Liberals promise to eliminate citizenship fees
The Liberal party announced the elimination of the processing fees that come along with citizenship for new Canadians to make it “more affordable.”
The current fee is $530 which was brought up from $100 under Harper’s Conservative government. The loss in revenue from this source will represent a cost of $400 million over four years ($100 million per year).
The Liberal Party policy reads that: “Becoming a citizen allows new immigrants to fully participate in Canadian society and the process of granting citizenship is a government service, not something that should be paid for with a user fee…To make citizenship more affordable, we will make the application process free for those who have fulfilled the requirements needed to obtain it.”
The Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) supports the elimination of the fees stating, on their website, that, “Citizenship fees were doubled as of February 2014 (from $200 to $400). This represents a lot of money for someone on a low income, such as a young student or a single-parent family,” although it is worth noting that the CCR also opposes language requirements for french or English.
Andrew Griffith, a former senior immigration official, said that although he did not agree with the “steep” increase in costs for becoming a citizen, he also does not believe in removing the fees altogether. Griffith suggested a reduction of the expenses to $300 for citizenship processing would be a fair middle ground.
“Waiving the fees completely, at a cost of some $100 million a year, is excessive and will likely be perceived as political positioning to attract immigrant voters,” Griffith said.
In a statement made to the CBC Ahmed Hussen, the Liberal immigration minister seeking reelection this year, said, “We heard from groups across the country who have said that the prohibitive fees were stopping families from finally becoming Canadian.”
The minister also highlighted how much citizenship for an entire family can add up.
“Currently, the cost of applying for citizenship for an average family of four is almost $1,500,”
This new Liberal promise opens a divide over whether citizenship is a public good to be paid by Canadian
According to a new study by Statistics Canada this week, the number of immigrants who go all the way to becoming Canadian citizens has dropped significantly. But the bigger picture is more complicated than it seems.
“There are a number of factors that created the decline,” former director-general with Immigration Canada, Andrew Griffith, told CBC.
The decline is significant: from 75 percent in 1996 to only 60 percent in 2016. Factors such as processing fees, complicated language in the citizens’ guide and citizen test difficulty have contributed to the decline.
CBC reports that “the processing fee for citizenship used to be $200, but the amount was increased to $630 under the previous Conservative government, Griffith said.
“If you look at a family of four, you’re talking about $1,500 or so. That’s a significant burden.” Griffith added.
In the recent elections, Trudeau’s Liberals and Scheer’s Conservatives aggressively clashed in an effort to win over Canadian voters.
They got about a third of the popular vote each, with the Liberals forming a minority government. Conservatives went into an uproar, some calling for the removal of Scheer as party leader and others calling for the separation of western Canada into its own sovereignty.
Despite this perceived clash of parties who apparently represent two sides of a political spectrum, when you look at the actual politics of the two parties, there is much more in common than there is difference.
The difference is in rhetoric, not in substance.
Under the hood, the Liberals and the Conservatives are fundamentally the same. Where they differ is in the values they performatively signal to voters–Liberals portray themselves as social justice progressives while Conservatives prefer to espouse more traditional values.
Unfortunately for voters and for our democracy, these differences are merely surface level. When Canadians vote, they are mostly voting against something rather than for something. They tend not to vote for policies but rather against Trudeau or against Scheer. In this way, politics gets reduced to a spectacle worthy only of reality television, not of civil discourse.
On actual important political issues, the two parties are essentially the same–they both serve the rich and the corporate class while throwing bones to the rest of us.
Let’s take a look at the policies. I’ll start with what is perceived to be one of the big differences between the two parties–the carbon tax. Both parties agree that climate change is an issue, but the Liberals are in favour of a carbon tax while the Conservatives are not.
But what do the Conservatives want instead? Their recent platform promises investments in companies pursuing green technologies and it calls for new environmental standards, with fines for businesses that don’t meet them.
So, essentially, Conservatives want to use public money to subsidize private industries that they deem “green” and they want to fine businesses that are not “green.” This subsidization of government-approved businesses opens the door to corruption and backroom deals, while the fines only serve to hurt small businesses who can’t afford them rather than going after heavy polluters, who will be more than happy to pay the paltry fines.
The Conservatives have criticized the Liberals for their corporate welfare, but their “green” subsidization plans call for more of the same.
And this is not to defend the Liberal’s carbon tax, which is also a poor policy. The carbon tax will mostly affect poorer folks and small businesses who can’t afford additional expenses. The big businesses that do most of the polluting can easily afford to pay the tax and benefit from their smaller competitors going out of business.
