On May 2, 2011 Canadian citizens will be casting their vote in an election to either re-elect the governing Conservatives, or to elect a new party and Prime Minister. The outcome of this election may have important implications for Canadian immigration. Canada has five major parties running for election. While many parties agree on certain issues, such as the need to improve the efficiency of the immigration system, they each have their own views on what changes need to be made to Canada’s immigration system. The following are some promises made by each party during the election campaign:ConservativesIf re-elected, the Conservatives have promised to:
- Get tougher on human smuggling;
- Streamline the process for deporting foreign criminals;
- Impose a two year conditional Canadian permanent resident status for applicants who are sponsored by a spouse or common-law partner and who have been in that relationship for less than two years; and
- Have foreign credentials recognized in Canada faster and more easily.
If elected, the Liberals have promised to:
- Reduce wait times for immigration applications and increase efficiency of the current Canadian immigration system;
- Increase the number of visas that are issued in the Family Class Category;
- Increase federal funding for language training programs in Canada for those wanting to improve their English or French proficiency; and
- Improve the system of recognizing foreign credentials in Canada.
If elected, the New Democratic Party has promised to:
- Improve immigration wait times and fast-track family reunification;
- Reduce the backlog of applications at the visa offices;
- Develop better procedures and appeals for those applying for visitor visas;
- Accelerate the recognition of foreign credentials in Canada;
- Reinstate federal funding for immigrant settlement agencies, especially those cut in Ontario;
- Implement the “Once in a Lifetime Act” which would allow Canadians a one-time opportunity to sponsor a relative who is not a member of the family class to come to Canada; and
- Ensure tough laws against crooked consultants are enforced.
If elected, the Green Party promises to:
- Allocate greater funding for language training programs in English and French in Canada;
- Establish a program for people living in Canada without official status that will lead to full landed immigrant status;
- Improve the integration of newcomers into Canadian society;
- Toughen and enforce regulations governing the practice of immigration consultants; and
- Amend the Anti-Terrorism Act and the Public Safety Act so that formal charges can be brought against all those detained.
Throughout the election campaign, the Bloc Québécois have been fairly quiet on issues regarding immigration. They recently released a document which proposes several changes to their own immigration programs within the province of Quebec (full story can be found here); however they have not discussed changes they would make to federal immigration policies.The 2011 election is important to potential immigrants and Canadians alike as a new government can mean changes to current immigration policies, but whether all of these promises will actually be kept remains to be seen.Learn more about Canada’s political system here.