Martin Collacott: Sikh political power in Canada under scrutiny

Yet another column on Sikh Canadians and their political influence. Their over-representation represents a mix of their geographic concentration in a number of ridings as well as their greater tendency to participate in politics compared to other groups such as Chinese Canadians, who also are concentrated in a number of ridings. Black Canadians are too dispersed to have the same electoral impact despite their size.

As to his recommendation that political party membership should be contingent on Canadian citizenship, while not without merit, would be unlikely to change the overall dynamics much:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent visit to India made clear just how intertwined Sikh politics are with the political scene in Canada, as well as the complications this creates in our relations with India.

The visit reflected the huge influence Sikhs have on Canadian politics while constituting only one per cent of the population. We currently have four Sikh federal cabinet ministers, compared to none from the much larger Chinese community. Another example of this highly skewed level of representation is that in the parliament of India, Sikhs hold only two senior cabinet posts even though they comprise more than 20 million of that country’s population [given India’s population of 1.34 billion, 20 million is 1.5 percent, two out of the 27 cabinet ministers is 7.4 percent compared about half that of Canadian Sikh representation].

Not only are Sikhs heavily over-represented in the cabinet, but Trudeau appears to have made a distinct effort to find people likely to be supported by members of the community sympathetic to the creation of an independent Khalistan, a Sikh state to be carved out of India. This became apparent back in December 2014 when Trudeau as the then-leader of the Liberal party parachuted in Harjat Singh Sajjan as the candidate in Vancouver South to replace Barj Dhahan, who had already been chosen by local Liberal constituency members.

Whereas Sajjan enjoys the backing of the World Sikh Organization (WSO), which supports an independent Khalistan, Dhahan is a moderate and ally of former B.C. premier and federal cabinet minister Ujjal Dosanjh, one of the most respected politicians of Sikh background in Canada and no friend of Khalistani separatism.

One senior Sikh official summed the situation up by stating that he thought the Liberal party had been “hijacked by the WSO” and that the party, “especially Justin, (was) in bed with extremist and fundamental groups.”

The problem, therefore, is not only that Sikhs are heavily over-represented in federal politics, but that the Liberal party has chosen to concentrate on getting the support of Khalistani separatists and extremists as the easiest way of strengthening its support base in that community. It would not be surprising in the circumstances if other ethnic and religious groups started employing the same tactics in an effort to promote policies that benefit their particular community rather than Canadians in general — a development that would deepen ethnic divisions within our society.

Correcting this situation will involve not only the adoption of more responsible policies by the Liberals, but changes to internal party voting rules.

Back in 2003 and 2004, I and three associates published a series of articles exposing the potential damage done by political parties that recruit blocks of supporters from specific ethnic communities in the expectation that this support would be translated at some point into policies favouring the communities in question. We pointed out that such practices could lead to increasing divisions in Canadian society as more and more ethnic and religious groups gave their political support to those who would primarily serve their community’s interests rather than on policies that would benefit Canadians in general.

One recommendation we made was that full membership of a political party should be restricted to people eligible to vote in a federal election — which includes Canadian citizenship. At present, members of political parties can vote for delegates to a leadership convention as well as the selection of a candidate for election in a constituency, and as such are able to influence policy, without having to be a citizen.

Non-citizens could still be encouraged to take an interest in politics (perhaps as associate members of parties), but should not have full voting rights and the capacity to influence policy until they become Canadians.

In the meantime, political parties continue to recruit people who are often not Canadians, know little about Canada and yet are used by political factions to influence our policies. While the Liberals and NDP are the chief culprits in terms of allowing such abuse of the system, all parties should review their internal membership voting rules to ensure that the kind of distortion of Canadian democracy we are now seeing is brought to an end.

Source: Martin Collacott: Sikh political power in Canada under scrutiny

Ottawa’s new immigration targets: Good for special interests: Collacott

Martin Collacott outlines the case against increased immigration. While I disagree with a number of the arguments he used, I do agree with his conclusion that Canada needs “a comprehensive, balanced and informed discussion on what kind of immigration policy can best serve the interests of Canadians overall:”

The government’s rationale for increasing immigration levels is based on a number of other false premises.

