Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Crossing The Border

I've generally been on the dovish side about bringing the Tories down. And I can buy the Liberal argument for voting against today's NDP motion - it's only fair to look at these immigration reforms in committee first.

BUT

Here's some of the language the Liberals are using:

"We believe the Conservatives are wrong when they treat newcomers who want to immigrate to Canada like commodities and not human beings,"
-Ralph Goodale

“This begs a simple question: What does the government have against refugees?”
-Michael Ignatieff

"For half a century Canada has pursued immigration goals based on fairness and objectivity.
Why is the Prime Minister trying to get rid of these principles of fairness and objectivity? Why does he want to replace them with abusive powers in the hands of his minister, to replace open arms with closed doors?"

-Stephane Dion

"Why is the government telling the world: 'Immigrants need not apply?"
-Stephane Dion


Forcing an election on your own terms makes sense. And trying to reform this bill constructively makes sense. But if these immigration reforms aren't altered, it's at the point where the Liberals have painted them as being so ghastly that they really have a moral imperative to vote against them.

Of course, that doesn't mean they will.

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33 Comments:

  • I see the rhetoric as indicative of moving towards an election. You're right, if we don't vote them down, we've painted ourselves in a corner. I don't think people are that stupid, especially when all the principles are singing in unision. I honestly think the decision has been made, the next few weeks all about framing this to our advantage.

    By Blogger Steve V, at 11:49 PM  

  • All I'm concerned about right now is, why doesn't Ignatieff--presumably a brilliant academic--properly understand the phrase, "to beg the question"?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:01 AM  

  • Let's get real. dion isn't going to risk an election unless he can win. That means that the Liberal brand goes down the tube in the meantime.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 1:18 AM  

  • As if its all Dions fault, the Libs under Martin were all talk as well and Chretien only found his progressive credentials on the way out the door.

    Despite trying to position themselves as left leaning nationalists, the Liberals are pure ideologues when it comes to Free Trade, they are as bought and sold as it gets. That was made abundantly clear when they preferred sinking their hopes for reelection in the Sask by-election and publicly knifed Orchard in the back rather than give their corporate puppet masters any suspicions about how pure their fealty to badly negotiated trade deals might be.

    As for Prentice's latest display of sanity, does anyone think that the Liberals would have done this?

    Sold out on foreign policy, sold out on crime bills, sold out on the economy, sold out on immigration, what possible reason can Liberals expect people to vote for them other than the usual familial loyalty?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:23 AM  

  • Talk talk talk.... people are going to stop listening to Dion (if they haven't already) and then the real trouble will begin.

    You can bet the Tory research team are busy collecting all these quotes up and are ready for an onslaught of ads featuring them followed by newspaper headlines explaining Liberal support for votes.

    Ugh.

    By Blogger Forward Looking Canadian, at 8:12 AM  

  • I'm sooo depressed

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:32 AM  

  • A lot of people are depressed. Not just because the Liberal party is low in the polls, but because Liberals don't believe in their leader.

    In 2005 when most of the country was laughing at Harper (I know I was) his supporters rallied around him and believed they could win if they pushed hard. Even when random members of the Quebec wing chastized him, he stood up and said he believed in a future for Canada.

    Even before an election Harper launched campaign platforms and proposals such as the Accountability act. He made sure people knew he WANTED an election to prove himself and he HAD ideas to push.

    Contrast that with Dion. No policy. No priorities. No desire for an election. He doesn't even stand up address criticisms he just says "I'm the leader". No wonder we are all depressed. It's not about the vote last night, it's about the fact that the ship is sinking and the captain is busy playin' the violin.

    By Blogger Forward Looking Canadian, at 9:09 AM  

  • Whooee! Only about 12% of Canadians actually belong to a political party; i.e. pay dues, carry a membership card. In order to gain power, the LPC (or any party) needs to attract supporters who are not ideologically as committed as members. The problem for the LPC is that, under its present leadership, it cannot even maintain support among the card-carrying members.

    Dion's wishy-washy compliance with every regressive action taken by Harper has cost the LPC dearly. When does the rank and file (guys like CG, Steve V and Scotty Tribe) stand up and say enough is enough? When do the staunch LPC bloggers tear up their LPC membership cards?

