Critics Say Canada Could Lose Multiculturalism if Immigration Amendments Pass

Canadian Press, April 8, 2008

Concerned immigrant groups say Canada could lose its rich history of multiculturalism and ethnic diversity if proposed amendments are made to the country’s immigration law.

Sima Sahar Zerehi of the group Status Now says some visible minorities—who surpassed five million in number in the latest census—fear changes being proposed by Ottawa could result in immigrants being discriminated against and denied entry into Canada.

She says well-established immigrant communities would then shrink instead of grow and some ethnic cultures could eventually disappear from Canadian society.

The proposed legislation would give the federal government power to fast-track certain types of applicants while refusing to even consider others.

Immigration Minister Diane Finley has said the amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act would help attract highly sought after skilled workers, who often give up on Canada as a destination because of long backlogs.

Finley has declined to speculate about which immigration categories could be banished to the lower rungs of the priority list.

Zeheri, who is Iranian and came to Canada as a refugee, says she’s also concerned because the Conservatives included the immigration measures in its larger budget-implementation bill.

The budget bill is a confidence matter that would trigger an election if the opposition parties voted it down.

Zeheri says she’s worried the Liberals will not vote against the immigration amendments because they don’t want to face an election any time soon.

Victor Wong of the Canadian-Chinese National Council says the government should withdraw the proposed amendments for now, release a discussion paper outlining why it wants to change the legislation, and then consult ethnic communities before going any further.

“This has been the process in the past,” Wong said at a hearing of the House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration in Toronto on Tuesday.

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