Canadian citizenship minister denies immigration system is racist

The Canadian immigration minister Jason Kenney has written an article in British newspaper The Guardian strongly refuting the claims, published in the same paper on 14th September 2012, that Canada's immigration system has become less generous, and more open to charges of racism.

On 14th September, The Guardian published an article by Jonathan Kaiman entitled 'Maple leaf ragged: what ails Canada?' Mr Kaiman said that 'there's trouble brewing in Canada.' He said that, there had been 'a harsh crackdown on immigrants'.

Mr Kaiman said that, while Canada remains 'one of the few countries in the world that looks to immigration as a tool for nation-building', there have been changes to the system making it less inclusive. He said
• immigration authorities have radically adjusted the criteria for applications
• Canada had cut refugee resettlement programmes'.
• healthcare has been cut for certain refugee groups
• 3,100 people will have their citizenship revoked after paying for documents to be falsified
• 11,000 more remain under investigation
• The number of successful applicants for citizenship from China and India have halved since 2006.
• The refusal rate for citizenship applications has doubled

Mr Kaiman said that this all pointed to 'an undercurrent of racism in Canadian society.

Mr Kenney responded in an article in The Guardian on 28th September 2012 with indignation. He said that he doubted that the 90% of Canadians who, according to a recent poll think that Canada is the greatest country in the world, would recognise the country described by Mr Kaiman.

As Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, Mr Kenney responded mainly to Mr Kaiman's analysis of the current immigration regime. Mr Kenney said that,
• Far from cutting immigration, his government has increased immigration to 'the highest level in Canadian history and the highest per capita level in the developed world.
• Far from adjusting the criteria for successful citizenship applications, his government had, in fact, made it more flexible to allow skilled tradesmen, foreign students and semi-skilled workers to become permanent residents.
• Far from cutting refugee resettlement programmes, Canada was increasing them by 20% and tripling the funding of refugee integration.
• Healthcare remains for almost all refugee groups and is better funded than the Canadian general health service.

Mr Kenney went on to deny that Canada's crackdown on illegal immigrants was 'harsh'. He said that there was 'an extensive process of judicial reviews and appeals' in place for those whose citizenship was revoked and that there was nothing wrong with 'seeking to remove citizenship from people who obtained it fraudulently and have never lived in Canada'.

Recently, Mr Kenney announced that Canada would be revoking the citizenship of 3,100 people. He announced that the reason for the revocations was that the citizens in question had not, as required by Canadian law, lived in Canada for three of the four years prior to gaining citizenship but had, instead, paid immigration agents to falsify records to suggest that they had lived in Canada when, in fact, they had been living elsewhere, usually in the Gulf States.

Mr Kenney also said that Mr Kaiman was wrong to suggest that the overall acceptance rate for citizenship applications had halved. Mr Kenney said that 'the overall acceptance rate was 92% last year. He said that 85% of those who are awarded permanent residency go on to become citizens; 'the highest naturalisation rate in the developed world'.

Mr Kenney also denies that there is any truth in Mr Kaiman's claims that the numbers of successful citizenship applications from India and China have fallen since 2006. He said that, in fact, the numbers have remained constant over that period. There have been 28,000 per annum from India and 30,000 from China every year since 2006.

The fact that this claim is untrue, Mr Kenney said, undermines Mr Kaiman's 'most outrageous claim' that there is a 'deep-rooted, yet widely ignored undercurrent of racism in Canadian society'.

Mr Kenney says that this is not the case. He says that Mr Kaiman has 'aligned himself with the radical fringe of racial grievance mongers in mistaking the rule of law for discrimination'.

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