Which immigration promises will a Liberal minority government likely keep?

The fate of the Safe Third Country Agreement will likely be determined more by the USA than demands by the NDP and BQ, and “modernize” had a deliberate ambiguous quality:

When it comes to immigration, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau made several key promises during the election. A few were specific, such as a pledge to create a new program that will allow municipalities to “sponsor” economic immigrants, while others were more general.

So which of the pledges on immigration will the Liberals be most likely to keep? And which promises — especially considering that either the NDP or Bloc Quebecois will hold the balance of power in any new government — are likely to go unfulfilled?

Most likely to fail

The Liberals campaigned on a promise to “modernize” the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) between Canada and the United States.

The agreement, which has been controversial ever since the number of asylum claims in Canada began to spike in the spring of 2017, allows would-be refugees to make claims at the border, even when they enter Canada at unofficial points of entry.

Trudeau and the Liberals have said changing the STCA would enhance border security and improve fairness in Canada’s asylum system.

But according to Sharry Aiken, a law professor at Queen’s University, any promise to “close the loophole” or amend the STCA agreement is likely to fail because that would require Donald Trump to agree to keep more immigrants and asylum seekers in the U.S. — something Aiken and other experts say Trump is unlikely to do.

The rising rhetoric around refugees is fuelling many falsehoods about whether these new arrivals pose a threat

Another reason why this promise may not succeed is that both the NDP and Bloc Quebecois have called for the STCA to be suspended until the Americans can prove that their asylum system is fair for would-be refugees.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh — who could hold the balance of power in a Liberal minority government — has been especially vocal about the abuse and mistreatment that migrants entering the U.S. have faced from the Trump administration, saying it’s clear the U.S. is no longer safe for refugees.

Most likely to succeed

The Liberals — both before and during the campaign — have talked openly about the important role immigration plays in ensuring Canada’s future economic growth.

The Liberals pledged to steadily increase the number of newcomers to between 350,000 and 400,000 a year by 2021. This includes increases in all areas of immigration: economic class, family class, and humanitarian class — which includes refugees.

In their most recent budget, the Liberals also allocated $1.2 billion in additional funding to enhanced border security and refugee processing.

The funds, the Liberals said, would be used to help address the growing backlog of refugee claims at Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB), which stood at more than 79,000 cases at the end of September.

Expanding economic immigration to smaller, more rural communities throughout Canada is another promise the Liberals are likely to keep.

The Liberals have said they would create a Municipal Nominee Program that provides up to 5,000 new spots for permanent residents a year. The program will give towns and smaller communities who don’t typically benefit from immigration the opportunity to “sponsor” newcomers to fill gaps in local labour markets.

The Liberals have also pledged to make the Atlantic Immigration Pilot project permanent, with another 5,000 spots a year for new economic immigrants.

According to experts such as Pedro Antunes, the chief economist at the Conference Board of Canada, both of these pledges will help smaller and more rural communities meet their employment needs and attract badly-needed newcomers.

Meanwhile, Trudeau has said he is open to working with Quebec to increase the province’s control over immigration.

Quebec Premier François Legault and Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet have called for the province to have “veto” power over decisions about when failed refugee claimants and other immigrants are deported. The leaders also want more control over temporary foreign workers that go to Quebec.

Trudeau also said he supports Quebec’s right to implement a “test” for new immigrants who want to remain in the province permanently.

Source: Which immigration promises will a Liberal minority government likely keep?

On immigration, Liberals and Conservatives agree on targets but not on how to get there

Another analysis of party positions on immigration-related issues;

In the months leading up to the federal election, many political observers in Ottawa thought immigration issues would figure prominently in the campaign.

The Conservative opposition had spent months between 2017 and 2019 hammering the Liberal government on their handling of a spike in asylum claimants crossing into Canada, mostly at a single point on Quebec’s southern border.

The Liberals, for their part, continued to trumpet Canada’s openness to immigrants and refugees — something Justin Trudeau had highlighted since the 2015 campaign with his party’s commitment to take in more refugees fleeing war-torn Syria.

