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Canada’s anti-immigrant rhetoric keeps step with the UK and the US

Black immigrants in Canada have long known it isn’t the cultural utopia it pretends to be.

Screenshot 2024 03 05 at 10 53 13

Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship of Canada

Global News/YouTube screenshot

In January, Canada abruptly announced that it would slash approved international student visas to approximately 360,000. This is a 35% reduction compared to approved visas granted in 2023. The minister for immigration, refugees, and citizenship, Marc Miller said:

Today, we are announcing additional measures to protect a system that has become so lucrative that it has opened a path for its abuse. Enough is enough.

According to the government, international students are worsening the housing shortage and affordability in Canada. Miller also said:

(The) rapid increases in the number of international students arriving in Canada also put pressure on housing, health care, and other services.

In its bid to retain power, Justin Trudeau’s so-called Liberals are taking a leaf out of the equally desperate Rishi Sunak-led Conservative playbook in the UK.

This is a desperate gamble.

False rainbow

For decades, Canada has enjoyed a misleading characterization as a ‘melting pot of cultures’ and earned an unwarranted reputation for somehow being ‘better’ on immigration than the UK or the US.

Those people of color like me living in Canada know to laugh off these myopic fantasies of how the global media view the country.

January’s announcement is no surprise in light of creeping, and, indeed, arguably established right-wing anti-immigrant sentiment in “immigrant-friendly” Canada.

In the same month, the prime minister of Canada’s French-speaking Quebec Province, rattled a hornet’s nest when he said: "The airports, particularly in Toronto and Montreal, are becoming sieves and it is time to act."

He went on to hit a classically racist talking point when he complained about an “influx” of asylum seekers from Mexico “flooding Canada”.

Billionaire “Liberals”

Justin Trudeau’s out-of-sorts Liberals have woefully failed to adequately fund affordable housing. Or – some say – even attempted to.

In 2023, Statistics Canada reported that investment in housing tumbled 17.9% in December. The picture is worse for multi-unit housing fresh stock that carries millions of families and is needed even faster. The situation is so dire that some prisoners in Canada are choosing to extend their stay in jail rather than go out and face the Trudeau housing market.

One study says 40% of Canadians blame Trudeau for bungling the housing investment drive.

Faced with a likely election defeat at the hands of a resurgent, openly racist Tory Party of Canada in 2025, the easiest scapegoat for the housing crisis has been found by Trudeau – foreign students.

Facts ignored

The facts fly in the face of the newly adopted anti-foreign-student posture of Trudeau’s government.

International education will contribute more than 22.3 billion CAD ($16.4 billion) to the Canadian economy in 2022, bigger than lumber, auto, or aircraft parts exports according to Statistics Canada’s findings. Moreover, it supports more than 200,000 jobs.

The salt on the wound here is that Canadian students will pay more hefty tuition to close the financial subsidy gap that foreign students pay via billions of dollars of tuition fees.

Not all that liberal

As a Black immigrant in Canada, I know personally what prejudiced border policing announcements like the latest in Canada do to sow fear in immigrants’ lives.

It’s not only a pushback on foreign students but everyone – visitor visa applicants, permanent residents applicants, and citizenship applicants that have created two-tiers of Canadians – some who are born here and usually white, and most who are born abroad who are ‘citizens’ but whose citizenship can be arbitrarily taken away.

But I’m not surprised – this is all part of the architecture of the racist visa regime of Canada, a country that records the highest number of visa denials to Black African applicants. A finding by Canada’s House of Commons revealed the disturbing picture that Black Africans wishing to study in Canada or simply visit the country, face the highest visa refusal rate of all race groups – up to 80% for applicants from Senegal in 2019.

The latest anti-foreign-student posture has at last united the Trudeau Liberals and Tories in ideology and practice. The Canadian ‘rainbow nation’ mask is off.

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