By Jeremy Deutsch, Kamloops | Link to Article
For the second time in a week, a federal cabinet minister stopped by the Tournament Capital, but the latest visit didn't involve a major controversial issue facing the community, such as the proposed Ajax mine.
Instead, federal Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney was in Kamloops on Friday, Jan. 27, meeting with the immigrant community.
He noted big changes to Canada's immigration policy are on the way.
Kenney hinted his government will introduce significant reforms to help identify and select people who have the skills most likely to succeed in Canada.
The minister said the country is facing a real labour shortage that will only continue to grow as the population ages.
"The question is, how do we get the biggest bang for the buck out of immigration?" he told KTW.
"How do we choose those people who have the skills that are going to fill the job shortages now and in the future?"
He said those questions will be the focus of immigration reforms expected later this year.
Kenney also faced further questions about immigration from members of the North Shore's Kamloops Gurdwara Temple, where he spent a portion of his stay.
Specifically, he was queried on the issue of immigration-marriage fraud.
He said his government will soon be adopting a policy that will place a two-year waiting period of conditional residency on foreign spouses, instead of automatic permanent residency.
If, in the two years, information comes to light to suggest marriage fraud, permanent residency for the individual will be denied.
Kenney said he has heard widespread concern from immigrant communities of people being hurt or abused through fraudulent immigration marriages.
In many cases, a Canadian has sponsored someone who has no intention to live in the marriage, or it involves marriages of convenience.
Kenney called the acts an "insult to marriage" and an "abuse of the system."
He said prior to legislation, it was nearly impossible to take action against the fraudsters, as they have legal rights once their permanent residency is issued.
But, his visit wasn't all about immigration.
Kenney also touched on the upcoming federal budget, which he said will focus on economic growth and job creation.
"You can't pay for health care, you can't welcome newcomers, you can't do much of anything if we don't have a vibrant economy," he said.
Kenney's visit came on the heels of a stop by Environment Minister Peter Kent, who was in Kamloops on Jan. 25 to tour the proposed Ajax mine site and reiterate there will not be a federal panel review of the application.