll be fewer spaces for skilled types applying through the federal skilled worker program – and more for those who’ve studied or worked in Canada before.
It’s a “better the devil you know” approach that assumes people who’ve already integrated over here are more likely to succeed than those who haven’t yet made the move. The kind of risk-averse strategy that really gets Lord Sugar’s fingers waggling in the Apprentice boardroom.
But then, Lord Sugar doesn’t have voters to worry about. No doubt, immigration minister Jason Kenney will have paid close attention to the latest figures showing a hardening in public attitudes towards immigration. Even the famously tolerant Canadians have their limits, it seems.
But for every Canadian complaining about job-snatching newcomers, there are growing voices warning against xenophobia. Mr Kenney is keenly aware of this – so much so that his department reportedly spent nearly $750,000 over three years monitoring its coverage in the ethnic media.
He also felt compelled to brag last week that Canada was “the only developed democracy in the world in which there is no serious or organized anti-immigrant or xenophobic sentiment in our public discourse”.
Is this true? The jury’s out, especially after the debacle in September, when parliament’s immigration committee invited – then dismissed – two witnesses representing a website called Canadian Immigration Report. The site carries all manner of dodgy material, including a video from renowned Canadian white supremacist Paul Fromm.
Fromm’s chilling video (deliberately not linked) talks of the disappearance of a “heartland” for European people and likens Canada’s traditionally welcoming attitude to foreigners to “ethnic cleansing and replacement”. There’s also a distinct lack of subtlety to some of CIR’s own articles, such as one headed “White Canadians Going Extinct”.
I hope there aren’t any fascists reading my blog – aside from their unpleasant views they’re notorious trolls – but if there are any here, I’ll just take a second to fuel their sense of impotent outrage by highlighting that Ryerson University’s Harald Bauder, an immigration policy expert, told me that all his research suggested Canadians were, in general, still incredibly welcoming towards migrants, compared with other countries.
Speaking for Toronto, you only have to walk around to see the extent to which people from different cultures and backgrounds have successfully settled here.
So troll away – you’re fighting a losing battle. Um, please don’t.
Anyway…now we know the general shape of the federal skilled worker scheme and the number of people who’ll be let in. Still to come are the final details of the federal program and the fallout of other initiatives, such as the crackdown on sham marriages.
Watch this space.