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Monday, November 15, 2010

Jason Kenney's math problem

Jason Kenney obviously believes that when it comes to immigrants who want to invest their way into Canada, less is more. That's the only way you could explain his revisions to the Investor Class policy (which is once again accepting applications) that saw the net worth requirement double from CAD $800K to CAD $1.6M. Less immigrants required to bring more money with them.

Kenney said in a statement to the press, "These changes were necessary. The requirements had not been increased in more than a decade and we need to keep pace with the changing economy." Exactly what changing economy is Jason Kenney living in? Does he really believe that today's investors, after a devastating, historic devaluation of assets, have TWICE as much money to their names?

Or is it that, par for the course in this generation of Tory leadership on immigration issues, the real policy here is to limit immigration by raising the bar so high that few can jump over it?

Consider for a moment what it means to have to acquire double the net worth. Also consider that while if you were worth $800K before, that was good for Canada - you were bringing that wealth-building knowledge to work for the country. But Kenney doesn't want your measly $800K now. He doesn't want those with $1M - He doesn't even want those with $1.5M. Think of number of potential investor class immigrants that fall within this range that are now off the table.

To put those numbers into context: with $800K, an investor could open TWO Tim Horton franchises in premium locations. I guess if you can't open four of them, your money isn't good enough for Kenney.

Given the Tory record on immigration policy, my guess is that yet another strategy to limit immigration is really what's happening here.

Here's the real story: CIC said that the previous requirements were leading to a backlog of applications. By raising the net worth and investment requirements, Canada hopes to reduce the number of applicants and only let in those who can make a substantial investment in the Canadian economy.

"Higher investment amounts mean provinces and territories will receive more investment capital to put toward job creation and economic development projects," Kenney said.

This is just bad math. There is simply no way that raising opportunity cost equates to an increase in investment capital. Has Kenney been taking economic lessons from Jim Flaherty?

Unfortunately, there is no political will in Canada to counter moves that have made the country appear not only conservative on immigration issues, but nearly xenophobic.

Read about Kenney's latest anti-immigration policy here

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