Here in Canada, we tend to think of ourselves as claiming a sort of moral high ground when it comes to social justice issues. And then, every once in a while, an event occurs that proves just how awful and backwards we really are. Monday morning, 25-year-old British comedian Avery Edison tried to enter Canada through Toronto. She was denied entry and detained by Canadian immigration officials, a fact which she admitted was her own fault. It was decided that because of her male genitalia, she would have to go to Maplehurst Correctional Complex, an all-male facility. This, in spite of the fact that her passport lists her as female. And this is where I lose it.
Recently, Minister of Employment Jason Kenneyrightly highlighted the Foreign Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) as an important plank in Canada's complicated immigration system. The announcement itself by the Minister was made on a lazy, hazy, slow news day in August and stopped short of any real news -- how about an increase in this important stream?
Imagine there was a policy that could reduce global poverty, conserve natural resources and help alleviate the coming retirement crisis, all while also fostering domestic economic growth. You would have to be either misinformed or malicious to oppose this policy, right? Well, this policy exists, and it's called immigration. Ironically, "progressive" hero David Suzuki has come out in favour of reducing immigration levels. Mr. Suzuki is not only providing poor policy advice, but that advice runs contrary to his stated goals of reducing carbon emissions and fostering global development.
Ten years ago I made a documentary about migrant agricultural workers in Canada, El Contrato. I am interested in the story of workers and migration because I come from a working class family and my life has been fundamentally shaped by migration. This is the story of how immigration to Canada is racialized and classed.
In introducing Bill C-43 -- the Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act -- the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration offered several justifications for this legislation, which on first impression, appear warranted. But the very title of the legislation suggests that Canada is overrun with foreign terrorists, escaped convicts, war criminals and the like. That's only the tip of the iceberg for this highly problematic piece of legislation.
Canada's immigration selection system has always been rigorous, in part because we have viewed immigrants as "citizens in waiting." After three years of permanent residence, they are able to apply for citizenship and more than 89 per cent choose to do so -- one of the highest naturalization rates in the world. But, recent and proposed changes to Canada's immigration and citizenship rules are making it much more difficult for immigrants to become citizens.
On Monday, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Jason Kenney announced that the federal government had started the process of revoking the citizenship of 3,100 people suspected of lying to immigration officials in a highly publicized press conference.Fiscally conscious Canadians, who appreciate arithmetic, can see through this ideological contrivance.
Canada is finally moving toward a smart, two-step immigration policy -- like Australia and others have -- that will recruit talent through a targeting policy of foreign student education. Most foreign students in Canada get their degrees and never come back. Most Australians apply to remain and the majority stay.