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Canadian leaders woo Indians

In an effort to woo immigrant votes, Liberal and Conservative leaders have promised to waive the landing fee for those arriving in Canada to work.

india Updated: Jan 06, 2006 12:15 IST

In an effort to attract immigrant votes, Liberal and Conservative leaders have promised to waive or drastically cut the landing fee for those arriving in Canada to work and stay on.

Both the parties made the promises at election rallies ahead of the January 23 ballot, necessitated by the ouster of Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin after a no-trust vote in November that followed a corruption scandal.

Martin vowed that his Liberal Party, if re-elected, would eliminate the $975 landing fee for migrants over the next three years.

As if in response, Conservative leader Stephen Harper unveiled similar plans.

While campaigning in Mississauga, which is located near Toronto in Ontario province and has a large Indo-Canadian population, Harper promised that a Conservative government would cut the $975 fee by half immediately after taking power and work to reduce it over time to $100.

He also promised that work credentials of skilled applicants would be recognised before immigration to Canada.

"One of the toughest challenges in coming to Canada is finding a job appropriate to one's education, skills and training," Harper told several Indo-Canadian members in Mississauga.

"Too often, new Canadians find that their credentials are not recognised in Canada."

Martin said the Liberals would drop the fee immediately after the elections to $600, then to $300 after 12 months, and finally to zero within the next two budgets. The fee was introduced in 1995 as a deficit-fighting measure.

"We as Liberals have always been committed to supporting families and that means support for all Canadian families," the Liberal leader said.

"For many Canadian families with immediate relatives overseas, one of the challenges that they have faced is the $975 right of permanent residence fee."

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Joe Volpe agreed the decision would build on measures the Liberal government has taken to encourage immigration.

First Published: Jan 06, 2006 12:15 IST