Facts belie claims
November 6th, 2005
By Guidy Mamann
What do these recent news items have in common?
1. On April 18, Immigration Minister Joe Volpe announced that he was "tripling" our annual intake of parents and grandparents.
2. On Sept. 25, immigration department officials were quoted as saying that Canada will increase our annual immigration levels from 235,000 to one per cent of our population, i.e. about 320,000 people.
3. On Oct. 31, the Globe and Mail published a headline that read "Canada opens door for 700,000."
4. On Nov. 4, the federal Conservatives claimed that they denied $168 million dollars of new funding to the immigration department because Minister Volpe failed to provide the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration with "specifics" when asked to "clarify government plans."
5. On Nov. 4, the Liberals claimed that because of the refusal of the Conservatives and Bloc Québécois to authorize the increased budget, "fewer parents and grandparents will be able to reunite with their families in Canada."
So what do they have in common? You guessed it! Not one of these statements has a shred of truth to it.
Let's look at them individually.
1. Volpe was clearly trying to look good when he announced that he was tripling our annual intake of parents and grandparents from 6,000 to 18,000. What he failed to mention was that for the past 10 years we averaged 21,989 immigrants per year in this category. His department tried to slash this number to 6,000 but ran into legal action and an unprecedented backlash by prospective sponsors.
2. While immigration department officials may think that they are increasing our annual immigration levels to one per cent of our population, they clearly forgot to check with their boss. Volpe was asked about this so-called plan when he appeared before the standing committee on Nov. 1. His answer? "I didn't say one per cent. I've never said that." Hmmm, I wonder why he never denied it or reprimanded his staff for this misrepresentation.
3. As for the Globe and Mail, what were they thinking when they said we were opening "our doors for 700,000"? That day, Volpe was tabling his annual immigration plan for Parliament that clearly called for an intake of between 225,000-255,000 new immigrants in 2006. I guess it must have been a slow news day at the Globe.
4. I read the transcript of Volpe's two-hour appearance before the Standing Committee on Nov. 1. The questions were mostly long-winded and consisted of many parts. He answered every question to the extent that he was given the opportunity to do so. Only one question appeared to have anything to do with the money he was asking for. Notwithstanding this, the request for the increased budget was rejected by the committee.
5. The Liberals are lying when they say that the denial of additional funding by the Conservatives and the Bloc are preventing more parents and grandparents from coming here.
The fact is that, in April, Volpe already fixed the number of parents and grandparents who would be coming here in 2005 and 2006 at 18,000. The plan filed with Parliament earlier in the week called for 17,000-19,000 in 2006. Thus, the Conservatives and Bloc hold no responsibility whatsoever for this number.
The immigration business is already complex and murky enough as it is. We don't need careless words from our politicians, government officials, and news media to muck it up even further.