Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Conservatives rolling back that welcome mat

Well it looks like Diane Finley didn't do the Conservatives any favours yesterday with her appearance before the Commons finance committee to discuss the Conservative immigration proposals. But heck, with the way things are going for them these days, with fires being lit on file after file, it's not surprising a rough ride would be coming on this issue. I'm sure they are not going to appreciate headlines like this: "Minister: immigration bill designed to limit immigration applications to Canada." Whoops. Now that's not exactly the pie in the sky rhetoric and generalities we've been hearing from Ms. Finley to date. It's been all we-need-skilled-workers and we've-let-in-more-immigrants-than-ever-before and ooh-those-Liberals-left-such-a-mess. But I guess you can't get away with platitudes in front of a committee the way you can in Question Period. Here's Finley, stepping in it:
Sweeping immigration reforms now before the House of Commons were designed to limit the number of immigration applications Canada gets each year, the minister responsible said Monday.

The frank assessment came from Immigration Minister Diane Finley, who said controlling the number of applications to Canada will help reduce future immigration backlogs and waiting times.
Finley was asked why the government simply couldn't speed up processing times by pouring more cash resources into its immigration operations.

She replied that the current system is broken, and that spending cash without making structural changes would be like throwing money into a black hole. This year's federal budget has included $109 million to help reduce immigration wait times.

Finley was later asked what specific flaws with the system would result in any additional money going down the drain.

She replied that spending more money on immigration services would actually lead to more applicants seeking to come to Canada - and she indicated that the government wants to do the opposite.

"Throwing more money at the problem would not limit the number of applications that we would have to receive and process in any given point in time," Finley said to reporters.

"And the faster we got at processing, the more money we threw at it, the more applications we'd get. It becomes a spiral.

"What we need to do is be able to control ... like other countries, the United Kingdom, Australia, we need to be able to manage the number of applications."
Now that can't be music to the PMO's ears. Doesn't sound like the immigrant friendly Conservatives they've been pretending to be throughout the course of what limited discussion there has been on the Conservative immigration proposals. Nor do such vague musings:

Finley was non-committal when asked what impact the legislation would have on family reunification.

"Family class could actually, conceivably, be made one of the priorities," she replied.

But when asked whether that was a specific promise, she demurred.

"We're not committing to anything. The only thing we're committing to do is get this legislation through Parliament, so that we can get on with it and clean up with the mess the Liberals left us."

Now maybe it's just me, but that doesn't sound like the kind of Minister I want to give more discretion to on her file. Give me the power and ask me no questions. "We're not committing to anything" she says. Are you kidding me? For more of Ms. Finley's political prowess, read this remarkable account of her interactions - or lack thereof - with farmers in her riding.

The more light you shine on these Conservatives, the more antithetical to Canadian values they appear.