Both parties’ policies strengthen big business while hurting small businesses and doing little for the average Canadian. While Conservatives want to repeal the carbon tax, their environmental fines would work in much the same way.
Staying on the topic of climate, both parties have committed to the Paris Climate Agreement and both acknowledge that climate change is a reality. They both want to use public money to subsidize private industries pursuing clean energy. And, most strikingly of all, they are both champions of the Trans Mountain Pipeline, although the Conservatives wave their flag a little higher. On environmental issues, the choice between the Liberals and the Conservatives can be decided with a coin flip.
When it comes to the deficit, the Liberals have shifted their goal to balance the budget from 2019 to 2040. The Conservatives vowed to erase the deficit by cutting $1.5 billion in “corporate welfare” and by selling federally owned buildings. However, judging by their pledge to give handouts to clean energy companies, it is unclear if the cuts to corporate welfare would be actual cuts or more of a redirection to other private industries. It is also important to note that, historically, the Conservatives have contributed to debt rather than alleviating it.
As for the Conservative’s plan to sell federally owned buildings to private owners, this is a potentially disastrous act of privatization that seeks a short-term gain in exchange for long-term prosperity. Real estate is a great asset to have and selling it off for what are likely to be garage sale prices to private hands could prove extremely costly in the long run. Not to mention the huge risk of corruption involved in privatization.
And sure, Trudeau’s deficit spending has gotten out of control, but redirecting corporate handouts, cutting public services, and selling federally owned real estate to private companies is not the answer. And judging by the Conservative’s history of debt accumulation, it is hard to believe that they would reverse the trend on the deficit.
On other issues like childcare, education, Indigenous rights, and housing, neither party really distinguishes itself from the other. Both parties are severely lacking on Indigenous issues, both support the Canada Child Benefit–which does little to alleviate the soaring costs of childcare in big cities, neither party offers any solutions to student debt, and both parties offer meagre home buyer benefits while doing nothing to help renters.
On healthcare, Liberals plan to take “next steps” towards pharmacare while effectively doing nothing to pursue those next steps. The Conservatives are a little more honest and dismiss pharmacare entirely. Both parties want to increase spending on mental health through health transfer payments, a meagre solution for a growing problem. Again, more of the same from the allegedly vastly different parties.
With regards to immigration, both parties want to increase the number of immigrants to 350,000 by 2021, with most of those being economic immigrants, and both want to crack down on “asylum shopping” and illegal border crossings. If immigration is your issue, Scheer and Trudeau are interchangeable.
Another big issue for a lot of Conservative voters is taxes. Both parties promise to lower taxes for the middle class, but they do this within Trojan horse policies that overwhelmingly benefit the rich. The Liberals are reducing taxes through an extension of the Basic Personal Amount (BPA) exemption while the Conservatives propose a universal tax cut. Let’s look at the numbers:
For those of us making less than six figures annually, the Liberal plan provides a slight advantage in savings. But for those lucky few making more, both parties plan to fill your pockets, with the Conservatives being a little more generous towards the rich. It’s no wonder that wealthy donors often choose to max out donations to both parties.
Andrew Scheer and Justin Trudeau lead parties that serve the interests of the rich and of Canada’s corporate oligarchy. While they paint themselves as different–Trudeau, in the past, opting to literally paint himself–they are depressingly similar. Both are dishonest in their messaging and try to win over average Canadians while pushing policies that overwhelmingly benefit the rich and powerful. But since Trudeau is actually running the country, he deserves more criticism.
Trudeau is a perfect con artist, depicting himself as a progressive champion of the people in speeches and then turning around and going back on his word behind closed doors. This was never more perfectly displayed than in the climate march where Trudeau took to the streets to march against the actions of his own government.
Trudeau has turned his back on our Indigenous population, he turned his back on electoral reform, and he expanded the oil and gas sector after running on a promise to transition to clean energy. From 2015-19, he could’ve easily upheld his promises with a majority government and NDP support for his progressive proposals. He chose not to.
Instead, he did mass infrastructure privatization, he weakened Canada’s access-to-information system and muzzled journalists and scientists in the process, he sold arms to Saudi Arabia who then used them to commit genocide in Yemen, and he signed the CETA, giving foreign companies the right to sue our government for introducing laws that might cut into their future profits.
