John McCallum Named Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Refugees in new Canadian Cabinet that Celebrates Diversity

CIC News
Published: November 5, 2015

Liberal Party leader and Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, celebrates his election victory on October 19, 2015Canada’s new Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has named his government’s cabinet of ministers. These Members of Parliament have been handed specific departments and will aim to carry out the new Liberal government’s agenda, which is likely to include significant changes within the department of Citizenship, Immigration and Refugees.

The cabinet represents Canada’s diversity, as well as its commitment to gender equality and opportunities for new Canadians.

Some milestones include:

  • For the first time, half the cabinet is made up of female members.
  • Maryam Monsef, Minister for Democratic Institutions, is a refugee from Afghanistan who arrived in Canada aged 11.
  • Three of the 30 members are first-generation immigrants.
  • Other members are the children of people who immigrated to Canada over recent decades.

The Department of Citizenship, Immigration and Refugees

John McCallum, a 65 year-old resident of Oakville, Ontario, is the new Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Refugees. Mr McCallum has had extensive academic, private sector, and political careers, and brings to the department a deep understanding of the challenges faced. Before being sworn in as a member of Prime Minister Trudeau’s cabinet, McCallum was the Liberal Party’s chief critic on Citizenship and Immigration.

Canada's Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Refugees, John McCallum

John McCallum

Born in Montreal, McCallum studied at Cambridge in the United Kingdom and McGill University before embarking on an academic career as a professor of economics. During his time as an academic, McCallum took on full-time positions in the provinces of Manitoba, British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario. He went on to serve as the Royal Bank of Canada’s chief economist in the 1990s before beginning his political career. He has already served in previous cabinets as Minister of Veterans Affairs and Minister of National Defence.

Throughout his time in Parliament, McCallum has come to be respected and admired by politicians from all parties, as well as by media members and the general public. Over recent years he has been particularly vocal on the need for Canada to do more to make family reunification quicker and simpler. He also clashed with former Minister for Citizenship and Immigration, Chris Alexander, on matters pertaining to economic immigration, refugee settlement, and Canadian citizenship. McCallum is known to be a man who promotes an ambitious agenda that may increase the number of permanent residents that come to Canada annually.

One noticeable change in the new cabinet is a semantic one that points towards a probable change in priorities. The former Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration is now the Ministry of Citizenship, Immigration and Refugees.

Proof of Canadian opportunity and equality

“What Prime Minister Trudeau’s cabinet reveals is that Canada does not merely pay lip service to notions such as equality of opportunity and gender equality. The proof is right there in the fact that many of our most prominent public servants — the people who actually have earned the responsibility to legislate on behalf of Canadians and carry out Parliament’s decisions — are the sons and daughters of immigrants or immigrants themselves,” says Attorney David Cohen.

“In particular, I would like to wish the inspirational Maryam Monsef well as she continues her amazing journey. Who would have thought that a refugee from Afghanistan, who fled with her mother and sisters after her father fell victim to the Taliban, could one day sit at the cabinet table?

“Furthermore, the selection of John McCallum as Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Refugees would appear to be an astute one. Mr McCallum is a long-standing MP with a wealth of experience who knows the portfolio well from his time as Liberal defence critic on Citizenship and Immigration. He is going to be a busy man with a lot of work to get through on family reunification, economic immigration, and refugee settlement, as the Liberals made a lot of pledges in those areas. Let us hope that he, along with his department, is up to the task.”

The Mid-October issue of CICNews covered the recent Canadian election and outlined some policy proposals made by the now-governing Liberal Party. Click here to read that article.

To find out if you are eligible for any of over 60 Canadian immigration programs, please fill out a free online assessment today.

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