But over the course of the campaign, including the two official leaders’ debates last week, immigration has taken a back seat to issues like climate change, or how the various leaders would save you a buck if they formed government.

That might be because, in spite of the rhetoric and the politicking, Canada’s mainstream political parties have a broad consensus on immigration being key to the country’s continued economic and social well-being.

But there are important differences in both tone and policy between the Liberals and the Conservatives — the two parties which have the most realistic shot of governing. How would the first six months of a Conservative or a Liberal government differ?

The Star looks ahead at what this election could mean for Canada’s immigration policies — and for people hoping to make it to Canadian shores.

Liberal majority

Naturally, a Liberal majority would represent the least change from Canada’s current immigration levels. The Liberals have been steadily increasing planned immigration levels since taking office in 2015, and would continue to do so if they were re-elected.

According to the federal government’s immigration levels plan, Canada would aim to grow the number of immigrants from 330,800 in 2019, to 350,000 in 2021. Most of these, around 60 per cent, come through Canada’s economic stream for immigration — skilled workers to fill needs in the economy.

The Liberal party says it will enact “modest and responsible” increases in immigration, with a focus on attracting “highly skilled workers.”

A Liberal government would introduce a municipal nominee program that would allow local communities to directly sponsor permanent immigrants and it would make permanent a separate program to encourage immigration to Atlantic Canada. A minimum of 5,000 spaces would be earmarked for each program. The Liberals say they would also waive citizenship fees for permanent residents.

The number of refugees admitted into Canada fluctuates year-to-year, although irregular migration at the Canada-U.S. border — where asylum claimants have been crossing outside recognized ports of entry in hopes of securing refugee status — decreased in 2019 compared to previous years.

Conservative majority

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer largely agrees with the Liberal government’s proposed immigration targets of 350,000 newcomers in 2021. Scheer told the CBC this month that immigration levels should not be “politicized.”

“This should be a number that Statistics Canada and experts in various fields say ‘we need this many people to come’ to fill the gaps in the workplace, or to ensure we have a growing population, combined with a humanitarian component for family reunification and refugees,” Scheer said.

So don’t expect a new Conservative government to drastically change course on the top-level numbers. The Conservatives main point of difference with the Liberals is the situation at Roxham Road in Quebec.

Since 2017, more than 50,000 people have crossed the Canada-U.S. border outside of a border services checkpoint. Once they reach Canadian soil, Canada has an obligation — under both domestic and international law — to give their asylum claims a fair hearing.

While the numbers have decreased year-over-year since 2017, when U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration started threatening specific groups with deportation, the Conservatives have continued to heap criticism on the Liberals’ handling of the file.

Last week, Scheer announced that a Conservative government would attempt to “renegotiate” the Safe Third Country Agreement with the Trump administration. The bilateral agreement requires those seeking asylum to make their claim in either the U.S. or Canada, whichever they arrive in first. But convincing the hardline Trump administration to take in more refugees would be an uphill battle — particularly as Trump seeks re-election.

Scheer said there are “other options” if the U.S. is unwilling to renegotiate the agreement — although declined in his news conference to say what those options were. A Scheer government would also hire an additional 250 officers for the Canada Border Services Agency, a significant increase in the agency’s inland enforcement workforce.

The Conservatives would also prioritize funding to immigration services like language training and credential recognition, in addition to emphasizing services to vulnerable newcomers.

Minority government

All the parties recognize the importance of immigration to Canada’s economy at a time when the country’s workforce is aging and concerns mount about labour shortages. This could open the door to more economic immigration as well as increased efforts to recognize the credentials of professionals trained abroad. And three parties want changes to Canada’s Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States — although in very different ways.

The Green party wants it terminated, the NDP says suspend it and the Conservatives want changes, to prevent asylum seekers from the U.S. from making claims when they arrive at unofficial border crossings. The Liberals said only that it would work with the U.S. to “modernize” the agreement.

But a Liberal minority government could come under opposition pressure for more drastic changes.

The NDP say that Canada has an important role to play taking in refugees. New Democrats and Green party members want to speed family reunification. Both want to crack down on “unscrupulous” immigration consultants.

