CPC’s New Stance on Canadian Immigration Good, But Needs Improvement
Two months on from their May convention, Canada’s Conservatives have spoken: the anti-immigration sentiment that has been gaining ground internationally is not going have a place in Canada.
By electing Andrew Scheer as their new party leader, the Conservatives chose a moderate approach. This is especially true when compared to other candidates in the running. Tougher immigration policies, including screening for Canadian values during the immigration application process, got attention, but that type of populist agenda goes against actual Canadian values. Embracing Canadian immigration and our diverse multicultural society have won out for now.
How Moderate is Moderate?
In late June, Scheer distanced himself and the Conservative party from a controversial tweet from former leadership rival Kellie Leitch. While Scheer avoided specifically addressing the tweet, he stated, “The Conservative party under my leadership will continue to be an inclusive, welcoming party that welcomes not only immigrants, but also refugees, and ensures that Canada plays its role in welcoming people from difficult situations.”
This statement echoes Scheer’s moderate approach. Though he believes Canada should welcome refugees, Scheer nonetheless seeks to promote privately-sponsored Canadian immigration as opposed to government sponsorship. Even with Scheer’s moderate approach, though, there’s still much room for improvement. While his stance is a far cry from Kellie Leitch’s proposed “Canadian values” screening process, Scheer nonetheless voiced some support for increased screening. The Globe and Mail quoted him as saying, “I absolutely believe that we have core Canadian values that we need to promote and protect and defend.”
International Anti-Immigration Sentiment
Anti-immigration sentiments have been at the forefront of international election campaigns recently. U.S. President Donald Trump vowed to toughen immigration policies in the U.S.; Britain voted to leave the European Union in order to slow down immigration; and one of France’s presidential candidates—Marine Le Pen—is a far-right nationalist. And while some Canadians hold these beliefs as well, Canadian leaders and lawmakers will hopefully not be pushed in that direction any time soon, even within the Conservative party.
Leading up to the CPC convention, Leitch saw comparison to Trump and Le Pen for her anti-immigration stances. But since Canada has always relied on immigration to be a strong country (socially, economically, and culturally), tougher immigration policies, such as those proposed by Leitch, would hurt Canadian society. Anti-immigration would only strengthen divisions between cultures, causing Canada to take a giant leap backwards social and economic progress.
With the current anti-immigration climate in Europe and the U.S., immigration is still a divisive topic, even in Canada. Canada, though, can continue to grow as an inclusive country. After all, welcoming newcomers from diverse cultural backgrounds is always more productive than turning people away because they are different.