Conservative immigration critique of the levels plan

When one takes away the partisan sniping, and the points that are easy to say but hard to implement (e.g., closing the loophole in the Safe Third Country Agreement with the Trump administration), the main points boil down to:

  1. establishing metrics to determine levels with transparent consultations with industry and provinces (agree, but all parties in opposition promise more transparency than they deliver once in power);
  2. Greater focus on privately sponsored refugees compared to government sponsored refugees or asylum seekers, a valid policy choice but the anti-United Nations role in selecting refugees is more playing to the base and picking up the tone of some of the debates South of the border;
  3. Promise to have difficult conversations regarding Temporary Foreign Workers to address concerns that Canadians are not first matched with available work; and,
  4. Vague language around economic levels matched to regions, and not providing a specific number (when in power, the percentage climbed to about 60 percent from about 55 percent, under the new levels plan, it will climb to 72 percent). Historic data shows that immigration has substantially responded to regional demands in the West, thanks in part to the Provincial Nominee Program but always important to consider and respond to regional needs.

As to numbers pulled out of a hat, my understanding is that has been longstanding practice under both Conservative and Liberal governments, so while I agree with her in substance, I am sceptical as to possible implementation:

So what would a Conservative government do differently? What levels would we set?

At the end of August, I sat in this very room and outlined some key changes an Andrew Scheer led government would make to Canada’s immigration system. To recap, our approach to setting immigration would:

  • First recognize that how we allow people to enter the country, and who we allow to do so, matters. Justin Trudeau has failed to recognize this principle.
  • End the practice of setting immigration levels by an auction for votes or a seat on the UN Security Council.
  • Immediately seek to dramatically decrease the number of people entering Canada illegally via upstate New York and subsequently claiming asylum. We would do so by seeking to close the loophole in the safe third country agreement, and significantly expedite the processing and removal of those who Trudeau allowed in. The lengthy process between entering Canada illegally and being removed, all while being able to access social welfare programs, is an incentive for this behaviour that must be ended. It is not acceptable that Trudeau has planned on this being a permanent situation.
  • We would also establish a set of metrics to determine what Canada’s immigration levels should be, based on transparent principles, with integration and self-sufficiency at the forefront. For Canadians to see immigration as a positive thing, they should be able to easily see the employment and social welfare statistics for immigration levels for any given year and stream.
  • We would also establish a transparent system for consulting with industry and the provinces to set immigration levels.
  • We would focus on setting humanitarian immigration levels that focus on higher utilization of the privately sponsored refugee program, where individual Canadians through their own funds, not taxpayer funds, support the entry of refugees, and would restrict the utilization of the government assisted refugee program to instances of the four atrocity crimes.
  • We would end the practice of allowing the United Nations to be the sole agency for selecting humanitarian immigrants to be resettled to Canada, and we would not cede our sovereign right in setting immigration levels to this agency.
  • We would reform the Temporary Foreign Worker program and not shy away from difficult conservations [nice to know even MPs occasionally make typos – should be conversations] around employment insurance, working conditions, and wage depression associated with the program and other reasons why Canadians don’t take or aren’t skilled for certain jobs, and ensure that Canadians are first matched with available work.
  • We would also change our immigration programs and support to better focus economic immigration levels and retention to regions with acute labour shortages. It is not enough to cite the Conference Board of Canada in saying that the economy needs more immigrants; immigration levels should be set to ensure that newcomers are matched with jobs in regions where Canadians are not out of work.

In short, a Conservative government would not pull a number out of the air in terms of how many people we would allow into the country. The number we would present to Canadians would be shaped by the above principles, and would be answered as follows:

  • There are X number of job vacancies in a certain industry or region, here’s the reason why Canadians aren’t doing the job, here’s what we did to try to fix that problem, and as such we are allowing X number of people to enter Canada, with X skill set, to fill this need. Then we would track our outcomes to make sure our programs are working.
  • On the humanitarian side, we would not allow people to enter Canada illegally and abuse our asylum system. The target number for that stream of entry should be zero. All other targets would be met by gaining consensus from Canadians that we should help a certain cohort of people (for example, genocide survivors), and then gaining consensus from Canadians on how much money we should spend to support the initiative, in terms of the cost of integrating into Canada, and in the context of putting the needs of Canadians first. We wouldn’t take a false morally superior position that excludes Canadians from helping to decide how our humanitarian immigration system should function, and be funded.

