July 2, 2013
Conservative MP Defends Fellow Parliamentarians but What About Immigrants?
Posted by: Mario D. Bellissimo
In a discussion on Power and Politics, Conservative Member of Parliament Chris Alexander for Ajax-Pickering defended fellow conservative MPs, James Bezan and Shelly Glover in regards to their 2011 election returns and allegations regarding expense over the legal limit in violation of the Elections Act, stating that Elections Canada retroactively revised certain requirements after the returns had been accepted. “. . . That is a principle of Canadian law that is sacrosanct,” said Alexander, “you can’t revise things retroactively.”
What about his Conservative government’s decision to terminate the Federal Skilled Worker immigration backlog of nearly 300,000 persons with applications dating as far back as 2004, retroactively? Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has argued that the purpose of eliminating the backlog is to ensure that newcomers meet Canada’s current labour market needs and shortages.
Most immigration applicants are indeed concerned with processing timelines and employment opportunities but equally important to them is the certainty of selection. Certainty of selection, if the termination stands, legally and otherwise will be relegated to the scrapheap, replaced by a reality of looming retroactivity whenever the perceived need arises.
This legal foundation in my mind is not sustainable as immigration categories will become moving targets like for these applicants who could not know for the past eight years, in some cases, what was going to come of their application. We are already dealing with the long shadow of disturbing Canadian demographics such as a 1.5 per cent declining fertility rate and so despite what some will have you believe, this is a serious blow to the integrity of our immigration system and government.
Integrity is the corner stone of good governance. We must strive to fashion our immigration law in a manner that preserves our international reputation as a country of invitation and openness and, at the same time, promotes economic, social and cultural nation building.
The matter remains in litigation before the Federal Court of Appeal and curiously despite what is at stake, the media spotlight and the contemplation of at least one Conservative parliamentarian has faded. Integrity and sacrosanctity are giving way to governmental administrative efficiency and now armed with a strong legal precedent of repugnant retroactive application in the immigration context Canadians in many aspects of their interaction with government may soon be asking what really is legally sacrosanct?