The Green party wants the accreditation of foreign professionals expedited to speed their entry into the workforce. It would eliminate the temporary foreign workers program by increasing immigration levels and working with employers to assist with permanent residency. And it says that Canada must be ready to take in “environmental” refugees, those who have been displaced by the impacts of climate change.

Source: On immigration, Liberals and Conservatives agree on targets but not on how to get there

Election 2019: Party Platform Immigration Comparison

With all party platforms out, it is now possible to compare the written policy commitments of each party. 

While each party leader has made additional commitments on the campaign trail (e.g., Conservative Party of Canada leader Scheer on maintaining current Liberal immigration levels, New Democratic Party leader Singh pledging additional funding for Quebec integration and settlement services), this analysis looks only at the official party platforms, as these will form the basis of any future government “report card.”

In general, differences among the four main parties are a matter of nuance as all accept ongoing large numbers of immigrants, programs to facilitate integration, straight forward  pathways to citizenship  and the multicultural reality of Canada. 

The only major dissent from that overall consensus is from the People’s’ Party of Canada. The Bloc québecois’ narrow focus on Quebec issues is reflected in virtue signalling its intent to table private members’ bills that assert or seek to expand Quebec’s jurisdiction in immigration.

Party platforms reflect commitments, which are both concrete and “virtue signalling” to their respective bases and voters that they wish to attract.

The Conservative platform on immigration is sparse, with commitments that reflect their main focus on management of immigration, particularly the irregular arrivals at Roxham Road. This is balanced by their commitment to remove the cap on privately sponsored refugees while clarifying priorities for refugee selection (implicitly downplaying the UN Refugee Agency role). Commitments that reflect more strongly concerns of their base include banning values tests for Grant and Contribution programs (Canada Summer Jobs program) and re-opening the Office for Religious Freedom. 

The platform is silent on high profile issues previously raised in opposition such as M-103 on Islamophobia and other forms of racism and discrimination and their opposition to the UN’s Global Compact for Migration.

The lack of meaningful commitments on immigration levels and mix, citizenship and multiculturalism would provide a Conservative government considerable policy and program latitude should it form the government. The PPC picks up on some of issues the Conservatives dropped, along with prohibiting birth tourism and an overall hard-tone on immigration.

The Liberal platform is stay the course on immigration levels and most other policy areas. Apart from the major announcement of eliminating citizenship application fees, the platform places greatest emphasis on multiculturalism-related issues, whether it be with respect to diversity of appointments, anti-racism and anti-hate strategies, and resources to counter international far-right networks, including additional funding. The platform is silent on family reunification, the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, refugees, and integration.

The NDP and Green platforms are to the left of the Conservative and Liberal platforms. Of the two, the NDP platform is the more coherent. In the event of a minority government, the almost “laundry list” approach in both platforms would provide some areas of agreement, but not their call to abolish the Safe Third Country Agreement with the USA.

Neither major party has chosen to make immigration the big issue that was predicted at the start of the campaign, reflecting that both parties need to win a substantial part of the immigrant and visible minority vote to win the election. So while there are differences in tone and substance,  these have been relatively downplayed in their respective platforms, campaign language notwithstanding.

This table (Election Platforms 2019 Comparison) highlights party positions on immigration (levels, mix, Temporary Foreign Workers, refugees, irregular asylum seekers), integration, citizenship and multiculturalism.

Immigration levels: The Conservative platform is silent on immigration levels. The Liberal platform continues the current trajectory of “modest and reasonable” annual increases along with making the Atlantic Immigration Pilot permanent and establishing a Municipal Immigration Pilot. The NDP platform states that levels should reflect labour market needs.

The Green platform commits to regularize the status of illegal (non-regularized status immigrants) and improve the pathway to permanent residency for international students and Temporary Foreign Workers.

The PPC platform proposes a cut of between 50 and 70 percent of current immigration levels, along with the addition of in person interviews to assess the “extent to which they align with Canadian values and societal norms.” The PPC also proposes increased resources to Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for the interviews and more thorough background checks.