One is the claim that Canada needs to bring in large numbers of workers from outside the country when in fact we aren’t facing major labour shortages that only immigration or temporary foreign workers can mitigate. Although gaps in the availability of labour will almost certainly occur from time to time and in various parts of the country, most of these can be dealt with domestically by allowing wages to increase. Research indicates that we should only have to resort to bringing in workers from abroad (either permanent or temporary) on relatively rare occasions since Canada already has the human, as well as educational and training, resources required to meet most of its labour needs.

Related to this is the myth propagated by the government that immigration is necessary to provide workers needed to pay the taxes required to fund services for the growing percentage of older Canadians. While there is no question that Canada is facing a number of problems related to having a larger proportion of seniors, it has been demonstrated definitively that immigration doesn’t provide any sort of practical solution to these problems since immigrants grow old like everyone else and have a negligible impact on the average age of Canadians. We would have to bring in hundreds of millions of immigrants for this to change.

Yet another area of concern should be the environmental impact of a large population increase both within Canada and globally when one considers the much larger ecological footprint newcomers will have here than in the countries most come from.

The Liberal government nevertheless plans to increase immigration levels substantially in the next three years. Some provincial governments welcome this as a way to counter population stagnation and decline. The fact is, however, that in regions where this is a problem it’s happening largely because of a lack of economic opportunities that results in workers moving to other parts of Canada. While more than a few newcomers avail themselves of the chance to get into Canada through welcoming provincial immigration programs, many waste no time in moving on to already overcrowded cities such as Toronto and Vancouver in their quest for employment.

Most residents of these cities, moreover, aren’t enthusiastic about the large-scale influx. While those who have owned real estate for some time obviously benefit from an increase in property values, most younger buyers in these cities are priced-out of a market driven by a rapidly growing population and money flowing in from abroad. Expensive housing brought about to a large extent by high levels of immigration could well be a factor in the decision of many couples to have fewer children.

Clearly the government’s new plan will not work in the interests of most Canadians and particularly those who live in big cities that attract large numbers of immigrants. The immigration targets serve in particular the interests of the Liberal Party of Canada, which hopes that most newcomers will vote for it. Related to this is the recent legislation that has lowered and cheapened citizenship requirements. The NDP isn’t far behind in advocating policies designed to attract immigrant support rather than benefit Canadians in general, while the Conservatives for their part have had relatively little to say about major problems associated with the plan.

The main beneficiaries apart from the Liberals will be those who profit economically such as the real estate industry, employers seeking a larger supply of cheap labour and immigrant communities looking to enlarge their size and influence as well as receive increased funding for settlement programs. The principal losers will be Canadian taxpayers and workers in general.

While Canada has benefited at times in the past from large-scale immigration, the present isn’t one of them. What the country needs today is a comprehensive, balanced and informed discussion on what kind of immigration policy can best serve the interests of Canadians overall. It isn’t likely to get this from the current government.

via Ottawa’s new immigration targets: Good for special interests | Vancouver Sun

White supremacists ideas revived in Collacott oped | David C. Atkinson

Good detailed reminder how Martin’s oped (Opinion: Canada replacing its population a case of wilful ignorance, greed, excess political correctness) echoes the past.

There is space and a need for critiques of Canadian immigration and related policies as part of political and policy discussion, and this can be done (and should be) without xenophobia:

In reality, Collacott nostalgically yearns for an imagined homogenous past that only ever existed in the minds of the province’s most obstinate white supremacists. His admonition emulates precisely the words of B.C.’s one-time Minister of Finance and Agriculture, Francis Carter-Cotton. In the midst of a concerted provincial campaign to exclude Asian immigrants in 1899, Carter-Cotton defended the idea that British Columbia “should be occupied by a large and thoroughly British population rather than by one in which the number of aliens largely predominated and many of the distinctive features of a settled British community were lacking.”

