Where do Canada’s Political Parties Stand on Refugee Intake?

CIC News
Published: September 9, 2015

Pour la version française, cliquez ici.

With a federal election on the horizon and a renewed public interest in Canadian immigration issues over recent weeks, CICnews is continuing its special Canadian election series by asking the major political parties the question:

Is Canada currently accepting around the right amount of refugees, or too many or too few?

Each of the national federal parties currently represented in the House of Commons was contacted in late August and given the opportunity to respond to this question. The refugee crisis resulting from the ongoing conflict in Syria, as well as the wider Middle East and regions of Africa, has seen political leaders face questions relating to Canada’s refugee intake. Perhaps more than at any other time in recent years, the public at large has shown an increased interest in issues concerning humanitarian immigration to Canada.

CICnews received responses from the Liberal Party, the Green Party, and the New Democratic Party (NDP). The order of the responses below was chosen by random lot. The Conservative Party was also invited to provide a response, but elected not to submit one.

Liberals commit to leadership on Syrian refugee crisis

A Liberal government will take immediate action to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada and address this tragic humanitarian crisis.

Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau

“Canadians can and must do more to help Syrian refugees who are desperately seeking safety. This is about showing leadership and doing what is right as Canadians,” said Liberal candidate for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce–Westmount, Marc Garneau. “Since March, Justin Trudeau has been calling on the Canadian government to immediately accept 25,000 government-sponsored Syrian refugees. Canadians expect action on this issue from their government.”

A Liberal government would:

  • Expand Canada’s intake to 25,000 refugees from Syria through immediate, direct sponsorship by the Government of Canada. We will also work with private sponsors to intake even more;
  • Invest at least an additional $100 million this fiscal year to increase – without reducing standards – refugee processing, as well as sponsorship and settlement services capacity in Canada; and
  • Provide an immediate $100 million new contribution to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees to support the critical relief activities in Syria and the surrounding area.

“Mayors and premiers from across the country have already taken action, together, and Canadians have stepped up personally to assist in the crisis,” said Liberal candidate for Markham–Stouffville, Jane Philpott. “Leading this country means bringing people together with hope for the future. We have a responsibility to significantly expand our refugee targets and give more victims of war a safe haven in Canada.”

An NDP government will make sure that Canada is doing its fair share

NDP leader Thomas Mulcair

At present, there are 60 million refugees in the world – the highest number since the end of the Second World War.  And the crisis in Syria has resulted in the greatest number of refugees from a single conflict in over twenty-five years.  In response to this crisis, Canada has not been doing our fair share on the world stage.

An NDP government will make sure that Canada is doing its fair share and welcoming more government assisted refugees.  We will also provide more resources to speed up processing for privately sponsored refugees, so that sponsors are not waiting for up to five years to welcome refugees to Canada. We will begin by accepting 10,000 Syrian refugees by the end of this year, in addition to another 36,000 over the next four years.

Canada can take many more refugees and treat them in an efficacious and compassionate manner

Immigration is Canada’s future. Welcoming new Canadians into our multicultural society has and will remain Canada’s greatest opportunity. New Canadians are a source of incredible skill and potential for our country.

Green Party leader Elizabeth May

Immigration is about citizenship. Those who come to live and work in Canada have a right to an efficient and predictable path to citizenship for themselves and their families. The whole immigration and refugee regime has been subjected to transformational changes. Laws and regulations change so rapidly that many prospective Canadians and their families are experiencing unacceptable delays and increased costs. The current system is almost impossible when compared to sponsorship at the time of the Vietnamese ‘boat people’ when Canada welcomed refugees with open arms. Now, it is expensive and loaded with obstacles. With Harper’s Bill C31, refugees arriving by boat are held in prisons for a year without cause. Our immigration policies must be revamped to ensure we stay true to our identity as a just, fair, and open country, and to be prepared for new challenges that are predicted to arise with increased numbers of environmental refugees seeking a safe new home in an increasingly perilous world.

Green MPs will lead a national discussion to define ‘environmental refugee’ and advocate for the inclusion of environmental refugees as a refugee category in Canada and accept an appropriate share of the worlds’ environment refugees into Canada.

Immigrants have always been crucial to building Canada and enriching both our economy and society. Immigration now accounts for all net labour force growth. By 2030, 100% of our population growth will come through immigration (about 60% already does). It is an exciting time to be Canadian- we have enormous potential. Canadians from all corners of the globe are building one of history’s more fascinating diverse and cosmopolitan nations. Any serious change must start with a fundamental principle: immigration is about citizenship. The goal of our immigration system must be to maximize the chances of successful settlement for all new Canadians and their families.

For those who flee to this country from war-torn nations or political persecution, migration is about life or death. Harper has torn our refugee system apart piece-by-piece: unconstitutionally terminating health benefits for refugees; detaining ‘irregular arrivals’ - an arbitrary label describing refugees arriving by boat - for up to a year; chasing after non-existent ‘queue-jumpers’; and, most horrifically, the record number of refugees - and their children - detained in maximum-security prisons across Canada. It must end. Canada can take many more refugees and treat them in an efficacious and compassionate manner. It is entirely possible to reform our laws to bring in more refugees while maintaining security: the only thing missing is the political will to do so. And to address the immediate needs of the largest migration crisis since the Second World War, Canada should immediately commit the resources of our Armed Forces to extract and transport 25,000 Syrian refugees this year and 40,000 over the next 5 years.

CICnews wishes to place on the record our thanks to the parties that responded to this important question, and looks forward to publishing more Canada Election 2015 articles over the coming weeks.

The Campbell Cohen Canadian immigration law firm has partnered with UNHCR with an urgent appeal. Click here to learn more and make a secure donation today.

If you wish to join a group discussion on this article and refugee immigration to Canada in general, please click here to go to the CanadaVisa.com Canada Immigration Forum.

© 2015 CICnews All Rights Reserved

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