Government of Canada Proposes New Anti-Immigrant Legislation
By Nita Palmer
On June 2, 2008, the Government of Canada passed a motion in Parliament in support of Budget Implementation Bill C-50. Within this bill were a number of proposed changes to the Immigrant and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) which would make it more difficult for immigrants to come to Canada.
The Conservative government has touted the proposed changes to the IRPA, saying they will reduce wait times for immigrants applying for visas. In reality, however, the changes are aimed at closing the doors to many of those applying to immigrate to Canada, ‘fast-tracking’ only the applications of those immigrants who are deemed to have skills that are ‘needed in Canada’.
The proposed changes to the IRPA will also limit the number of applications for immigration that are reviewed in a year, limiting the number of immigrants – particularly those whose skills are considered less ‘needed’ – coming to Canada in the first place. The bill also limits those who can come to Canada by changing key wording in the legislation. Under current legislation, if a visa applicant meets the requirements set out in the IRPA, an immigration officer “shall” grant the applicant a visa. With the implementation of Bill C-50, the IRPA would read that an applicant “may” be granted a visa – leaving the decision on whether to grant a visa up to the discretion and whim of the immigration official. Also under the new legislation, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration (currently Diane Finley) is not required to review applications for refugee status on the basis of humanitarian and compassionate grounds if the person who is applying currently lives outside of Canada.
Immigrant Labour Equals Cheap Labour
The rate of population growth in Canada is slowing down, and the bosses need to import more labour, preferably at a cheap price. Immigrants are being used to create this lower-paid labour force. The ironically-named Immigrant and Refugee Protection Act contains many provisions which make it difficult for immigrants to come to Canada – such as the proposed changes in Bill C-50 which will state that a visa applicant “may” be granted a visa if they meet the requirements in the IRPA. This creates an atmosphere of constant and real fear for immigrants that they may be deported or have their visas revoked at any time if they dare to demand higher wages and better working conditions. As a result, immigrants are for the ruling class of Canada a second-class worker, a worker who can be forced to work longer and harder for less pay and in poorer conditions. Bill C-50 aims to make it even more difficult for immigrants to get in to Canada – and therefore easier to exploit when they are here.
At the same time, immigrant workers in Canada are constantly being pitted against their brothers and sisters who hold Canadian citizenship. Wherever they can get away with it, the bosses fill jobs that were once held by better-paid, and especially unionized workers, with low-paid immigrant workers. In this way, they attempt to divide the workers from each other and prevent immigrant workers from joining unions and organizing with their “Canadian” brothers and sisters for their rights as fellow workers.
Immigration in the New Era of War & Occupation
Even as the government of Canada is closing the doors to immigrants and refugees, Canada is increasing its drive for war abroad, along with the US, UK, and other imperialist countries. The majority of immigrants coming to Canada are from third world countries, and many are escaping war and occupation being waged by imperialist countries in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and elsewhere. The destruction of the environment, unemployment, lack of health care and any sort of social security - in simple terms, the domination of colonial and imperialist powers over poor countries - is increasingly forcing people living in occupied countries to leave their homes. In Afghanistan, for example, the government of Canada has 2,500 troops carrying out a brutal and criminal war against people there. In 2007 alone, there were nearly 3,000 air strikes on villages and communities in Afghanistan, killing innocent people and destroying homes. Many farmers have had their crops and animals – their only form of livelihood – destroyed.
The increasingly deplorable conditions of life under the occupation continue to force people out of Afghanistan. There are over seven million Afghan refugees around the world, on top of one million internally displaced people. This makes the Afghan diaspora outnumber even the Palestinian diaspora. The government of Canada is now shutting its doors in the faces of the same people to whom they have, directly or indirectly, caused misery and forced out of their homes in the first place - especially by imposing war and occupation.
Unite Against Bill C-50! Open the Doors to All Immigrants and Refugees!
It is the very war and occupation as well as colonial and imperialist domination that is being waged by Canada, the US, the UK and other imperialist countries that is forcing many people around the world to be displaced and leave their own countries. Therefore, all poor and working people must unite against Bill C-50 and demand that the government of Canada open the doors to all immigrants and refugees –especially Afghan immigrants and refugees, who are being forced to leave their homes due to the destruction of their country at the hands of the imperialist government of Canada. But the proposed changes to the IRPA in Bill C-50 do not only affect those of us from third-world countries or those of us without Canadian citizenship. They affect us all, citizens or not, because they make it more difficult for us to join together to organize to defend our rights and our quality of life as workers. Therefore, we must unite as poor and working people to demand:
Open the Doors to All Immigrants and Refugees!
No to War and Occupation!
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