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The Federalization of Immigration and Integration in Canada

  • Mireille Paquet (a1)

Abstract

Between 1990 and 2010, a gradual process of institutional change has affected Canada's immigration and integration governance regime. The central characteristic of this process is the emergence of a new legitimate institutional group of actors: Canadian provinces. This change corresponds to a federalization of Canada's immigration and integration governance regime. It is a break from the previous pattern of federal dominance and provincial avoidance. It is not the result of diminished federal intervention in immigration and cannot be explained by exogenous shocks. Current explanations of this evolution focus on federal decisions and have trouble explaining provincial mobilization. Using a mechanistic approach to the analysis of social processes and insights on gradual institutional changes, this article demonstrates that provinces have been the central agents bringing about the federalization of Canada's immigration and integration governance regime between 1990 and 2010. Via a mechanism of province building centred on immigration, provinces have triggered and maintained in movement a decentralizing mechanism. The interactions of these two mechanisms, over time, gave rise to the federalization of immigration and integration in Canada.

Entre 1990 et 2010, un processus de changement institutionnel graduel a affecté le régime de gouvernance de l'immigration et de l'intégration du Canada. La caractéristique centrale de ce processus est l'émergence d'un nouveau groupe d'acteurs institutionnel en matière d'immigration et d'intégration : les provinces canadiennes. En ce sens, ce changement correspond à une fédéralisation du régime de gouvernance de l'immigration et de l'intégration du Canada. L'émergence des provinces représente une rupture d'avec les pratiques contemporaines, caractérisées par la domination du gouvernement fédéral et la passivité, voire même l'évitement, des provinces. Ce changement n'est pas le résultat d'une diminution des activités du gouvernement fédéral en la matière tout comme il ne peut pas être expliqué par quelconque choc exogène. Les explications actuelles de cette évolution se concentrent sur les décisions fédérales et ont ainsi du mal à expliquer la mobilisation provinciale en immigration et en intégration. En utilisant une approche mécanistique pour l'analyse des processus sociaux et les apports sur les changements institutionnels graduels, cet article démontre que les provinces ont été les principaux agents de changements au sein du régime de gouvernance de l'immigration et de l'intégration du Canada entre 1990 et 2010. L'analyse empirique démontre que la fédéralisation est le résultat d'un processus enclenché et maintenu en mouvement par un mécanisme de construction provinciale, centré sur l'immigration, lui-même affectant des dynamiques de décentralisation au cours de cette période.

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Corresponding author

Department of Political Science, Concordia University, 1455 de Maisonneuve Blvd. West, H-1225.22, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3G 1M8, email: Mireille.paquet@concordia.ca

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The Federalization of Immigration and Integration in Canada

  • Mireille Paquet (a1)

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