Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada/USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada/USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke

U.S. election results one factor that could impact immigration to Canada next year

The survey polled 1,523 Canadians between Oct. 23 and Oct. 25

After four years of Canada positioning itself as a more welcoming destination than the U.S. for new immigrants, the upcoming presidential election could change that dynamic.

But as the Liberal government prepares to lay out its immigration targets for the coming year, the domestic discourse on the issue appears to be changing as well.

A new poll by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies suggests Canadians are feeling skittish about any planned increases to immigration next year, after months of low numbers of new arrivals due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fifty-two per cent of those polled this week say they want the levels to stay low for the next 12 months, a figure that can be pegged to the pandemic, said Jack Jedwab, the president of the Association for Canadian Studies.

“When health authorities are telling you that one of the principal causes of the virus is migration — they’re not saying international migration, just people moving in general — and they are telling you not to go abroad, you’re going to conclude to some degree that immigration carries a risk right now,” said Jedwab.

The survey polled 1,523 Canadians between Oct. 23 and Oct. 25. It cannot be assigned a margin of error because online surveys are not truly random.

Border closures, civil servants working from home, flight cancellations and vanished job opportunities have all had an impact on the immigration system: estimates suggest that as of August, immigration levels were down 43.5 per cent versus last year and the government’s plan to welcome 341,000 newcomers in 2020 is out the window.

While the Liberal government has maintained a pro-immigration stance throughout and has begun easing restrictions on who is allowed into Canada, what the Liberals think immigration overall could look like next year will be clearer later this week.

Despite some Americans’ “If Trump wins, I’m moving to Canada” line, the U.S. election might not affect the total numbers for new arrivals.

But it could affect the demographics of who arrives.

Upon assuming the presidency in 2017, Donald Trump immediately moved to impose restrictions on immigration, and Canada’s messaging immediately went in the other direction.

The most public response was Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s #WelcomeRefugees tweet, posted after Trump’s first changes were announced.

Meanwhile, Trump’s travel bans on certain countries, crackdowns on temporary visas issued to citizens of others, and efforts to make it harder for highly skilled workers to get visas would go on to have a trickle-up-to-Canada effect.

How so became tragically clear earlier this year when Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 was shot down just after taking off from Tehran.

Upwards of 130 people on the flight were headed to Canada. With Iran on the U.S. blacklist, the Iranian diaspora in Canada had swelled.

The tech sector as well began actively promoting Canada as a place to move as the U.S. made it harder for skilled workers to get visas.

A study earlier this year by the international real estate company CBRE concluded that Toronto had seen the biggest growth in technology jobs in the last five years, outpacing hot spots like Seattle and San Francisco.

Should Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden win the election, it’s expected that U.S. immigration policy will shift, said Andrew Griffiths, a former director general of citizenship and multiculturalism at the Immigration Department.

How far is hard to know: Trump made a lot of changes, he said.

“It’s going to take a major effort to go through them one by one and make changes and there may not be political will to reverse them all,” he said.

But there is one area where there could be a quick change.

Since 2017, nearly 60,000 people have crossed into Canada from the U.S. at unofficial border points to seek asylum in Canada.

The reason is the Safe Third Country Agreement, which doesn’t allow for asylum claims at land border points, on the grounds that both countries are safe, and someone must ask for refugee status in the first safe country he or she reaches.

Canada has been trying to renegotiate, and if there’s a change in power, the dynamics of those talks could shift as well.

On the other hand, points out Griffiths, it could also result in the number of people seeking to cross into Canada that way declining markedly. One “push factor” sending asylum-claimants north has been a U.S. crackdown on visa renewals by people from certain countries.

The political dynamic in the U.S. will always have a strong and vocal anti-immigrant component that doesn’t exist at the same level in Canada, Griffith said.

If Trump loses, the more “outrageous” aspects of his approach might disappear, he said.

“A Biden administration would reduce the strength of the Canadian advantage that we had in all our messaging, but it won’t completely eliminate it.”

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Donald TrumpelectionJoe BidenUSA

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kendra Thomas from Warmland Women’s Support Services invites Cowichan residents to find out more about youth sex trafficking with an online event Nov. 16, 2020. (File photo)
Learn more about youth sex trafficking with ‘Love Bombing 101’

Nov. 22-28 is Victims and Survivors of Crime Week

Pnina Benyamini loved to be around people and people loved her. (Photo submitted)
Many facets to energetic Chemainus woman’s legacy

Benyamini taught yoga, belly dancing and more to an adoring public

Windy conditions in Nanaimo’s Lost Lake area. (News Bulletin file photo)
Wind warning issued for the east coast of Vancouver Island

Environment Canada says people ‘should be on the lookout’ for adverse weather conditions

Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone has been re-elected as chairman of the board at the CVRD. (File photo)
Aaron Stone re-elected as chairman of the Cowichan Valley Regional District

Blaise Salmon, director for Mill Bay/Malahat, elected as new vice-chairman

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. daily COVID-19 cases hits record 941 on Tuesday

Further restrictions on indoor exercise take effect

(Pixabay.com)
Man, 28, warned by Kootenay police to stop asking people to marry him

A woman initially reported the incident to police before they discovered others had been popped the question

Winston Blackmore (left) and James Oler (right) were sentenced on separate charges of polygamy this week in Cranbrook Supreme Court.
No more charges expected in Bountiful investigation, special prosecutor says

Special prosecutor says mandate has ended following review of evidence from Bountiful investigations

(Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Refuse to follow B.C.’s mask mandate? Face a $230 fine

Masks are now required to be worn by all British Columbians, 12 years and older

Parksville’s French Creek Harbour experienced a diesel spill on Nov. 23 after a barge and fishing vessel collided. (Mandy Moraes photo)
Coast Guard cleans up diesel spill in Parksville’s French Creek Harbour

Barge carrying fuel truck collides with fishing vessel

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Stock photo
Senior from Gibsons caught viewing child porn sentenced to 10 months

74-year-old pleaded guilty after police seized 1,500-2,500 images

BC Teachers' Federation President Teri Mooring is asking parents of school-aged children to encourage the wearing of masks when possible in schools. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
LETTER: Teachers union encourages culture of mask wearing in B.C. schools

BCTF President Teri Mooring asks parents to talk with children about wearing masks in school

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s inability to manufacture vaccines in-house will delay distribution: Trudeau

First doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in first few months of 2021, prime minister says

Most Read