Trudeau positions himself as the “woke” candidate, but the fact of the matter is if you’re running the government for the benefit of the rich, Canadians could care less if you have a diverse cabinet. When it comes to corruption, it doesn’t matter if it’s being done by an ethnically diverse and gender-balanced cabinet or a cabinet full of white men–the results are the same.
However, as I’ve laid out here, Scheer and the Conservatives are no better for the average Canadian. When political campaigns are run on empty rhetoric, performative wokeness, divisive attacks, and fear-mongering, voters don’t get to engage with actual policy proposals and the end up voting emotionally rather than logically.
When we vote against a character like Trudeau or Scheer instead of voting for popular policy proposals being pushed by other parties, we end up going back and forth between two parties who both serve the interests of the elite and the ruling class.
It’s time to dump our two-party system, which is, in reality, a one-party oligarchy.
Justice Russel Zinn has just released his written ruling on the Lawton and True North v. Canada case. The case was started when Rebel Media and the True North Centre for Public Policy began a legal action to obtain permission to cover the official English and French federal election debates. The two media organizations claimed they would face “irreparable harm” if they were denied access to the two debates.
The two media groups found that their accreditation to cover the debates was denied on the morning of Friday, Oct. 4, just three days before the debate. The two outlets then quickly filed urgent motions to the federal court on Monday, just hours before the debate for an interlocutory injunction against the commission’s denial. Their motion was heard at 3 p.m. and a decision was made shortly after at 4:30 p.m., just two-and-a-half hours before the debate started.
The two news outlets were particularly interested in going to the two debates run by the Leaders’ Debates Commission as they were the only debates in which Justin Trudeau attended. Most important to the two media organizations were the media scrums that took place after each debate, which gave time for accredited journalists to question the Prime Minister for up to ten minutes.
After the debates, Trudeau’s government decided to appeal the court’s decision to allow the group coverage of the debate. Their reasoning that Lawton, a journalist for True North didn’t meet their accreditation standards–despite other journalists being allowed to attend the event not meeting them.
The written decision released Thursday details why the honorable Justice Zinn decided to force the Canadian government to compensate True North for the legal costs they incurred.
The decision mentions in section 15, “The Executive Director of the Commission attests that ultimately all applications for accreditation were accepted except the two before the Court”
The decision to deny the media groups accreditation was an attempt by the Commission, created by the Trudeau government. Both True North and The Rebel are highly critical of the Trudeau government.
Justice Zinn’s decision also criticizes the vague qualifications that the Commission laid out and the unfair nature in which the accreditations were given out
“For these reasons, I find that the Applicants are likely to succeed at the hearing of the merits in successfully challenging the accreditation decisions as both unreasonable and procedurally unfair.”
The decision also criticized the stance of the Commission that the groups would not be negatively impacted by not being allowed physical access to the debate. Justice Zinn retorted in section 53 and 54 that the Commission was ignoring the real reason in which a media group would be interested in attending the debate would be for the scrum
“This submission ignores the reality that accredited persons have access to more than the two-hour period when the leaders are involved on stage in debating. As noted above, no accredited press have direct access to the leaders during that period. If all one gets from accreditation is the ‘privilege’ of sitting in a room with some 258 other journalists watching the televised broadcast of the six leaders debating, then one must wonder why anyone would apply to be accredited rather than watching from the comfort of one’s office or home.
In section 54 Justice Zinn states, “The Commission’s Executive Director in his affidavit provides the answer. The benefit of accreditation, and perhaps the sole benefit, is access to the media scrum.”
On Remembrance Day, Don Cherry was fired from Sportsnet for a comment he made on Coach’s Corner regarding poppies. He complained that not enough immigrants were wearing them and suggested that it represented a general ingratitude by immigrants of the benefits they enjoy by living in Canada.
His comment, now dubbed the “‘you people’ comment”, caused predictable outrage. The state broadcaster pointed out that Cherry’s remarks could not possibly have merit because of the fact that there are visible minorities who fought for this country. Try not to think too hard about the fact that they conflated visible minorities with immigrants. I happen to be both, but many Canadians happen to be one or the other.
Many in the media interpreted (some in bad faith) it as an attack on all minorities through Canadian history. While there is a general stereotype that people of colour were not born in Canada, I dare claim that it is a fast disappearing one, at least from personal experience having lived most of my life in Ontario.
Unfortunately, while that stereotype is on the decline, another is on the rise. Even more unfortunately, the one that is on the rise has an uncomfortably high level of merit. After all, Don Cherry did not come up with an original idea, he merely expressed the “wrong” opinion in the “wrong” forum.
