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This article was published 30/7/2019 (339 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A Muslim immigrant from Afghanistan whose job is helping resettle newcomers says he's running for the People's Party of Canada because he likes its stance on curbing immigration.
"It's a very clear platform," said Mirwais Nasiri, candidate in Winnipeg South for the fringe federal party.
The 39-year-old came to Canada more than a decade ago, to join his wife, who arrived as a privately sponsored refugee in 2004. He works as a settlement facilitator at the Immigrant Centre in downtown Winnipeg.
Nasiri said he's in favour of PPC Leader Maxime Bernier's pledge to cut Canada's annual immigration targets by more than half, from roughly 350,000 people in 2018.
"For me, it makes sense," said Nasiri. "If you bring immigrants to this country, we have to make sure we find them housing and they settle down. If we have less immigrants — 100,000 or 150,000 — at least we can take care of them.
"Employment is a big issue," said the man whose first job was at Welcome Place as a life skills trainer, helping newcomers learn the basics of living in Canada. He said he knows physicians and engineers who cannot find jobs in their fields. "They're struggling... Many people coming here to Winnipeg can't find jobs, so they go to Toronto because they think they can find more opportunity."
However, in December, Statistics Canada reported the employment rate for core working-age immigrants rose to 78.9 per cent in 2017, the highest since 2006, when comparable data became available. Employment rates among immigrants tend to increase the longer they have been in the country, StatsCan said.
Meanwhile, the corresponding employment rate for the Canadian-born population was 84 per cent.
Nasiri said he's still waiting for several family members in Afghanistan to join him Canada, after sponsoring them in 2011. He's not keeping his fingers crossed they'll arrive any time soon, thanks to immigration policy he called unfair.
When asked about immigration being required to boost Canada's aging population and declining birth rates, Nasiri was dismissive.
"We have enough people," said the PPC candidate. "We have many young people who are getting married and just establishing a life."
Statistics released in March show more than six millions Canadians are 65 and older; by 2030, seniors will number more than 9.5 million and make up 23 per cent of the population.
"We'll still take care of our own people," Nasiri said. "We'll have more population in the future."
Even though Bernier has said he wants to repeal the Multiculturalism Act, and promised to "reject immigrants that do not share Canadian values," Nasiri said he doesn't think the party is opposed to multiculturalism.
"The beauty of Canada is the multiculturalism," he said. "As a multicultural country, you can practice your religion, you can practice your language, your culture... No one is stopping you. Canada is a great country."
No one has ever questioned his values or his loyalty to Canada, Nasiri said.
"When I came in 2009, the first thing I got when I landed in Toronto at the port of entry, was the immigration officer told me, 'Welcome home.' This was a great shock. I was so happy. Since I got here, I never feel that I'm just a stranger, an immigrant, a refugee. I feel always like a proud Canadian."
He said he's proud of his party, especially its opposition to the federal carbon tax. Nasiri said he thinks a PPC government could be convinced to raise the minimum wage — even though Bernier is an adherent of libertarianism, believing supply and demand should set wages and prices.
Meanwhile, the board of the Elmwood-Transcona PPC riding association publicly quit earlier this month because, it said, too many supporters are "racists, bigots, anti-Semites, and conspiracy theorists." In Winnipeg Centre, the riding association doxxed a critic who convinced a gallery owner not to rent space to the PPC for an event.
"I haven't seen anything of this issue in our People's Party of Canada," Nasiri said, adding his wife and some co-workers at the Immigrant Centre have offered encouraging words.
"'We're proud you stand for something,'" is what he's been told, Nasiri said. "I stand for this party to help my people in South Winnipeg — immigrants and non-immigrants."
Carol Sanders’ reporting on newcomers to Canada has made international headlines, earned national recognition but most importantly it’s shared the local stories of the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home.
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