Immigration Door Stays Open for 200,000

Article excerpt

The annual figures for immigration levels reflects the federal government's proimmigration policy. The basis of this policy is the belief that immigration is a positive instrument for social and economic development. Canada has had a long history of promoting immigration and it is an important component of future development. Canada's immigration policy is focussed on promoting economic immigration, attracting skilled workers for specific trades and professions, and reuniting families. International responsibilities are also important and Canada prides itself on responding quickly to provide those in need with a safe haven. The target for 1997 is 200,000 immigrants which is the same figure as 1996. Speech for the Tabling of the 1997 Immigration Levels Plan, House of Commons, October 29.

Mr. Speaker, it is a legal requirement that the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration rise in this House and table an annual plan on the immigration levels.

This is a responsibility which I welcome this morning.

The 1997 Immigration Plan is a tangible example of this government's pro-immigration philosophy. This government -- and the Canadians that it serves -- recognizes the importance of promoting immigration as an instrument of positive social and economic development.

I would ask all the members of the House when you look at the numbers I will be tabling today not to lose sight of what they represent. Immigration policy is not about charts and graphs. Every number in every column represents a human being with dreams and fears and hopes.

When you skim down the columns think of the people in your neighborhood. Your friends. Your colleagues. People in the House. Chances are they -or their parents or grandparents - were immigrants.

We should never lose sight of the human face of immigration.

Our government does not, and it's reflected in our policies. This is demonstrated in the 1997 Plan I'm tabling today.

We are clearly attracting the economic immigrants we need to strengthen our economy. We are also bringing in skilled workers to meet specific labor market needs. At the same time, we remain committed to family reunification and the realization of Canada's humanitarian mission.

Mr. Speaker, immigration is obviously a front-and-centre policy in this country. Immigration programs have a profound impact on all aspects of life in Canada. This is true now - and it has been true for over 130 years.

Even before Canada existed as a country, people recognized that immigration was the key to building the Canadian society. Unifying the British North American colonies was seen as a good way of attracting the farmers and laborers needed to kick start the young economy. The visionaries who met in Charlottetown to create this country knew that immigration was the key to unlocking our potential.

Immigration was a cornerstone of the National Policy of John A. Macdonald. Immigrants helped fuel the engine of Canadian growth. They worked in the factories of Toronto and Montreal. They tilled the land. They helped develop the Atlantic fisheries.

Laurier predicted that the 20th century would belong to Canada. He knew that immigration would be a key to realizing this goal. He entrusted Sir Clifford Sifton to bring immigrants to open the West. Sifton did just that. Under his direction waves of immigrants from across Europe made the leap of faith and came to this country. Their dreams and determination helped shape our destiny.

More recently, during the Pearson and Trudeau administrations, immigration was perceived as a way of not only strengthening our country economically, but also of bringing new ideas and new perspectives to Canada. Immigration policies in the 1960s and 1970s helped shape Canada into the multicultural and multiethnic country we enjoy today.

Immigration has served Canadians very well. It continues to do so. …