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.

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