Thursday, February 28, 2008


Almost every newspaper in Canada has been carrying stories for the last two days about how Clinton and Obama are tripping over each other to show who hates NAFTA the most. While this is an obvious ploy to get primary voters in Ohio, the harsh criticism of NAFTA is not only baseless, but also stupid. NAFTA has produced benefits for every signatory country, including the US. If the US shuts down NAFTA, it will have serious economic consequences for Canada and Mexico, which may be tempted to retaliate. On the immigration side, we must not forget about the thousands of NAFTA status visas issued every year to Canadian, Mexican and US citizens, which are crucial at a time of labour shortages and increased mobility. Also, NAFTA creates badly needed jobs in Mexico, and cutting them off would be the best way for the US to ensure a flood of illegal Mexican workers looking for work in the US. Canada may also retaliate by rethinking its oil and gas links with the US. Message to the Dems: the jobs went East to China and India, not to Canada and Mexico!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Modernizing the Immigration System

Advantage Canada recognized that in a modern global economy, Canada’s immigration policies need to be closely aligned with our labour market needs. Budget 2007 took action to make the immigration system more responsive to the new labour market realities in Canada. The Temporary Foreign Worker Program was streamlined to enable employers to bring in workers more quickly to address their immediate labour shortages. The Government also introduced the new Canadian Experience Class to expedite the process for skilled temporary foreign workers and foreign students with Canadian credentials and work experience to remain in Canada as permanent residents, under certain conditions.
Canada must maintain the ability to compete globally for the best and the brightest by creating the optimal conditions to attract immigrants who can contribute fully to Canada’s prosperity. A well-managed and efficient immigration system is critical to achieving this objective. The Government will continue to modernize Canada’s immigration system.
Budget 2008 builds on Advantage Canada priorities with additional measures to improve the immigration system’s capacity and flexibility to respond to Canada’s dynamic and evolving labour market needs. Concrete measures will be initiated to expedite the processing of permanent resident applications. Combined with the recent improvements to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, the expansion of the Provincial Nominee Program and the new Canadian Experience Class announced in Budget 2007, these measures will ensure that the labour needs of employers in all provinces and territories are met in a more timely fashion.
To complement these actions, changes will be made to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to improve the immigration process. It is not fair for prospective immigrants to wait for years before being considered, and it is not desirable to wait that long for the immigrants the country needs. The measures proposed in Budget 2008 will expedite the processing of permanent residents to ensure that skilled immigrants can get to Canada when their skills are in demand. The proposed legislative changes will provide flexibility for concrete measures, as required, to more effectively manage the future growth in the inventory, such as addressing the number of applications accepted and processed in a year. The end result will be reduced wait times and improved service. These changes will allow Canada to take the first steps towards establishing a "just-in-time" competitive immigration system which will quickly process skilled immigrants who can make an immediate contribution to the economy.
Action will also be taken to help address the growing demand at Canadian missions abroad for temporary resident visas for students and skilled workers. In particular, the Government will focus on helping post-secondary educational institutions attract foreign students and on facilitating their arrival in Canada. For example, an online application system, as well as other measures to improve service and speed up processing, will be implemented for student visas. These initiatives, combined with new Canada Graduate Scholarships for Canadian and international students, will enhance Canada’s ability to compete with other countries to attract and retain the best foreign students.
Taken together, these initiatives will ensure the ongoing integrity of the immigration program. They will enable Canada to respond to growing demand and to admit more highly-skilled immigrants and their families, including foreign students. At the same time, Canada’s social and humanitarian objectives will be preserved and continue to be balanced with Canada’s labour market needs.
Budget 2008 provides $22 million over the next two years, rising to $37 million per year by 2012–13, to implement this next critical stage of modernizing the immigration system.

Improving Canada’s Borders

Our two-way trade with the world is equivalent to approximately two-thirds of our gross domestic product, and one out of five jobs is directly linked to trade. On a typical day, 266,000 people, 18,200 trucks, 77,900 courier shipments and 5,000 marine containers enter into Canada. These numbers reflect the increased mobility of people and goods in today’s world. This openness brings important benefits to Canada’s economy and society, but it also presents a number of risks.
Given the importance of trade to our continued prosperity, our borders have to facilitate trade, travel and commerce, while protecting us from external threats. This is why Budget 2008 is investing in initiatives to:
Ensure that the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has the resources it needs to deliver innovative border services given current economic realities and a new security environment.
Provide Canadians with access to better and more secure travel documents to cross international borders, particularly our border with the United States.
Ensure the integrity of Canada’s immigration program so that our borders are secure and our communities are safe.
Enhance the security of the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway region.
Address obstacles to cross-border trade through the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America.

