Legitimate immigrants and refugees welcome
A 'law and order' gaffe
The decision to deport a handful of workers who overstayed their Canadian visitors' visa is defensible on the face of it. In fact, there are literally thousands of people waiting to immigrate to Canada through legal channels whose frustration often reaches the boiling point when queue-jumpers push them to the back of the line. That is the theory of moving forward on the deportations.
The practice is quite different. Picture Monte Solberg, vigorously defending his law and order agenda while families board planes that will deport them to their native Portugal. The executive of the Portuguese Canadian Congress is pleading for understanding, construction employers are decrying a labour shortage and Canadian family members are pleading for mercy. Solberg is highly articulate and unwavering in his determination to uphold the law and order agenda. The only problem is the law and order crowd is already on side. He needs to use this valuable minority government time to show the rest of us that his party can be compassionate too.
The sight of a well-spoken, clean-cut teenager explaining how he came to Canada when he was a child, and knows little else, plays directly to the constituency Monte Solberg needs to recruit, not alienate. Most adult immigrants, whatever their view on the theoretical merits of queue-jumping, sympathize because they see a little bit of themselves in the deportee. In the 15 largest cities in Canada, the majority have come from somewhere else. Those cities also happen to be the difference between a Harper minority and majority.
In Toronto where the majority are visible minorities, they respond with fear to a perceived immigration crackdown. Solberg will rightfully argue that legal immigrants have nothing to fear. But those assurances fall on deaf ears to those from countries that specialize in legal repression. The mere image of a minister on television talking tough about immigrants goes against the Canadian view that we are an open country with plenty of space for all.
Despite all the hyperbole emitting from the NDP and Liberal benches, the recent deportations are routine. The department is on track to deport roughly the same amount as they did last year.
What would be nice to see is a crackdown on the other side of things. Dubious immigration consultants are a huge problem in the immigration system. It's well past time that this is dealt with. A revamped application process is required along with different selection criteria.
With over 700,000 legitimate immigrants waiting to come to Canada, the issue of illegal immigrants must be dealt with. Failure to do so will encourage those waiting to simply jump the line and come to Canada illegally. After 13 years of Liberal inaction on this file, I'm willing to give Minister Solberg time to get the house in order and move forward.