Canadian Politics

A04(b) - Multiculturalism and Immigration Policy

Date: Jun 12 | Time: 01:45pm to 03:15pm | Location:

Who Raises Multiculturalism and Immigration on the Political Agenda? Evidence from Canadian News Media and Parliamentary Debates, 1988-2022: Catherine Moez (University of Toronto), Randy Besco (University of Toronto)
Abstract: Multiculturalism and immigration are seen as relatively unpoliticized in Canada, with even more radical challenger parties (Reform Party, People’s Party of Canada) making only ‘coded’ critiques. Yet, there has been public debate and variation in media attention on these issues, especially in the early 1990s and since 2015. Who is raising the salience of these issues? Are political parties setting the agenda, or responding to events and media coverage? We use a quantitative text analysis of Canadian news media articles and House of Commons debates, from the 1980s to present, to investigate how the salience of multicultural and immigration issues changed over the 1990s. We then apply Granger causality tests to assess who led the conversation: Parliament or newspapers? Within these sources, are politicians, newspaper opinion writers, or other public figures at the centre of the discussion?

Coordination without harmonization: Immigration bureaucrats and the safe country principle in Canada: Geoffrey Cameron (McMaster University), Kiran Banerjee (Dalhousie University)
Abstract: The Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) is intended to coordinate asylum policy between the two countries. Scholarship on the treaty typically focuses on the Agreement as a product of joint concerns about border security following the attacks of September 11, 2001. However, this paper traces the genesis of the agreement back to the first introduction of the safe country principle in 1986. It examines the repeated efforts by Canadian bureaucrats to introduce this principle into Canadian immigration management and how this shaped the eventual emergence of the STCA as a bilateral framework for asylum coordination. The Canadian bureaucrats who sought an asylum treaty between Canada and the United States were trying to respond to two imperatives: international refugee law and migration system integrity. The former imperative prevented Canada from acting unilaterally to impose restrictions on the arrival of refugee claimants traveling via the United States – the country of transit for the majority claimants. The latter created pressure to prevent the arrival of refugee claimants whose claims could exceed the institutional capacity of the newly created Immigration and Refugee Board. Situating and analyzing the origins of the STCA within the Canadian bureaucracy helps to explain how Canada’s efforts at asylum coordination compare to similar efforts that emerged concurrently in Europe. Despite employing similar policy language to EU agreements, the STCA is not intended to harmonize asylum policy with the United States. Rather, it is a coordination instrument designed to protect migration system integrity without violating international refugee law.

The End of Ethnic Enclaves? A Closer Look at Stephen Harper's Immigration Selection Policy: Blair Cullen (Wilfrid Laurier University), Dr. Sean Doherty (Wilfrid Laurier University)
Abstract: Stephen Harper’s immigration policy has been examined from a number of perspectives (Paquet 2018). As part of this analysis, the focus has been on different segments of Harper’s selection policy; the decline in admissions from the family reunification and refugee classes, the shifting percentage of immigrants arriving through economic categories. Some scholars have looked at the different categories of entry in concert but few scholars have looked at the geographic implications of this approach. Upon closer examination, there is a case to be made Harper’s altering of Canada’s selection policies produced a re-orientation in the paths of immigrant settlement, away from ethnic enclaves in and around first-tier cities and to non-traditional settlement areas. While the literature has identified this trend, most attribute its motivation to a desire for a more equitable distribution of immigrants. This paper challenges this notion, arguing other motivations were at work, primarily, the Harper government’s opposition to ethnic enclaves. By decreasing the number of newcomers entering Canada via the refugee and family reunification streams while drastically increasing the size of the Provincial Nominee Program, the Harper government limited entry to the immigration categories most likely to end up in ethnic enclaves, thereby reducing their growth. This paper expands understanding of the Harper government’s immigration policy by linking two disparate parts, selection policy and the government’s rhetoric on ethnic enclaves, of the Harper government’s approach to immigration.