    By standing by these abstainers and enablers, LPC members are showing the same lack of backbone that their leader is displaying. The Lib MP's all grouse about teh Con's but continue to enable them. The LPC membership grouses about the MP's caving in to Harper's every whim but they continue to support the LPC.

    If you want your party and its leaders to stand up for liberalism, you're going to have to at least threaten to abandon the enablers. Otherwise, you're just part of the enablement.

    By Blogger JimBobby, at 9:25 AM  

  • jimbobby is right, Grit. Time to turn Tory.

    By Blogger Chuckercanuck, at 10:36 AM  

  • I was thinking more of a Green conversion, Chucker. If they wanna support the Con's, all they need to do is keep supportin' the Grits.

    By Blogger JimBobby, at 11:37 AM  

  • Shame on Dion.

    By Blogger mezba, at 12:22 PM  

  • "Time to turn Tory."

    Have you gone insane, Chucker?

    Why don't you guys find a replacement for harper? I'll be happy to vote for someone decent.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 12:30 PM  

  • The Liberal rhetoric on this one is going to come back to haunt them. People are too smart to believe in the "hidden agenda" as Harper continues to run a de facto majority government. I think the Liberals truly believe their own rhetoric because they are blinded by partisan hatred but I don't think that the electorate will buy into it.

    If the Liberals really want to get back to power they need to hold a policy convention and really hash out what they stand for and want to achieve. It is not enough for Dion to say they would replace the Harper immigration plan with a "good policy". What the hell does that mean? Seriously.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:33 PM  

  • the only thing that will save the Libs is a STAR leader like
    .....

    ....

    Arnold Schwarzenegger

    By Blogger art, at 1:48 PM  

  • It would be nice if people voted for what they believed than voting according to what is the best Political position.....then again - what do you expect from politicians!

    By Anonymous Moving to Nova Scotia, at 3:17 PM  

  • "It would be nice if people voted for what they believed than voting according to what is the best Political position"

    That popular attitude is completely and utterly incorrect - if things worked that way it would be bad for the country, and bad for Democracy. Why?

    1. If only a subsection of parliament (eg. the Liberals) acts on principle while everybody else doesn't, you get a dysfunctional government without a real opposition (as was the case in the 1990's, when the Canadian right decided that "Canadians were tired of politicians that just play politics").

    2. Everything is proportional. You may have to swallow your pride and compromise on some issues as part of playing politics - but if you can win, and make big changes that will make a real difference, that is a lot more important.

    3. Democracy is about public opinion. Doing things the public doesn't want (within limits), and framing all actions so as to win an election, is precisely how we maintain democratic accountability in the 3-5 years between elections.

    Don't blame politicians, blame the vagaries of democracy (which are smaller than those of alternatives). This notion that Dion should not "play politics" and should force an election nobody wants, which will produce worse results for him and his party, is utterly ridiculous (especially when Harper has made a lot of issues into very dubious confidence motions anyway).

    Or, to put it more bluntly, if you really are against Harper's crime bill, or immigration reforms, how the hell is giving him a majority government (or at least a stronger minority), offering effective resistance to either of those reforms?

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 6:37 PM  

  • There is no way that 3.6 million Canadians belong to a political party, no way. The number is closer to 500,000 at most, which would be less than 2% of the population and maybe 3% of the population above the age of 14 that are members of political parties. Hell, in the Martin heyday the Libs had less than 500,000 members. I bet the number is closer to 100,000 with the grits right now, with all the parties combined I bet it is right around 500,000.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:41 PM  

  • Kinda reminds me of the Liberal rhetoric about the first Tory budget: so full of Liberal ideas, the Liberal Party had no choice but to oppose it. By not showing up to vote.

    As for Iggy's contribution to the discourse, I'm unaware of any substantial changes to the treatment of refugees. The key points, as far as I am aware, are around allowing preferred immigration applicants to be processed sooner than those less able to contribute immediately to Canadian society. Which would allow more community immigrant resources to be spent on refugees, not less.

    By Blogger paul.obeda@, at 6:53 PM  

  • Paul you might want to read what Ignatieff said before going off half cocked.

    “Under the previous Liberal government the queue for refugee claimants had been effectively reduced to zero,”

    “Under this Conservative government, the backlog has ballooned to nearly 60,000, and it is set to head to 100,000 by 2012. The chairman of the Immigration and Refugee Board says it's the largest backlog in its history.

