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Worthwhile Canadian Immigration Initiative - Spectator Blogs

25 January 2013

9:48 AM

25 January 2013

9:48 AM

Reihan Salam highlights the latest pro-immigration move by Stephen Harper’s Canadian government:

Canada is looking to poach Silicon Valley’s intrepid foreign up-and-comers as it launches a “first of its kind in the world” program that will grant immediate permanent residency to qualifying entrepreneurs starting April 1.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said Thursday he will head down to America’s technology heartland once the program is in place to begin recruiting the “thousands of super bright young foreign nationals,” often from Asia, who are working at technology start-ups on temporary visas and may have to go home before they’ve been able to obtain their coveted U.S. Green Card.

“We see the bright, young, international tech developers in the U.S. who are stuck on temporary visas as an immediate market, if you will, for this program,” he said.

Kenney said he will “fly the Canadian flag and say to those bright young prospective immigrants, some of whom are going to create massively successful companies in their lifetimes, that they can come to Canada through this program, that they can get permanent residency here, they can have the certainty that this represents and they can start their businesses here in Canada.”

[…] Kenney said it’s an opportunity for Canada to get ahead of the pack because even countries with similar programs don’t offer the perk of immediate permanent residency – a “risk” he’s prepared to take even though not all entrepreneurs are successful.

“We don’t want to penalize people if they don’t succeed on their first start-up, we want to encourage them to make Canada their new home, to contribute in the long-term their human capital to Canada,” he said.

As Reihan says, this seems like an admirable policy. It makes sense on business grounds but it is also, of course, good politics. As the good Mr Salam explains:
One of more interesting aspects of Canadian politics is that modern Canadian national identity is often identified, particularly among Canadian intellectuals, with the cosmopolitan, social-democratic ideology associated with Pierre Trudeau, Canada’s charismatic, polarizing, and profoundly influential Liberal premier for much of the period from the late 1960s to the mid-1980s. Canada’s older national identity, rooted in its British and (complicatedly) French heritage, has been given short shrift in part due to the enormous demographic and cultural changes that occurred during the Trudeau years and after. At the heart of this post-Trudeau national narrative is the notion that Canada is deeply different from the U.S., and one of the most potent attacks on Canadian conservatives is that they are Americans in disguise.
And so it seems wise that the CPC burnish its nationalist credentials by, for example, taking a tough stance on Arctic sovereignty and demonstrating a desire to “leapfrog” over a U.S. economy that seems, to at least some foreigners, increasingly overregulated, sclerotic, and dysfunctional.
Indeed. Now, of course, the British Tory party is in a different situation and it is easier for Canada to poach folk from California than it is for Britain to do so. Nevertheless, the difference in attitude towards immigration is striking.
Doubtless Tory ministers would say they are super-keen on high-skilled immigrants and, sure, that is technically the case. Nevertheless, the party’s rhetoric on the subject is hardly encouraging and its preference for an immigration ‘cap’ plainly places limits on even skilled immigration.
Earlier this week the Prime Minister made much of Britain as a country open to the rest of the world. Good stuff, that. Yet his party’s immigration preferences suggest quite the opposite. This, to be fair, is not a recent development. Britain lost out to Canada and Australia with the Hong Kong Chinese and, alas, there’s every prospect we will lose again too.

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