What the CIC teaches immigrants about Canadian government

I have been thinking about the unique role of Citizenship and Immigration Canada in educating newcomers about our Canadian parliamentary democracy. The CIC is the first, and the most significant, agency of the Canadian government with which immigrants interact. To its clients, the CIC represents the values and norms of the government and the nation. Is the CIC representing Canada well and living up to the opportunity inherent in its unique position?

While immigrants will memorize current and historical Canadian names, events and dates by studying the CIC booklets defining “equality under the law” and telling us that the Constitution Act of 1791 allowed legislative assemblies elected by citizens for the first time in Canada, what do we experience firsthand? Do we see Canadian good governance in action? Do we see transparency and accountability? Or do we experience an opaque process rife with indefinite delays and arbitrary, unexplained actions? Do we experience suspicion based on our nation of origin? Are women, racial, religious and linguistic minorities and the poor viewed as less worthy of citizenship?

What do the unexplained suspicions, the record wait times, the ballooning backlogs and the lack of accountability say about Canadian government to an immigrant?

The future citizens of Canada have a responsibility to learn about their adopted home. The CIC has the opportunity to teach them what it means to be treated respectfully and fairly by their government. This is not an opportunity to squander.

4 responses to “What the CIC teaches immigrants about Canadian government

  1. I hope we continue fighting in this campaign, even after we have our RQs processed and get our Citizenship. We should not let the Conservative government teach new immigrants that lack of accountability is a Canadian value. We need not only to adopt to Canadian culture, but also add to it, by what we bring to this country.

  2. Very well written. That is exactly why RQ has outraged so many people. Shame on CIC and whoever is driving this policy. I don’t think it is even legal. There should be a class action law suit on this.

  3. Immigrants have no opportunity to influence the situation because they can’t vote. Protests? Very doubtful. People are intimidated.

    • You are right that many people feel intimidated. But I disagree that we are powerless to influence the situation. Every resident of Canada, permanent or temporary, legal or illegal, has the Charter Right to freedom of expression. As permanent residents whose voting rights are being withheld, we should zealously guard the rights we actually have. We should not discount them so lightly. By refusing to exercise the rights we have, we become collaborators in our own dis-empowerment. No one deserves our help to keep us down. The CIC disenfranchises us by withholding our right to vote, but we disenfranchise ourselves by refusing to speak out.

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