The Immigration Minister John McCallum, as part of his nationwide campaign seeking the public’s opinion on immigration, has announced that he had plans to increase immigrants on a massive scale into Canada. He also said that immigrants would be encouraged to settle in rural Canada rather than the major cities.
Minister McCallum admits the constitutional issues associated with the basic rights of permanent residents, protected by Section 6 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He does not seem to be judicious, as reasonable restrictions in the same section, states that the rules for Canada Permanent Residents are not absolute.
In a liberal democracy it may not be realistic, but, controlling immigrants for specified locations during their initial years is imperative. This will beget support from people for increased immigration.
If the Government confines immigrants to particular rural areas, it has to deal with the relevant Charter subsection. The limitation clearly violates the mobility rights of an individual. As a result, the Government has to pass the Oakes test (a legal test created by the Supreme Court of Canada).
The Federal Government’s objective must be substantial; so far Mr. McCallum’s claims are about economic and labor shortage in remote areas. However, courts will look for a legitimate purpose; the benefits of infringement must overshadow the changes. If the limitation on immigrants to a particular location for settlement is temporary, then it helps the government’s case.
Streamlining immigrant procedures by granting additional points to immigrants with intent to settle in rural Canada (highlighting the point if immigrants choose to live in rural areas), can easily obtain permanent resident status.
Securing public support for increasing immigrants in Canada is crucial to meet the challenges that involve aging population and demographic distribution.