“Canada is a country that was built by immigration!”
These were the words of the Canadian Liberal Party’s leader and current Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau. He uttered these words sometime in 2019. These were in response to a question about Canada’s current immigration system and immigration policy. This was during the same time as the federal election wherein he was re-elected.
Justin Trudeau and the Liberal party successfully retained power by promising a number of things. One was to “welcome” immigrants during the Syrian refugee crisis in 2019. Canadian humanitarian and Liberal supporters agreed with his stance on the topic of immigration. And, clearly enough, that was enough to get him the right number of votes.
Nonetheless, promises and platforms come with criticisms. In Canadian politics, it seems that immigration levels and the existing immigration system are important points to discuss. The Liberals. The New Democratic Party. The recently-formed People’s Party of Canada. Every Canadian political party has something to say on the subject. And, so does Canada’s Conservative party led by Andrew Scheer. In fact, the discussion on immigration is a debate between the Liberal and Conservative parties.
Even as we speak, the debate between immigration Liberals and immigration Conservatives continues.
This article will be about the conservative immigration policy of Canada. But, before that, what exactly does it mean to be Liberal or Conservative?
Liberal? Conservative? What’s the Difference?
Do you like politics? If not, it might be helpful to revisit the concepts of conservativism and liberalism. The discussion will be specific to Canada.
Liberalism and conservativism are both political ideologies. And, you could think of political ideology as a way of viewing or understanding social issues. Examples of such social issues are jobs, taxation, businesses, religion, gun control (or the right to own firearms)…. and…… you guessed it! Immigration!
A politician or a person is “Liberal” when he or she has the following opinions on these social issues:
- The government has the right to involve itself with companies and collect taxes.
- There should be stricter gun control laws.
- Everybody has the right to freely choose their religion.
- LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) rights are highly important.
- Military spending should go to other areas like healthcare and education.
- Immigration should be available and accessible to all.
- It is the government’s responsibility to shoulder the immigration costs of refugees and asylum-seekers.
On the other hand, members of the conservative party and their supporters have these views on the same issues:
- Taxation is important. But, should be reduced whenever and wherever possible.
- There must be lesser involvement with and regulation on companies (i.e. little to no involvement from the government).
- There should be freedom of religion. But, the state should be against all forms of religious radicalism.
- Military spending should increase (if not remain the same).
- Immigration should be widely available. But, the government must heavily regulate it.
These are generalizations. The differences between the two ideologies are complex. And, there are also a lot of areas where both agree. But, for simplicity, the above list summarizes the differences in views quite accurately.
The Conservative Party of Canada’s Political Platform
Ahead of the 2019 federal elections in Canada, the Conservative party released copies of its political platform. At the time, Andrew Scheer led the Conservative party and was running against 5 other candidates for prime minister. The campaign slogan of helping Canadians “get ahead” guides the platforms of Conservative leader Andrew Scheer. And, under its guidance, the platform focused on the most important issues of Canada.
Taxation is one issue. So, reduced taxes is one of the platforms. According to some journalists, the Canadian people have noted an increase in taxes under Justin Trudeau’s administration.
The carbon tax was one of the reasons for this tax increase. In 2008, the carbon tax law was created and implemented to help reduce carbon emissions. From that time until the present day, the prices of gasoline and petroleum have continually risen. As a result, the electricity and gas bills of Canadians went up.
For Conservative party leader Andrew Scheer, Canadians should not have to experience this. Hence, as part of his tax platform, the repealing of the carbon tax was promised.
Ahead of the federal election, he also promised to reduce the “red tape” for businesses. To understand what this means for businesses, it is important to know that businesses need to follow many rules to start. According to Scheer, many of these rules will be removed to help smaller businesses begin and continue. And for him, this can happen under a conservative government.
Energy, employment, and education are also in Scheer’s plans for Canada. But, surely, immigration and its system have to be one of his platforms, right? Where is the platform of Andrew Scheer on immigration?
Canadian political parties are hierarchical. The members of one are led by a party leader. And, the leader has a huge influence on how the members of the party think and feel. Knowing this, we would have to assume one thing:
that Andrew Scheer’s views on immigration are the same as the conservative party’s.