Collacott claims, as others once did, that his angst is rooted in social, economic, cultural, and political concerns. Stevens made a similar claim at Vancouver’s Dominion Hall in 1914. Like Collacott, he insisted that defending the whiteness of British Columbia “is not a case of racial pride. It is a case of actual social and economic conditions in our country, which it is impossible to maintain with two systems of living in our country which cannot be successfully assimilated.” Nevertheless, that evasion could not even withstand his next utterance: “I intend to stand absolutely on all occasions on this one great principle of a white country and a white British Columbia.”

In reality, Collacott’s commentary squarely reiterates these previous champions of white supremacy. They, too, essentialized Asian immigrants as hyper-competitive and economically rapacious interlopers, or as culturally alien intruders. Those ideas rested then, as now, on fundamentally racist notions of immutable racial characteristics that preclude assimilation and spell only disaster for Canada. Whether couched in a century-old language of civilizational decline, racial degeneration, and economic competition, or camouflaged in the alt-right’s semantic contortions of white nationalism, ethno-states, and identitarianism, these are profoundly dangerous ideas that undermine the very foundation of modern Canadian society.

Source: Opinion: White supremacists ideas revived in Collacott oped | Vancouver Sun

Collacott: Birth citizenship makes no sense

Martin is silent on the previous government’s effort to abolish birthright citizenship, which failed due to provincial opposition as the numbers were too small to justify the cost of such a major change to vital statistics and other identity systems. See my earlier What happened to Kenney’s cracking down on birth tourism? Feds couldn’t do it alone |

Again, a more practical and realizable measure is to collect better and regular data, and regulate or ban birthright citizenship consulting services:

Acquisition of citizenship simply by virtue of having been born on the soil of a country, in fact, makes such little sense that all developed nations where it has been available except Canada and the United States have abolished it in recent years.

The U.S. had originally put it in place after the Civil War, when some southern states tried to deny former slaves the right to become American citizens. Today, the issue of whether to continue with birth citizenship revolves largely around the question of what to do with the millions of illegal migrants and their children who were born in the U.S. and therefore have an automatic right to citizenship. In general, the Democratic Party wants to keep birth citizenship in place since those who benefit from it can be expected to vote for that party when they are old enough to do so. In the circumstances, this has made it difficult to abolish despite the fact that it goes against the interests of Americans in general.

 On our side of the border, a petition has been launched by Richmond resident Kerry Starchuk to do away with birth citizenship and therefore birth tourism. The petition is on the Parliamentary website under the sponsorship of MP Alice Wong. While sponsorship does not necessarily mean that the MP agrees with the petition, it can be assumed that he or she considers it to be a legitimate subject for discussion. To date more than 6,700 people have signed it — more than 13 times the number required for it to be tabled before the House of Commons.

The federal government’s reaction to attempts to abolish birth citizenship has been puzzling to say the least.

Earlier this month, federal government spokespeople made it clear that their main concern with birth tourists was that they pay their hospital bills — which in some cases involve deposits that are three times what the hospital requires from local residents. Curiously, however, the spokespeople made no mention of the fact that when the newborns get older they will be able to use their citizenship to incur substantial costs on Canadian taxpayers because of the benefits they will be eligible to claim.

One of the issues raised in relation to doing away with birth citizenship is that it would be costly to do so. The extent of such costs, however, is open to debate and must be weighed against those incurred when the birth citizenship babies get older.

What is clear is that birth citizenship works against the interests of Canadians in general and that a good number are now aware of this and want it done away with.

Whether the federal government is prepared to act accordingly remains to be seen.

Source: Opinion: Birth citizenship makes no sense | Vancouver Sun

Collacott: Immigration ‘conversation” is public relations exercise

While I disagree with much of what Collacott argues – the European examples come from too different histories and geographies, the costs of immigration cited are based on the flawed Grubel-Grady study – I do share some of his cynicism with respect to the announced consultations.

It would be better to appoint an independent panel or commission to review the full range of citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism issues to have a serious and independent study to help guide longer-term policy (see my previous IRCC Discussion guide on immigration: What about citizenship?):

Canada has probably worked harder and had relatively more success than any other country in welcoming and integrating people of different backgrounds from around the world. The “national conversation’s” assertion that “Canada’s strength lies in its diversity” however does not correspond with reality.

