VANCOUVER, BC- Canada's immigration and refugee policies are
beset with major problems requiring an overhaul but any changes
should be made with limited input from politicians, concludes a
new book released today by independent research organization
the Fraser Institute.
"Canada's immigration and refugee system is dysfunctional
and in drastic need of a thorough review. When you take into
account the political lobbying from minority cultural
organizations and special interest groups such as immigration
lawyers, there is little interest from our mainstream political
parties to fix things," said Martin Collacott, a former
Canadian diplomat and co-editor of the book,
Immigration Policy and the Terrorist Threat in Canada and the
The book is a compilation of work from academics and
immigration experts who presented papers at the Fraser
Institute's 2007 conference on immigration. A follow-up
conference is scheduled for Montreal June 4-5. The book
provides a scathing look at the many faults of Canada's current
immigration and refugee polices. It lays much of the blame for
the current shortcomings at the feet of all major political
parties - Liberals, Conservatives, NDP, and Bloc Quebecois -
and provides many telling examples of political kowtowing to
the special interest immigration lobby.
"Any attempts at reform are impeded by an absence of
political debate for fear of offending any particular ethnic
group, a scenario we've seen played out throughout the
Bouchard-Taylor Commission hearings on reasonable accommodation
in Quebec," Collacott said. "At the same time, immigration
lawyers and settlement groups are well-funded, often with
public money, and work tirelessly to ensure political parties
live up to their pro-immigration rhetoric."
The book chronicles a list of Canadian immigration policy
and security failures:
• The Liberal government of Paul Martin refused to
consider banning the Tamil Tigers, one of the world's most
murderous terrorist organizations, because it was trying to woo
support from the fast-growing Tamil community, even though both
the United Kingdom and the United States had already banned the
• In the spring of 2007, a number of federal and
provincial politicians attended a parade in Surrey, BC where
Talwinder Singh Parmar, the suspected mastermind of the Air
India bombing, was honoured and glorified as a martyr to the
cause of Sikh separatism.
• Opposition parties in the current Parliament have
pressed for changes to Canada's refugee policies that would
provide additional avenues of appeal to rejected refugee
claimants, even though failed claimants are already able to use
the existing laws to delay removal and remain in Canada for
years and even decades in some cases.
The book also notes that Canada's high levels of immigration
with increasing concentration among particular groups has
resulted in a growing number of ethnic enclaves where new
immigrants have limited need to integrate and sometimes bring
age-old ethnic and religious conflicts with them. This in turn
makes their members more prone to recruitment by extremist
For example, following the arrest of 18 Muslims in Ontario
suspected of plotting to carry out mass killings in the Toronto
area, a poll of Canadian Muslims found that 12 per cent - the
equivalent of almost 100,000 Muslim-Canadians - believed the
plot was justified. The RCMP also later revealed they had
quietly broken up at least a dozen similar terrorist cells
prior to these high-profile arrests.
"The notion that minority groups are immune from
criticism makes it all but impossible to control unwanted
immigration," Collacott said.
Canada's failure to address its porous immigration and
refugee system will likely result in additional US security
measures at the border and greater restrictions on Canada-US
trade and travel, concludes Alexander Moens, a Simon Fraser
University professor, expert in Canada-US relations, and
co-editor of the book.
"Canada's failure to take seriously the security risks posed
by its lax refugee system undermines American confidence in our
ability to control our borders," Moens said.
"This leaves the US no option but to tighten its security
efforts which will, in turn, further restrict trade and travel
and damage the ability of many Canadians to earn a living.
Canada is a trading nation, and if our largest trading partner
feels it can no longer trust us, that will have economic
Both Moens and Collacott conclude that Canada's only
recourse is fundamental change to current immigration and
refugee policies that would involve a re-evaluation of who
should be admitted to Canada and on what basis.
"There's a lack of resources available to adequately screen
would-be immigrants and refugees and a lack of clarity on who
should be admitted. Until that problem is addressed, Canada
will continue to be seen as easy pickings where terrorists can
gain access at will," Moens said.