Strengthened Front-Line Capacity

Better borders start with a stronger on-the-ground presence. The CBSA provides a critical front-line contribution to the prosperity and security of Canada by managing the access of people and goods to and from the country. Budget 2008 commits $75 million over the next two years to ensure that the CBSA has the resources it needs to deliver efficient and secure border services at more than 1,200 domestic and international locations. These funds will increase the number of on-site border services officers at key border installations in order to meet evolving operational demands resulting from increased trade and travel.

World-Class Travel Documents

Better borders also require better travel documents that address concerns over document vulnerability. Budget 2008 takes the steps needed to introduce a higher-security electronic passport by 2011. The validity period of the new passport will be doubled to 10 years. Canada will join other countries that have taken steps to strengthen the security of their passports.
Budget 2008 also invests $14 million over the next two years to expand the joint Canada/United States NEXUS program by adding dedicated infrastructure, increasing the number of users from 160,000 to 350,000 and better targeting frequent travellers. The NEXUS program has been successful in reducing border transit times. Expediting crossings for low-risk frequent travellers will also free up resources to improve the clearance of regular traffic, thereby improving border security and reducing border congestion.
Finally, Budget 2008 provides $6 million over the next two years for federal activities to support provinces and territories planning to introduce enhanced driver’s licences. Enhanced driver’s licences are optional licences that denote citizenship and are expected to be recognized as a valid travel document for land entry into the United States under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. The United States is the primary travel and business destination for many Canadians who do not hold a passport, and many Americans visit and tour Canada every year without carrying a passport. The development of enhanced driver’s licences by provinces, territories and U.S. states is intended to provide Canadians and Americans who do not hold a passport with an accessible and convenient alternative. British Columbia and the state of Washington are currently deploying and testing enhanced driver’s licences. Other provinces and U.S. states are also in the process of developing enhanced driver’s licences for their citizens.
Taken together, these investments will facilitate the secure movement of Canadians across international borders by providing access to reliable and accessible travel documents, in line with evolving international standards. These investments will also ensure a smooth transition to the U.S. Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.

More Secure Borders

Canada continues to be a destination of choice for millions of individuals seeking to stay temporarily to travel, work or study. While our economy and society are enriched by the movement of people across our borders, it also poses a number of risks.
Border security remains a priority for Canadians. Criminals are increasingly more sophisticated and well funded, including those who engage in document fraud to illegally move people or goods across borders. Further to biometric field trials in Canada that were successfully completed in 2007, the Government will introduce the use of biometric data, such as fingerprints and live photographs, in its visa-issuing process to accurately verify identity and travel documents of foreign nationals who enter Canada. This initiative will enhance the integrity and efficiency of the border by preventing criminals from entering Canada, and facilitating the processing of legitimate applicants. Budget 2008 provides $26 million over two years for this initiative. Canada will join other countries such as Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, which have recognized the value of using biometrics in their immigration and border processes.

Marine Security—Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway

The Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway region is a key economic region with several international bridges and tunnels. It is a high marine security priority for both Canada and the United States. This area is also heavily travelled by both small pleasure craft and large commercial vessels.
In 2005, an interim Marine Security Operations Centre in the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway region was established. Budget 2008 provides $15 million over two years to establish a permanent facility. The operations centre will help departments and agencies work collaboratively to collect, analyze and share information on marine and transborder traffic that is important to the security of the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway region. A permanent operations centre will also allow representatives from provincial/municipal and United States law enforcement agencies to participate.

A Stronger North American Partnership

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has helped make North America one of the most dynamic and prosperous economic regions in the world. Advantage Canada, the Government’s long-term economic plan, recognizes that Canadian companies must continue to profit from the commercial benefits of NAFTA, particularly as they strive to compete in North American and world markets.
In August 2007, the Prime Minister met with the Presidents of the United States and Mexico in Montebello, Quebec, to discuss priorities under the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America. The Government is addressing these priorities by allocating $29 million over the next two years towards:
Greater efficiency at the Canada-U.S. border through better cross-border communication systems and improved wait-time information.
The future elimination of duplicate baggage screening on connecting flights in North America.
Increased regulatory cooperation on projects in the chemical, automotive and transportation sectors.
Greater protection of the North American food supply through vulnerability assessments.
Improved trilateral cooperation on energy research and achieving compatibility of energy efficiency standards for key consumer products.
These investments will address consumer needs, increase business competitiveness and enhance North American security. They will be sourced from the Security and Prosperity Partnership allocation made in Budget 2006.
Our borders have to facilitate trade, travel and commerce while protecting us from external threats. This is why Budget 2008 is investing in borders by:
Committing $75 million over two years to ensure the Canada Border Services Agency has the resources it needs to effectively manage the border.
Introducing a higher-security electronic passport by 2011.
Doubling the validity period of Canadian passports to 10 years when this electronic passport is launched.
Providing $14 million over two years to expand the jointCanada-United States NEXUS program for low-risk frequent travellers across the border.
Providing $6 million over two years for federal activities to support provinces and territories planning to introduce enhanced driver’s licences.
Allocating $26 million over two years to introduce the use of biometric data into visas issued to foreign nationals entering Canada.
Providing $15 million over two years to establish a permanent facility to enhance the security of the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway region.
Allocating $29 million over two years to meet priorities under the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


