Race, ethnicité, peuples autochtones et politique



L14 - Contested and Selective Openings and Closures: Immigration and Refugee Politics and Policy Legacies in Canada

Date: Jun 13 | Heure: 03:30pm to 05:00pm | Salle:

Chair/Président/Présidente : Gerald Kernerman (York University)

Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Gerald Kernerman (York University)

Competing Moral Economies of Migration in Canada: John Carlaw (Toronto Metropolitan University)
Abstract: This paper maps and offers assessment of competing political projects of migration and belonging in Canada through the lens of competing moral economies of migration (Ambrosini 2022) using a critical discourse policy analysis (CDPA) approach to examine publicly available documents produced by a wide variety of political actors across the country’s settler colonial political landscape (Montesano Montessori, Farrelly, and Mulderrig 2019). It examines projects and approaches to migration and belonging in civil society, political parties, and the state to identify emerging threats to, and possibilities for a more inclusive politics of belonging in Canada at a discursive and policy level. From the far right to centre of Canadian politics, this includes both “extreme” and mainstreamed discourses and policies of exclusion. In the contested political centre and from migrant-led movements, this includes examining approaches to policy and language amidst Canada’s shifting immigration model, particularly conceptions and critiques of (the limits of) policies of conditional ‘pathways’ to permanent residence, unprecedented increases in permanent and temporary migration, and policy changes concerning access to refugee protection that have been increasingly contested and hold particular and tremendous importance for members of society with precarious, temporary and uncertain migration statuses and futures.


An (Old/) New Approach to Refugees? From Token Humanitarianism to Commodification: Sedef Arat-Koç (Toronto Metropolitan University)
Abstract: This paper explores and interrogates what may be crystallizing as an (old/) new pattern in refugee selection policies and practices in Canada. Starting with the Covid 19 pandemic, we have seen the emergence of “guardian angels” programs, whereby some provincial governments responded to labour shortages in the healthcare sector by recruiting asylum seekers already in Canada and promising them potential refugee status. More recently, the Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot (EMPP) Project is used to hand-pick and import healthcare workers from refugee camps around the world. The Canadian Government, along with some other governments and international organizations, is now one of the founding members of a Global Task Force on Refugee Labour Mobility. The paper suggests that in an international climate of anti-refugee attitudes and policies, these new practices seem to represent increasing commodification of refugees. The Canadian Government frames its new programs in a (partially) charitable discourse, presenting them as a “win win” case, mutually beneficial to refugees and to Canada. The paper interrogates the nature and various implications of the new trend in refugee selection: for the refugees themselves as well as for the integrity of an already fragile refugee protection regime nationally and internationally.


Crafting Procedural Hurdles: How Bureaucratic Norms Contribute to Immigration Policy Legacies: Nicholas Fraser (Toronto Metropolitan University)
Abstract: Can liberal states control immigration? The “no,” side of this debate emphasizes lobbying and litigation used to create formal rights for immigrants. While the “yes,” side focuses on policy learning triggered by the political salience of public opposition. Yet, liberal states have simultaneously admitted asylum seekers based on norms and learned how to effectively deter them to maximize control over immigration. Challenging the assumption that policy legacies stem from choices between formal rights or control measures, this paper theorizes the role of bureaucratic discretion in explaining policy outcomes. It shows how immigration agencies’ reputation and decision-making practices account for why similar policy reforms led to higher (Canada) or lower asylum recognition rates (Ireland, Japan) absent politically mobilized opposition and despite similar applicant pools, geographic buffers with sending countries, and successful rights advocacy. Drawing on unique qualitative data, the author demonstrates how bureaucratic culture influences liberal states’ ability to control immigration.


Contemporary Trajectories of the Politics of Refugee Protection and Resettlement in Canada: Kushan Azadah (York University)
Abstract: This paper examines the state of Canada’s “battleground” of refugee resettlement and asylum from 2016-2023 in the country’s settler colonial context. In the political centre, despite discursive and some policy shifts with the change from a Conservative (2006-2015) to a Liberal government in 2015, decision-making has resulted in continued precarity for many asylum-seekers and refugees, as evidenced by their COVID-19 experiences and the differential treatment they receive by form of arrival and national origin, such as intensified state efforts to prevent claimants from entering Canada via the United States and stark disparities in access to refugee resettlement to the country. Asylum seekers have been the targets not only of discursive exclusion from the far and mainstream political right in a manner influenced by exclusionary transnational discourses, but in policy terms from the centrist Liberal government. This study employs a critical discourse policy analysis (CDPA) of civil society, political party, and government actors based on analyses of their platforms, manifestos, and policy stances promulgated amidst this turmoil. This study investigates currents of political polarization and contestation pushing in both exclusionary and inclusive directions. It elucidates the substantive politics of migration and societal membership on offer for asylum seekers and refugees at this important conjuncture, as well as its normative horizons and trajectories moving forward.