One of the stations in the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, Halifax, is the immigration waiting area with a desk that includes landed immigrant stamps.

The “right” kind of people

Pop quiz, folks! Who said this?

With regard to the selection of immigrants, much has been said about discrimination. I wish to make quite clear that Canada is perfectly within her rights in selecting the persons whom we regard as desirable future citizens. It is not a “fundamental human right” of any alien to enter Canada. It is a privilege. It is a matter of domestic policy…. There will, I am sure, be general agreement with the view that the people of Canada do not wish, as a result of mass immigration, to make a fundamental alteration in the character of our population.

You might guess that it is Employment/Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney or Immigration Minister Chris Alexander. After all, over the past couple of weeks, the government has been mailing Canadians partisan flyers like these:

This is what is called a leading question…

Just because they say it doesn’t mean that it’s true…

The correct answer, however, would be Prime Minister Mackenzie King on May 1, 1947. In this speech (PDF), King makes his argument to prevent Chinese people from immigrating, defending Canada’s racist, white-first immigration policy of the time. Today Canadians reject those old immigration policies. Instead Canadians value inclusiveness and fairness.

We should be very worried that the government is using the same rhetoric that politicians used last century to support racially-based immigration. Even back then, politicians used the language of “desirable immigrants” to exclude those who are different. So when Jason Kenney and Chris Alexander talk about the ‘right’ kind of immigrants, we have to ask: What do they really mean?

When the government denies vulnerable refugees basic medical care, a decision the Federal Court calls “cruel and unusual,” are they saying that only a select few deserve health care?

When the government tries to deport a caregiver for trying to survive without relying on social assistance, are they saying that newcomers can be treated like disposable workers?

When the government tries to take away predominantly Filipino live-in caregivers’ hard-earned right to permanent residency, a right that British caregivers received over a century ago, are they saying that only some people deserve a chance to contribute to Canadian society?

Everyone should have a fair chance to contribute to Canadian society. But the reality is that to win the next election, the government is beginning to attack newcomers and immigrants more broadly. Canadians should send a strong message to the government that this country is one of inclusion, not exclusion. We will not go back to the discriminatory policies of the 1950s.

Add your name to our petition

The federal government needs to know that permanent residency for caregivers is a right and has always been a Canadian value. Tell your Member of Parliament that live-in caregivers deserve landed status.

 

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Jason Kenney used to support permanent residency for caregivers

Last June, Jason Kenney suggested that live-in caregivers should no longer have the right to apply for permanent residency. But he didn’t always believe that. In fact, in 2010, Jason Kenney publicly stated that PR for caregivers is a right and is what distinguishes Canada from other countries.

This is what he said:

Now you, ladies and gentlemen, know like I do that caregivers, particularly from Philippines work hard all around the world in Asia, in the States, in the Middle East, in Europe and in Canada.

But you know what’s unique about Canada?

We don’t just say to caregivers: “Come here for two years, help with your families back home, through remittances” and then we say goodbye.

We are the only country in the world that gives an opportunity for permanent residency and for family sponsorship and for citizenship!

We say to caregivers that we honour and respect your hard work. That we honour your and respect your hard work so much that after your period as a caregiver we invite you to stay and join us as part of our Canadian family.

– Jason Kenney, March 21, 2010, Toronto, ON

If caregivers are good enough to work and care for Canadian children and the elderly, they are good enough to stay. Jason Kenney agrees…or at least he used to.

Add your name to our petition

The federal government needs to know that permanent residency for caregivers is a right and has always been a Canadian value. Tell your Member of Parliament that live-in caregivers deserve landed status.
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One of the stations in the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, Halifax, is the immigration waiting area with a desk that includes landed immigrant stamps.

Reflections on an inclusive Canada

Our stories. Our voices. Our Canada. This is the first of an ongoing series that tells the stories of the people who have made their home here in Canada. Do you have a story to tell? E-mail us at info@inclusivecan.ca. We would love to hear from you.

It’s been a few days since we’ve launched this site and already we’ve made a lot of progress. We have a ways to go before we are fully launched–indeed, we have great initiatives planned for the next few weeks. Yet, even though this launch is more of a ‘soft launch,’ we have already heard from many people about how this issue touches on a feeling that we have all had in the back of our minds.

What is that feeling? It’s the feeling that our country has somehow become a less welcome place. Somehow, our government has created this environment where Canada is less friendly, less compassionate, less welcome and less inclusive. A Canada where the government denies people their basic humanity, distilling people to simple economic units.

And that’s a crying shame. Especially when I reflect on why I joined Canadians for an Inclusive Canada and start to think about my own experience growing up in Calgary. (more…)

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