Canadian Immigration and the Coming Election

August 26th, 2008

It seems more probable by the day that Canadians will be going to the polls in the next couple of months to elect a new federal government. A snap election will likely be called by the minority Conservative government as early as September 5th for later in the Fall on the pretext that Parliament is now dysfunctional.

The election results could have a significant affect on Canadian immigration policy for years to come.

Back in the spring, the Conservatives managed to pass a government budget implementation bill that gave sweeping powers to the Minister of Immigration to streamline the immigration system and cut through the backlog of existing immigration applications. The legislation empowers the Minister to instruct visa officers to process certain applications quickly, hold on to other applications for later consideration, and to return certain other applications to sender without any consideration at all. This can all be done based upon the Minister’s opinion, without the usual oversight of Parliament and the protection of the Immigration Regulations. The Minister has recently consulted with the provinces and other stakeholders and has announced that instructions will be issued to visa offices later this Fall. Now it appears that will only happen if the Conservatives are elected in sufficient numbers to form the next government.

The other political parties have all vowed to repeal the part of the legislation that gave these new powers to the Minister of Immigration. Each party’s platform will be made public soon after the election is announced – my next blog will examine the immigration aspects of these platforms in detail.

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