I know many fellow immigrant-minorities who find it quite puzzling that the mainstream media and a large section of society simply cannot fathom why racist attitudes are apparently becoming more prevalent and acceptable by progressives who hurl racist abuse against anyone who does not accept the “woke” dogma of the day and by the sentiment sometimes called “whitelash”. Did the white people of Canada spontaneously develop previously a non-existent or hidden collective race consciousness?
On the contrary, I cautiously claim that as each generation in society has its own cultural features, so do successive waves of immigrants. This is true regardless of the predominant country of origin or religion of any given wave of immigration. Not that immigrants are the same regardless of their origin, but that immigrants of the same origin will still tend to behave differently depending on when they came to Canada, and this is likely true even correcting for the amount of time spent in Canada.
In other words, an immigrant of “minority x” in 1990 who immigrated in 1975 will be systematically different from an immigrant of the same “minority x” in 2015 who immigrated in 2000. This is despite the fact that they are from essentially the same origin and have spent the same amount of time in Canada. This should not be a controversial statement.
This is because of two changing variables: the state of society in the country of origin, and the state of society in the destination country. Our society has definitely been changing, so it should not be a surprise if the way we integrate immigrants into our society changes as well. In fact, there may be a very strong case that our “immigration culture” has been changing mostly not because of changes in where our immigrants come from or their culture, but because of changes in our own culture and championing the “cultural mosaic”.
Not many people would argue with the fact that our society has become much more accommodating of social minorities, such as people in the LGBTQ community or people living with disabilities. Hopefully, not many people would argue with the claim that this is largely a positive thing for society as a whole.
Under Canadian Human Rights Law, individuals must be accommodated by society, including the government, employers, service providers, and other individuals. This accommodation must seek to prevent discrimination based on a “prohibited ground” to the point of “undue hardship”. Setting aside whether we as a society have enumerated the proper “prohibited grounds”, whether “undue hardship” is an appropriate threshold, or whether that threshold is interpreted as it should be, it is definitely reasonable for individuals to expect at least some accommodation from society because we do not all share the same characteristics, disadvantages, and capabilities, and a blanket allowance for all forms of discrimination will create discontent and will exclude too many people for society to function well.
For much of history, this accommodation was arguably too little, and we had been moving in the right direction for a long time. However, somewhere along the way, it became inappropriate to consider the extent to which individuals can be expected to accommodate society. Society is made up of individuals, and it is impossible for millions of idiosyncrasies to be accommodated perfectly. One individual’s right is necessarily another individual’s duty not to infringe upon that right. Where we create more rights, we create more duties for others.
I am not trying to argue that the poor white people of Canada are being victimized because they now have more duties not to infringe upon others’ rights not to be unfairly discriminated against. Rather, it is that rights must have a limit, or we create unlimited duties that can have negative consequences or even become impractical.
The phrase “Islam is right about women” is one illustration of this conflict. The phrase was coined to point out a popular contradiction in our modern outrage culture. The idea is that you can either be offended because you think the statement is discriminatory against either muslims or women, but thinking that it is discriminatory against muslims is sexist and thinking that it is discriminatory against women is Islamophobic. The phrase does not claim that Islam is worse for women than any other religion, and there is a good case that Christianity, as with most other religions, are sexist as well, at least by modern western standards. However, the illustration only works because muslims are considered, rightfully in my opinion, to face disproportionately high levels of unfair discrimination.
Other examples include: lessons promoting LGBTQ equality being pulled from classrooms because of complaints by immigrants that such ideas infringe upon freedom of thought or religion, claims by trans activists that lesbians are transphobic for refusing to sleep with people with penises, or labelling the term “bisexual” as exclusionary of non-binary individuals.
Excuse the cliche, but the point is this: we can’t only keep asking what our country can do for us, and not what we can do for our country. The country is nothing more than a collection of us, and we can’t expect all of us to do everything for each individual while making no attempt to fit into our society.
Canadians are bound together by what we have in common, but without the effort of individuals, the few remaining values that hold us together will only continue to weaken and we will become ever more divided into factions competing to score the biggest take for their particular team. Soon, there could be nothing we have in common with each other, other than our shared struggle to compete with each other for resources.
Diversity does not make balkanization inevitable, but our current societal trajectory probably does when “diversity is our strength” is zealously pushed without expecting some common values and customs to be upheld to keep us all together.
Don Cherry was merely pointing out one aspect of that fact.