Don’t Vote Conservative, Immigration Lawyers Warn Newcomers – Do Vote Conservative (Other Immigration Lawyers)
By Author: Admin | April 24, 2011
Is it advisable for immigration lawyers and academics to advise voters not to support the Conservative Party in the May 2 2011 election? On the one hand, immigration lawyers and academics have an expertise in an area of law and thus can opine on matters such as human rights, the Canadian government’s treaty obligations, and the economic benefits/liabilities of immigration. Further, Canada is a country characterized by freedom of expression, and procedurally fair elections, so expert opinions on a matter of great importance to Canadians such as immigration policy should be welcome, especially during an election.
On the other hand, singling out one political party (even if it is the one that has made the most changes to Canada’s immigration law and policy, in more than 20 years) is somewhat partisan; it is saying the Conservative Party is bad on a certain policy, and that other parties are better – ABC (Anybody But Conservative) is an acronym popular in the online comments section of many political articles.
This singling out of the Conservative Party of Canada during an election brings out the Astroturf crowd – those who are partisans of the Conservative Party who dispute the allegations levelled against the Conservatives usually in the online comments, Letters to the Editor sections of newspapers, and by calling into Right Wing Talk Radio shows. Such Conservative partisans can be compelling if their comments cite statistics, unlike the comments of closet xenophobes who make blanket denunciations of how refugees and immigrants are inherently bad for Canada without any reason for saying so.
The other concern of lawyers advocating against a certain policy is that lawyers are often seen as sources of mistrust – owing to their specialized knowledge, and the fact that they are retained by people who are experiencing the stress of a legal problem. This may make some people reflexively believe that lawyers are self-interested and thus whatever lawyers are advocating is solely in their self-interest.
Self-interested professionals can be a legitimate concern, such as physicians who may advocate a certain point of view in the government funding of healthcare, or lobbyists retained to reduce corporate taxes in Canada. However, the Harper government’s overall changes to Canadian immigration law have already created work for Canada’s immigration lawyers. For example, all of the the concerns cited by the lawyer/academic group can be seen as a financial boon to immigration lawyers.
For example, the concern regarding a reduction in annual visa quotas for sponsored parents and grandparents means that more immigration lawyers will be hired to go to Federal Court on the grounds of unreasonable delay, or to go to the Immigration Refugee Board to fight the finding of medical inadmissibility (brought on by the aging of the parents during lengthy processing).
The backlog of skilled worker applicants cited as a criticism of the Conservatives can also be addressed by lodging a case at the Federal Court where the Federal Court can compel a decision to be made by the immigration department, and sometimes, even ask for costs against the immigration department for the delay in processing.
The proposed legislation introduced by the Conservatives, proposing mandatory detention smuggled of boat people, creating exceptions to permanent residency for refugee claimants, and increasing hurdles for refugees to reunite with their families, will add complexity to the immigration system within Canada, necessitating the hiring of more immigration lawyers by people detained, or refugees denied permanent residency, or refugees who are facing difficulties with family reunification.
The proposed plan to remove the Source Country Class will increase the amount of visitor visa applicants by persons fleeing persecution, as well as increase human smuggling into Canada, somewhat like a water filled balloon – when you attempt to squeeze one part, another part bulges forth.
It should be kept in mind that only a few dozen immigration lawyers signed the document, out of about 1400 Canadian immigration lawyers. Many other immigration lawyers were silent, arguably because the reforms by the Conservative Party, such as those above, as well as others, such as the increase of temporary foreign workers, along with the increased regulation and screening of those foreign workers has meant more work for them.
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