Immigration mix:  While the Conservative, NDP and Green platforms all promise to speed up family reunification, particularly for parents and grand-parents for the Conservatives and NDP and children for the Greens, the PPC platform calls for abolishing family reunification for parents and grand-parents. The Liberal and Bloc platforms are silent.

The NDP platform calls for faster reunification of caregivers with their families. The Green platform calls for a “robust system” to assess the education and training credentials against Canadian standards prior to arrival along with clear explanations for professionals and an improved pathway to permanent residency for international students and Temporary Foreign Workers.

The PPC proposes to adjust the point system to increase the percentage of economic class immigrants.

Temporary Foreign Workers:  While the Conservative platform commits to match employment backgrounds to employment needs of companies that rely on TFWP, the Green platform calls for the replacement of Temporary Foreign Workers by increased immigration. The PPC platform calls for limiting numbers and ensuring they are only temporary. Both the NDP and Green platforms call for increased regulation of immigration consultants. 

The Liberal and Bloc platforms are silent.

Refugees: While the Conservative platform commits to the elimination of the cap for privately sponsored refugees, the PPC calls for relying solely on private sponsorship, accepting fewer refugees, no longer “relying” on the UN for refugee selection, and taking Canada out of the UN Global Compact for Migration.

The Conservative platform places priority on genocide survivors, LGBTQ+ refugees, and internally-displaced persons while the PPC platform places priority on persecuted religious minorities (e.g.,  Christians, Yazidis) in majority Muslim countries.

The NDP program calls for increased support for refugee integration. The Bloc calls for a moratorium on deportations to countries in conflict or where the life of a refugee would be in danger. The Liberal platform is silent.

Asylum seekers (Safe Third Country Agreement): While the Conservative platform calls for closing the loophole in the STCA that allows irregular arrivals between official border crossings, the Liberal platform states that it will work with the USA to “modernize” the Agreement. The NDP, Greens and Bloc call for its termination. 

The PPC would declare the whole border an official port of entry , deport irregular arrivals,  and fence frequently used border crossings like Roxham Road.

The Conservative platform commits to speed up refugee processing by deploying Immigration and Refugee Board judges to common arrival points and speed up deportations by hiring an addition 250 CBSA agents. The Green platform calls for the establishment of a Civilian Complaints and Review Commission for CBSA. The Bloc platform calls for the hiring of additional IRB members in Quebec to adjudicate claims.

Integration (settlement services): The Conservative platform commits to continue supporting settlement services while the Green platform calls for increased funding for language training through earmarked transfers to the provinces. The platform also calls for increased funding to multicultural organizations to provide language and other services. No other party makes integration commitments.

Citizenship: The Liberal platform commits to eliminate citizenship fees (currently $630 for adult applications). The Green platform commits to address the remaining cases of “lost Canadians” while the PPC platform commits to change the Citizenship Act to make birth tourism illegal.

Multiculturalism: The Conservative platform commits to end values tests for government G&C programs (e.g., the Summer Jobs program) and to reopen the Office of Religious Freedom.

The Liberal platform promises to continue improving the diversity of GiC appointments and senior levels of the public service. The Anti-Racism Strategy will be strengthened through doubling funding, along with increased G&C funding. The platform commits to improve the quality and amount of data collection regarding hate crimes. An additional $6 million over three years will be provided to the Centre for Community Engagement and Prevention of Violence along with resources to counter the rise of international far-right networks and terrorist organizations.

Both the Liberal and NDP platforms commit to hold social media companies accountable for hate speech.

The NDP platform has the longest list of commitments including: ensuring all major cities have dedicated hate crime units; the convening of a national working group to counter online hate; funding for anti-gang projects to deter at-risk youth from joining gangs or becoming radicalized; a ban on carding by federal law enforcement and working to end carding in all jurisdictions; and a national task force to develop a roadmap to end over-representation of Indigenous and visible minorities in prison populations, along with an African Canadian Justice Strategy.