The levels Justin Trudeau has put forward in this report are unfocused, unplanned, and ill thought out. There is no justification included herein on how he would change the system to make it more just, fair, or lawful. It is simply a continuation of his failed  immigration policies. The reality is that Canada can’t sustain high immigration levels under Justin Trudeau’s failed immigration policies. A change in government must occur before Canadians will be able to regain faith in our immigration system.

For all the reasons I’ve given you today, the Conservative Party of Canada strongly opposes the levels set out in this report.

Source: Canada Can’t Sustain High Immigration Levels Under Justin Trudeau’s Failed Immigration Policies

And CTV’s reporting:

One day after the Liberal government unveiled plans to ramp up immigration levels to 350,000 people by 2021, the Conservative immigration critic won’t say what she believes the figure should be.

The number is not the point, according to Michelle Rempel.

“Justin Trudeau has no credibility to set Canada’s immigration levels,” she said Thursday at a news conference.

Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Ahmed Hussen announced on Wednesday that Canada will increase its immigration target to 350,000 by 2021, up from the current level of 310,000.

Hussen told CTV’s Power Play on Thursday that the plan is “responsible and ambitious” and focuses on bringing in “highly-skilled talent that creates middle class jobs for our country.”

“Canadians are asking us to provide them with more workers, more skilled immigrants who can grow our economy and create good-quality, full-time middle class jobs,” Hussen said.

Hussen added that the Federal Skilled Workers program, which offers residency to people like international students who find work, makes up the single biggest component of immigration.

“The vast majority of those folks are people applying from within Canada,” he said. “They already have a job.”

At her press conference, Rempel cited an Angus Reid pollfrom August which found that 49 per cent of Canadians wanted to see the country reduce its immigration intake – up from 36 per cent four years earlier and the highest number in the 43-year period since the question was first asked.

She said that Canadians’ appetite for increased immigration has hit its lowest level on record because of how the Liberals have handled an influx of people crossing the border and claiming asylum.

Federal numbers show that 15,726 people crossed into Canada irregularly at all points in the first nine months of 2018, up from 15,102 in the same time period one year earlier.

The Safe Third Country Agreement between Canada and the United States requires most people seeking refugee protection to file their claim in the first of the two countries they arrive in. It means people cannot pass through the U.S. to seek asylum at the Canadian border checkpoint, but does not apply to people who cross at places other than standard border checkpoints.

Rempel argued that people who are not legitimate refugees are taking advantage of the Safe Third Country Agreement “loophole,” knowing that they can live in Canada for years before their claims are even processed.

“Having reached upstate New York, these people are not fleeing persecution and should not be treated as such by Justin Trudeau,” she said.

Rempel said the Conservatives would crack down on irregular border crossings by closing the loophole. The Liberals say they have repeatedly asked the U.S. government to reopen the agreement.

Rempel also accused the government of spending “hundreds of millions” to normalize the crossings, including $50 million on temporary accommodations for people. Many of them are now living in Toronto hotels.

Hussen told Power Play that the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) is in charge of deciding whether irregular border crossers are legitimate refugees and that those who are not legitimate refugees will be told to leave.

“We’ve reinvested in the Canadian Border Services Agency as well as the IRB to make sure that these claims are heard expeditiously,” Hussen said.

“A big percentage of those found not to be genuine refugees voluntarily leave Canada,” he added.

Rempel also singled out the temporary foreign worker (TFW) program for criticism. Under the government’s new plan, the number of migrant workers allowed into the country will rise to nearly 250,000.

Rempel said that the TFW program was “rife with abuse,” and that it lowered wages and working conditions while keeping certain jobs out of the reach of out-of-work Canadians.

“That this government has made no move to radically change Canada’s economic dependence on this abusive and ill-thought-out system also undermines the credibility of the numbers in this levels report,” she said.

She said the Conservative preference would be to have migrant workers instead “settling in those communities and staying employed” – or to have those positions be filled by people already in the country.

“Is there a way that we can reform that program such that Canadians are matched with those jobs?” she added.

A Conservative government would also look to increase the focus on having refugees be sponsored privately by Canadian citizens, with the government-assisted refugee program being reduced to people fleeing the “atrocity crimes” of war crimes, ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity and genocide, according to Rempel.

Source: Rempel says Trudeau has ‘no credibility’ on immigration

Conservative party pulls attack ad of black man walking over Trudeau tweet

The Conservative party pulled an attack ad from its Twitter feed Tuesday that depicted a black man carrying a suitcase walking over a tweet from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The tweet is rolled out as a carpet entering a broken fence and the words “faith” and “diversity” are visible.

The Tories have argued that a Trudeau tweet from January 2017 is partly to blame for the influx of asylum seekers crossing into Canada from the United States.

