Immigration & Investment: What makes Canada the ideal destination

| May 1, 2015 | 0 Comments

Immigration & Investment What makes Canada the ideal destination

One-on-One with Minister Chris Alexander

Isa Topbas

Having had the privilege of meeting him briefly once before, I had already known about the calm and relaxed nature of Minister Chris Alexander. His composed demeanor gives those interacting with him a sense of comfort and his is a very approachable individual. Earlier in the evening, the Minister had graciously invited us into his Toronto offices for a chat about general issues regarding immigration and the immigrant communities in Canada, and to dialog about the state of Canada-Turkey relations, which at times has its ups and downs.

Taking him back to years ago, I began by asking the minister of what had stuck with him from his time in Afghanistan. After all, he was there for quite some time, and it was of interest to me to find out what he still carried with him, from that experience. I found his response interesting as he described having witnessed the dramatic changes that took place in the country during his time there and the gains made in terms of democracy and human rights. Minister Alexander continues to take to heart these experiences in how to build a functioning state and democracy and how to instill the respect of human rights into a society. Looking back fondly to his time there, he points out how important those experiences were to what he does today as the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.

Seeking Asylum in Canada

The question about his time in Afghanistan had naturally led me to another relevant question; his position on refugees and Canada’s role in providing help to them. Having seen the poverty and devastation brought on by years of war must have had some sort of an impact on him and it would be interesting to hear his response. The Minister strongly believes that Canada is already doing a very good job in terms of accommodating those applying for asylum in the country. “I’m very proud of our refugee determination system and our refugee resettlement programs” he says, and adds that “Canada is more generous than ever.” When talking about the recent changes the government had undertaking with regard to the application process, he insisted that this was for the benefit of the refugees themselves, and the objective was to weed out those whose intent is to cheat the system for their own gain. Moving on, the Minister insisted that the system revolved around the actual needs of asylum seekers and stated that the efforts of the government should not be skewed or misunderstood.

Integration vs. Assimilation

When discussing immigrants, it is difficult not to delve into this age old question of integration versus assimilation. On the surface, the Canadian approach has always been different than what we see in the American system. There has always been a clear distinction between how newcomers are greeted in these two countries. While the United States has argued for the ‘melting pot’ approach, Canada has always been proud of its ‘mosaic’ philosophy and the strong presence of multiculturalism in the country. After all, for many Canadians, multiculturalism is how they define Canada; it has truly become a Canadian cultural icon

The Minister feels no different about this than many other Canadians. He is an ardent supporter of multiculturalism, and wants immigrants to feel safe and at home. He wants them to feel comfortable with their own culture and identity and believes that being Canadian will naturally come as part of living here. He doesn’t hesitate to add however that being a member of this society brings with it some responsibilities, stating that “citizenship is really is a set of obligations, not just rights.” He states that he is against devaluing our identity and citizenship, and that the only way to make sure of this is through a rigorous system in which those who betray this country, or attempt to betray this country are duly punished.

Immigrant Representation

On this question the Minister gave a frank response; immigrant representation both at the federal and at the provincial level could be improved. He put the onus on the immigrant communities however, and encouraged them to do more to take part in Canadian politics. He insists that the Canadian system is open for immigrants of all political stripes and strongly rejects that there is any systemic discrimination in Canada towards visible minorities, especially in the political arena. The Minister says that he hopes to see more members of visible minorities in the parliament in the years ahead, and that this can only be achieved through the hard work of immigrants themselves. While he admits that getting a start in politics is no easy task, he says this isn’t a valid reason for staying out of politics.

Immigration and the Economy

If you’re willing to invest about $2 Million over a span of 15 years in Canada, the government is willing to give you permanent residency without hassle. The cap on the number of applications for this program, while being only limited to 500 applicants, is directly in line with Canada’s commitment to making immigration serve the needs of the economy. The main requirement to be able to take advantage of this program is to have a history of investment of around $10 Million, and to commit to investing $2 Million in Canada over the required
time-span. Canada has always held immigration as a tool for economic prosperity, and this is one more addition. Through this investment-immigration partnership, the government plans on livening-up the already active and growing Canadian market.

Most other countries are less flexible with their immigration systems, while we’re aiming to bring talented people, skilled people together, faster.

Canada-Turkey Strategic Partnership

After asking about where the two countries currently stand, the Minister responded by stating that more had to be done, and both countries had to take their relationship to the next level. He highlighted the importance of the Turkish Canadian Chamber of Commerce in bringing the countries together in the field of business and international trade, and also pointed out the strength of not just Turkey, but also the Turkic world as a whole in making important gains in the Canadian market. He stated that the government is actively trying to make the process faster and easier for those wishing to come to Canada as economic immigrants and that the Canadian government is interested today more than ever, in foreign investment in this country.

Pointing to the young and dynamic population of the country, the Minister outlined the key sectors in which they are actively seeking immigrant applicants. Furthermore, the minister insisted that the importance of strong trade links between the countries goes beyond just economics, but also serves to improve and strengthen the cultural ties between the two countries.

Category: Interviews

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