Where Does the Conservative Party of Canada Stand on Immigration?
Before getting into the platform itself, we have to begin with some context. During the Trudeau administration, there has been an increase in immigration levels. Now, this might sound like a good thing to the average Liberal Canadian. After all, Trudeau did support the freedom of immigration. He knows the benefit it could bring Canada.
But, a large number of migrants during this time were undocumented refugees and asylum-seekers. There were also many incidences of illegal border crossings. And, for the processing of their entry or deportation, Canada pays.
This has been met with criticism from Canadian citizens and legal migrants. For the citizens and residents of Canada, it is taxpayer’s money that should not be spent. For legal migrants, it is just unfair.
To them, it seems as though the government pays for illegal immigrants to stay in Canada. Others also feel that this might encourage illegal immigration.
So, for Andrew Scheer, immigration will be done differently under a conservative government. In numerous interviews and speeches, he constantly says that his immigration system will be fair and “attract the best and brightest” from all over the world.
Scheer on Illegal Border Crossings
To keep immigration fair, one of Scheer’s platforms involves reviewing Canada’s immigration system and policies. For him and the conservative party, illegal border crossings occurred because of “loopholes” in the system. One example of this loophole is the equal granting of residency to all migrants. Regardless of whether they entered Canada legally or illegally. In a televised speech ahead of the 2019 elections, he promised an end to this problem under a conservative government.
Also, Scheer proposed to assign additional CSBA agents and immigration judges in certain areas. One of these areas is Roxham Road and is a common choice for illegal immigrants to enter. This, to him, will add more security to the border.
In a nutshell, this means that migrants are still welcome. But, they have to enter Canada lawfully.
Scheer on the Safe Third Country Agreement
The Safe Third Country Agreement is a policy that allows refugees to gain access to Canada or the United States. Refugees should claim to be refugees in the first country they arrive in. Then, they could enter the next country through official border entry points. They cannot gain entry as a refugee. So, for instance, a refugee cannot enter as a refugee in the United States. Rather, he or she must claim refugee status in the United States then enter as a refugee in Canada.
Unfortunately, this agreement says nothing about entry via non-official points like Roxham Road (as mentioned earlier). So, a refugee can enter one of these points and enter Canada as an asylum -seeker. The liberal government under Trudeau has tried to address this problem numerous times in the past.
Scheer promises to “remove” this loophole and place additional personnel at documented unofficial entry points.
Immigration as the Solution to The Demographic Shift and Skill Deficit
Scheer understands that Canada is undergoing a “demographic shift”. In other words, he recognizes that the population of Canada is ageing. This could lead to problems in the workforce and population if left unaddressed. So, to solve this problem, one of the things he plans to do is to bring back the point system of the express entry program.
Since 1994, the Canadian government has used this program to make applications for permanent residence easier. It awarded points to candidates with useful skills and qualifications. Higher points guaranteed entry into Canada as a permanent resident. This would mean that Canadian immigration would prioritize highly-skilled and qualified applicants or workers.
But, according to Scheer himself, this platform was not just aimed at applicants or workers. This also included international students. And, with his platform, qualified international students will be able to get permanent residency and employment in Canada.
Implemented, this program would give Canadian businesses and institutions a young and skilled labour force.
Temporary Foreign Workers
Scheer also promised to help temporary foreign workers on their way to permanent residency. Under his policy for the foreign worker program, an employer may privately sponsor a temporary foreign worker for permanent residence. He says in a copy of his written platform that this program “ensures that the temporary foreign worker is treated fairly”.
As part of his campaign promises, Andrew Scheer promised to “stand up for families and ensure that spouses and their children can be reunited”. Family reunification is a priority for the Conservative party. Though, despite this, Scheer and the party say that applicants must go through the proper process of immigration. This is consistent with the party’s platform of legal migration.
Also, for refugees who have already settled, Scheer promised to reunite them with their immediate family members.
To sum up, for the Conservative party, the main policies on immigration are based on equality, fairness, and the preservation of Canada’s economy. For this reason, Andrew Scheer is a strong advocate of legal migration, family reunification, and the growth of the workforce.