OTTAWA – A briefing note for a Conservative MP suggests the government is worried about how spending on immigration programs is going over with its base.
The House of Commons immigration committee is currently studying how government-funded settlement services can better help the economic integration of immigrants.
A note which appears to have been prepared for Costas Menegakis, the parliamentary secretary for immigration, says the party’s base will learn as a result that the government spends close to $1 billion a year on those efforts.
The note says the other risk of undertaking such a study is that the government’s relationship with Quebec may surface as an issue.
And while the study only began last month and the committee has only just started hearing from witnesses, the briefing note also lays out five recommendations for its the eventual report.
A copy of the note was obtained by The Canadian Press.
Menegakis’ office declined to comment specifically on the note’s contents.
“Committee members are masters of their own proceedings,” said an emailed statement. “As always, we look forward to hearing testimony from all witnesses.”
Liberal MP John McCallum, who sits on the committee, called it “chilling” to see the reference to the party’s base in the document.
“It’s as if they are concerned their own supporters would be aghast at the idea of spending money to help settle immigrants,” McCallum said in an interview.
“It’s good not only for the immigrants, it’s good for the country if the newcomers settle quickly and work and not be receiving welfare and become productive Canadians.”
The Conservatives credit much of their electoral success in recent years to the inroads the party has made among new Canadians. They’ve also massively overhauled the immigration system which they’ve said is partially motivated by concerns raised from within the newcomer community.
Part of the overhaul has been shifting the focus to so-called economic class immigrants, those coming to Canada for work purposes.
The briefing note suggests, among other things, that employers ought to be more engaged in the settlement process.
But it’s clear what those witnesses say doesn’t matter, said Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe, the NDP’s immigration critic and also a member of the committee.
“They already have their lines, and whatever the witnesses are bringing to the table, they already want to go forward with certain things,” she said.
“That’s not my view about what should be the work of a committee.”
The committee is scheduled to meet Tuesday morning.