Ottawa - The number of people granted Canadian citizenship went up in Conservative strongholds in the past year despite falling dramatically in the rest of Canada, according to statistics made public in response to a question asked by the Honourable Gurbax Singh Malhi, Member of Parliament for Bramalea-Gore-Malton.
"With Bill C-50, the Conservative government showed its willingness to manipulate the immigration system for partisan gain," said Mr. Malhi. "These statistics suggest that the government may also be playing games with the citizenship program."
Manitoba (+37.1%), Alberta (+24.5%) and Saskatchewan (+17.3%) had the biggest year-over-year increases in new citizens. Ontario (-35.1%), Quebec (-33.6%) and British Columbia (-14.4%) saw the largest drops, despite being the provinces with the highest numbers of immigrants.
"The trend is clear," continued Mr. Malhi. "In areas of core Conservative support, the number of new citizens increased. In areas where the Conservatives did not do well last election, the number of new citizens went down dramatically."
"Minister Finley's refusal to provide details of the citizenship program's budget suggests that she has something to hide," said Mr. Malhi.
"I call on the government to immediately divulge the direct costs of delivering the citizenship program in each of its offices across the country, as well as information on wait times and backlogs for citizenship applications," he stated. "Canadians must be reassured that their citizenship is not being used for political gain."The total number of people granted Canadian citizenship declined from 248,952 in 2006-2007 to 183,584 in 2007-2008, a drop of 26.3%.