The Green Party of Canada (the “Green Party“) is a Canadian federal political party which currently has just one Member of Parliament, Elizabeth May. In the nine federal elections that it has run candidates in it has only once gotten more than 5% of the popular vote. Nonetheless, it is important to pay attention to their Green Party platform for three reasons. First, the Canadian media gives the Green Party, and especially Ms. May, a considerable amount of coverage. Second, much like the New Democratic Party of Canada has done it is foreseeable that the Green Party will also increase in popularity. Third, Ms. May’s suggestion that the Green Party could wield significant influence in a minority Parliament, though not probable, is not impossible.
On September 9, 2015, the Green Party released its election platform.
As well, the Green Party also has on its website a document titled Vision Green 2015, a document which contains numerous Green Party commitments.
According to Green Party’s election platform and Vision Green 2015, the Green Party if elected would implement, or try to implement, the following measures relating to immigration:
- Eliminate the Temporary Foreign Workers Program and increase immigration where labour shortages are established.
- Lead a national discussion to define ‘environmental refugee’ and advocate for the inclusion of environmental refugees as a refugee category in Canada and accept an appropriate share of the world’s environmental refugees into Canada.
- Eliminate the valuation of foreign credentials for immigration purposes except in those cases where such credentials are recognized in Canada or a clear and expeditious path to Canadian accreditation is established, and instead establish realistic criteria for immigrants based on existing job opportunities for immigrants to Canada.
- Allocate much greater funding for training in official languages (ESL and FSL) for new immigrants, knowing that many new immigrants are not fluent in either official language, through earmarked transfers to the provinces for primary and secondary public school and free night school programs;
- Establish a program to deal with the estimated 200,000 people living in Canada without official status that leads to full landed immigrant status for those who have become contributing members of Canadian society.
- Seek to have the regulations governing the practices of immigration consultants toughened and enforced and increase penalties in the Criminal Code for those convicted of human smuggling.
- Repeal recent changes that encourage rapid deportation, ignoring rules of due process and natural justice.
- Ensure the ‘lost Canadians’ quietly being denied citizenship through archaic laws are protected and their citizenship restored. Although some significant progress has been made, some are still ‘lost’.
- Implement the recommendation made by the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration to immediately allow those who have refused or left military service regarding a war not sanctioned by the United Nations permanent resident status in Canada.
- Repeal legislation imposing jail time retroactively and targeting people who arrive by ship.
- Reverse the Harper administration’s policies to place barriers on family reunification.
- Provide six months’ notice of withdrawal from NAFTA and oppose Free Trade Agreements similar to those negotiated with Colombia.
- Repeal Bill C-24 which allows the minister of citizenship to revoke citizenship.
I was pleasantly surprised at how detailed and numerous the Green Party’s immigration commitments are. As someone with a thorough understanding of Canada’s immigration system, I do have some questions that I hope that the Green Party will answer, including:
- Which aspect of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program would the Green Party eliminate? Is it only foreign workers who arrive in Canada through the Labour Market Impact Assessment program, or does it also include those who are working pursuant to free trade agreements, youth exchanges, the Working Holiday Program, the Post-Graduate Work Permit program for international graduates, provincial nominees awaiting permanent residency, etc.?
- Does the Green Party have a number of immigrants and refugees that it would like to see arrive in Canada each year?
- Individuals who are currently living in Canada without official status can currently apply for permanent residency on humanitarian & compassionate considerations, where the factors that visa officers consider include establishment in Canada and hardship if removed. When the Green Party states that it will establish a program based on “contributing members of Canadian society” does it simply mean removing the hardship factor from this analysis?
- What “barriers on family reunification” does the Green Party wish to reverse? Does this include merely the application caps on Parents & Grandparents and slow processing times, or also the introduction of conditional permanent residency for newly married spouses and those who recently entered into common-law partnership. As well, will the Green Party repeal the five-year sponsorship bar that prevents someone who is sponsored by a spouse from sponsoring a new spouse for five years?