New immigrants to Ontario must wonder how they suddenly went from being valued Canadians, whose skills our economy needs, to being publicly derided as “foreigners.” On day one of a provincial election campaign, no less.
The reality is that on the basic principle of helping immigrants overcome barriers that hold them back from contributing their full potential, there is little daylight between the two parties’ platforms. The Conservatives’ section vowing to “create more opportunities for newcomers to Ontario” could have written by Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty. The Liberal line that “immigration is another Ontario advantage” could fit comfortably in the PC platform.Second, on his divisive, irresponsible rhetoric:
But the controversy that Hudak is stirring up is not about the substance of particular policies. It’s about wedge politics. On Tuesday he claimed that the tax breaks offered by the Liberals would help companies hire “anybody but you.”And if you read the transcript the Globe has of his Q & A on this today, you have to wonder if Hudak even knows what he's talking about.
That kind of language divides Ontarians into an “us” and a “them.” Creating divisions between struggling, unemployed workers and newer immigrants is dangerous to our long-term social cohesion. In Toronto, half of us were born outside Canada. There is no us versus them. They are us. And the faster we get newcomers into good jobs in the workforce and paying higher taxes the better for us all.
There’s a lot on the line during an election and parties often go a bit overboard to score points on their opponents. Hudak’s rhetoric and the PC party’s “Ontarians need not apply” ad go too far. It amounts to a thinly veiled attack on immigrants.
There may be political advantage to be had in this approach; we’ll find out on Oct. 6. But regardless of the outcome, this is the politics of division. It is angry. It is ugly. And it’s not what Ontarians are about.