While a well-managed and moderate increase in diversity can enrich a society in various ways, it is also clear that unlimited diversity has a negative effect on societal cohesion and national identity. This has been well-documented by scholars such as Harvard professor Robert Putnam, whose research found that, as urban communities become more and more diverse, the levels of social cohesion decline and there is less trust among residents.

This has been amply demonstrated in Europe, where the social as well as economic integration of many immigrants with very different cultural values and traditions from those of the host nations has been impeded as their numbers grew and they became heavily concentrated in urban areas.

The suggestion that Canada’s strength lies in its diversity, nevertheless, implies that our society  will endlessly benefit from becoming more and more diverse.

The question then has to be asked why the Government is promoting its “national conversation” based on a slogan that doesn’t make sense.

The answer becomes clear from other sections of the conversation’s press release when it states that the government is committed to an immigration system that supports diversity and helps to grow the economy.

The fact is that, while immigration makes the economy larger, it doesn’t improve the standard of living of the average Canadian: it simply creates a larger pie that is divided into more, and usually somewhat smaller, pieces. Indeed the latest research indicates that recent immigration is very costly to Canadian taxpayers — to the tune of around $30 billion a year — in addition to raising house prices beyond the reach of most young Canadians in large cities such as Vancouver and Toronto, increasing congestion and commute times and putting heavy pressure on health care services. 

While there been periods in our history when we have benefitted from large-scale immigration, this is not one of them. Canada does not face major labour shortages and has sufficient human capital and educational and training facilities to meet almost all of our needs  from our existing resources.

The “national conversation” is clearly a public relations exercise designed to convince members of the public that they are providing serious input into how immigration can benefit Canada.  The terms of reference, however, leave no doubt that its real purpose is to promote large-scale immigration and diversity in order to increase political support for the Liberal Party of Canada rather than to serve the interests of Canadians in general.

We very much need a comprehensive, well-informed and balanced review of immigration policy — but not the phony “national conversation” the government is attempting to foist on the public.

Source: Opinion: Immigration ‘conversation” is public relations exercise | Vancouver Sun

Douglas Todd: Are Canadians prepared to pay for elderly immigrants? | Vancouver Sun

Todd covers some of the issues involved in his follow-up piece to his earlier more descriptive Douglas Todd: Push on for ‘culturally appropriate’ seniors homes.

But he overly emphasizes Martin Collacott’s views, valid but one-sided, without the views of other experts.

And like far too much commentary, there is a dearth of numbers, data and evidence beyond the number of parents and grandparents being admitted. Areas where more data is required:

  • number of elderly immigrants and their families seeking to live in a home versus number who remain with their families;
  • benchmarking costs for regular homes vs culturally-appropriate ones;
  • the length of time elderly immigrants currently in elder care since their arrival broken down by immigration class (i.e., what percentage came as family class compared to other classes; and,
  • a more objective study than the usual reliance on the Grady and Grubel studies on the costs of immigrants as this has been contested, validly in my view, by Pendakur and others.

In the midst of this immigration debate, advocates for increasing the supply of culturally sensitive seniors homes continue to press governments to do more to enhance the dignity of elders in their last days, regardless of whether they have contributed a proportionate share of taxes.

Meanwhile, Canadians are left to wrestle with the difficult choice between two conflicting ethical “goods” — being kind to seniors, and being prudent about taxpayers’ ability to pay. It’s a Brexit-style immigration discussion destined to continue for years.

Source: Douglas Todd: Are Canadians prepared to pay for elderly immigrants? | Vancouver Sun

Douglas Todd: Push on for ‘culturally appropriate’ seniors homes

Another good piece by Douglas Todd covering the different perspectives on ‘culturally appropriate’ seniors homes. From my perspective, I can understand this need given the importance of familiar food and that second-language fluency deteriorates with age:

Some critics say taxpayers should not be paying for such ethnically-specific seniors homes.

But Sood and Charan Gill, the dynamic founder of PICS, insist there is a third major reason, in addition to language and cuisine, to create residences specifically for South Asian and other visible-minority seniors: Widespread elder abuse in the immigrant population.

“It’s a huge problem,” says Gill, 80.

