With the polls showing the ruling Liberals in a virtual dead heat with the Progressive Conservatives in the 2019 federal election race, the Liberals are making more refugee purchases to boost their chances in future elections.
Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, an immigrant himself, announced this week that Canada will welcome one million immigrants over the next three years. That’s right, one million. Canada’s population is just under 37 million. Immigrants made up 20 per cent of the Canadian population in 2011 and that percentage shows no signs of slowing down.
Hussen doesn’t want it to slow down.
“Our government believes that newcomers play a vital role in our society,” Hussen said. “Five million Canadians are set to retire by 2035 and we have fewer people working to support seniors and retirees.”
The federal government’s own Advisory Council on Economic Growth had recommended upping levels to reach 450,000 newcomers annually by 2021. Hussen said the government is taking a more gradual approach to ensure successful integration.
“At arriving at these numbers we listened very carefully to all stakeholders who told us they want to see an increase but they also want to make sure that each and every newcomer that we bring to Canada…are able to be given the tools that they need to succeed once they get here,” he said.
While the newest crop of immigrants wouldn’t be able to vote in 2019, they would no doubt be future Liberal voters in federal elections thereafter. And don’t rule out more changes to the Elections Act to allow these latest refugees to vote in 2019. Liberals already changed the rules once to allow their first purchases to vote in the next election. Refugees, of course, would be free to vote for whoever they wanted to in future elections, but who would you vote for if a foreign political party took you out of a terrorist country and set you up with a new place to live and new supports in a civilized democratic country?
But did somebody forget to tell this immigration minister and his government that 30,000 Canadian people are without a place to call home each and every night and 200,000 Canadians are homeless in any given year? Who’s going to help them? Isn’t the Canadian government responsible to Canadians first?
Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel was critical of this newest robust plan for one million immigrants, suggesting the government needs to do a better job of integrating newcomers.
“It is not enough for this government to table the number of people that they are bringing to this country. Frankly the Liberals need to stop using numbers of refugees, amount of money spent, feel-good tweets and photo ops for metrics of success in Canada’s immigration system,” Rempel said.
She said the Liberals need to bring Canada’s immigration system “back to order” by closing the loophole in the Safe Third Country Agreement that has seen migrants cross into Canada at unofficial border crossings only to claim refugee status.
She also said the immigration system should focus on helping immigrants integrate through language efficiency and through mental health support plans for people who are victims of trauma.
Dory Jade, the Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants, welcomed the news although he suggested the numbers should be higher.
“Canada will greatly prosper and grow once the 350,000 threshold has been crossed,” he said. “Nevertheless, we are witnessing a very positive trend.”
The Canadian Council of Refugees also wanted more immigration, saying the share for refugees was only increased slightly from 13 per cent this year to 14 per cent in each of the next three years.
During the government’s consultation period, the Canadian Immigrant Settlement Sector Alliance presented “Vision 2020,” what it called a “bold” three-year plan to address growing demographic shifts underway in the country, calling for increased numbers in the economic, family and refugee categories.
It recommended a target of 350,000 people in 2018, which climbs to 400,000 in 2019 and 450,000 by 2020.
Chris Friesen, the organization’s director of settlement services, said it’s time for a white paper or royal commission on immigration to develop a comprehensive approach to future immigration.
“Nothing is going to impact this country [more] besides increased automation and technology than immigration will and this impact will grow in response to [the] declining birth rate, aging population and accelerated retirements,” he told CBC New.
But while the Liberals eye hundreds of thousands more immigrants to shape Canada’s future, somebody must have forgot to tell the government and the professional immigration people about the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who experience homelessness each year in this country. There are no professional consultants speaking for them. And while there’s a minister of immigration in Canada, there’s no minister right now speaking up for the homeless. Maybe the reason for that is simple: Homeless people don’t vote. You can’t bet most of Trudeau’s purchased refugees will be casting ballots when they get the chance. And it should be easy to figure out where they will be placing their X on the ballots they mark.