The Green platform commits to improving the integration into the multicultural fabric, assisting cultural organizations to obtain charitable status, amending the Anti-Terrorism Act and Public Safety Act to require that formal charges be brought against all those detained and lastly, investigating allegations that Canadian officials cooperated with foreign agencies known to use torture.

The PPC platform commits to repealing the Multiculturalism Act and eliminating funding that promotes multiculturalism.

The Bloc platform focusses exclusively on Quebec jurisdiction questions: opposing any federal intervention in Bill 21 and laïcité; strengthening relations with immigrant communities;  private member bill “virtue signalling” with respect to exempting Quebec from the Multiculturalism Act; banning offering or receiving public services with face covered; having citizenship applicants living in Quebec demonstrate knowledge of French; and making federally regulated sectors (banks, transport, communications) located in Quebec subject to Bill 101.

Douglas Todd: Drawing Canada’s party lines on immigration in this election

Likely better to await the formal party platforms for the specifics (or absence of …):

The United Nations reported last year that Canada is the fourth most accepting country in the world for immigrants.

Working with pollsters from Gallup, the UN tallied each country’s quotient for tolerance by asking residents of each nation whether it was a “good thing” or “bad thing” that immigrants were living in their country, were becoming their neighbours and marrying into their families.

While Canada came out close behind No. 1 Iceland and ahead of the Netherlands, Australia and the United States (ninth), some of the least-accepting countries for migrants turned out to be Pakistan, Greece, Poland and Egypt. The polling showed residents of populous India and China were not as hostile to newcomers as those in South Korea, Israel and Russia, but were still highly wary.

Canadians’ relatively welcoming approach to migrants is the backdrop to this federal election campaign, in which each party’s different approaches to immigration policy are quietly but increasingly bubbling to the surface, as a modern-day record proportion of Canadians — roughly half — now tell pollsters that Ottawa is allowing in too many immigrants.

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau is nevertheless standing on his record of welcoming asylum seekers, hiking immigration levels by one-third and increasing international students and guest workers by half. The Conservatives’ Andrew Scheer, meanwhile, stresses that immigration is a positive for the country and that “sadly, under Justin Trudeau, a record-high number of Canadians believe that immigration should be reduced.”

The NDP’s Jagmeet Singh has made it a priority to allow in more parents and grandparents of Canadians and further increase Ottawa’s immigrant-settlement funding for Quebec. The leader of Canada’s fourth most popular party, the Greens’ Elizabeth May, has promised to erase the temporary foreign workers program.

Most Canadians don’t want the kind of overheated immigration conflicts that have occurred in some countries. But specialists such as Simon Fraser University political scientist Sanjay Jeram say it’s healthy for Canadians to not avoid the issue, since it affects housing, employment, urban congestion, the welfare state and training programs. And UBC political scientist Antje Ellermann has said our immigration policy history is potentially vulnerable to public pushback.

“Populism is a consequence, not the cause of political dissatisfaction,” Ellermann said. “Canadian immigration policy has traditionally been dominated by the government and civil servants, and rarely engaged the public in meaningful ways. (That makes it) vulnerable to popular challenge.”

Canadians certainly have diverse opinions on migration. For instance, the Angus Reid Institute found 32 per cent want to keep the current refugee levels, of about 50,000 per year, while 18 per cent say they should increase and 40 per cent say they should be lower.

Canadians show similar variations on the federal “family reunification” program, which typically brings in older immigrants sponsored by relatives. Angus Reid analysts say Canadians are expressing “pushback” on this program out of concern such newcomers are “more taxing on the nation’s social services.”

Here’s more on how the four main political parties are handling migration issues:


In a close race with the Conservatives, Trudeau is not talking a great deal about specific immigration policies, says Ipsos pollster Darrell Bricker, who notes the prime minister has mostly been questioning other candidates on whether they are tolerant.

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen has been more assertive. Highlighting how the Liberals have brought in a record number of international students, he recently confused education experts by boasting there were 721,000 such students in Canada in 2018. His officials later clarified the actual figure for Dec. 31, 2018, was 573,000. Hussen has also this year accused some of his political critics of being un-Canadian.

