Canadian immigration policy will likely come under considerable scrutiny in 2011. Most political pundits predict that Canadians will be going to the polls next spring to elect a national government and if that happens Canada’s approach towards immigration is certain to come up for debate.
There are at least two major immigration items that political parties will have to take a position on and it will be interesting to see which party’s banner voters line up behind. In fact, the electioneering has already begun.
I came across several blogs recently written by new Canadians who use their blogs as a venue to share aspects of their lives in Canada. I was curious to know what these bloggers have in common, if anything. They have immigrated to Canada from different countries, they vary in age, and some have children, while others don’t. Why did they choose Canada? What was it about Canada that enticed these folks to want to go through the process of immigrating here?
As I said last month, immigrants are motivated go-getters who are ready to face the challenges of migrating to a new country and take risks in their desire for greater gains. They are looking for a better life, a better way.
The current Canadian immigration selection system favours skilled immigrants. They are viewed as part of the solution to the problem of an aging population and shrinking workforce. But beyond this, immigrants are making Canada more innovative and that is a good thing according to a just-released report by the Conference Board of Canada, entitled “Immigrants as Innovators”. The report indicates that “innovation” is now the fundamental driver of output and productivity and it is critical for a country’s continued economic growth.
The arrival by sea last month of 492 Tamil asylum seekers continues to serve as a lightning rod for anti-immigration sentiment in Canada. For starters, you have a segment of the population that is fearful. They suspect it is only a matter of time before many more boatloads of refugee claimants land on our shores and they feel powerless to prevent the onslaught they foresee. These Canadians have been conditioned to expect the worst-case scenario even though the facts suggest otherwise. Over the past few decades we have, on occasion, experienced the “en masse” inflow of asylum seekers by sea. These incidents have been few in number and have never led to a pattern of similar activity. Moreover, everything that I have read on the subject indicates that our country was well able to absorb the intermittent influx without negative consequences. In my opinion, our government leaders could be doing a lot more to assuage the concerns of worried Canadians. They most certainly ought to refrain from feeding their angst.
Earlier this month a dilapidated vessel, the MV Sun Sea, was escorted to a British Columbia harbour by a flotilla of Canadian authorities. Soon after docking, there emerged from her hold a desperate collection of nearly 500 Tamil men, women and children, all at the ready to seek asylum in Canada. They had just spent a harrowing four months at sea, living literally cheek by jowl, with little more than a litre of water a week to drink. Their claims for asylum are based on a genuine fear of persecution if returned to their homeland, Sri Lanka, because as Tamils, they had come out on the losing side of a 26-year old bloody civil war that took the lives of 100,000 people.
The Canadian House of Commons was adjourned on June 17th and is not scheduled to meet again until September 20th. Summertime is the dead of night in the parliamentary world.
Barely a week after the House emptied, the Minister of Immigration announced that he had new instructions for Canadian Visa Officers. For the next 12 months they are to accept for assessment only 20,000 applications without job offers under the Federal Skilled Worker category of immigration.
The “lost” in this proverb, which dates back to England of the early 1700’s, does not mean “unable to find one’s way home”. Rather, the saying signifies that if you react too slowly to situations, especially urgent ones, you will generally “lose” a good opportunity. More about this a little later.
Earlier this month Canadians were busy congratulating themselves over the results of a survey which covered 18,000 people in 24 countries. The question put to these individuals was simple: “If you were presented with the opportunity of moving to Canada, would you?” Overwhelmingly, the respondents answered in the affirmative – including 77 percent of those canvassed in China and 68 percent from India. Seventy-two percent believed that Canada is welcoming to immigrants. Heck, even 30 percent of Americans would choose Canada, if they could.
This is my belated Mother’s Day tribute to Maria Gallardo, who, in looking out for her son, was willing, and more than able, to take on anyone who got in her way.
Four years ago this month I wrote a blog entitled “As Canadian as…. a Knife and Fork,” which commented on the disturbing experience of a young Filipino-Canadian boy. The youngster, Luc Cagadoc, was then a Grade 2 student at a Montreal-area school and he was repeatedly admonished and humiliated by a lunch monitor for the manner in which he chose to use his eating utensils. The school principal and local school board both supported the lunch monitor and adamantly refused to apologize for their intolerant behaviour when they were called upon to do so by Luc’s mother. But Maria Gallardo would not allow the issue to just fade away.
One thing we know for certain is that Fredy Villanueva is dead. How he got that way is currently being questioned at a coroner’s inquest in the city of Montreal. And it is the subject of ardent dispute.
Here’s what is not in contention. On the evening of August 9, 2008 a group of five unarmed young men were “playing dice” in a parking lot located in Montreal’s North End. A squad car carrying two police officers arrived on the scene and within moments a melee broke out. A police officer fired four shots, at least one of which found poor Fredy Villanueva.
Firstly, here’s a primer for the uninitiated.
Canada (the Federal government) has entered into bilateral agreements with all the provinces to allow those provinces to nominate individuals to become Canadian permanent residents based on the nominee’s ability to contribute to the economic growth and development of that province.
Around the beginning of 2008, the province of Alberta began to actively recruit certain US visa holders (mostly IT professionals in the H1-B category), working temporarily in the US and offered them a path to Canadian permanent residency via a provincial nomination certificate. A good number of qualified individuals (probably in excess of 3,000) took Alberta up on its offer and submitted applications for a provincial nomination certificate. Now, many of those qualified applicants are being told that their nomination certificate will not be forthcoming. Instead, Alberta has informed them that their files have been closed due to changes in the global economic climate.
This old English idiom stands for the principle that in a similar situation one should not have one set of rules for one party (usually yourself) and another set of rules for another party (usually someone else).
Amid all the excitement and distraction of the Vancouver Olympics, many Canadians are still finding time to express outrage at what is happening in Kahnawake, a Native American (Mohawk) reserve, situated just south of Montreal. The local band council has sent eviction notices to the 26 non-Mohawks living on the reserve, giving them 10 days to pack up and move off of the Indian Territory. Some Canadian commentators are referring to the manoeuvre as a form of ethnic cleansing and racism and we hear indignant declarations that there should be no place for this type of behaviour in Canada.
A little over two weeks ago Haiti was rocked by an earthquake, which has since claimed over 150,000 lives, and has left hundreds of thousands homeless and wounded. This past Monday, top world officials gathered in Montreal for emergency talks on how to rebuild Haiti in its time of need. Perhaps the most pressing issue in the Canadian immigration community right now is the possibility of loosening immigration rules for Haitians affected by this disaster.