Where the Conservative leadership candidates stand on immigration
Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch has received plenty of attention for her proposal to screen all immigrants for “Canadian values,” but she’s not the only leadership hopeful with ideas about how to overhaul the system.
Here’s a closer look at where the candidates stand on immigration -- including their views about how many should be accepted, how they should be screened and who should be encouraged to come.
- The former immigration minister under Stephen Harper, Alexander said at his campaign launch that his government “got immigration right.”
- “We were able to sustain the highest levels of Canadian immigration in our history … because our job market was tight,” he said at a debate in Saskatoon in November. Immigration levels under Harper were as high as 270,000.
- As minister, Alexander faced criticism over delays in meeting the Conservatives’ commitment to resettle Syrian refugees.
- He supported a ban on niqabs at citizenships ceremonies that a court later struck down.
- How many? 250,000 per year, which isa cut from the Liberals’ record-high target of 300,000.
- Who should come? “Streamline the process for hiring specialized workers abroad” and “put slightly more emphasis on economic immigration,” he says. He would also “slightly reduce” family reunification class immigration.
- On screening: “Would increase resources for CSIS, the RCMP and (CIC), do background checks on all classes of immigrants (and) conduct more face-to-face interviews if deemed necessary.”
- On refugees: Would accept “slightly” fewer, with more privately-sponsored and fewer government sponsored
- “Our immigration policy should not aim to forcibly change the cultural character and social fabric of Canada, as radical proponents of multiculturalism want,” Bernier has written.
- How many? Said he would “reduce the annual number of newcomers, immigrants and refugees…” to roughly where they were under Harper
- Would establish a taskforce to “de-politicize the process of establishing immigration targets based on labor market studies”
- Would distribute new Canadians “based on labor needs in different regions …”
- Would “beef up” screening by CBSA and CSIS
- How many? “Focusing on a specific number misses the point,” he says. “We need an evidence-based policy for immigration that puts Canada's economic interests at the forefront.”
- Who should come? Those with “skills and training to strengthen our economy” with a preference for younger people in order to address the “demographic challenges of an aging population”
- On screening: Face-to-face values screening is “simply a divisive tactic to stir fear and play politics with immigration.”
- How many? Calls targets “arbitrary,” but said she “will never again allow 270,000 immigrants into the country in one year without a face-to-face interview.”
- On Screening: “I will ensure all immigrants, refugees, and visitors receive a face-to-face interview with a trained immigration officer,” Leitch said. “As part of that screening we (will) ensure that they agree with our shared Canadian values of hard, work, generosity, freedom, and tolerance.”
- How many? “Rational immigration targets vary year by year in concert with the needs of our economy but priority number one needs to be protecting Canadians from radical Islamic terrorism,” he said.
- On screening: “A Canadian values test won’t make Canadians safe: radical Islamic terrorists won’t share their true values with our immigration officials … We need to increase and enhance our assessment processes, including face-to-face screening, particularly of those from high risk regions where radical Islamic terrorism is prevalent.”
- How many? 275,000 per year says Obhrai, an immigrant from Tanzania
- Who should come? Mostly skilled workers, but also up to 10,000 “low-skilled” workers annually selected lottery system
- On screening: Conduct face-to-face interviews only “when issues are flagged”
- On refugees: More privately-sponsored refugees and fewer government-sponsored
- Would cut funding for settlement programs, with the exception of those for refugees
- How many? “It’s not about more or less” but “doing the work to determine what our actual needs are and recalibrating our immigration system to meet those needs,” O’Toole tells CTV News. At the Saskatoon debate, he said he supports a number in the “270,000 range.”
- Who should come? “I will restrict the (Temporary Foreign Worker) program significantly because it isn’t working for Canadians or for newcomers to Canada. Some industries, like agriculture, seasonal and live-in care, have legitimate needs for temporary workers and that will be allowed to continue.”
- On screening: “For well over a year now, I have been asking the CBSA, the RCMP and other security agencies about our practices ... I have been and continue to be satisfied with the current security screening measures of our immigration system … Screening should continue to be reserved, as is standard practice, for refugees, displaced persons and countries requiring travel visas.”
- On refugees: “Priority will be given to the Yazidi people" and "interpreters who served bravely alongside Canadian Armed Forces members during the Afghanistan War.”
- Strongly opposes “values tests of citizenship,” which he calls “Orwellian”
- Wants “smarter immigration policies, using tiered security screening and increased terrorist surveillance”
- How many? “When the Liberals talk about a number, don’t be taken in,” she said when asked in Saskatoon. What matters, according to Raitt, is the proportion of economic immigrants, versus refugees and family members. She did not say what the mix should be.
- On screening: "Putting something like a values test in that place, in that space, I think is going to have the opposite effect and it'll chill people wanting to come here," Raitt told CTV’s Question Period.
- How many? Between 260,000 and 285,000, he says. “The Liberals have presented no economic case for going higher.”
- Who should come? “We need to look at welcoming immigrants who can integrate quickly, not just for our economic well-being, but also our national security.”
- On screening: “I support more face to face interviews to assess adaptability.”
- On refugees: “When Justin brings in 25,000 Syrian refugees in a matter of months, without a plan to help them integrate, I feel this is irresponsible governing … Not only is it tough on the refugees … it is tough on our taxpayers who are footing the bill while refugees are left to figure out on their own how to find work, find housing, and learn our culture.”
- Would “ensure we have plans and infrastructure in place to help (immigrants) integrate as quickly as possible. That familiar story about doctors from India coming here and ending up driving taxis -- it's not without basis. We need to help them put their skills to work, so we all benefit.”
- How many? “Numbers based on logic,” Sheer said in Saskatoon. “We shouldn’t participate in an auction -- one party trying to have a bigger number than the other.”
- Who should come? “It should be based on a process, based on economic indicators and what our society needs.”
- How many? 250,000 this year, rising and falling “depending on the economic conditions and the ability to absorb new Canadians”
- On screening: “Temporary immigration bans on nations or groups who pose a direct security risk to Canadians” and “all immigrants who present as a medium or high risk to the security of Canadians must be screened in person by officials”
- Who should come? “If you know new Canadians you know there’s two types of them: the ones that come here because they choose Canada and the ones that come here to use Canada,” he said in Saskatoon. “With economic criteria we’ll get more of the ones who choose Canada.”