Conservative party spokesman Cory Hann says the ad was axed because the situation at the border is not about any one group of people.

Hann says the image, which shows an actual person “illegally” crossing over the Canadian border, was originally used by a number of media outlets with stories about the surge in asylum seekers.

The full photo shows the man with a group of people carrying suitcases in Quebec, while the edited image used by the Conservative party singled out one man.

A quote from a story in the Financial Post is superimposed on the image which says, “Trudeau’s holier-than-thou tweet causes migrant crisis — now he needs to fix what he started.”

In an opinion piece published Tuesday, Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen accused the Tories of “peddling false information to stoke fear” and called it “ridiculous” that they blame the flow of asylum seekers on Trudeau’s tweet.

Source: Conservative party pulls attack ad of black man walking over Trudeau tweet

Andrew Coyne: The answer to left-wing identity politics is not right-wing identity politics

One of Coyne’s better columns:
But if Conservatives think they can save themselves from going down with the alt-right just by pitching its most conspicuous names overboard, they are deeply mistaken. The damage the Republican embrace of Trumpism has done to that party will long outlast Trump, even if His Orangeness were to step down tomorrow. Similarly, it will not be enough for those prominent Conservatives who were so eager, not six months ago, to make time with The Rebel to now suddenly discover their dance cards are full. If they are ever to cleanse themselves of the association they must forcibly renounce, not only the movement’s standard bearers, but the underlying ideology — and more particularly, the extremism with which it presents itself.

Politics is too often analyzed along a single left-centre-right spectrum. Even as a matter of ideology that is too simple, but ideology itself is only one dimension of politics. What the populist surge ought to have taught us is that there is another, equally important: that of temperament. In ideological terms conservatism has little to do with populism: the former is about constraining government to abide by certain rules and norms, while the latter demands to be freed from such restraints in the name of saving The People from whichever force is said to be threatening it. And while modern conservatism is about a society unified around the principle of the equality of every individual, populism is very much about dividing society into Us and Them, or rather several Thems: elites, experts, globalists — or in its darker corners, immigrants, Muslims, blacks, Jews.

But the conflict is even more stark in temperamental terms. For among the norms Trump and his followers reject is the obligation to think through a position, to test it against the facts, to consider any possible drawbacks, to try to persuade the unpersuaded, or to listen to them in their turn. That is the true definition of extremist. It is not the same, though the two are often confused, as radicalism. It is quite possible to propose a radical critique of current policy — radical, in the sense of entailing fundamental change — without being extremist about it. Conversely, Trump’s positions, so far as he holds any, are often far from radical. They are, however, extreme, being advanced without evidence, thought, humility or attempts to persuade anyone beyond his base.

The Conservatives of the last decade, likewise, could hardly be described as radical: their policies were not just “incremental,” as the conceit had it, but incoherent, lacking any guiding principle but opportunism. Yet such was the tone and temperament with which these were advanced — the harshness, the secretiveness, the partisanship, the willingness to demonize certain groups — that many people were nonetheless persuaded they were “right wing” or even “far right.” They succeeded in discrediting conservatism, as I’ve said before, without practicing it.

The alternative to populism, then, is not to “move to the middle.” Conservatives were not partisan because they were ideological, but because they were not ideological enough: because partisanship filled the vacuum where ideology should have been. They pandered to populism because they had given up on conservatism. It is not radicalism, likewise, of which they must be purged, but extremism, of the kind encouraged by the Rebel — from hostility to Muslims to a blind rejection of any serious policy on climate change to an adolescent delight in saying or doing whatever shocking thing entered their heads as a badge of supposed “political incorrectness.”

What conservatism ought to be about — the conservatism that is urgently needed — is the defence, not only of traditional conservative principles of limited government and the rule of law, but of the values that have animated western societies since the Enlightenment: free speech, due process, equal opportunity, and underpinning all, treating individuals as individuals, to be judged on their own merits, rather than as members of this or that social group. Once the subject of broad consensus, today these values are under attack from both the identity-politics left and the populist right — the former, in the name of social justice, the latter, in the name of security and national identity; far from opposites, they feed off each other’s excesses.

The answer to left-wing identity politics is not right-wing identity politics, but a rejection of identity politics altogether, in favour of a renewed commitment to the ideal of a society of free and equal citizens. To defend that vision is the opportunity before conservatives now.

Source: Andrew Coyne: The answer to left-wing identity politics is not right-wing identity politics

Andrew MacDougall: Conservatives of all stripes must pass the Charlottesville Test 

Solid advice:

After taking two days to condemn the race-baiters in Charlottesville, President Trump reverted to form the very next day, when he drew an angry equivalency between the alt-right and what he termed the “alt-left.”

