According to a recently released government document, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney has granted special temporary resident permits to a significant number of individuals throughout the past four years. The document, compiled by a public servant working for the minister’s office, shows the names of the recipients who were granted special permits, as well as the names of the MPs, ministers, and senators who requested them on the recipients’ behalf. However, it does not specify if the beneficiaries left the country when they were supposed to.
While public figures, such as Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, Labour Minister Lisa Raitt, Justice Minister Rob Micholson, among others, are included in the list of those who requested Kenney a special permit for someone, the visitor’s date of departure was kept blank—in some cases, years after their entry into the country; in approximately 144 of the 676 cases recorded an expiry date was specified but there was no confirmation that the permit owner left the country before this date.
Immigration ministers have always retained the power to issue temporary resident permits to applicants that are typically inadmissible and have failed to secure such permits through regular channels. However, in such cases, it is expected of MPs that they follow-up with the minister’s office to make sure that the recipient leaves the country when expected.
The document also shows explicit indications that some permit recipients stayed in Canada after the expiration of their permit. In one such cases, 32 people were issued a two-week permit on July 2009, but the record also remarked that “eight remain” in the country.
In view of this finding, Liberal immigration critic Kevin Lamoureux said that there must be greater accountability in regards to the people who approach the minister to secure special permits.
“I would love to see the minister at an immigration committee answer questions about the people putting in the requests under his general category,” said Lamoureux. “I think we should know that. What region of the world are they coming in from? Is there one grouping of people he’s giving preferential treatment to?”
Lamoreux also pointed out that the minister’s frequent usage of these special permits, for either humanitarian or various other reasons, reveals that the official venue to attain these permits is not working as well as it should.
The release of this information comes at an unfortunate time for minister Kenney. The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) has already been highly scrutinized as a result of a recent scandal involving the Royal Bank of Canada’s alleged misusage of this immigration venue; the bank reportedly attempted to hire foreign workers holding Temporary Foreign Worker Permits to replace Canadian employees. In light of both events, critics point out that the TFWP does not include enough safeguards to avoid its misusage by MPs and Canadian employers alike.
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