One of Trudeau’s rare forays into migration-related policy during the campaign occurred in Metro Vancouver, where there is a housing crisis. Trudeau pledged to follow the B.C. NDP and institute both a Canada-wide foreign buyers tax on housing as well as a speculation tax aimed at “satellite” homeowners, who earn most of their wealth outside the country, where it’s not subject to Canadian income tax.


After releasing his party’s immigration policy in May, Scheer has been low key on the potentially hot topic. Yet the Conservatives are airing ads that feature Scheer with the tagline “I’m voting for a fair immigration system.”

This month an Ipsos poll found 42 per cent of Canadians believe the Conservatives are best suited to handle immigration policy. That compares to the Liberals at 16 per cent, NDP at nine per cent, Greens at two per cent and the People’s Party of Canada, which wants to reduce immigration levels to 150,000 a year from the current 320,000, at 11 per cent.

The Conservatives have vowed to “set immigration levels consistent with what is in Canada’s best interests.” The party claims it would be more bold than the Liberals in clamping down on the thousands who have made irregular border crossings into Quebec. And this week Scheer promised to launch a national inquiry into “corrupt” money-laundering, both domestic and foreign, in the real-estate industry, which he said is inflating housing prices.


Singh is putting a strong emphasis on family-reunification programs, with the NDP saying it “will end the unfair cap on applications to sponsor parents and grandparents.” The party would also “take on unscrupulous immigration consultants.”

Even while Quebec Premier Francois Legault has cut immigration levels by 20 per cent, Singh has promised to have Ottawa respond to a lack of workers by giving the province $73 million more each year to settle newcomers. Critics, however, point out the federal government already sends Quebec four times as many taxpayer dollars to settle each immigrant than it sends to B.C. and Ontario.


The most surprising thing in the Greens’ policy is a commitment to end the temporary foreign worker program, which brings in about 100,000 people a year, while allowing more of them to become permanent residents. The Greens also say they want to define the term “environmental refugee,” turning it into a new category within Canada’s immigration system.

Even though the UN has verified that Canadians are among the world’s most welcoming people, it’s clear the complexities of immigration policy are still an issue, with politicians trying different ways to appeal to the public’s diverse opinions.

Source: Douglas Todd: Drawing Canada’s party lines on immigration in this election

Citizenship policy challenges the next government will face – My latest

Citizenship is the neglected child of immigration-related policies. It attracts less attention, and it has a lower profile and fewer resources than other areas. This is evidenced by wide swings in the number of new citizens, periodic funding shortfalls and the paucity of data, compared with that for immigration.


Full text: Citizenship policy challenges the next government will face

Election 2015: Party Platforms Immigration, Citizenship and Multiculturalism

Now that all the political platforms are out, I prepared this comparative table of the three major parties and their commitments on immigration, citizenship, multiculturalism and related issues.

A number of aspects worthy of note with respect to the Liberals and NDP (Conservatives are largely reinforcing existing policies):

  • Neither party mention repealing C-24 (2014 Citizenship Act) either in whole or in part (e.g., revocation), despite having been clear on the campaign trail and in the debates to do so (save for the Liberals committing to restore pre-Permanent Resident time for international students for residency requirements);
  • The main focus is immigration, with the Liberals emphasizing rolling back some of the changes, the NDP foreign credential recognition;
  • General agreement on refugee policy with some nuances;
  • No real discussion of multiculturalism save for the need for community outreach and engagement as part of a counter extremism strategy, with the NDP also calling for non-discriminatory consular service; and,
  • Both calling for the restoration of the long-form Census.

The link to the pdf version of the table is below (doesn’t translate well into WordPress):

Liberal, NDP and Conservative Platforms

I have tried to summarize accurately the individual commitments. Needless to say, if any readers have any corrections, comments or suggestions, happy to revise this accordingly.

