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Country Profiles Migration: Data - History - Politics
Since 2015, Justin Trudeau's liberal government has reformed Canada's migration, refugee and asylum policies. What do these changes mean four years (and an upcoming election) later?
Shaina Somers holds a Masters degree in Immigration and Settlement Studies from Ryerson University, Canada, and was an exchange student at the Institute for Migration Research and Intercultural Studies (IMIS) at the University of Osnabrück.
At Vancouver International Aiport, children hold up a screen with Justin Trudeau signs saying "Welcome to Canada" and "Welcome Kurdi Family". (& copy picture-alliance / AP, AP Photo / Canadian Press)
2015: Trudeau takes officeWhen the Liberal Party won the Canadian general election in 2015, the era of Stephen Harper's conservatism came to an end after almost a decade in office. Under the leadership of Justin Trudeau, the son of the late long-time Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the Liberal Party strongly advocated a more generous immigration policy. In the run-up to the elections, the photo of Alan Kurdi's lifeless body on a Turkish beach sparked heated discussions. The family had tried to apply for asylum in Canada, where family members were already living, in order to escape the war in Syria. When that didn't work, she fled across the Aegean Sea in a boat - a journey that would cost the two-year-old Alan, his five-year-old brother and his mother their lives. The Canadian connection of the Alan Kurdi photo made immigration a central electoral issue for a large part of the electorate. Trudeau's government initially appeared to be delivering on the promises it made during its election campaign by accepting 25,000 Syrian refugees in Canada by the end of December 2015 - in the first two months after its election victory.
The Liberal government seemed determined to conduct politics differently from its predecessor. One of the first changes was the renaming of the Citizenship and Immigration Service (Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC)) in the Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Authority (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, IRCC). This highlighted the new government's commitment to refugees as part of the agency's mandate. In 2017, Trudeau appointed Ahmed Hussen as the new immigration minister. Under Hussen, the immigration authorities began to draw up multi-year plans on target values for the admission of immigrants. This meant a departure from the one-year plans of the previous conservative government.  He thus represents a departure from the refugee-oriented policy, which was a strong element of Trudeau's 2015 election campaign. During the four years that the Trudeau government has been in office, there have been changes in all areas of immigration policy and legislation.
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