Vote Compass: Immigration and multiculturalism — the parties' positions

This is how the parties responded to three questions about immigration and multiculturalism in Vote Compass, and what was behind those answers.

The team of scholars behind Vote Compass gave Canada's five political parties the opportunity to take part in the process to ensure the parties' policies lined up with the way Vote Compass interprets respondents' answers.

All five parties had the chance to answer the Vote Compass questionnaire for themselves, and were given the opportunity to challenge the assessments before the "final codes" went in.

Here are the party positions on three questions about immigration and multiculturalism in the Vote Compass questionnaire, and what was behind those answers. Over the coming days, CBC News will look at each of the 10 Vote Compass issue areas.

1) Speaking English or French should be a requirement for immigration to Canada

  • Strongly agree
  • Somewhat agree
  • Neither agree nor disagree
  • Somewhat disagree
  • Strongly disagree
  • Don't know

New Democratic Party — Somewhat disagree

Speaking English or French should be one of many criteria, not a sine qua non.

Source: Correspondence (March 7, 2011)

Green Party — Strongly disagree

Green Party MPs will [...] 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. [p. 78]  

Source:  Vision Green 2011: Immigration and new Canadians (April 2011)

Green Party MPs will [...] Allocate much greater funding for training in official languages (ESL and FSL for new immigrants) through earmarked transfers to the provinces for primary and secondary public school and free night school programs.

Source: Immigration and new Canadians (January 2010)

Bloc Québécois — Somewhat agree

Text not available in English

Le français et l’anglais étant les langues officielles du Canada, les immigrants et immigrantes doivent déjà posséder une connaissance suffisante de l’une de ces langues pour devenir citoyen canadien. Cette mesure s’avère primordiale pour viser la meilleure intégration possible des immigrants. Évidemment, ces conditions ne doivent pas s'appliquer dans le cas des réfugiés qui viennent ici pour des raisons humanitaires.

En vertu de l’accord Canada-Québec signé en 1991, le Québec est assuré d’une autonomie exclusive en matière d’intégration de ses immigrants et immigrantes. C’est donc à lui qu’il revient de décider si le français devrait être une condition pour immigrer au Québec. Cependant, si l’immigrant choisit d’y rester, il doit évidemment avoir les capacités de vivre dans une société francophone. C’est pourquoi le gouvernement du Québec incite les immigrants et immigrantes à apprendre le français et leur offre gratuitement des cours de francisation à leur arrivée.

Source : Mémoire du Bloc Québécois à la Commission de consultation sur les pratiques d’accommodement reliées aux différences culturelles

Conservative Party  — Somewhat agree

The Government of Canada is streamlining the process for assessing the language skills of applicants to the Federal Skilled Worker and Canadian Experience classes, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced today.

"The language requirements themselves have not changed," said Minister Kenney. "But beginning April 10, 2010, prospective immigrants will be required to prove their English and French language abilities at the time they apply. This requirement supports our commitment to fast, fair and efficient application processing."

"We expect that applicants will have the language skills they claim on their application. Now, applicants in these categories will have only one opportunity to prove their language ability," said Minister Kenney. "They can still make a written submission to a visa officer if they wish, but only once."

"We strongly encourage applicants whose first language isn’t English or French to take a language test," said Minister Kenney. "We don’t want immigrants to be surprised if their written submission doesn’t match their reported ability, and they don’t get the desired assessment."

Source: Improvements to proof of language rules will increase fairness, reduce delays, says Immigration Minister (March 10, 2010)

Liberal Party — Somewhat disagree

While we agree language skills are important factors in success for immigrants, many family class applicants may not have the requisite language skills before they come to Canada.  Not only is family reunification a major factor in attracting skilled workers, but it provides them with added supports like family involvement in childcare.

Source: Correspondence (March 18, 2011)

2) How many new immigrants should Canada admit?

  • Many more
  • Somewhat more
  • About the same as now
  • Somewhat fewer
  • Many fewer
  • Don’t know

New Democratic Party — Somewhat more

We will bring forward measures to: increase resources to reduce the huge and unacceptable backlogs in processing immigration applications, with an emphasis on speeding up family reunification; [and] implement the NDP’s Once in a Lifetime Act to allow Canadians a one-time opportunity to sponsor a relative who is not a member of the family class to come to Canada. [p. 17]  

SourceGiving Your Family a Break: Practical First Steps  (April 2011)  

A sound immigration policy must include speedy reunification of families, halting the dramatic increase of temporary foreign workers and increased recognition of foreign credentials, declared New Democrats at their policy convention.

[...] In addition to speeding up the family reunification process, Jack Layton’s New Democrats called on the government to halt the increase of foreign workers, develop a consistent model and standard for integrating internationally trained professionals into the workforce.

"The government encourage highly skilled professionals into the country but then makes it nearly impossible for them to put their skills to use. This is a significant loss not only to the individual, but to Canada," said Chow. "New Democrats will continue to press the government to establish specific training, mentoring and bridging programs aimed at helping newcomers integrate into the workplace so Canadian productivity can be increased."

