There are certain people who believe that holding settled Canadian immigrants—who are already employed or otherwise functioning as part of Canadian society—to high language standards isn’t logical. While skilled worker Canada applicants need the significant knowledge of an official language to work in Canada, not every applicant does. However, Minister of Citizenship, Canadian Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney affirms that an official language is essential for the successful economic establishment of any Canadian citizen. Minimum language standards will also improve the cohesion of Canada’s cultural mosaic and may help to boost civic participation, especially amongst new immigrants to Canada.
Where Mr. Kenney and his critics disagree is whether it is fair to deny citizenship because of language ability when individuals have already been allowed to live in the country for years. University of Toronto politics professor Phil Triadafilopoulos, who studies immigration and integration, believes that language evaluations are far from useful. He noted that his parents, who emigrated from Greece and many other Canadian immigrants, were able to call themselves Canadian before being proficient in one of the two official languages. These language standards will serve as a greater benefit than detriment to Canadian society at large. The issue at hand is whether the parameters of Canadian citizenship should be defined by minimum language benchmarks and whether or not these policies are exclusive and potentially corrosive to an applicant’s perspective of Canada as their destination country.