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Ignatieff calls for immigration 'fairness commissioner'

Michael Ignatieff delved into immigration issues Tuesday, saying a Liberal government would reverse cuts to family-reunification visas.

He also called for a "fairness commissioner" in Ottawa who would check on the professions - doctors, engineers, and pharmacists - to make sure they are not discriminating against immigrants.

"What bothers them [new Canadians]is that people are closing doors for them and making it impossible for them to succeed," the Liberal Leader said Tuesday. "I think there is something Ottawa can do about that to just say, put the burden of proof on the professional organizations to prove that they are opening the doors to Canadians."

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Mr. Ignatieff was speaking at a roundtable meeting in Vancouver, his first stop in British Columbia since the election campaign began. The Liberal Leader criticized the Tories for reducing the numbers of family immigrants since 2006, when the Harper Conservatives formed government.

He said that in the past five years, the Conservatives have cut back on family reunification visas. More cuts are coming, Mr. Ignatieff said, noting the Tories have announced further reductions.

"So if the Harper government gets back in, they are going to keep squeezing family reunification in Canada and we think that's a serious mistake," Mr. Ignatieff said.

The Conservative war room fired back quickly after Mr. Ignatieff's statement, arguing that the Tory government has in fact increased the number of family- reunification visas.

"The Ignatieff Liberals have been spreading myths on the issue of family class immigration, cherry picking statistics to give the impression the numbers are going down, not up," a Tory official said.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is in Vancouver Wednesday to hold a press conference on the abuse of Canada's immigration system by human smugglers.

Mr. Ignatieff is also in Vancouver, making an announcement Wednesday morning before heading off to Winnipeg.

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