“We hear stories of financial and emotional abuse of elders every day here. But no one wants to talk about it,” he says, noting that members of immigrant communities are often ashamed their co-ethnics are not properly taking care of their elders.

Resident Saroj Sood peruses the day's lunch menu at the Guru Nanak Niwas senior home in Surrey. 'Food is most important' as a cultural consideration for the residents.
Resident Saroj Sood peruses the day’s lunch menu at the Guru Nanak Niwas senior home in Surrey. ‘Food is most important’ as a cultural consideration for the residents.RIC ERNST /  PNG

Even though Statistics Canada figures show South Asian grandparents in Canada are eight times more likely to live with their children and grandchildren than ethnic Japanese and Caucasian grandparents, many of Metro’s 250,000 South Asians still yearn to live separate from their offspring.

“Given a chance, these seniors would never leave their homes because of the strong sense of family and affinity towards their culture,” says PICS communications officer Shruti Prakash-Joshi.

“(But) PICS works very closely with seniors and we are witness to some horrific stories relating to financial and other abuse.”

PICS is lobbying the federal and provincial governments for more than $45 million to build a new “Diversity Village” on property it has bought in the Cloverdale area of Surrey. The 140-bed facility would have different sections for seniors of different ethnic backgrounds.

Meanwhile, leaders among Metro Vancouver’s 400,000-member ethnic Chinese population are also pushing for more of their own “culturally appropriate” seniors homes, which would employ Chinese-speaking staff.

As well, Muslim leaders in Burnaby and elsewhere are pressing the province for specialized seniors homes for immigrants from Muslim-majority countries.

With 45 per cent of the population of Metro Vancouver born outside the country, Canada’s National Household Survey reports one in six Metro residents do not speak English or French in their homes.

Are Canadians ready to support more ethnic-specific seniors homes?
South Asian seniors who end up in mainstream seniors homes in Canada feel ‘totally isolated,’ says Charan Gill, founder of Progressive Intercultural Community Services. ‘Nobody talks to them. And they don’t get the food they’ve eaten their whole lives. Many give up and die quickly.’

Gill acknowledges providing ethnic-specific food “is a little bit more expensive than giving everybody the same food.”

And he admits that B.C. government’s health authority officials are “resistant” to spend more money than is absolutely necessary on language-specific facilities. He rejects suggestions “culturally sensitive” seniors homes may promote ethnic enclaves.

Former Canadian diplomat Martin Collacott, a Surrey resident, says there is little wrong with ethnic communities creating seniors homes that offer ethnic-specific language and food — as long as the ethnic groups themselves pay for the facilities.

The author of a Fraser Institute report titled Canadian Family Class Immigration: The Parent and Grandparent Component argues it is the federal policy that allows many immigrants to sponsor their parents and grandparents to come to Canada that makes such ethnic-specific seniors homes necessary in the first place.

“The problem with such facilities being provided for sponsored parents and grandparents is that the rationale for bringing them in is that it is traditional for them to live with adult offspring, often to babysit. On this basis it becomes questionable why they would be placed in such care facilities.”

Collacott, who has frequently advised the House of Commons on immigration policy, wrote a paper for The Association of Canadian Studies that showed sponsored parents and grandparents who arrive in their 50s or older are the least likely to work in Canada, pay income taxes or learn French or English.

Despite some opposition, Gill staunchly advocates for governments moving beyond the “Eurocentric model” of seniors homes to the “multicultural model.”

South Asian seniors who end up in mainstream seniors homes in Canada feel “totally isolated,” Gill says. “Nobody talks to them. And they don’t get the food they’ve eaten their whole lives. Many give up and die quickly.”

Remaining confident of his vision, Gill tells stories about South Asian seniors in Metro Vancouver who had to move to “Eurocentric” care homes and who die within months.

Source: Douglas Todd: Push on for ‘culturally appropriate’ seniors homes | Vancouver Sun

Citizenship Act C-6 Changes: Witnesses 19 April Meeting

The second set of witnesses at CIMM C-6 hearings had all testified at the C-24 hearings two years ago, with a good cross-section of perspectives, largely focussed on the same issues of revocation, language and knowledge testing.