Trump’s obstinance in the face of such disgusting bigotry forces conservative politicians — many of whom owe their election to Trump’s coalition — into a choice.

Call it the Charlottesville Test: Would I be proud to march with my brothers and sisters in the harsh light of day with the world watching?

If the answer is “no”, the barge poles must be deployed. There isn’t enough distance they can put between themselves and their president.

Or, to put it in terms conservatives will better understand: The neo-Nazis are ISIL, Trump is their elite apologist, and you are the Muslim community. It’s time for you to denounce and expel the cancer in your midst, as you would ask moderate Muslims to do in the wake of a similar terrorist attack.

Canadians Conservatives are certainly wasting no time in condemning Charlottesville, such is the power of events to taint all of conservatism. Andrew Scheer, Michelle Rempel, Patrick Brown and others are making clear they have no desire to trade on the hatred Trump and others are all too willing to ignore.

They needn’t be applauded for doing what is right and obvious, but had they not done so the Liberals would have tried to hang Charlottesville’s goat horns on the party and the movement.

The true test, however, comes when the media spotlight fades and electoral needs still have to be met. Will conservative politicians continue to shun the significant demographics behind the alt-right movement?

Courting these segments of the electorate wasn’t, until recently, worth the effort (to say nothing of the opprobrium). But the internet has taken what used to be a silent super-minority in any room, and linked them together into a potent online force.

It’s the force that delivered crucial oxygen and votes to Donald Trump in the early days of the Republican nomination, along with millions of clicks to a slew of new websites trumpeting the “alt-right.”

History will record that Trump met these “deplorables” more than halfway in his run to the presidency. Their hatred of Hillary Clinton (“lock her up”) and the establishment (“drain the swamp”), and Trump’s willingness to embrace it, was what made the “politically incorrect” real-estate mogul their choice. Trump’s embrace is what emboldened racists and supremacists to speak out and hold marches like that in Charlottesville.

In Canada, alt-right me-tooism led to the rise of Rebel Media, whose kingpin Ezra Levant regularly features leading U.S. and U.K. alt-right figures such as Paul Joseph Watson, Gavin McInnes, Jack Posobiec, Laura Southern and Tommy Robinson.

This obviously doesn’t make all supporters of Donald Trump — or contributors and viewers of the Rebel, Breitbart and Infowars — neo-Nazis; it does make them guilty of poor judgment. In Levant’s case, the poor judgment was deliberate in the search for audience and revenue.

It’s precisely these growing audiences for the Rebel and its counterparts that makes them attractive to conservative politicians. It’s why Conservative candidates gave interviews to Levant’s crew during this spring’s leadership race, and why Trump hoisted Breitbart’s Steve Bannon into his campaign, then into the White House.

But a few bad apples really do spoil the whole bunch, as Levant found out this week when two of his more mainstream apples — Brian Lilley and Barbara Kay — quit rather than continue on in the wake of Charlottesville.

The lesson for Canadian Conservatives is straightforward: avoid click-merchants and work harder to promote true conservative principles.

Anyone can preach to the converted. Only the weak exploit a grievance and make it deeper. These are the marks of political cowardice, not shrewd electoral strategy.

It takes courage to take on those with extreme views in your own coalition and patience to engage with those who don’t share your political views at all.

Conservatives should speak to people, not whistle past them.

Source: MacDougall: Conservatives of all stripes must pass the Charlottesville Test | Ottawa Citizen

Is Kellie Leitch for real? When the Tory insider pushes her Trump-light message, who’s listening?

Good long read by Richard Warnica on Kellie Leitch’s leadership strategy, and the degree to which there is a ‘market’ for her use of identity politics, both within the party and the country more generally. Her campaign is a bit of a litmus test of Canadian resilience to xenophobia and anti-immigration messages:

Her appeal, then, is to a narrower slice of the Trump constituency, one engaged more by identity issues and immigration than economics and jobs. The question for Leitch is whether there are enough of those voters to carry her to victory in the Conservative race, let alone in a general election.

Pollsters and analysts from all three major parties are generally skeptical, though few rule out the idea entirely. Many see her values campaign more as a tactical attempt to stand out in the early going of the race than a genuine expression of belief. “She’s running against the mainstream, which helps her get headlines and raise money in the short term,” said Brad Lavigne, a longtime senior NDP campaign official. “But the bet is the short-term exposure that she’s getting now will come to haunt her if she were to win, because there is not a significant audience for this among general election voters.”

