Increasing Attention Paid to Immigrant Vote in Upcoming Election

By Author: Admin | April 17, 2011

An April 15 2011 article from the Winnipeg Free Press, below, highlights the role immigration has in the upcoming Canadian election and the increasing attention being given to immigrants by the parties in the current federal election.  My views on the immigration policies of the parties were quoted within this article.

Immigrant vote crucial for Harper – Winnipeg Free Press

OTTAWA — It was a prime ministerial photo op that staged a campaigning Stephen Harper with a Bollywood star few Canadians have likely heard of.

But in Brampton, Ont., where one-third of the population is South Asian, Akshay Kumar is like royalty, and Harper’s campaign event last week to screen Kumar’s new movie at a movie theatre was done for one obvious reason.

Put it this way: If Harper was courting the tween girl vote he’d have been crooning with Justin Bieber at the Junos. In this case, he was courting the South Asian vote so he went Bollywood in Brampton.

It just so happens that the riding of Brampton-Springdale is one of the Tories’ top targets in the May 2 federal election.

More than one in five Canadians were born somewhere else and more than one in six are visible minorities. Since 1985, the number of immigrants to Canada has skyrocketed almost 200 per cent. In 2009, 252,179 permanent residents were admitted. In hundreds of ridings, particularly in urban centres, immigrants’ votes make up a larger and larger proportion of the total. And every party wants them in their corner.

There have been promises of more money for settlement programs, laws to go after crooked immigration consultants, easier recognition for foreign diplomas and professional training so doctors, nurses and accountants don’t wind up sweeping school hallways and driving taxis.

During Tuesday’s English-language debate, Harper made no apologies for his party’s clear targeting of the so-called ethnic vote.

“I’ve made it my objective, since we formed the new party of Canada to make sure our party is present in all communities of this country.”

Harper can’t exactly deny it. The Conservative plan for wooing ethnic votes was accidentally made public over the winter when an aide to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney accidentally sent it to an NDP MP with the same last name as a Tory MP. Kenney has spent the better part of the last four years attending community feasts, festivals and fundraising dinners from coast to coast to coast.

He has also spent the better part of the last few months battling accusations he is planning to cut back on how many family members Canada will admit as immigrants each year. That’s a big issue for Canadians who left loved ones behind when they moved here.

The wait at Canada’s door for family members is often more than five years. While Canada is admitting record numbers of immigrants, the number in the family class (parents, grandparents, spouses and children) has fallen from almost half in 1985, to less than 30 per cent in 2009. The actual number admitted fell from a high of more than 110,000 in 1993 to fewer than 50,000 by 1998. It crept back up slowly until 2006, when it hit 70,000. Since then it has dropped again each year to less than 60,000 in 2010.

Toronto immigration lawyer Max Chaudhary said this is a concern. “(The Conservatives) are in jeopardy of alienating that core of established immigrants that do want to have friends visit, and want their parents to come here without much delay.”

Chaudhary said to be fair, the Liberals were not much better when they were in power when it came to this problem. {Emphasis Added}

Kenney insists the number of family-class immigrants targeted is going up in 2011 to a maximum of 65,000 from a maximum of 63,000 in 2010 and that the only change is a reduction in the second-tier parent and grandparent applications accepted to accommodate an increase in first-tier applications from spouses and dependent children.

But an access to information request released by his department suggested the target is closer to 51,000 and Liberal and NDP leaders both have jumped on the Conservatives for being heartless to family members. Liberal immigration critic Justin Trudeau said earlier this year what matters is how many people are actually admitted and said that number has gone down every year for the last four years.

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff launched his B.C. campaign March 29 in a heavily populated South Asian riding in Vancouver with a promise to increase the number of family-class immigrants.

“It’s a matter of fairness, it’s a matter of citizenship, it’s a matter of justice,” he said in Vancouver South where Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh is trying to hold on to a riding he won by just 22 votes over the Conservatives in 2008.

The point for many newcomers, however, is their Canadian-ness. A video posted on YouTube Tuesday has a dozen people from different ethnic backgrounds parodying Michael Jackson’s Beat It in a video designed to say hey, stop targeting us, we’re just Canadian.”


Find this article at:–for-harper-119967339.html

Immigrant vote crucial for Harper – Winnipeg Free Press.

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