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.
The xenophobia from the Quebec election spilled over to the rest of Canada today when it was revealed that the Bank of Canada, our country's central bank, chose to carve out all hints of diversity from its $100 bank note after heeding to discriminatory judgements from focus groups. As Canadians born with names a rural Quebec mayor cannot pronounce and with facial features unfit for a Canadian bank note, it is high time Canada acknowledge its long legacy of divisiveness and address its ugly remnants in order to move forward to the pluralistic vision of our beloved country we have yet to fully achieve.