That’s not to say there is no constituency at all for that message in Canada. Compared to Europeans and Americans, Canadians are still relatively open to things like foreign investment, immigration and multiculturalism, according to pollster Frank Graves, the president of Ekos Research. But that support is not as strong as it once was, and it’s been going down for years. “A lot of people think Canada doesn’t have the same forces that produced Trump or Brexit,” Graves said. “It absolutely does. They’re a little bit muted, but they’re here.”

That audience is also disproportionately concentrated among Conservative supporters, the people Leitch needs to capture the leadership. Graves polled Canadians on support for Trump in November. A significant majority of Liberal, NDP, Green and Bloc supporters disapproved of the job he was doing as president-elect. But a majority of Conservative supporters — 57 per cent — approved. So when the Leitch team flicks at Trump’s themes or parrots his campaign, they aren’t necessarily poisoning the well, at least not the one they need to drink from right now.

Tim Powers, a longtime Conservative strategist and outspoken Leitch critic, believes at the very least she could use the Trump message to sell memberships. “I probably have responded as strongly as I have because I believe that they have the potential to win by playing off fears and discontent and misunderstandings,” he said. “I think I’m not alone in that. There is still a good portion of Canadian society that harbours an older, traditional version of the country. And some of that traditional version is good and some of it is not so good.”

There are also those in other parties who will admit, quietly, that Canadians of all stripes are not nearly as allergic to nationalist anti-immigrant messages as some would like to pretend. One senior Liberal said the party’s own internal polling shows that Canadians on the whole don’t love immigration, and that even on the refugee issue that captivated and helped turn the last election in the Liberals’ favour, the polling was pretty mixed.

Lietaer believes Leitch may find particularly fertile ground for her message in Quebec, where debates over cultural values, immigration and assimilation have raged for years. The Conservative Party actually won more votes and more seats in Quebec in 2015 than it did in 2011. Many attribute that marginal bump, concentrated in the Quebec City region, to the prominence of the debate over the niqab in the campaign.

“A student of mine told me, a few months later, that he had been working as an election worker and he said that the words at the end of the campaign were “niqab, niqab, niqab,” said Louis Massicotte, a political scientist at Laval University. “The general feeling here was that it was a good idea for the Conservative candidates to raise this issue.”

All of that said, the general consensus among the dozen or so strategists, pollsters and party insiders interviewed for this story, was that while Leitch may find an initial, vocal audience for her anti-Canadian values and anti-elite message, her potential for long-term growth is probably limited. “I don’t see what the second ballot strategy is here, because it’s such a polarizing issue,” said Lietaer.

Indeed, several strategists suggested Leitch’s best hope is to win on the first ballot, an exceedingly difficult task in a race with 14 candidates, a preferential ballot and an arcane system of dividing points between all of Canada’s 338 ridings. For Leitch, that job will be made even harder by the fact that, according to multiple Conservative sources, her campaign strategy has offended wide swaths of the party.

“Among the rank and file of the party, and frankly anybody I talk to in the party, anybody I know in the party, everybody is really, really right pissed off at her for doing this,” said Yaroslav Baran, who ran communications for Stephen Harper’s 2004 Conservative leadership campaign. Officially neutral at the time of his remarks, Baran announced his support for Michael Chong, one of Leitch’s rivals, this past week.

Source: Is Kellie Leitch for real? When the Tory insider pushes her Trump-light message, who’s listening? | National Post

Tories want to cut red tape for skilled immigrants. What else is new? – Macleans.ca

An overview of where the Conservative leadership candidates stand on foreign credential recognition – no much new for a perennial issue.

The evaluation of IRCC’s efforts under the Conservatives, which were largely information, path-finding and referral services, does not indicate a strong correlation with improved outcomes for foreign-trained professions (Evaluation of the Foreign Credentials Referral Office (FCRO)):

A large part of Justin Trudeau’s campaign focused on reforming the Conservatives’ policies, but that’s not the case when it comes to skilled immigrants. Erin Tolley, a political science researcher at the University of Toronto who focuses on diversity in Canada, said the Liberals have been largely silent on the issue. Their platform didn’t include promises on immigrant skill utilization, and all they’ve done is tweak economic immigration policy. Tolley says it’s Conservative governments that are most active on skilled immigration reform because they see it as an economic issue.

That’s why when Conservative leadership hopefuls nearly unanimously said Canada needs more skilled immigrants, I had to know where they stood on reaccreditation. The campaigns of Kellie Leitch, Maxime Bernier, and Lisa Raitt did not make their candidates available for an interview, but nine other candidates agree that the federal government has a role to play in tackling the problem.

