Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Immigration Policy, Dion & Confidence . . . .

As a "newbie" Canadian I am finding it more and more difficult to understand the Opposition's role in federal government.

From todays Globe and Mail:

Dion blasts Tories' immigration proposals

GLORIA GALLOWAY - April 1, 2008

OTTAWA — Liberal Leader St├ęphane Dion blasted the Conservative government yesterday over proposed immigration changes that he says will tell many hopeful immigrants they simply “need not apply.”

But Prime Minister Stephen Harper taunted the Liberals for panning legislation they will ultimately have to support if they want to stave off an election. And he said his government is merely trying to deal with a massive backlog of potential immigrants who wait years to fill necessary jobs.

“It is unfair to immigrants, unfair to Canada,” Mr. Harper said. “That is why it is a confidence measure. That is why it is a part of the budget and we appreciate the support of the Liberals to that goal.”

Mr. Dion does not dispute the fact that he and his party may, once again, find themselves backing away from a fight rather than taking on Mr. Harper in an election campaign.

Instead, he said, the Liberals could allow the measures to pass and then try to undo them if they eventually regain office.

“Each time that we vote against something without triggering an election, it's a marker,” he said. “That means that when we will be the government with the help of Canadians, we'll change these bad policies by much better policies.” (Emphasis mine - Ed.)

Personally, a "marker" doesn't seem to change the status quo. Isn't it about time the Liberals actually performed like an opposition party and joined with the Bloc and NDP to bring down the Tory government? What am I missing here?

(While we're on the topic of Canadian politics: What's with the parties arbitrarily appointing someone to run for office in a riding even if they don't reside there? I can't quite grasp that practise, either. But I digress . . . . )

Statistics available on Immigration Canada's own website show that 50 per cent of all applications from skilled workers are processed within 36 months. In the Americas, 80 per cent of all applications from hopeful immigrants are processed in a little over two years.

Other government statistics show that the queues are concentrated in a small number of places. Someone who currently applies to immigrate to Canada from New Delhi will wait 12.8 years. In Manila, the wait is 11.9 years, and in Bogota the wait is 16.5 years.

But those processing times are far above average.

Someone applying to permanently enter Canada from Warsaw or Buffalo, for instance, will have to wait just 1.8 years.

As someone who recently gained Permanent Resident status I find it intriguing that Dion and Company may use this topic to lay down a "marker".

Should be quite interesting to follow this one to the end result.

Let's see if concrete actions match the political rhetoric . . . .

(Cross-posted from Moving to Vancouver)

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