Immigrant vote split as Canadian election approaches

Immigrants in Canada have traditionally supported the ruling Liberal party. However, in this election, immigrants appear split.

The Conservative Party is promising that if it takes power in Canada, it will streamline the process of bringing skilled immigrants into the country and ensure their better integration, says Indo-Canadian MP Rahim Jaffer.

"Our immigration policy is the reason many (voters) have shifted to us, after the frustration they feel with this government. If you ask anyone dealing with the immigration department in the last 15 years, they will tell you that conditions in the department continue to decline," Jaffer said.

"It is getting more and more difficult to bring people to this country even for family reunification. Also, the fees, the process, the security, are almost working against Canadians bringing their families," said the 34-year-old from Edmonton-Strathcona in Alberta province.

"What we've tried to do is to focus on the resources in the department and the process to allow for a positive flow of immigration but also facilitate the integration of many of these people coming - because, especially in the South Asian community, many people are well educated, they are in professions, and when they come here, they end up driving taxis or doing menial jobs," Jaffer said, voicing the anger of many South Asians who immigrate to Canada.

"So even when we've actually tried to bring more skilled people into this country, we have failed them when they get here because they can't really integrate into the economy."

The new ballot is due Jan 23. The election was necessitated after Martin lost a confidence vote last month.