Some Foreigners Need Not Apply under Canada's Immigration Plan Once Generous in Visas, Ottawa Plays to an Anti-Immigrant Mood

Article excerpt

FACED with rising public concern over historically high levels of immigration, Canada's Liberal government has moved to slow the nation's influx of "family" immigrants and favor instead "economic" immigrants who bring with them skills, money, and businesses.

The move is a reversal for the government of Prime Minister Jean Chretien, whose successful 1993 campaign promised to raise, not lower, immigration levels by 1 percent.

But with high unemployment, a huge budget deficit, and polls showing mounting public concern that immigrants do not contribute enough to the economy, the government reneged.

On Tuesday, Immigration Minister Sergio Marchi announced the government would lower the total number of immigrants Canada welcomes next year from this year's target of 230,000 (including refugees) to between 190,000 and 215,000 in 1995, at least a 6.5 percent drop.

Reaction was mostly critical both from those who see the shift away from reuniting families as unfair and also from groups that support curtailing immigration.

The western-based Reform Party is supporting the government move. But Reform Party immigration critic Art Hanger says the changes do not go far enough. His party advocates lowering total immigration to 150,000.

"We cannot take everyone who applies," he told the Toronto-based Globe and Mail newspaper. "Canada has no moral burden to accept everyone."

Most significant, though, was the shift in the type of those that Canada will still receive, analysts say. Mr. Marchi says the balance will be tilted toward immigrants who will add to the Canadian economy and away from immigrants' family members, who have traditionally been a strain on government coffers.

The share of economic immigrants will increase from 43 to 55 percent, while the family component will shift from 51 to 44 percent over the period of the plan from 1995-2000, Marchi said. Priority will still be given to reuniting spouses and their children. But unlike in the past, parents, grandparents, and siblings will not be on that same priority level. …