Political Parties Respond to OCASI Questions for General Election 2015

OCASI [Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants] surveyed the major parties regarding immigration-related issues. The following excerpts their responses to the question below on citizenship. The Conservative Party did not submit a response given that it has largely implemented its policies:

“3. Citizenship

Only 26 per cent of permanent residents who settled in Canada in 2008 acquired Canadian citizenship, compared with 44 per cent for immigrant who arrived in 2007 and 79 percent for those who arrived in 2000. These are the findings of research on citizenship acquisition released earlier this year. Access to citizenship has become more restricted, and naturalized citizens and those with dual citizenship are treated differently under the law.

Question: How will you ensure access to citizenship and exercise of citizenship is equitable?”

NDP:  Under Stephen Harper and the Conservatives, it has become harder and harder for immigrants to come to Canada and succeed. They’ve created huge backlogs, increased fees, politicized the citizenship test, made children and seniors pass language tests, and created new categories of citizenship rights. An NDP government will work with stakeholders to restore fairness and transparency to our citizenship and immigration system and to undo harmful Conservative changes. We will repeal Conservative legislation that treats naturalized and dual citizens differently from other citizens. We will review the citizenship test. And we will remove the requirement for 14-17 year olds and 55-64 year olds to pass a language test in order to receive citizenship.


Citizenship application wait times have ballooned during Mr. Harper’s time in office. Not content to quadruple fees and double processing times, the Conservatives have unnecessarily erected new barriers for aspiring citizens. We are witnessing ever more difficult language testing imposed on older potential Canadians, and the scrapping of the credit for time spent in Canada, which was previously extended to international students. In all of these areas, a combination of Conservative cynicism and budget cutbacks have abandoned those people who find themselves in the immigration system.

Over and over during the Harper decade we have heard how Canadians cannot get access to the services they need in a timely manner. A Liberal government will create new performance standards for services offered by the federal government, including streamlining applications, reducing wait times, and money- back guarantees. Performance will be independently assessed and publicly reported, including immigration processing. After years of cuts, all of these services take too long and do not provide the service that Canadians deserve.

Liberals believe that leading this country should mean bringing Canadians together, not dividing them against one another. We will repeal the parts of Bill C-24 that introduce unnecessary barriers and hardships for people to become Canadians. With C-24, the Conservative government has created a second class of citizen—dual nationals whose Canadian citizenship can revoked by the government without due process. Liberals believe in a Canada that is united and strong not in spite of its differences, but precisely because of them. These values have been abandoned under Stephen Harper, who wants us to believe that some of us are less Canadian than others.

Liberals believe that citizenship is a fundamental building block of Canada. No elected official should have the exclusive power to grant or revoke this most basic status. This bill devalues Canadians citizenship and undermines Canada’s economic well-being by making it harder to attract international talent and expertise to Canada.


The research clearly demonstrates that access to citizenship is rapidly becoming an unrealizable pursuit for many immigrants to Canada. Our immigration and refugee protection system is not prepared for 21st­century realities or challenges. A system with more than 50 entry streams that by 2010 had produced a backlog of one million applications ­ many of which languished in the queue for up to five or six years ­ is a dysfunctional nightmare at best. It is an embarrassment to a country like Canada that increasingly depends on interconnectedness with the rest of the world.

Immigration is first and foremost about citizenship. The Green Party is the only federal party to have concluded that the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) is irredeemably flawed and must be scrapped. Weak mechanisms for assessing labour shortages have allowed the TFWP to undermine wage and labour standards. At the same time, the program exploits foreign workers.

Any reforms to Canada’s immigration system must strengthen our social fabric and be consistent with our fundamental values of the rule of law, equality, and fairness. The Green Party will initiate a comprehensive overhaul of Canada’s immigration and refugee protection system. Our reforms will ensure an efficient and predictable path to citizenship for all immigrants and their families. In addition to the policies discussed in depth here, we will establish pathways to citizenship for temporary foreign workers and the families of new Canadians. Greens will work with municipalities and provinces to improve the integration of new Canadians. We will also repeal Bill C­24 which allows the minister of citizenship to revoke citizenship. Citizenship is a category that cannot have classes.

New Democratic Party response to OCASI – Election 2015 [PDF]

Liberal Party response to OCASI – Election 2015 [PDF]

Green Party response to OCASI – Election 2015 [PDF]