Immigration Minister Chris Alexander reveals contradictions in citizenship law
Citizenship and Immigration Minister Christopher Alexander tread a fine line between sympathy and sticking to government script when speaking about the overhaul to citizenship law proposed by the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act.
"The government doesn't know its own history and laws," he said. "Was there some kind of citizenship supernova in Canada in 1947? Of course not."
Questions around new language rules and cancelation of investor immigrant program
Thronged by supportive guests during much of the event, Alexander fielded some difficult questions on the proposed changes to the Citizenship Act once he finished his lengthy speech praising Vancouver's diversity and outlining the proposed changes in the new citizenship bill. Transitioning between French and English, Alexander insisted that the tougher restrictions on citizenship would benefit new Canadians in the long run, and drilled home the Conservative Party's mantra that Canada has the strongest economy in the G7 countries, which he said never would have happened had a different government been in power.
Despite Alexander's arguments in favour of the new bill, some people in the room openly voiced their discontent with the new hurdles put in place for immigration. In particular, people criticized the new proposed language rules that required applicants aged 14-64 to meet requirements in basic English or French.
Another hot topic was the end of the immigrant investor program, which offered visas to people with a net worth of at least $1.6 million who were willing to lend $800,000 to the Canadian government for investment across Canada for a term of five years. The change, which would leave 45,000 Chinese millionaires in limbo, was proposed in the new 2014 budget. The decision has angered some in the Chinese Canadian business community, with some people speaking out at a press conference in Chinatown.
"The majority of people who have made their views known to us from the Chinese community and elsewhere have said 'Bravo, thank you for ending a program that was not meeting its objectives."
When another reporter pressed him on whether the program was losing Canada money, he shook his head and said 'no.'
"Has Canada lost money in this deal? No, I don't think so. In general, I think it yielded some results, but it wasn't as advantageous or as positive as some of our other economic programs, so that's why we're ending this program and replacing it with something better."