Toronto, January 23: Canadian opposition leader Pierre Poilievre has blamed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for making a 'mess' of the country's immigration system, just as Ottawa moved to cap new study permits for international students starting this year. The nation, under Trudeau's leadership, opened its doors to immigrants to replace aging workers and plug labour shortages post Covid, bumping up the country's population.

However, the number boom ended up putting a strain on the country's resources, leading to a severe housing shortage, which pushed up rents and the cost of living across the country. "We had the most successful immigration system in the history of the world here in Canada... And along came Justin Trudeau and through his total incompetence and irresponsibility... destroyed that common sense consensus on immigration," Poilievre said in an interview with Canadian media outlet True North on Monday. Justin Trudeau Sticks His Tongue Out, Winks at Canada House Speaker Greg Fergus; Video Goes Viral

The number of international students in Canada crossed the one million mark recently and more than 60,000 of them became permanent residents of the country in 2023, as per the latest immigration data. The nation accepted about 455,000 new permanent residents in the 12-month period to October 1 while bringing in more than 800,000 non-permanent residents, including temporary workers, students, and refugees. The Conservative Party boss said that immigrants, international students, and temporary foreign workers are not to be blamed for Trudeau's "incompetence".

"He (Trudeau) is the one that caused this mess. He is the one that brought hundreds of thousands of people here without homes, to cram 16 or 17 into a one-bedroom apartment or basement. He is the one that granted the work for the study permits. That is a federal responsibility... So let's not blame the students," the opposition leader said.

"Let's blame the one man who is responsible for this disaster. And that is our incompetent Prime Minister. Can you think of anything he hasn't screwed up? We have never had the division and the chaos in our immigration system before Justin Trudeau, which proves once again he is not worth the cost. He is not worth the country we know and love." Poilievre, who is trying to take down Trudeau, told Financial Post that if elected, he would link Canada’s immigration levels to the number of homes being built. India to Resume Visa Services in Canada for Some Categories, One Month After Suspension Amid Diplomatic Row

Apart from the Conservative leader, New Democratic Party's Jenny Kwan slammed Trudeau for "mismanagement", warning that the new cap "might punish talented students who seek to build a better life". Apart from the housing crisis concerns, the federal government has been under increasing pressure to cap the number of international students, amid reports that some are not here to attend school.

An analysis by Statistics Canada in November found that around 19 per cent of international students with study permits did not have a record of studying at a college or university here, a Globe and Mail report said. Immigration Minister Marc Miller said that by imposing the cap, the government is taking action against some small private colleges taking advantage of international students by operating under-resourced campuses and charging high tuition fees.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Jan 23, 2024 11:20 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website