    “This begs a simple question: What does the government have against refugees?”

    By Blogger Koby, at 8:17 PM  

  • “If the Liberals really want to get back to power they need to hold a policy convention and really hash out what they stand for and want to achieve. It is not enough for Dion to say they would replace the Harper immigration plan with a "good policy". What the hell does that mean? Seriously.”

    I assure you that the Liberals know what they are about. It is everything that harper and the social conservatives are not, if there should be any doubt.

    The problem lies with dion. He doesn’t know when to quit. Here’s a guy who spent a lot of money and won only 17% of the delegates. He won the party leadership during the convention by accident.

    To date, he has shown why he was only able to win 17% in the delegate race. To wit, dion should be the leader of a minority party like the GP or NDP.

    What we need to do is to jettison dion at the earliest opportunity so that we can get on with the main business, i.e. giving harper the heave-ho.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 8:35 PM  

  • I assure you that the Liberals know what they are about. It is everything that harper and the social conservatives are not, if there should be any doubt.

    The problem lies with dion.


    You just don't get it do you. Was Paul Martin a rousing success? Dion has been totally unimpressive but frankly I like him better than Paul, he won't be getting booed at football matches in BC anytime soon.

    Clarity is easier when you actually believe in something. Dion is hardly the only Liberal with this problem. Ignatieff says 'war crime' in Quebec, didn't lose any sleep in the ROC, Rae's Afghanistan position has shifted with the wind. You guys are an all round joke, pretending its all Dion's fault just shows how delusional you have become.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:02 AM  

  • jimtan: rest assured, as soon as your guy (and who is it? Rae? Iggy? Probably Iggy, he always did have a bunch of bloggers backing him) wins, he'll be subject to the same thing.

    The Liberals' problem is not their leader. Hell, Dion was the one chomping at the bit for an election. The problem goes much deeper than that, and has everything to do with the very mindset that suggests that "if only we change leaders, THEN it'll be different!"

    (Honestly. Even the Dems were never that dumb.)

    By Blogger Demosthenes, at 12:10 PM  

  • Jimtan,

    here's a little secret:

    in 10 years, when PM Harper calls it quits. The next PM (and Tory leader) will be.....

    Jean Charest.

    By Blogger Chuckercanuck, at 1:18 PM  

  • Why does no one want to debate the meat of this matter? Is it better policy to direct immigration towards family reunification or towards filling labour needs in the Canadian Market? Is it better to bring in a a 70 year old woman because her son was an immigrant 10 years ago or to bring in a 30 year old doctor to fill the shortage in our health care system? Is it reasonable to consider the potential contribution of an immigrant to Canada, as well as the possible drain on the system? Is it reasonable to fast-track those applications that fit the policy goals of the sitting government? I think that would make a wonderful election campaign.

    By Blogger The Rat, at 1:46 PM  

  • “You just don't get it do you.”

    Why don’t you explain clearly to us why principles and beliefs are important? Bearing in mind that Jack Layton is a man of firm principles and beliefs. Jack is the perfect leader of a small ideological party.

    “You guys are an all round joke, pretending its all Dion's fault just shows how delusional you have become.”

    It’s true that dion inherited a party with an antiquated organization and a tainted legacy. Yet, the leader is an active player, and he has considerable powers.

    Obama is an example of someone who can. He starts as an underdog. In a single year, he has come to dominate Democratic politics.

    Dion is currently ranked behind Jack Layton in his own home province. And, he has also had a year in which to do it.

    So, should we blame dion for ambitions that exceed his competence? Or, should we blame the party for accidentally electing him? Or, should we just correct our mistake and get on with it?

    By Blogger JimTan, at 2:21 PM  

  • “jimtan: rest assured, as soon as your guy…”

    Shows how much you know about me. Dion was my guy. I voted and contributed money. He can’t do the job. Anyone who can do the job will have the support of the party.

    “(Honestly. Even the Dems were never that dumb.)”

    Actually, Obama is poised to win the Presidency, not John Kerry. There must be a lesson here.

    “The next PM (and Tory leader) will be.....”

    Ah! So, Chucker is trying her hand at prophecy after giving up on reason.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 2:23 PM  

  • koby, thanks for the context; that helps.