Nearly every candidate I spoke with said Canada needs to sharpen its focus on economic immigration. Former immigration minister Chris Alexander wants 70 per cent of Canada’s immigrants to be selected on the basis of skills, education, and language, rather than family reunification. Under the Harper government, that number hovered in the mid-60 percentiles, while the Liberals lowered 2016 targets to the mid-50s. Alexander’s message is clear: whether they come in as a response to our needs or in a steady stream, skilled immigrants help prop up the economy.

…But during the first debate, none of the candidates addressed how we will make sure those skills are part of the job market. Alexander and Steven Blaney said they would build on Jason Kenney’s work as immigration minister if they came to power. That means providing incentives to businesses, including tax breaks and the ability to let them tell the government what kind of skills they’re looking for, and having discussions with professional associations that often help immigrants gain their credentials. The associations could play a role in both educating new immigrants about how to get accredited and loosening standards for newcomers.

….Finances are one of the barriers for new immigrants, according to the U of T study. Others are a lack of job experience, language barriers, and even “lack of knowledge of Canadian professional ‘lingo.’”

To fill many of the gaps, Erin O’Toole said, Canada relies on migrant workers. Part of the reason is immigrants can’t use their degrees. For O’Toole, there are two steps to a solution. The first is to start a process of recognizing credentials sooner, concurrent with the application, and the second is working with provinces to streamline cross-provincial recognition.

The majority of candidates who spoke to Maclean’sechoed O’Toole’s ideas. Michael Chong added that Canada needs to be “giving immigrants a clear-eyed view of what the credentials are worth in Canada so they know what they will need to transition.” Andrew Scheer said, “If the work was done on the front-end and we were able to bring provinces together, in a lot of cases you wouldn’t need to qualify and re-certify.”

It’s possible they are right, but policy takes a long time to implement—and it takes even longer to figure out whether or not it works. Tolley also says there are barriers governments can’t tackle outside of raising awareness. For example, research shows foreign-sounding names are discriminated against by employers, and there is no policy that helps immigrants retroactively.

Source: Tories want to cut red tape for skilled immigrants. What else is new? – Macleans.ca

PCC: Chris Alexander reconnaît le besoin de réhabiliter son image

Will be a challenge:

L’ancien ministre Chris Alexander reconnaît qu’il devra «absolument» réhabiliter son image s’il se présente comme candidat dans la course à la direction du Parti conservateur du Canada (PCC).

«La dernière campagne ne reflétait ni ma vision du pays ni la réalité de ce que nous (les conservateurs) avons accompli dans le domaine de l’immigration et de la citoyenneté», a-t-il soutenu.

«Je compte donc pouvoir clarifier les choses», a poursuivi M. Alexander en entrevue téléphonique avec La Presse canadienne, confirmant du même souffle qu’il a bel et bien l’intention de briguer la direction du parti.

Celui qui a perdu son siège en octobre dernier a été vivement critiqué après avoir présenté la promesse électorale conservatrice d’instaurer une ligne de dénonciation pour signaler des cas présumés de «pratiques culturelles barbares».

Cette annonce lui a collé à la peau.

Regrette-t-il d’y avoir pris part? L’ancien député ontarien ne le dit pas clairement.

 «Était-ce la bonne annonce pour ce jour, pendant la campagne? Probablement pas», a-t-il offert.

«Je regrette de n’avoir pas eu de l’influence sur l’ordre du jour de notre campagne, et je pense qu’il y a pas mal de gens qui partagent mes regrets», a poursuivi M. Alexander.

Celle qui était à ses côtés pour cette annonce, Kellie Leitch, avait subséquemment exprimé des regrets, mais la sincérité de cet acte de contrition a été remise en question après que la députée eut mis de l’avant sa proposition de filtrer les «valeurs anticanadiennes» des immigrants.

Cette suggestion, formulée dans le cadre de la course à la direction du PCC, a été comparée par les candidats Maxime Bernier et Michael Chong à la charte des valeurs élaborée par le Parti québécois.

À l’autre bout du fil, Chris Alexander abonde dans le même sens.

«Ce n’est pas une copie exacte, mais je vois un certain parallèle avec l’initiative échouée du Parti québécois, et je vois aussi certains échos du discours de Donald Trump aux États-Unis», a-t-il exposé.

Lui-même est en désaccord avec l’idée de Mme Leitch, car «c’est une façon de jouer sur les peurs des gens», et par ailleurs, «le Code criminel et nos lois reflètent (déjà) nos valeurs canadiennes».