The key to meeting Canada's crucial skills challenge


Special to Globe and Mail Update
February 26, 2008 at 12:44 AM EST

Canada has a skills problem that's well on its way to becoming a skills crisis. The critical need is to become a more productive economy, and spending on postsecondary education is one of the most effective ways for government to spend tax dollars and to make an impact on the productivity and competitiveness of the Canadian economy.
Canadian businesses, universities and colleges can and will work together to achieve this objective. Increased government investments in higher education and university research are required to address this crucial challenge.
Demographics play a huge role in dealing with this issue. Canada's population is greying. The baby boom generation, which represents a significant percentage of the Canadian workforce, is approaching retirement age. We will end up with too few workers to meet the needs of our economy and of society.
Technology will also play a significant role in the evolution of global competition.
In this global economy, distances have become irrelevant. The smallest firms and the largest corporations can both compete on the global scene. But while technology has meant great and positive changes for the world's economy, it brings with it the obvious requirement that those wielding that technology must be sufficiently trained to harness it effectively, efficiently and productively.
Technology has also allowed Canadians to improve our competitiveness. The federal government has invested significantly in university research over the past decade through the granting councils and the Canada Foundation for Innovation, to name just two investments. In light of the potential of a serious shortage of workers and the threats to the long-term health of our economy, we need to further strengthen and support our universities' capacity for research and enhance the transfer of research discoveries to our communities and to the marketplace.
The Canadian economy also depends heavily on international trade. To keep up with our competitors and enhance our performance, businesses need to create wealth, and universities and colleges need to provide the skilled and highly educated people who will drive this economic development. Canada must invest more in higher education and university research in order to produce the ideas and people the Canadian businesses and communities need to be innovative and compete internationally.
So how can we collectively address these challenges? We can educate more Canadian students from all sectors of society and attract the best and the brightest students from abroad. We can ensure that our university research environment is internationally competitive to attract top researchers from around the world. We can provide talented students with strong research and analytical skills, and more opportunities to gain research experience. We can give them opportunities to apply their newly learned skills in our businesses and other working environments. Graduates — particularly those with advanced degrees — are essential to the development of private sector research capacity and the successful commercialization of university research discoveries.
Canada's relative under-production of graduate degrees, especially compared to the United States, is widely identified as a barrier to increasing our country's international competitiveness and productivity. For example, in 2004, American universities awarded twice as many master's degrees per capita as Canadian universities and about 35 per cent more doctoral degrees per capita than their Canadian counterparts. The OECD reports that Canada trails far behind the leading nations in terms of doctoral graduates.
Immigration will also play a critical role. Streamlining our immigration process to make Canada a more attractive option for skilled immigrants will be important. However, Canada cannot count on maintaining current levels of immigration of advanced degree-holders to meet future labour market needs. In an increasingly knowledge-based world, competition for highly-educated immigrants is growing in developed nations and emerging economies alike.
Consequently, more needs to be done to attract the best and the brightest international graduate students who remain critical to fuelling the country's pipeline of highly qualified personnel.
Canada can no longer rely on growth in the population of traditional working age people to drive economic growth. Now is the time to ensure that an appropriate mix of student financial assistance is available to assist Canadians, including young people from under-represented groups such as aboriginals, low-income families and first-generation learners, to obtain a postsecondary education and, in turn, to increase their rates of labour market participation and productivity.
Canada is a wealthy, highly developed country with enormous promise. Ensuring our country's long term economic growth and continued prosperity — and realizing this country's promise — will depend heavily on the education and skill levels of Canadians and their success in creating and applying ideas and knowledge. Both of our organizations strongly support government investment in higher education and university research as vital steps in addressing Canada's productivity and competitiveness challenges.
Perrin Beatty is president and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce; Claire M. Morris is president and CEO of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada.