The most interesting exchange was with respect to Martin Collacott who accused the government of pandering to new Canadian voters in the relaxed residency and language requirements.


Bernie Farber, now heading the Mosaic Institute, shared his personal family refugee and Holocaust history as a means to personalize what it means to be Canadian citizens and the challenges of being a refugee. He cited research carried out by the Institute on imported conflicts, showing an attitudinal shift towards being more empathetic and recognizing common ground, with very high levels of attachment to Canada (94 percent, with 80 percent feeling more Canadian than anything). Ensuring full participation helps reduce imported trauma, improving both individual lives as well as Canada. He was broadly supportive of the proposed changes. See his op-ed Its Time to End the Stigma of Immigration”.

Sheryl Saperia, of the Foundation for Defence of Democracies, reiterated her past support for the revocation provisions of C-24 for those convicted of terror or treason, believing it an appropriate consequence for these crimes. She did not accept Minister McCallum’s arguments that it created two-classes of citizenship, given that naturalized Canadians chose to become Canadian, and were not forced to become dual citizens. She noted that a Canadian is not always a Canadian, citing the examples of revocation for fraud or war crimes as exceptions. She proposed an alternative approach to revocation, with Ministerial discretion to review the depth of the connection to the other country, with the less active the connection the weaker the case for revocation. Should the government proceed with repealing the revocation provisions, this should be combined with greater deradicalization efforts in Canadian prisons.

Patti Tamara Lenard of University of Ottawa noted that citizenship in democracies is a fundamental right. She went through the previous government’s arguments in favour of revocation. There was no evidence that revocation made states any safer, using Belgium as an example, and that ‘targeting’ of dual citizens undermined security, not strengthening it. Canada was not catching up with other countries, apart from the UK [and Australia], noting that France had abandoned this approach. And public support did not justify measures to curb minority rights, even the ‘most hated’ of Canadians should still have their rights protected. She noted the broader context under which Canadian Muslims felt targeted, citing security certificates and no fly lists, all of which have contributed to their distrust of the Canadian state. Prior discourse had portrayed Canadian Muslims as disloyal and that discrimination was legitimate and inclusive language was needed.

Janet Dench and Jennifer Stone of the Canadian Council for Refugees noted the importance of citizenship for mental health, particularly so for refugees. CCR supports early access to citizenship without discrimination. They supported counting time before permanent residency towards citizenship but focussed on the lengthy processing times for permanent residency for refugees and live-in-caregivers. CCR supported the reduced residency requirements but advocated a waiver if compelling reasons provided. They also supported the reversion to the previous age requirements for knowledge and language (18-54), but noted that some older applicants still struggle to meet these requirements. CCR noted the need for some form of waiver from the high citizenship fees and language assessment, citing the USA example. While pleased that C-24 dual national revocation was being repealed, they noted the need for fraud revocation to be subject to court review. CCR also noted the need for children under 18 to apply for citizenship should they have neither parent nor guardian. Lastly, they argued for repeal of the first generation limit of passing on citizenship to reduce possible future statelessness. See their detailed brief Bill C-6 Citizenship Bill concerns.

R. Reis Pagtakhan, a Winnipeg-based immigration lawyers, is one of few witnesses to date who has changed his position in the past two years. While he remains broadly supportive of revocation for treason or terror, he now believes this should only apply to those convicted in Canadian courts to ensure Charter and related protections apply. He made a forceful statement in favour of the TRC recommendation 94, changing the citizenship oath to include a reference to treaties with Indigenous Peoples. He supported repeal of the intent to reside and credit for pre-permanent residency to count towards citizenship. See his op-ed Canadian citizenship should have 2 tiers, Reis Pagtakhan says.

