Who Gets In: What's Wrong with Canada's Immigration Program - and How to Fix It

Article excerpt

CANADA

Daniel Stoffman

Toronto: Macfarlane Walter & Ross, 2002, xi, 205pp, $34.99, ISBN1-55199-095-4

The author of this well written book is a veteran journalist who has had a keen interest in Canadian immigration issues for more than a decade. As Stoffman acknowledges, immigration is an issue in Canadian public policy that has risen rapidly on the government's agenda. In fact, immigration has become both more complex and more controversial, particularly since the terrorist acts of 11 September 2001 when migration came to be perceived as having an impact on national security.

Why people migrate and why so many choose Canada as their destination are enormous questions that Stoffman realizes he cannot fully deal with in his comparatively short volume. The approach he has adopted is one of criticism of Canada's prevailing immigration and refugee assistance policies. While he asserts that he favours immigration to Canada, he expresses strong misgivings about the motives, content, and direction of Canada's programmes, beginning as early as the mid-1980s when the Mulroney government decided to raise the level of annual entry to Canada significantly, from approximately 150,000 to 250,000 migrants. To Stoffman's distress, the Liberal government has continued the policy of high annual levels of admission.

The size of the annual intake of immigrants is only one of several problems Stoffman elaborates upon in his, at times, harsh critique. Space constraints here prevent the mention of more than one or two of these. For example, he argues that the large proportion of newcomers who fall into the family class rather than the independent class results in more entrants who are not evaluated under the point system and who, therefore, often speak neither official language, have no skills that are in demand, lower the overall productivity of the Canadian workforce, and frequently become recipients of various forms of welfare. …