Sunday, February 24, 2008


The following story appeared in the Toronto Star. I fail to see why potential immigrants with active TB should be admitted to Canada. Public safety demands that they should not be admitted. In my view, it is a "no-brainer".
TB’s deadly comeback

Toronto, with its growing immigrant population, will likely see an increase of deadly, contagious tuberculosis, experts say. The current system simply couldn't handle an outbreak, but the province has yet to make the changes required to protect citizens

February 24, 2008 Megan Ogilvie Health Reporter

At first, Lynda thought it was a cough like any other: a dry hack that rattled her chest from time to time. Nothing to be bothered about.
But soon the tickle was accompanied by a high fever, unrelenting fatigue and a deep, aching pain in her right lung.
Worried, the 41-year-old mother went to see her family doctor in Newmarket. She told him about the persistent cough, that she had inexplicably lost 20 pounds in the spring, and how she felt dark shadows of depression slowly creeping over her.
He advised her to work fewer hours and stop smoking, and he sent her home with stronger asthma medication. But months passed, and Lynda, who continued to see her doctor, kept getting weaker and weaker, until one day she was unable to climb a flight of stairs.
"That was a scary feeling because I knew something was not right," recalls Lynda. "In my head I heard a voice. It said, I think I'm dying."
She was.
Hordes of tuberculosis bacteria were living in her lungs, thriving and multiplying, steadily destroying the delicate tissues.
But since many Canadians consider tuberculosis a thing of the past, Lynda's family doctor misdiagnosed the deadly disease for months. Since she got her diagnosis two years ago, she has told few people, for fear of being ostracized – which is why she asked the Star not to use her last name.
Experts say few family doctors know the singular signs of tuberculosis any more. And few patients nowadays consider that they might be suffering from a disease that once killed thousands of Canadians every year, and then seemed to vanish.
Yet tuberculosis hasn't disappeared from our neighbourhoods. In Toronto, more than any other city in Canada, there is still an undercurrent of disease. About one-quarter of the country's TB cases are here – there are currently about 1,600 active cases in Canada and 400 in Toronto – and experts expect the incidence to rise as immigration swells from countries where TB is epidemic.
Despite those concerns, Ontario is the only TB-afflicted province without a centralized system of tuberculosis clinics. Right now, many Ontario TB patients are seen by doctors who have little experience with the disease, rather than specialists.
That means patients are being diagnosed too late and given less-than-aggressive treatment – and so are more likely to develop resistance to the antibiotics, to have permanent lung damage, to relapse later on in life, and even to die. They are also more likely to pass on the disease to the people around them.
Experts also say the current system is only just keeping up with demand and would be woefully inadequate if a TB outbreak hit the city.
"Many developing countries are doing a better job of managing TB than we do," says Dr. Michael Gardam, chief of infection control at the University Health Network and head of the tuberculosis clinic at Toronto Western Hospital.
Tuberculosis is a highly infectious disease that is passed from person to person when an infected person coughs or sneezes and spreads bacteria into the air. More than one-third of the world's population is infected with the TB bacillus – of them, about 10 per cent will go on to develop full-blown TB, which then becomes infectious (according to Dr. Kamran Kahn, a tuberculosis expert at St. Michael's Hospital, close to a million Canadians have latent tuberculosis). Close to 2 million people will die from it this year.
In recent years, some strains have become resistant to our best antibiotic treatments, making what is often a curable disease much more difficult – and sometimes impossible – to treat. The World Health Organization says extremely drug-resistant tuberculosis, or XDR-TB, is one of its top concerns and calls it a grave public health threat.
The threat of drug resistance first emerged in Tugela Ferry, a rural town in KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa, when an outbreak of XDR-TB killed 52 of 53 infected patients. XDR-TB has been reported in 41 countries, including Canada.
Concern about drug-resistant tuberculosis proliferating in North America came into focus last May and June when infected Atlanta lawyer Andrew Speaker ignored public health warnings and endangered fellow passengers when he took commercial flights to his wedding in Greece and then returned to North America via Montreal.
Meanwhile, it's the rampage of tuberculosis outside our borders that has Toronto TB experts so worried. The WHO warns, "TB anywhere is TB everywhere." And especially with the surge in global travel and the role of the GTA as a hub for new immigrants, this city may be particularly vulnerable.
"Toronto reflects the world, and the world is having an epidemic of TB," says Gardam. "If the world has a problem, then we have a problem."
Up until the early 1980s, Ontario did have a centralized system of tuberculosis clinics managed by each region's public health unit and run by the province. But as infection rates fell, officials assumed the disease would eventually be eliminated, and the system was dismantled.
"It seemed like infectious diseases would disappear from the planet," says Dr. Elizabeth Rea, an associate medical officer of health for Toronto Public Health's TB prevention and control program. "They haven't. Particularly for Toronto. Our rates are driven by what is happening outside the city ... TB is not going to disappear from Toronto as long as we are an immigration centre. We need to plan for cases to continue to arrive here and to be able to deal with them at the highest level of care."
Toronto's TB rate has slowly been slowly going down for the past 10 years but, cautions Rea, "Every single jurisdiction that has cut back on TB control has had a resurgence."
