12.02.2010

harper government's new citizenship test proves one more barrier to immigrants

Remember the Harper Government's new Citizenship Guide? It's working.
Massive failure rates follow new, tougher Canadian citizenship tests

Failure rates for immigrants writing citizenship tests have soared since the spring, when tougher questions and revamped rules made it harder for newcomers to become Canadian.

The new test, introduced March 15, was based on a bulked-up citizenship guide released a year ago to give immigrants a richer picture of Canada’s history, culture, law and politics.

The 63-page guide, Discover Canada, replaced a slimmer volume dating from 1995 that had fewer facts to memorize. The failure rate for the old citizenship test, with questions drawn from the smaller guide, ranged between four and eight per cent.

Failure rates for the new test, however, rocketed to about 30 per cent when it was first introduced — prompting officials to revise the rules to avoid clogging the system with thousands of would-be Canadians who, because they had flunked, often had to plead their cases before busy citizenship judges.

A reworked test introduced Oct. 14 is helping to cut the national failure rate to about 20 per cent, still far higher than historic levels and making the exam-hall experience much more nerve-wracking for newcomers.

People who are Canadian by accident of birth are required to do nothing but obey the law and pay taxes. Those who choose to become Canadian - people who uproot their lives and families, spend many thousands of dollars, often forced to start their educations and careers completely over, all for the privilege of living in Canada - are made to jump through hoops meant prove knowledge and loyalty.

Yet Canada cannot survive without immigrants. The country's non-immigrant population growth is less than zero. And once people are here, it should be as easy as possible to become citizens. Don't we want to encourage immigrants to have a full stake in the country? To put down roots, to build a future, to vote?

The idiots commenting on the news stories about this - themselves likely the grandchildren or great-grandchildren of immigrants - crow about Canada finally getting a grip, cracking down. About people "milking the system", the horror of hyphenated identity. Most sound like they can only dream of having the skills, resiliency and tenacity to emigrate to another country. Or for that matter, to brush their own teeth.

11 comments:

John F said...

Ouch! Hey, I brush my teeth on a semimonthly basis! :-)

Actually, I know you weren't referring to me. And you are right; most of us fortunate enough to be born into a rich, stable country are hideously complacent about it. We take our amazing privileges for granted and whine incessantly about our modest responsibilities (WHAT? I have to serve on a JURY?).

I wish everyone in this country was obliged to take a sample citizenship test once in his or her life. I suspect it would be humbling.

L-girl said...

You can be sure I wasn't talking about you! It was the anti-immigrant crowd filling up the comments section of the news story. That's what I get for reading even a few comments: an angry post.

most of us fortunate enough to be born into a rich, stable country are hideously complacent about it. We take our amazing privileges for granted and whine incessantly about our modest responsibilities

This is great. Worthy of its own post.

impudent strumpet said...

I wonder how many of them were instructed to study the wrong guide like you originally were?

L-girl said...

Oh shit, good point!! I had forgotten about that. Who knows how many thousands of notices went out with the wrong information.

That occurence also showed that someone at the CIC was/is still reading this blog.

L-girl said...

I feel like I should contact the reporter of one of these stories and tell her/him that happened to me.

Because I need one more thing to do.

tornwordo said...

I've learned now to avoid reading the comments on the news sites. Why do that to myself and debase my opinion of humanity. If they could just pass spellcheck muster in order to leave their comment, we'd cut down on 90 percent of them.

L-girl said...

I've learned the same lesson - but I do sometimes slip!

When friends tell me they are "debating" in the comment sections of news stories, I encourage them to look for better uses of their energies. I wish all the news sites would turn off comments, but advertisers want those clicks, so we'll never see the end of it.

John F said...

Further to what I said in my earlier comment: I wish every negative commenter on that article was forced to take the citizenship test without having a chance to study the guide first. After all, if you're a superior, native-born Canadian, you already know everything about this country. Right?

redsock said...

When friends tell me they are "debating" in the comment sections of news stories, I encourage them to look for better uses of their energies.

Trying to convince someone in the comments section of a news story of your stance is like trying to get a blind person to regain his sight by describing various items. No matter how amazing you might be describing a tree or a dog or a building, and no matter how long you describe things, you are NOT going to fix the man's eyes so he can see.

L-girl said...

Trying to convince someone in the comments section of a news story of your stance is like trying to get a blind person to regain his sight by describing various items. No matter how amazing you might be describing a tree or a dog or a building, and no matter how long you describe things, you are NOT going to fix the man's eyes so he can see.

You're absolutely right. But I don't think these folks are trying to convince or influence the wingnut commenters. From what they've told me, they feel it's important for more enlightened points of view to be present in the comment thread, for anyone else who might be reading.

For my part, not only would I be angered and disgusted by all the ignorant comments, I'd be crushed by the futility of it all. Best avoided, IMO.

redsock said...

Well, go yell in the forest, then! Have fun!