Source: New Democrats demand fairness for immigrants (August 15, 2009)

Green Party — Somewhat more

Green Party MPs will [...] 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. [p. 78]

Source: Vision Green 2011: Immigration and new Canadians (April 2011)

The Green Party of Canada is troubled by the unfriendly immigration policies of the Harper government.  "Canada's multiculturalism is an essential part of our national identity.  New Canadians are a source of incredible skills and potential for our country.  Immigrants and refugees come to Canada in search of a safer, more fulfilling life for themselves and their families, and to be full participants in Canadian society.  It is not fair to now place limits on family members joining immigrants.  We should be supporting them in achieving their hopes and ambitions, not putting up roadblocks and splitting up families," said Green Leader Elizabeth May.

Source: Family of immigrants important for success of multiculturalism (February 15, 2011)

Bloc Québécois — About the same as now

Text not available in English En vertu de l’Accord Canada-Québec en matière d’immigration, « le Canada établit chaque année les niveaux d’immigration pour l’ensemble du pays en prenant en considération l’avis du Québec sur le nombre d’immigrants que ce dernier désire recevoir ». Le gouvernement du Québec décide donc lui-même de ses propres quotas d’immigration à destination du Québec. En d’autres termes, il ne revient pas au Bloc Québécois ni au gouvernement fédéral de déterminer si le Québec devrait admettre plus ou moins d’immigrants.

En vertu de la Constitution et de l’Accord Canada-Québec de 1991, le gouvernement fédéral doit respecter la pleine compétence du Québec notamment en matière d’intégration des immigrants. Pour le Bloc Québécois, cette prérogative n’est pas négociable

Source : Opinion dissidente du Bloc Québécois au Comité permanent des langues officielles (29 novembre 2010)

Conservative Party  — About the same as now

"We must maintain the integrity of our immigration system," added Prime Minister Harper. "Legal immigration will ensure that Canada has the labour supply it needs to continue our recovery from the global economic recession."

Source: PM reiterates commitment to crack down on human smugglers who abuse Canada’s generous immigration system (February 21, 2011)

Liberal Party — Somewhat more

With declining domestic birth rates and an aging population, Canada is already facing critical skills shortages that will reach alarming levels unless we find a sustainable solution.

If we are to attract much-needed skilled labour and professionals from around the world, we must: invest in our immigration system to ensure it can deal with increasing demand; encourage skilled immigrants to make Canada their home and realize that welcoming their immediate families is a vital part of making Canada an attractive and viable destination. [p. 3]

Source: Alan Tonks Report (Summer 2008)

3) How much should be done to accommodate religious minorities in Canada?

  • Much more
  • Somewhat more
  • About the same as now
  • Somewhat less
  • Much less
  • Don't know

New Democratic Party — About the same as now

New Democrats are proud of their tradition of upholding the rights of all peoples, especially minorities and disadvantaged groups.

The equality social democrats seek is a precondition for the social participation of all citizens. That’s why New Democrats support both the letter and the spirit of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, recognizing that human dignity requires not just individual civil rights, but economic, social and cultural rights as well. New Democrat government will strengthen the human rights of Canadian citizens.

[...] New Democrats believe in: Strengthening multiculturalism policies, in consultation with affected communities; Employing multiculturalism as a tool of integration, consistent with immigration policies.

Source: Strengthening Human Rights and the Canadian Identity            

Green Party — About the same as now

We oppose the use of religious justice systems such as Sharia Law in Canada that run contrary to our existing rule of law and that specifically subjugate women and diminish the rights of women. [p. 76]

SourceVision Green 2011: Women's equality  (April 2011)

We honour and value equally the Earth's biological and ecological diversity together with the cultural, linguistic, ethnic, sexual, religious and spiritual diversity within the context of individual responsibility toward all beings.

We defend the right of all persons, without discrimination, to an environment supportive of their dignity, bodily health, and spiritual well-being.

We promote the building of respectful, positive and responsible relationships across lines of division in the spirit of a multi-cultural society.

This requires [...] recognition of the rights of ethnic minorities to develop their culture, religion and language without discrimination, and to full legal, social and cultural participation in the democratic process.

Source: Respect for diversity

Bloc Québécois — Somewhat less

Text not available in English

En matière d'accommodement, le Bloc Québécois met de l'avant ce premier principe de base : d’une part, il faut faire preuve de souplesse et, d’autre part, il convient de poser des balises aussi claires que possible afin de fixer les limites à l’intérieur desquelles cette souplesse peut s’appliquer. En d’autres termes, l’État doit demeurer neutre vis-à-vis des croyances et des cultes, mais il ne doit pas exclure toute expression religieuse de la sphère publique.

En définitive, le Bloc Québécois préconise le maintien de la laïcité des institutions publiques québécoises et l'application de l'interculturalisme québécois plutôt que le multiculturalisme canadien.

Source : Mémoire du Bloc Québécois à la Commission de consultation sur les pratiques d’accommodement reliées aux différences culturelles (1 novembre 2007)

Conservative Party  — About the same as now

The Conservative Party believes in the right and duty of parents to raise their own children responsibly according to their own conscience and beliefs. We believe no person, government or agency has the right to interfere in the exercise of that duty except through due process of law. [...]

The Conservative Party supports the freedom of religious organizations to determine their own practices with respect to marriage. [p.21]

Source: Conservative Party of Canada 2008 Policy Declaration (November 15, 2008)

Liberal Party — About the same as now

Liberals will never pick and choose which groups are entitled to respect and fair treatment. We will work to bring all Canadians together with the same message in every region, in every place of worship and in every language. A Liberal government will focus on facilitating the civic engagement of all Canadians and on building networks between communities to create opportunities for success that will help move Canada forward.

Source: Multiculturalism and Diversity