Prime-Minister Stephen Harper is reaching out to Canadian immigrants

CIC News
Published: May 1, 2006

In the first 100 days of the Harper government, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) has been busy strategically charming Canada's massive immigrant population.Traditionally, the Conservative party was never all that appealing to Canadian immigrants. Although the party was once thought to harbor a tough line on immigration, it is working diligently to transform its image in the hearts and minds of Canada's populous immigrant nation.

Under Harper's direction, the Government of Canada has moved swiftly to address several key immigration-related issues. Such as:
- Reducing the immigrant landing fee, called the "Right of Permanent Resident Fee" (RFRF) by half.
- Pledging an additional C$307 million above the promised millions that the unseated Liberal government had wanted to devote to the settlement of Newcomers.
- The creation of a federal agency which oversees foreign-skilled credentials recognition.
- A judicial inquiry into the air-India bombing, a sticking point for Indo-Canadians, and a holdover from the previous Liberal government.
- An official apology to Canada's Chinese immigrants for the discriminatory "head tax" imposed between 1885 and 1923, as well as a nominal, yet symbolically significant, gesture of monetary atonement.
- Fast-tracking Canadian citizenship for adopted foreign-born children
- Declaring that the Conservative government will not reduce the current immigration levels in all categories.
- Promising to improve Canada's Refugee Determination Process and to work closely with the provinces in finding solutions for regional labour shortages through the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP).

Harper is working hard at tempering his administration to the sensitivities of Canadian immigrants. The Prime Minister, through his party's swift action on immigration-related matters, is strategically moving through traditionally Liberal grounds, the sum of which amounts to electioneering. The government's current approach to immigration tells the story of a minority government wanting to increase its ethnic constituency and benefit at the polls with a majority mandate in the next federal election.

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