Martin Collacott opposed shortening the residency requirements, noting that they were among the shortest in the world, allowing some to ‘park’ their families here and work abroad. He was against repealing the intent to reside provision. He thought the change in age requirements particularly ill-considered, particularly for 55-64 year olds who were often still working. He cited the Fraser Institute report on the cost of immigrants to the Canadian economy [Note: its methodology is questionable]. He supported the previous government’s revocation for terror or treason as a reasonable measure, and that most would not be convinced by a “Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian” in these cases. He noted that citizenship can be used for political gain, using the example of the Clinton presidential campaign in 1996 where 1 million became citizens [surprised he refrained from Canadian examples as there was a surge in new citizens in 2014 and 2015 under the Harper government]. He ended by stressing the need for a full immigration review in terms of who benefits as it was abundantly clear that the current high levels were only serving special interests, certain sectors and political parties, with congestion and higher prices being part of the costs.


As in 2014, after the first few hearings, the questions and responses tend to reinforce earlier sessions.

Revocation for terror or treason: Not surprising, a fair amount of questions from both the Government and Conservative side, with the Government challenging Saperia and Collacott’s arguments in particular. Saperia stumbled occasionally in her responses, reverting to talking points and arguing that there was no discrimination between Canadian and dual nationals convicted of the same crime but punished differently. However, she acknowledged that the argument that revocation was exporting terrorists to other countries was the most convincing one.

Revocation for fraud: NDP raised again the question of the pre-C-24 procedural protections and that C-6 did not address these. No witness substantively address this (Audrey Macklin on April 14 did).

Language: There were considerable questions on language requirements, with the Conservatives focussing on the importance of language and the NDP concerned about the cost of language assessment and the requirement to take the knowledge test in an official language. Collacott in his replies stressed the importance of language, particularly for older 55-64 year olds, that ample research demonstrates the link between language and economic integration, noting that lack of language meant having to work in the particular immigrant community with likely poorer economic prospects.

Pagtakhan interestingly posed the question why both with language assessment anyway at the citizenship stage, this should be a requirement when immigrating to Canada, rather than fixing it post facto. CCR reemphasized its previous points on challenges for refugees, who may have additional barriers in terms of ability to learn language, find time given employment and cost. Many applications had been returned given that proof of language had not been provided. Farber noted that the language bar should not be set so high to ‘exclude’; Lenard favoured a relatively low bar as in the USA.

Knowledge: No major Q&As on knowledge requirements although CCR did mention the decline in pass rates following the changes in 2010.

Statelessness: NDP raised as before. Lenard noted that international documents cover statelessness and the right to nationality. It is generally understood that the right to nationality means either having been born or mainly lived in a country.

Pandering for votes: Collacott, in his introductory remark mention of political benefits, drew considerable fire from the government side. He initially ducked the question but then, following a second question challenging him for the evidence, replied that there was considerable evidence over the years regarding Liberal governments. The previous Conservative government had tried to gain support among new Canadians through its policies [Note: he was silent on ‘boutique’ initiatives such as the historical recognition, targeted towards Chinese, Ukrainian, Indo, Italian and Jewish Canadians  and legislation such as the Vietnam Journey to Freedom Act S-219]. He cited the Liberal government having 4 ministers from the Punjabi community and none from the Chinese community in Cabinet as more recent examples.

MPs lobby to ease language rules for immigrants [citizenship]

More coverage on the issue of language assessment for citizenship applicants. Will see if this gets attention when Parliament resumes next week:

One critic said if McCallum agrees with the MPs to make the changes it’s a “retrograde” step.

Martin Collacott said the real goal is likely to boost the pool of Liberal voters, since the only key rights citizens have that permanent residents lack is the right to vote, obtain a passport, and obtain jobs that require a high-level security clearance.

“They’re more concerned with getting votes and not so concerned that they (new Canadians) will integrate socially and economically,” said Collacott, a former senior Canadian diplomat who writes on immigration and refugee issues for the Fraser Institute.

Griffith said says the MPs are sincerely reflecting the views of some constituents.

“Of course there is probably a political element there, of making sure they retain the ethnic vote they gained during the election, but I think they’re probably hearing those comments,” said Griffith, author of the 2015 book called Multiculturalism in Canada: Evidence and Anecdote.

Griffith said he hopes McCallum doesn’t give in to the pressure and go back to the old system, which fell short of requiring citizens to speak basic English or French.

“If you really want to help people succeed, and if you really want an inclusive society, it means they have to participate in one of the official languages,” he said.