Et le Parti conservateur ne devrait pas verser à nouveau dans ce type de discours qui a plombé ses chances de se faire réélire, estime M. Alexander, un ancien diplomate âgé de 48 ans qui a été ambassadeur du Canada en Afghanistan.

«On a fini par se faire percevoir comme un parti et un gouvernement non accueillant (pour les) immigrants, renfermé dans un discours assez négatif sur la sécurité et sur certains autres aspects de nos politiques d’immigration», a-t-il soutenu.

Chris Alexander compte annoncer s’il se lance dans la course à la direction avant le premier débat entre candidats. La joute oratoire, en anglais, aura lieu le 10 novembre à Saskatoon.

Source: PCC: Chris Alexander reconnaît le besoin de réhabiliter son image | Mélanie Marquis | Politique canadienne

Canadians favour screening would-be immigrants for ‘anti-Canadian’ values, poll shows

Not surprising. Similar levels of support for a ban on niqabs at citizenship ceremonies but in the end, not a deciding issues for the vast majority of voters:

Two-thirds of Canadians want prospective immigrants to be screened for “anti-Canadian” values, a new poll reveals, lending support to an idea that is stirring controversy in political circles.

Conservative MP Kellie Leitch, a candidate in her party’s leadership contest, has floated the idea of screening newcomers for their attitudes on intolerance toward other religions, cultures and sexual orientations and reluctance to embrace Canadian freedoms.

A new Forum Research Inc. poll for the Star shows that Leitch may be tapping into an idea that Canadians favour with 67 per cent saying immigrants should indeed be screened for “anti-Canadian values.”

More importantly for Leitch, the poll shows that the idea is especially popular among Conservative supporters with 87 per cent backing the idea and just 8 per cent opposed compared to 57 per cent support among Liberals and 59 per cent for New Democrat voters.

That’s certain to be the reason that Leitch (Simcoe-Grey) proposed the idea — and has stuck by it in the face of criticism, said Lorne Bozinoff, president of Forum Research.

“If you’re going after the base, this is like red meat for them. They’re going to love this,” he said Friday. “This is hitting the nail right on the head.”

When asked to choose the values respondents believe are important, equality came out on top (27 per cent), followed by patriotism (15 per cent), fairness (12 per cent) and tolerance (11 per cent).

Conservative backers put patriotism at the top their list of important values. Liberals and New Democrats ranked equality as their first choice.

Just one-quarter of respondents disagreed with the idea of screening for values and nine per cent had no opinion.

The idea finds most support among those ages 45 to 64 (73 per cent); more men (70 per cent) than women (64 per cent); living in Quebec (71 per cent) and Ontario (70 per cent) than those in the Atlantic provinces (56 per cent).

Leitch raised the idea of screening would-be immigrants in a survey sent out by her campaign seeking input on issues.

Source: Canadians favour screening would-be immigrants for ‘anti-Canadian’ values, poll shows | Toronto Star

Looming season of immigration politics puts Liberals, Tories on edge

Good analysis by Campbell Clark (I think there is reason for the concerns within both parties):

Conservative Kellie Leitch is proposing a values test for immigrants. Liberal Immigration Minister John McCallum says he wants a substantial increase in the number of immigrants coming to Canada, including temporary foreign workers.

It looks like a season of immigration politics is coming. And it is making these politicians’ own parties, Liberals and Conservatives, nervous.

Some Conservatives worry that Ms. Leitch might undo years of party work to appeal to immigrants and minorities. But some Liberals think it might be foolish to assume Canada is immune to the resentments that fuelled Donald Trump’s campaign and Britons’ vote for Brexit: They fear greatly expanding immigration now is risky politics.

Look at Ms. Leitch: Her proposal to screen immigrants for “anti-Canadian values” has taken its roughest criticism from Conservatives. Interim leader Rona Ambrose panned it, every declared leadership aspirant except for Tony Clement has knocked it and Stephen Harper’s former policy director, Rachel Curran, called it “Orwellian.”

This, after all, is the kind of identity politics the Conservatives played with in the 2015 election campaign, when the “barbaric cultural practices” tip line announced by Ms. Leitch was a vote-loser.

There is fear that playing hot-button politics with immigrant screening threatens the gains Conservatives made under Mr. Harper, when former cabinet minister Jason Kenney led work to build support among immigrants and ethnic minorities. That was a winning formula: 40 per cent of Canadians are first- or second-generation Canadians, so if you can’t earn their votes, you can’t win enough ridings to take office.

