Thursday, April 10, 2008

Immigration not the best election issue for the Harper Conservatives

Know how you can tell Harper is about to venture a little too far when he speaks? Watch for what follows the word "frankly." He uses it quite a bit. It's his "tell," to use a poker term.
"During question period in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Liberal Leader Stephane Dion asked Prime Minister Stephen Harper to admit the reforms would do nothing to reduce the massive backlog of applicants and would discourage potential immigrants from applying.

Harper shot back, attacking the Liberals' record on immigration.

'The Liberal party, Mr. Speaker, wants to go back to what they consider the good old days. The good old days where backlogs just kept getting longer, where you needed special access to government members, where frankly Mr. Speaker, they gave priority to strippers in terms of immigration policies and where after waiting for six years they charged immigrants $1,000 to come to Canada.'

Harper was referring to the scandal that erupted in 2004 when it was revealed then Liberal immigration minister Judy Sgro had fast-tracked the immigration process for a campaign volunteer -- who also happened to be an exotic dancer from Romania

Ahead of the vote, Liberal immigration critic Maurizio Bevilacqua said the party has no interest in rejecting the bill before it even gets to committee, and Canadians should have a chance to weigh in on the proposals.

Bevilacqua didn't rule out the possibility of voting against the reforms at a later date, however."
Yes, for the Liberals, years of oversight of immigration policy was all about fast-tracking strippers. Leave it to our classy, integrity riddled PM to pull an ugly one out of his back pocket when the issue cuts a bit too close.

If this is the issue we're going to the polls on, expect it to get ugly. Diane Finley seems to be making the reforms a matter of patriotism:
"I can stand hand on heart and say this is good for immigrants, good for business, good for newcomers to the country and it's certainly good for the country," Finley told CTV's Mike Duffy Live on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, serious concerns are being expressed:
Sima Sahar Zerehi of the group Status Now, told Mike Duffy Live that the reforms could provide a framework for discrimination against visible minorities.
You can just see where these kind of arguments might lead in an election campaign.

This could turn out to be quite the election "poison pill" that Harper chose to insert in this budget. And it's not without risk for the Lukiwski populated Harper Conservatives.