An alternative view was expressed in 2014 by the Canadian Bar Association, which opposed the tougher requirements.

“Many immigrants over the last century came to Canada and worked in areas that did not require them to read or write in English or French but have paid taxes, attended religious institutions, volunteered in their communities, raised children and have little or no ties to their country of birth,” the statement said. “They may lack the ability to complete a knowledge test in English or French, but still possess the language skills needed to be a long-term, contributing member of Canadian society.”

Successful citizenship applicants now have to prove they have an “adequate knowledge” of one of the languages, which is defined as someone “can understand someone speaking English or French and they can understand you,” according to the Citizenship and Immigration website. It lists several tests that it accepts as proof.

The government spells out four criteria applicants must provide evidence that they’ve reached level 4 of the “Canadian Language Benchmarks” system, which has 12 levels of proficiency, with one being the least fluent and 12 being an “advanced level of proficiency.”

To reach level four they must, according to the department, be able to:

• take part in short, everyday conversations about common topics.

• understand simple instructions, questions and directions.

• use basic grammar, including simple structures and tenses.

• show that you know enough common words and phrases to answer questions and express yourself.”

Canada has had a legislated requirement since 1947 that new citizens have an “adequate knowledge” of English or French, and until the mid-1990s that ability was assessed in oral citizenship tests done by citizenship judges.

Then the Liberal government, which at the time was engaged in an austerity program to slash the deficit, came up with a standardized, and much cheaper to administer, citizenship test.

The test involved 20 multiple choice questions testing knowledge in areas such as citizens’ rights and duties, and Canadian history, geography and the economy. It was assumed that passing the test would mean the applicant also had a reasonable grasp of the language.

But a successful applicant required only a 60-per-cent score to pass, resulting in 95 per cent of participants making the grade, according to a 2012 analysis by Montreal academic Mireille Paquet.

One of the problems with the tests, according to Griffith, is that they were uniform. That meant consultants could provide “cheat sheets” to help people who couldn’t function in English or French memorize the questions and visually recognize the correct answers.

The Conservatives made their first move in 2010 to make the test more challenging, bumping the passing grade to 75 per cent and offering different versions of the test in order to discourage cheating.

Then, in 2014, the new legislation came in requiring that applicants get third-party certification that they reached the level 4 proficiency.

Source: MPs lobby to ease language rules for immigrants

Hong Kong press scorn Canada’s backdoor wealthy immigrant scheme

More on the abuse of the immigrant investor program. Nothing new (see Martin Collacott: The citizenship fire sale – National PostUnder new rules, rich Chinese should learn French if they want to move to Canada | South China Morning Post) but confirmation of bad and naive program design, led more by the political level of previous governments rather than evidence-based from the bureaucracy:

Most of the 30,000 rich Chinese who have recently moved to British Columbia told authorities they would settle elsewhere in Canada, with the deception costing the province access to billions of dollars in loans.

An investigation by the South China Morning Post revealed the widespread illicit practice, which is demonstrated in a huge discrepancy between approval and arrival numbers of Chinese in BC under the Immigrant Investor Programme IIP. The Post’s revelations come as Ottawa prepares to unveil a wealth migration scheme to replace the federal IIP, which was axed in June.

The huge influx of rich Chinese is already a hotly debated issue in Vancouver, which has seen property prices soar.From 2005 to 2012, a total of 29,764 rich Chinese, mostly from the mainland but also from Taiwan and Hong Kong, are known to have moved to BC under the program, which required applicants to loan Canada C$800,000 HK$5.54 million per family and have minimum assets of C$1.6 million.

Yet in the same period, only 13,872 certificates of permanent residency were issued to applicants from greater China who nominated BC as their intended destination.

Ian Young found that 53 per cent of the 29,764 investor immigrants from the mainland, Hong Kong or Taiwan who activated their permanent residency in British Columbia from 2005 to 2012 did so after telling authorities they would live in a different province.

This suggests at least 53 per cent of all Chinese known to have settled in BC under the IIP said they planned to live elsewhere.

Hong Kong press scorn Canada’s backdoor wealthy immigrant scheme | Vancouver Sun.