That Guy with the Immigration Platform
The Liberal Party leadership race has been a pretty uninspired affair so far. No candidate has yet to position himself/herself as the favorite, and the leading candidates haven’t distinguished themselves anymore than as “that guy who taught at Harvard”.
Out of this pack of mostly middle-aged white men comes an original immigration-based platform from Gerard Kennedy. While a middle-aged white man himself, Kennedy is distinguishing his campaign by positioning himself as an advocate for current and future immigrants to Canada. In fact, part of Kennedy’s Immigrant Success Platform calls for the creation of an immigration advocate position within the federal government.
Kennedy seems to have grasped the economic and cultural importance of continued immigration to Canada, and our need to better integrate immigrant populations into society at large. This includes working with the private sector to better recognize foreign credentials and reduce immigration income-gaps, and reworking the points-based immigration system to attract more diverse skilled workers that are currently shut out.
While Kennedy should have no trouble appealing to the immigrant vote, especially with foreign- born and former Liberal cabinet minister Raymond Chan occupying a top position in his campaign, this doesn’t mean Kennedy will be sitting on the Liberal Party throne anytime soon. He was little known before this race began and, although the Globe and Mail corrected an article that had mistakenly stated he wasn’t bilingual, his still mediocre French probably takes him out of serious contention on the national stage.
But that doesn’t mean Kennedy’s appeal to the immigrant vote is all-for-naught. If a savvy Liberal frontrunner with a better chance of winning the leadership brings Kennedy into the fold, parts of the Immigrant Success platform might become reality. In that scenario, Kennedy might be willing to lend his support, and that of Canada’s immigrant communities, to a leading candidate willing to implement his ideas, such as the immigrant advocate position. But before that happens, Kennedy must first be recognized for his innovative platform. Until then, the Liberal race is doomed to be dominated by references to “that guy who used to play goalie”, and other such uninspiring fare. Let’s recognize Gerard Kennedy, that guy who is putting immigration advocacy onto the national agenda.
Blog written by David Cohen on Wednesday, May 30, 2006