New York City offers the most striking object lesson. In the early 1990s, after the city had repeatedly cut spending on TB control, an outbreak swept through the most vulnerable communities – the homeless, working poor crammed into tight living quarters, people with immune systems beaten back by HIV. By 1992, there were 3,811 new cases of TB, up from 1,307 cases in 1978, the first year the city kept statistics.
"It was a massive, heartbreaking outbreak," says Rea. "It took years and millions and millions of dollars to get it under control."
According to The New York Times, the city spent $40 million on tuberculosis control in 1993, in the midst of the epidemic, compared to $4 million in 1988.
Toronto has seen it's own mini-outbreaks of TB in the shelter system. In 2001, Joseph Teigesser died of tuberculosis while living in a city shelter during a 17-month-long outbreak that also infected 15 other homeless people.
A 2004 inquest into Teigesser's death made 13 recommendations, primarily to the provincial government, for reducing TB transmission among the homeless. One of them was for the Ministry of Health to establish a centralized clinic system for TB management, funded 100-per-cent by Queen's Park.
Since 2000, at least seven reports, including one by the Ontario Medical Association, have recommended a centralized model of TB care. In 2005, the ministry convened a task force of tuberculosis experts to outline how such a system could be implemented. Eighteen months ago the task force submitted its 25-page report – endorsed by the Lung Association, the Homeless and Underhoused Community Advisory Panel and the Tuberculosis Prevention and Control Program of the Public Health Agency of Canada – but still hasn't received a response from the province.
According to ministry spokesperson Andrew Morrison, the ministry supports the proposed model for developing a centralized clinic system in Toronto and is currently reviewing the task force's proposal.
According to the provincial task force, the current fragmented system means TB patients are not being managed properly as set out by Canadian Tuberculosis Standards, a book on prevention and treatment published by the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Lung Association. The task force also says they are at higher risk of dying or developing drug resistance and are staying sick longer, which increases their likelihood of spreading the disease.
Right now, there are four tuberculosis clinics in Toronto – at Toronto Western, St. Michael's and Sick Kids hospitals and at West Park Healthcare Centre, the only hospital in the province to offer long-term in-patient care for TB patients. All these facilities get funding from their respective hospital foundations. There are no such clinics in 905 areas.
Kamran Kahn of St. Michael's Hospital says it's becoming more and more challenging for the four clinics to keep up with demand, because patients are arriving with complex health and social issues. And he points out that three of the clinics are downtown and hardly accessible to the many immigrant patients who live east, west and north of the city.
The 2006 task force, which Kahn was a part of, highlighted the immediate need for two additional TB clinics, one in Etobicoke and one in Scarborough, a neighbourhood that sees, on average, one-third of the city's active patients.
What all of this means, says Kahn, is that family physicians in the GTA have to pick up the slack. In 2002, he points out, there were 178 physicians managing TB cases in southern Ontario, and few doing it well since almost two-thirds had managed less than one TB case per year.
These front-line health-care workers, used to diagnosing diabetes, heart disease and the other chronic diseases confronting modern-day North America, can miss the cluster of symptoms that spell tuberculosis – a constant cough, unexplained weight loss, night sweats, a general feeling of malaise. Especially when the patients do not come from prisons, homeless shelters and the other overcrowded settings where TB usually emerges.
In a 2006 study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, Kahn and Gardam found patients who were treated by TB-experienced physicians were less likely to die than those treated by inexperienced physicians.
Just as cancer patients are referred to cancer clinics, experts say tuberculosis patients need to be managed by specialists. Kahn says this is particularly true for complicated TB cases, including patients who are new to the country and who may not speak English and those who have other health problems, such as HIV or mental illness. More than 90 per cent of TB patients in Toronto are foreign-born.
Most days, Lynda can hardly believe she has tuberculosis. It's been two years since she was diagnosed with the disease, and she's not sure if she'll ever get her old life back.
At 43, the vivacious mother in York Region wants to be out playing with her two young daughters, not confined to a couch because her lungs have been ravaged by TB. Even now, a cough could turn into a phlegm-filled fight for breath.
"It's changed my life so much," she says. "I'll have a couple of good days, then some bad days. Every morning I cough, every morning I gag, every morning I retch. It hurts to laugh. I can't run. I was always a hard-working person, I can try to go-go-go, but ... "
Lynda is waiting to hear whether her right lung, which has been almost completely destroyed by the disease, will have to be removed.
"I guess if it was caught sooner, maybe it wouldn't have been so bad," she says.
Gardam, who now treats Lynda at his clinic at Toronto Western, confirms that she would be well now if she had got proper care from the start. Not only was Lynda misdiagnosed by her family doctor, but when she finally got a proper diagnosis six months later, the community hospital gave her the wrong regime of antibiotics.
"There is no doubt, the earlier you catch it, the better you do," he says. "In general, (Lynda's) case is a very common story for us."
Lynda never wanted to be an example of what is wrong with Ontario's current tuberculosis care system. But that is exactly what she has come to be. She still doesn't know where she got infected, though there's some evidence she got it at the factory where she worked for three years.
Lynda pauses to cough, making a gurgling sound, and then goes on.
"It's not just a Third World problem, I don't think," she says. "It's coming back here ... People need to be educated about tuberculosis ... It's not a dead disease."