    But I still wonder what Ignatieff is then accusing the bureaucrats of doing? And how this legislation in any way affects refugee claims?

    And that's without asking the question how more than 60,000 new refugee claimants arrived in Canada over the past two years without anyone notincing. (In addition to all the newly arrived refugee claimants who have been processed in that time.)

    Or did Ignatieff spin the truth just a bit?

    By Blogger paul.obeda@, at 5:02 PM  

  • Look Rat. Yes Canada lets in far more refugees and humanitarian cases than it needs to and should, rules governing family unification are ridiculously stupid, the points system favors older immigrants over younger ones, the government needs to do a better job ensuring that foreign credentials are recognized and yes skilled worker applications need to be processed faster.

    Now, with regard to the Conservative reforms, the problem is that rather than tackling the more nettlesome issues head on the Conservatives have thrown out the rules and have instead said they make them up as the go along. It is hard to imagine a worse way of approaching the issue. It undermines what makes the point system so successful in the first place, viz., it is easy to understand and offers would be immigrants a sense of certainty.

    Incidentally, the only thing that will speed up the rate at which current applications, some 926,00, are processed is to increase the number immigration officials and Conservatives have been cutting the number of officials. What is more, by introducing system wide quotas the Conservatives proposal will likley introduce wait lists where currently there are none. After all, how fast a particular application is processed depends not on how many people are waiting to get into Canada but rather on the volume of applications at a given local and how many people there are to process those applications. There is no backlog in Buffalo or Warsaw. But Delhi and Bogotá are an entirely different matter. Indeed it can take upwards of 8 to 10 times as long at some locals as others.

    Anyway, even more troublesome than the Conservative’s just trust us approach to immigration is their willingness to let in more guest workers. There is ample evidence that armies of disenfranchised workers, whether they are illegal or guest, are a recipe of disaster. It is great way to, create an underclass, suppress wages, encourage black marketing, and increase xenophobia and racism.

    By Blogger Koby, at 5:08 PM  

  • Forget the bureaucrats. This is politically motivated and manufactured.

    The number of vacant positions on the refugee board has more than quintupled – to 58 from 10. As a result, the processing time has gone from 11.7 months to 16.5.

    The 37- member immigration appeal division in particularly bad shape; there are 10 more vacant spots. Consequently, it takes to hear appeals to criminal removal orders!

    By Blogger Koby, at 5:27 PM  

  • Anyway, even more troublesome than the Conservative’s just trust us approach to immigration is their willingness to let in more guest workers. There is ample evidence that armies of disenfranchised workers, whether they are illegal or guest, are a recipe of disaster. It is great way to, create an underclass, suppress wages, encourage black marketing, and increase xenophobia and racism.

    Well said. If Canada needs workers then it should offer them citizenship.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:28 PM  

  • "The 37- member immigration appeal division in particularly bad shape; there are 10 more vacant spots. Consequently, it takes to hear appeals to criminal removal orders!"

    Koby,

    Thanks for the info. It is absolutely impossible to vote for the harperites.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 5:34 PM  

  • koby, I notice that you studiously avoided my questions.

    Nice of you to do so (a student of Dion, perhaps?), but I remain curious why Mr. Ignatieff finds this legislation so hostile to refugees, and why there have been an extra 60,000 new refugees landed on Canadian shores over and above the volume being processed by the bureaucrats, according to your citations.

    What has attracted such a rapid influx of claimants? And what is is that the bureaucrats are being accused of not doing?

    By Blogger paul.obeda@, at 3:04 AM  

  • Paul

    1)Ignatieff was not talking about the new legislation. He was talking about the refusal of the Conservatives adequently staff the refugee board.

    By the way, you keep wanting to blame the bureaucrats for the short fall. They have nothing to do with it. The staffing is the responsibility of the Conservative government.

    2)There has been no sudden flood of refugees and there does not look to be. What Ignatieff was saying was given number of refugees Canada gets in a typical year and the speed at which they are being processed means that there will be a backlog of such and such by 2012.

    The reason for bigger backlog is straight forward. There is not enough staff to process refugee claims as quickly as there once was. If you process them less quickly than a backlog quickly builds up.

    By Blogger Koby, at 6:20 AM  

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