In this interview, Pace lawyer Andy Semotiuk talks about some recent immigration news.
Andy, a recent government poll says that about 75% of Canadians are either happy with the current number of people immigrating to Canada, or they think that it might be too many. Meanwhile, Minister McCallum says that almost all of the people he talks to want more immigration. What gives?
I don’t see it as anything underhanded. McCallum is talking to people who have more interest in the nuts and bolts of immigration than does the average Canadian. Ever since the Temporary Foreign Worker program was put under the microscope and amended in 2013, immigration ministers have had to walk a fine line between meeting employers’ needs and keeping some disgruntled voters happy.
Though it has become conventional wisdom that the TFW program is bad for Canadians looking for work, employers are telling McCallum that this isn’t the case; they can’t fill their workforce and they want an easing of restrictions, especially in regards to the Labour Market Impact Assessment. If these are the people McCallum often talks to, it’s no wonder that he hears that people want more immigration.
The Canadian government is making a lot of political and economic overtures to China. The latest news is Trudeau talking with China about a free trade deal. Do you foresee an increase in Chinese immigration to Canada?
There is significant pressure on Canada from China to open up more immigration here. That pressure isn’t just coming from Canada’s Chinese community, however, but also from others like Indians and Filipinos.
Canada has a huge number of ethnically diverse people. This puts family reunification in the spotlight, especially the issuance of parent and grandparent visas. Trudeau made a campaign promise in 2015 that his government would double the number of these visas from 5,000 to 10,000 per year. They’d better get cooking, as almost a year has passed and it still hasn’t happened.
Canada is also opening seven new visa offices in China, as well as talking about free trade and extradition treaties. Whether you agree with all of these proposals or not – and I’m not saying I do; I have some serious questions about the extradition treaty, for starters – all of this should lead us to believe that there will be an increase in Chinese immigration to Canada. As a political matter, don’t forget that Minister McCallum’s riding has a sizeable Chinese community. No doubt he will be getting questions about the promised increase in family reunification.
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are entering the debate season ahead of the US election. How big a part do you think immigration will play in the debates?
Immigration will play a role in at least one of the upcoming debates. I was surprised that it didn’t come up in the first one. I’d like to see a discussion about it, though no doubt the conversation will get heated and probably won’t stay on point enough for policy fans. It is a flashpoint in the campaign, as it galvanizes both sides pro and contra. It could be the issue that decides the election.