Friday, February 22, 2008


This is from today's Globe and Mail newspaper. The official announcement may be imminent.

Ottawa to drop demand of visas for Polish visitors

From Friday's Globe and Mail
February 22, 2008 at 3:50 AM EST

OTTAWA — Polish citizens will soon no longer need visas to visit Canada, a source in Ottawa said.
According to the source, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Diane Finley will announce next week that Canada is lifting the visa requirement for Polish citizens - something that Polish Canadian groups have spent years advocating.
"They're saying, 'We're a Western liberal democracy, we're with you in Afghanistan ... why are we not being treated like other countries?' " the source said.
A spokesperson with Citizenship and Immigration Canada did not confirm that an announcement is imminent.
The lifting of visa requirements for Polish citizens would be the latest in a series of such changes in Canadian visa policies for Eastern European countries. In late October of last year, Ms. Finley announced that citizens of the Czech Republic and the Republic of Latvia no longer require a temporary resident visa to visit Canada. (On the other hand, citizens of such countries as Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria do require visas.)
In all, about 50 countries are exempt from Canadian visa requirements.
The relationship between Canada and Poland came into the public spotlight late last year, after the death of Polish national Robert Dziekanski in Vancouver. Mr. Dziekanski died within minutes of being tasered at Vancouver International Airport last October. His death sparked myriad inquiries in Canada, and prompted Canada's ambassador to Poland, David Preston, to express his "deep sympathy" to Polish officials.
Poland is Canada's largest economic partner in Central and Eastern Europe, with more than $1.2-billion in annual trade.
As a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the country has also dispatched more than 1,000 troops to Afghanistan.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


This violent offender is fianlly out of Canada. However, one is left to wonder what took the authorities so long, and how many ohters are here ....The problem is endemic in the system and we need to find a better and faster way to get rid of this trash.
Violent offender deported after four-year delay

Kim Bolan
Vancouver Sun
Thursday, February 21, 2008

VANCOUVER - A violent Polish sex offender deemed too dangerous to stay in Canada eight years ago was finally deported this week after refusing for years to sign the necessary travel documents.
Faith St. John of the Canada Border Services Agency confirmed Wednesday that 51-year-old Jerry Bielecki was returned to Poland after four years in detention in Canada and more than 40 immigration hearings.
The Sun revealed this month how Bielecki manipulated the Canadian immigration system to avoid deportation, although he had a lengthy criminal record in B.C. for rape, uttering threats, unlawful confinement, fraud and drug offences.
Poland had been refusing to take Bielecki back until reversing its position this week.
In fact, Canadian officials travelled with Bielecki to Poland on March 11, 2004, and were refused admission to the country, so had to return to Vancouver with the untreated sex offender in tow.
St. John said she could not comment specifically on how Bielecki was removed, but that the deportation was carried out with the cooperation of the Polish government.
She said normally when a deportee has a violent criminal record, he or she is escorted back to the originating country and surrendered to authorities.
"We do hand them over to our counterparts in that country," St. John said. "If the person has a criminal record and that criminal record is public information, then we would provide that to them."
Before someone with a violent record is deported, a risk assessment is carried out to determine issues like "their criminal history, what kinds of crimes were committed and the level of compliance to returning to their home country," St. John said.
"That risk assessment would also determine how many removal officers would escort that person -- whether that would be one or two or more."
Bielecki's four years in immigration detention was the longest of any pending deportee in Western Canada, immigration officials confirmed.
Liberal public safety critic Ujjal Dosanjh said Wednesday it is a good thing that Bielecki was finally deported, but it doesn't make up for the original problem of a dangerous criminal avoiding deportation simply by refusing to sign travel documents.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Anohter monumental waste of time and of taxpayers' dollars....I am an immgrant too! Give me a break!
Citizenship oath's 'allegiance to Her Majesty' in question

