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Canada Immigration Minister May Be able to Fast-Track Applicants

Controversial changes to Canada's Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) have passed final reading in the House of Commons. The proposed immigration amendments, which were included in the Conservative government's budget implementation bill, will now be reviewed by Senate before they can be passed into law.

If made law, the amendments will give the Immigration Minister more power to decide which applications will be fast-tracked, which will remain in the queue, and which will be refused outright. They will also allow the government to limit the annual number of application that Canada considers. The Conservatives have stated that these changes are needed to reduce processing times so that badly needed skilled workers can get to Canada quickly; and to reduce the backlog of applications in the queue.

Critics argue that the measures put too much discretionary power into the hands of the Immigration Minister and are concerned that they will reduce the objectivity and fairness of the current system.

All three opposition parties have voiced their opposition to the reforms; however, the minority Conservatives managed to push them through by a vote of 120-90 in the House of Commons. Because the immigration changes are bundled in with the budget bill, they were considered a matter of confidence. If the majority of the House had voted against it, the Conservative government would have fallen and an election would have been triggered. The Liberal Party, who is not prepared for a federal election, was largely absent from the vote to ensure that there would not be enough opposition to the bill for the government to fall.

Should the bill pass through Senate and become law, the Liberals have stated that they will overturn and revise the immigration reforms when they form the next government. There is talk that the next federal election may take place in the fall.

Source: The Globe and Mail; Toronto Star


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