NDP’s hidden immigration pledge a concern

posted on August 28, 2015

By Candice Malcoln, Toronto Sun  | Link to Article 

By Candice Malcoln, Toronto Sun  | Link to Article 

In the battleground ridings of suburban Toronto and Vancouver, politicians are doing whatever they can to impress Canada’s ethnic populations. All three major parties go out of their way to woo these communities and propose policies specifically designed to get the attention of immigrant voters.

Political strategists used to believe that in order to win a majority government in Canada, you had to win a significant number of ridings in Quebec. That is no longer true.

Many now believe, instead, that the path to winning a federal election runs through courting new Canadians in suburban ridings.

That is why we see more and more politicians visiting Gurdwaras and doing photo ops at Chinese restaurants. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with politicians appealing to new Canadians. It’s a great example of our welcoming and accepting nature, and the success of Canada’s immigration system in general.

Politicians, however, get themselves into trouble when they start saying different things in different languages, and especially when they pit newcomers against native Canadians.

Sometimes a policy that sounds good to immigrant ears will raise major alarm bells with the rest of the country.

The most famous example of such ethnic politicking gone wrong was back in 2009 when former Liberal MP Ruby Dhalla introduced a bill to expand the social benefits given to newly arrived immigrant seniors.

The Brampton area MP wanted to change the rules to allow new immigrant seniors the ability to collect Old Age Security (OAS) after just three years in Canada, often without ever having paid into the system.

Her proposal may have polled well amongst some immigrant communities, but it more than backfired throughout the country. It became an infamous example of how not to pander to the immigrant vote.

OAS is already one of the largest expenditures in the federal budget, accounting for about one of every five dollars spent. Allowing new Canadians to start receiving OAS after just three years, opposed to the current ten, would have cost taxpayers an estimated $700 million dollars per year.

Not surprisingly, the bill – alongside Dhalla’s political career – went down in flames.

Why would Dhalla propose such a bill? As it turned out, even most immigrants disagreed with her proposal.

Dhalla was trying to appeal to a small group of new Canadians who want their relatives to receive the generous social entitlements promised to Canadian seniors.

But the proposal simply didn’t pass the common sense test. It was especially devious because Dhalla only wanted to discuss her proposal with ethnic media.

Dhalla isn’t alone when it comes to promising the moon to newcomers. It would seem the NDP are now going down a similar path, as they’ve recently begun promising significant increases in the number of senior citizens being sponsored into Canada.

While their immigration policies are not displayed anywhere on their website, the NDP has begun privately touting their plans to boost the number of parents and grandparents sponsored to immigrate into Canada.

Just last week, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair told a group of South Asians in Surrey that family reunification for grandparents would be a top priority for him as Prime Minister.

These types of promises rarely make the evening news, but you can certainly read about them in ethnic media and community newspapers.

Meanwhile, the NDP have repeatedly opposed the Conservative governments requirement that sponsors must purchase private health insurance before bringing their parents and grandparents into Canada. The Tories paused new applications for parents and grandparents sponsorship in order to deal with a backlog of applications, but also created the “super visa” – a 10-year multiple entry visa to allow seniors to visit Canada but not drain our country’s social services.

Thomas Mulcair’s vision – the one he’s laid out when visiting ethnic communities but doesn’t promote elsewhere – is to bring more elderly immigrants into Canada to enjoy the benefits received by Canadian seniors.

No doubt, seniors have it good in Canada. And for good reason. Most have worked incredibly hard to build a life for themselves and their families. They can only expect to receive the retirement benefits they’ve been paying into their whole lives.

But is it fair for a person to come to Canada, having never worked or paid taxes in our country, to receive the same benefits as those who’ve been working and paying into the system for most of their lives? Will our healthcare, pensions and social services survive under ever increasing demand?

Thomas Mulcair seems to have no problem opening the floodgates. Canadians, on the other hand, may not be so generous.

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