Cosmopolitan Paradox? The Labour Market Experiences of Newcomer Skilled Workers

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Christina Gabriel
Luisa Veronis


Canada’s national narratives gesture to cosmopolitan ideals by celebrating the country as open and inclusive through the working of its immigration policy. Indeed, it has been suggested that Canada may be oriented toward a form of ‘rooted cosmopolitanism’. This vision stands at odds with the experiences of skilled migrants who often encounter hurdles in the labour market. In this paper, we probe the ‘cosmopolitan paradox’ and its implications. Through a qualitative case study of 36 skilled newcomers, we document their experiences as they attempt to enter the labour market encountering barriers that reassert national frames and ‘Canadian standards’. We argue that if Canada is to live up to the promise of a cosmopolitan ideal, the stratifications and exclusions that mark the lives of newcomers need to be addressed. It is not enough to attract increasing numbers of immigrants if they cannot become full members of the Canadian national community.

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Articles (refereed)
Author Biographies

Christina Gabriel, Carleton University

Christina Gabriel is Professor in the Department of Political Science and the Institute of Political Economy. Her specific research interests focus on citizenship and migration, gender and politics, regional integration and globalization. She is the co-author of Containing Diversity: Canada and the Politics of Immigration in the 21st Century (2023), Selling Diversity: Immigration, Multiculturalism, Employment Equity and Globalization (2002) and is a co-editor of Governing International Labour Migration: Current Issues, Challenges and Dilemmas (2008). She has contributed chapters and articles on issues such as migration, border control, transnational care labour and North American regional integration.


Luisa Veronis, University of Ottawa

Associate Professor, Department of Geography, Environment and Geomatics.

My research examines issues of transnationalism, migration, identity, and citizenship in Canadian cities with a focus on immigrant settlement, community organizing, migrant and minority groups, and questions of belonging in and through space. My recent projects investigate the everyday experiences of minority groups in the transborder city of Ottawa-Gatineau, the production and consumption of multicultural media, and the role of environmental factors in international migration to Canada.