Joseph Brean, National Post
ublished: Tuesday, February 19, 2008

TORONTO -- The Queen's place in Canada is going to trial, now that the government has failed to stop a Charter challenge of the citizenship oath's reference to the monarchy.
Three judges of the Ontario Court of Appeal today denied the federal Attorney-General's request to dismiss the case by overturning a lower court ruling that allowed it to proceed.
Brought by Charles Roach, a black Toronto lawyer who objects to the monarchy's past connection to slavery, the case has rallied the diverse forces of Canadian republicanism, from Irish and Indian nationalism to casual distaste for monarchies.
The effect of today's ruling is that the class action, in which damages of $5000 are being sought for people who have refused to swear the oath or swore it under duress, can now proceed in the Ontario Superior Court.
As the test case, Mr. Roach, 74, a permanent resident of Canada who was born a British subject in Trinidad and immigrated to Canada more than 50 years ago, argues that the requirement to swear an oath to the Queen violates the Charter's freedom of conscience provision.
With exemptions only for the disabled, new Canadian citizens must swear an oath to "be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors..."
Citizenship then permits people to vote, serve on juries, get a passport, run for office, leave Canada with the right to return and pass citizenship to their children born elsewhere.
Kristina Dragaitis, a lawyer for the Attorney-General, argued before three judges of the Ontario Court of Appeal that Mr. Roach is now "forum shopping" after losing a similar case in the Federal Court of Appeal in 1994. Regardless, she said, federal court is where citizenship disputes are settled, not provinicial court.
She argued that a lower court judge, who last year denied the government's request to dismiss the case as an abuse of process, was wrong to conclude that "this is not an immigration matter... No one is caught up in federal immigration procedures; no one is appealing a denial of citizenship, or complaining about delays in the processing of citizenship papers."
Without even hearing from Mr. Roach's lawyer and daughter Kikelola Roach, the judges upheld that earlier ruling, and dismissed the government's appeal, calling the case a "straightforward, Charter-based constitutional challenge of a federal law," and not a dispute over the conduct of federal officials.
As Associate Chief Justice Dennis O'Connor put it, "There's nothing, quote, citizenshippy about it."
To overturn this ruling, the government would now have to go to the Supreme Court of Canada. Mr. Roach was in Trinidad yesterday, and not available for comment.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


After six years of stalling, Nazi war criminal Michael Seifert, originally from the Ukraine, was finally deported to Italy to face justice for crimes committed over 60 years ago. Canada finally got rid of the infamous "Beast of Bolzano", but what took so long? Why are all these known war criminals able to fight on for so many years, to the point that justice becoems meaningless? Two years ago, the Supreme Court of Canada cleared the way for the deportation of Leon Mugesera, who has been accused of crimes against humanity during the Rwandan genocide. Why is Canada such a favourite destination of the world's most disgusting scoundrels? What makes Canada so attractive to them? What is it about the Canadian psyche that makes it impossible to get tough with such unsavoury characters? Why do they remain at large for so long? It is time for change, but is Canada ready for zero tolerance policies? Are we putting the criminals in the drivers seat? This war criminal was sentenced in Italy in 2000 to life in prison, but he has already managed to live another eight years free in Canada...and he is 83, so why was he not incarcerated while he was stalling? Is that fair?
Nazi war criminal extradited to Italy to face life sentence

Linda Nguyen
Canwest News Service
Friday, February 15, 2008

Michael Seifert, 83, leaves court after attending his extradition hearing in 2003. Seifert, convicted in absentia in 2000 in Italy for war crimes ranging from murder to torture and rape when he was an SS prison guard, has been ordered extradited to Italy.
A Canadian man who was convicted of brutally torturing and killing nine people at a Nazi prison camp more than 60 years ago has been extradited to Italy.
Michael Seifert, 83, boarded a commercial plane bound for Italy at Pearson International Airport in Toronto at 3 p.m. ET, confirmed Alain Cherette, a spokesman for Canada's Department of Justice.
"Mr. Seifert was flown to Toronto and from there, he was handed over to Italian authorities,"he said Friday.
Seifert is set to face a life sentence in Italy where, seven years ago in an Italian military court, he was convicted in absentia of war crimes committed during his time as an SS guard in the Second World War.
The crimes took place in a Nazi prison camp in Bolzano, Italy, from 1944 to 1945.
Nicknamed the "Beast of Bolzano," Seifert was found guilty of being involved with nine killings and abuses at the police transit camp that imprisoned Jews, Italian resistance fighters and others, some of whom ended up being taken to Nazi concentration camps.
While working as a guard, Seifert was responsible for supervising prisoner work and performing prisoner rollcalls. He also took prisoners to trains destined for Nazi death camps. He got the job after he left Ukraine at the start of the war.
In his defence, Seifert has said he was only at the camp because he was serving a sentence there for a sexual assault involving another Ukrainian guard. He's always denied involvement in the atrocities and killings.
Nonetheless, Italy issued an extradition order for the former Ukrainian national in May 2002.
Seifert had been living in British Columbia since arriving in Canada in 1951.
He had been fighting his extradition through B.C. Supreme Court for the past six years.
Last year, the court ruled that since Seifert lied about his birthplace and his former occupation when he was applying for Canadian citizenship, it can be revoked.
Seifert argued he only lied to Canadian immigration authorities because he would be killed if his former native Ukraine found out he was emigrating.
Last month, the Supreme Court of Canada denied his last appeal.
"He was at the end of his options," Cherette said. "That cleared the way for his extradition. It's the end of due process. He's used every legal tool that was at his disposal and that was it."
Seifert had been held in custody in a Vancouver-area prison until he was removed Thursday by RCMPofficers who escorted him to Toronto, Cherette said.
Seifert was handed over to two Italian officers fromInterpol at the Toronto airport Friday prior to boarding his afternoon flight.
Cherette adds that it is now up to Italian authorities to decide what they are going to do with him.
Italian news agency Agenzia Giornalistica Italia reported Friday that Seifert will be transferred to a military hospital in Verona, where his war crimes took place.
Bernie Farber, head of the Canadian Jewish Congress, said Seifert's extradition sends a clear message the Canadian government is taking a hard stance on Nazi-era defendants.
"This is excellent news. It's been a long time coming," he said "Sadly, other governments had turned a blind eye to the murderers around us. Hopefully this signals a change in attitude in Canada."
Farber said Holocaust survivors living in Canada can finally feel some kind of justice.
"It brings great solace and great comfort to Holocaust survivors who came here and discovered sadly that they were sharing their new-found land with their victimizers. It's been a terrible time for them,"Farber said. "Justice is finally being done."

