Canadian Prime Minister Stephen HarperCanadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Toronto: In his keynote speech at India’s independence day celebrations held at the Pearson Convention Center on August 12, Prime Minister Stephen Harper laid a great deal of emphasis on how India has become the prime source country for immigration to Canada due to the changes the Canadian government has made recently to facilitate immigration of Indians to Canada, as also from elsewhere.
He referred to Ottawa opening eight trade and consular offices in India, including New Delhi, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad and Bangalore: “Immigration enriches Canada,” Harper emphasized. “Today, India is Canada’s top source country for immigrants. And this … explains why Canada’s Indo-Canadian community is over 1.2-million strong and continues to grow. The Indo-Canadian community has a proud and rich history in our country.”
He compared how his government has made changes to immigration regulations making it easier for new immigrants to come to Canada from countries like India: “In 2005, fewer than twenty-five hundred student visas were granted to Indian students,” that number in 2014 climbed to “more than 14,000” evoking repeated applause from 1400 guests.
The event was organized by Canada-India Friendship Group, led by Conservative Senator Asha Seth.
“(Even) though Canada’s past has been shaped by the millions who came from elsewhere and Canada’s future will depend on the millions yet to come, yet for far too long, previous governments … chose to ignore problems in Canada’s immigration system as if they would just fix themselves,” Harper said.
It doesn’t happen that way as the “problems only intensified and the wait got longer… and the immigration backlog grew and so too did the irritation of those patiently waiting their turn,” Harper claimed.
And when Harper formed the Conservative government, they started working on reforming immigration regulations: Those “reforms have been working … (and) today, the permanent residency approval rate for applicants from India is more than 85 per cent.”
Naval Bajaj is the youngest ever elected President of Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce
People earlier had “to wait four, five to six years for their residency,” that time has now been reduced to “just one year,” Harper proudly emphasized.
In this connection, he also referred to recent first official visit of his Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander to India to announce CAN+ program under which there is a “95 per cent approval rate, making more Indians able to visit Canada as tourists or to do business.”
CAN+ is for those who have earlier traveled to Canada or the US.
“Immigration enriches this country, and our government’s ongoing reforms mean that more immigrants will be able to contribute to their maximum of their capacity,” which Harper rightly sated as “good for everyone.”
Here he gave an example of how one Naval Bajaj migrated to Canada only 10 years back and how quickly became the youngest ever elected President of Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce (his two-year term ended in June). During his leadership, he led two business delegations to India.
“He had big dreams, and he had energy and ambition,” Harper said about Bajaj, who’s now a business consultant with 7-Eleven Canada and is also a businessman himself.
“In my travels across Canada I meet many people like Naval,” Harper noted.
“Men and women relentlessly pursue their goals to build a better, more prosperous life for themselves and their families, and help this country immensely in the process,” Harper concluded.
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