For the most part, the Liberals have let Conservatives fight over Ms. Leitch. But Arif Virani, the parliamentary secretary to Mr. McCallum, the Immigration Minister, said he didn’t buy Ms. Leitch’s argument that her proposal aims to promote tolerance. “It’s valid to be concerned about your nation. It’s valid to be concerned about gender equality,” Mr. Virani said. “I think it’s a bit ironic to describe screening people’s views and thoughts as promoting tolerance.”

And though he acknowledged that many Conservatives have opposed Ms. Leitch’s proposal, he argued it still suggests a political divide: “I do think there’s a big difference between the most recent inclination of the Conservative Party and what the Liberal government is doing now,” he said.

Not all Liberals are sanguine about their government’s immigration plans, however.

Canadians have generally approved of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s high-profile initiative to bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees. But the Liberals have not only raised overall immigration targets, from 279,000 in 2015 to 300,000 this year; Mr. McCallum is talking about a big increase for the future – as well as increasing the number of temporary foreign workers.

If you think that’s traditional Liberal practice, it’s not. Former prime minister Jean Chrétien promised to expand immigration, to 1 per cent of the population, in 1993 – but when he took office in a postrecession economy, he actually cut it for years. It’s not the party in power, but the health of the economy, that has influenced immigration.

But Mr. McCallum is proposing something different – a major increase in a soft economy.

Some Liberal MPs worry it’s not wise. It’s not that they feel likely to be outflanked by proposals such as Ms. Leitch’s. It’s the bigger part of that Trump-Brexit brew: In an uneasy economy, they have economically anxious constituents who worry newcomers might take their jobs. Expanding immigration now, especially bringing in more temporary foreign workers, could be walking into a political storm.

Polls, including one conducted for the government in February, don’t suggest much support for expanding immigration. But Mr. Virani, who is taking part in public consultations, thinks it’s there – in particular when immigration is linked to economic growth strategy. “There’s an appetite for growth, and an appetite for immigration that’s geared toward growth,” he said. But in these times, that’s a political gamble.

Ms. Leitch has made some Conservatives worry they’ll be tarred with a nativist label. But immigration politics worries Liberals, too, who are nervous that embracing a big expansion means misreading the public mood.

Source: Looming season of immigration politics puts Liberals, Tories on edge – The Globe and Mail

The real threat: Immigrants to Canada, or Kellie Leitch’s divisive politics? Adams

Michael Adam’s take:

This surge of worry about cultural integration is stronger among Conservative supporters than it is among Canadians at large. Indeed, when we examine the values of Canadians broken out by party preference, wariness of cultural difference is a key differentiating value of Conservatives. Given that Dr. Leitch is currently running not for prime minister of Canada, but for leader of the Conservative Party, critics who say that her threat of cracking down on anti-Canadian values is itself anti-Canadian are unlikely to do her much harm and may do her some good – for now.

Recent years have shown us that a backlash constituency does exist – a constituency alarmed by some aspects of living in a diverse society, and affronted that they are not permitted to air their alarm without being accused of racism. (It is no accident that Dr. Leitch’s campaign literature had an aggrieved tone: “If you are tired of feeling like we can’t discuss what our Canadian values are, then please help me to fight back by making a donation.…”) U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump is one champion of this backlash; he proposed ideological screening for immigrants a few weeks before Dr. Leitch did. Here in Canada, there was Rob Ford, lavish in his political incorrectness yet beloved by many newcomers, who embraced his little-guy-fighting-smug-liberal-elites narrative. And there was the Parti Québécois’s Charter of Values, which would likely have won them an election had their leader not careened off-message.

A political opportunity exists with those who feel angry and dismissed, but when Dr. Leitch courts Conservatives who want to “fight back,” she is playing a risky game that may trade short-term partisan gain for long-term political pain.

Yes, the wider Canadian context is more fearful than it was 20 years ago, but it is still positive toward immigrants and, importantly, proud of not being xenophobic. Canadians feel pride in their country (and immigrants are especially proud, surveys show), but one of the things Canadians are most proud of is a belief that different kinds of people can live here in harmony and that immigrants can be just as good citizens as anyone born here – sometimes better.

If voters see particular groups of immigrants as a threat to that harmony, Dr. Leitch might win support among Conservatives. But if many Conservatives and even more ordinary Canadians, including the four in 10 of us who are immigrants or their children, see Dr. Leitch as the threat, she will not become prime minister – and Conservatives will feel that so-called hotline sting for a second time.

Source: The real threat: Immigrants to Canada, or Kellie Leitch’s divisive politics? – The Globe and Mail