On July 15, 2013, Prime Minister Stephen Harper shuffled his cabinet. From an immigration perspective, the important changes are:
- Steven Blaney replaces a retiring Vic Toews as the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.
- Chris Alexander replaces Jason Kenney as the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.
- Jason Kenney replaces Diane Finley as the Minister of Employment and Social Development (formerly Human Resources and Skills Development Canada).
The Ministry of Employment and Social Development is a huge ministry, responsible for developing, managing, and delivering social programs and services. In addition to overseeing the Labour Market Opinion aspect of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, Minister Kenney will also be responsible for Employment Insurance, the Canada Student Loans, the Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security, the national Homelessness Initiative, and more. He will be managing the delivery of over $87-billion in programs and services, and will oversee approximately 24,000 employees.
In hindsight, Jason Kenney’s appointment to be Minister of Employment and Social Development is not that surprising. On April 29, 2013, he gave a press conference regarding changes to the Labour Market Opinion program. More recently, he gave Service Canada the power to issue what are in effect Ministerial Instructions, and he recently introduced regulatory amendments providing the Department with incredible powers to enforce foreign worker compliance.
As someone who interacts with the Temporary Foreign Worker Program on an almost daily basis, I have published below five things that I would like to see Minister Kenney change about the Labour Market Opinion process. In making these requests I have taken into consideration the dual objectives of both protecting the Canadian labour market while ensuring that Canadian employers have flexibility to employ the people who they want.Read more ›
On February 13th, in the House of Commons, Pat Martin asked John Baird what Canada’s government was doing to protect Canadians from zombies.
At 1:05 of the video Jason Kenney, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada, can be seen rubbing his head. He’s probably groaning at how much John Baird’s zombie pun bites.
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In 2010 Jason Kenney, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC”), reaffirmed that Santa Clause is a Canadian citizen.
This year, CIC doesn’t want us to forget, and they’ve displayed the “fact” that Santa is a Canadian on their front page.
Of course, we here in British Columbia already know that. In fact, when he’s not delivering presents on December 25th, Santa is gainfully employed in the City of Abbotsford.
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There are numerous significant changes to Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (“IRPA”) buried inside the 2012 Budget Implementation Act (the “BIA”). The first change, the termination of approximately 300,000 Federal Skilled Worker Applications, was expected. The other, the expansion of the role of Ministerial Instructions, was not.
Jason Kenney, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (the “Minister”), has made several significant changes toCanada’s immigration system. Many of these are substantive (who is eligible to immigrate), and will likely be changed by future ministers and governments. His involvement in the creation and expansion of the use of Ministerial Instructions, a procedural change, however, may be his most enduring legacy.
In 2008, amendments to IRPA provided that the Minister could issue instructions to immigration officers (“Ministerial Instructions”) regarding which applications were eligible for processing. This overturned the government’s long standing obligation to process all eligible applications in the order in which they were received. The Minister was further empowered to issue Ministerial Instructions to limit the number of applications processed, accelerate some applications or groups of applications, and return applications without processing them to a final decision.
It was through Ministerial Instructions that Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC”) reduced and capped the number of occupations eligible for the Federal Skilled Worker Program, capped the number of Investor Applicants, suspended the Entrepreneur program, and put a moratorium on parental and grandparent applications. The Minister was able to do all of this without consulting Parliament, or amending IRPA and its regulations.
Division 54 of Part 4 of the BIA expands the role of Ministerial Instructions by further providing that the Minister can give instructions establishing and governing classes of permanent residents as part of the economic class. In other words,Read more ›
On February 16, Jason Kenney and the Conservative government introduced Bill C-31, the Protecting Canada’s Immigration Act. The Act makes many reforms to Canada’s refugee system, and amends previous amendments to Canada’s immigration legislation contained in the Balanced Refugee Reform Act which have not yet come into affect. Bill C-31 was greeted by many refugee lawyers and advocates with much criticism, and was received with particular indignation from the New Democratic Party.
It is not difficult to see why the NDP was outraged by the introduction of Bill C-31. Less than two years ago, the Conservatives and the NDP worked together to introduce the Balanced Refugee Reform Act. Its passage was seen as a good example of compromise, and how the parties in a minority Parliament can cooperate to introduce what was generally viewed as good legislation. I would also imagine that the NDP spent some political capital with its base by cooperating with the Conservatives and to makeCanada’s refugee system stricter.
Minister Kenney has now thrown all of that to the wind.
By abandoning the grand compromise that was the Balanced Refugee Reform Act, Mr. Kenney has taken several political risks. First, he has abandoned any good-will that he had with the NDP. Should the Conservatives ever find themselves in a minority government again, I doubt that they will find the NDP being very willing to work with them in the same away as they did in 2012.
Second, he has provided the NDP with the ability to criticize the upcoming reforms to Canada’s refugee system. Because the NDP were co-drafters of the Balanced Refugee Reform Act, they could not really criticize the upcoming changes because they themselves owned the amendments.Read more ›
On July 14, 2009, Canada imposed a visa requirement on the Czech Republic. At the time, Jason Kenney, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, took to the air waves defending the decision, repeatedly stating that a high percentage of the Czech refugee claims were bogus.Read more ›