It's worth reprinting from the The Star
Don’t vote Conservative, immigration lawyers warn newcomers
Published On Wed Apr 20
In an unusual move, a group of Canadian lawyers and legal academics are urging voters not to support the Conservative Party in the May 2 election.
“The Conservative Party has been telling visible minority immigrant communities, which it calls the ‘ethnic vote,’ that it is improving the immigration system,” said the group in a statement released Wednesday. “A review of their record shows the contrary.”
The group, made up of leading immigration lawyers and professor across Canada, said the Conservative Party has misled the public, especially immigrant voters, by making twisted statements about the state of Canada’s immigration and refugee system, in order to win newcomer votes.
Among the group‘s claims:
• The annual visa quotas for sponsored parents and grandparents are down — not up — by 44 per cent from 20,005 in 2005 to 11,200 in 2011. It now takes nine to 30 months longer to process these sponsorships, depending on the visa post.
• The backlog of skilled worker applicants waiting for a decision has gone up — not down — from 487,000 in 2005 to the current 508,000.
• Instead of getting tough on smugglers, new legislation introduced by the party target the victims of smuggling, the refugees, by mandatory detention, denying permanent residency and making it more difficult for refugees to reunite with their families.
• The party claims to be sympathetic to genuine refugees who do not flee their countries illegally, but just announced plans to cancel the only program allowing Canada to protect refugees applying from within their own country.
“It is one thing for the Conservatives to say we make our decisions, our policies and live with the consequences,” said lawyer Lorne Waldman, one of the group’s initiators. “Voters need to make informed choices based on facts and not be misled by misleading statements.”
The group also points to a $53 million cut in settlement services funding — $43 million from Ontario alone.
Despite claims by Conservatives that new laws will crack down on marriage fraud, the groups said it won’t stamp out bogus spousal sponsorships, but make reunification with mostly legitimate spouses more difficult. Worse, the conditional two-year permanent residency will trap spouses in abusive relationships, it added.
Forty-six lawyers and professors have endorsed the group’s claims so far, including lawyers Barbara Jackman in Toronto and Mitchell Goldberg in Montreal, law professors Donald Galloway of the University of Victoria, Queen’s University’s Sharryn Aiken and University of Ottawa’s Peter Showler, former chair of the Immigration and Refugee Board.
However, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said he is proud of the Conservative government’s record on immigration and its effort in reaching the highest levels of immigration of any government in Canadian history.
“I know that defenders of the status quo, like many immigraiton lawyers, have been opposed to all of our efforts to improve Canada’s immigration and refugee system, like our balanced refugee reforms, and our efforts to cut the backlog in the skilled worker program,” Kenney said.
“The Harper Conservatives have had a more generous policy towards legal immigration than any government.”
Meanwhile, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is renewing his push for a better immigration deal from Ottawa.
The province wants more say in which immigrants it takes in to help boost the Ontario economy and a freer hand to provide better services to new Canadians settling here, McGuinty said, following up on resolutions passed in the Legislature recently calling for a new deal.
With files from Rob Ferguson