Friday, February 15, 2008


Feb 14, 2008 16:20 ET

Minister Day Announces Passing of Legislation to Improve the Security Certificate Process

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 14, 2008) - The Honourable Stockwell Day, Minister of Public Safety, announced that the Senate has passed Bill C-3, which is legislation that amends the security certificate process under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA)."We introduced this legislation to maintain the use of security certificates and protect Canadians from threats, but also to strengthen the rights of those arrested under a security certificate," said Minister Day. "Now that this legislation has passed, security certificates - which would never apply to Canadian citizens - will continue to be used to arrest and deport foreign citizens who pose a threat to national security, and at the same time will respect individual rights and freedoms."This legislation introduces a number of new measures to the process to address the Supreme Court of Canada's ruling in February 2007, including the introduction of special advocates. Special advocates - who will be qualified lawyers - will protect the interests and rights of individuals who are subject to security certificates, ensuring they are adequately represented during closed proceedings.
The special advocate will:
- Have the ability to challenge the Government of Canada's claim that the disclosure of confidential information would be injurious to national security or would endanger the safety of any person;
- Be authorized to cross-examine witnesses and make submissions to the Court;
- Be able to communicate with the subject of a security certificate without restriction until such time as they see the confidential information upon which a certificate is based.
The legislation also reflects the Supreme Court's decision by providing foreign nationals with the same detention review rights as permanent residents.
Any person subject to a security certificate will be entitled to an initial detention review, by a Federal Court judge within 48 hours. This may be followed by ongoing reviews at six-month intervals thereafter.
By passing this legislation, Parliament is strengthening and improving an immigration process that is designed to protect Canadians from threats while respecting individual rights and freedoms. The Government of Canada will continue to take a comprehensive approach to our nation's security and will continue to work with Parliamentarians to make sure we have the best tools in place to keep Canadians safe.An online version of the legislation will be available at
Security certificates- It is not a criminal code proceeding, it is an immigration instrument that is only used against non-Canadian citizens.- It is a certificate signed by the Minister of Public Safety and the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration when a person in Canada has been deemed an extremely high risk to Canadian security.- The purpose of the certificate is to remove the person to their country of origin. The Government of Canada issues a certificate only in exceptional circumstances where the information to determine the case cannot be disclosed without endangering the safety of any person or national security.- Since 1991, there has been a total of 28 security certificates issued.- In some cases, a judge may order the person detained during the security certificate removal process to protect national security or public safety. However, a person subject to a security certificate is free leave Canada at any time and return to their country of origin.- In its February 2007 ruling in Charkaoui v. Canada, the Supreme Court recognized that one of the most fundamental responsibilities of government is to ensure the security of citizens. The Court found that additional safeguards should be incorporated into the process to better protect the rights of individuals subject to a certificate.- On October 22, 2007, the Government of Canada introduced Bill C-3, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (certificates and special advocates) in the House of Commons to respond to the Supreme Court's ruling.- Bill C-3, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (certificates and special advocates), received Royal Assent on February 14, 2008.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The following story appeared in The Canadian Press newswire. The Nova Soctia PNP program was cancelled by that Province last year. It is a good example of what governments should NOT do: tampering with market forces, trying to fit a square peg in a round hole and disregarding free market economics.
Participants in failed N.S. immigration program tell stories to legislators

13 hours ago

HALIFAX - A dozen participants in Nova Scotia's failed immigration program told stories of disappointment and shattered expectations during a four-hour hearing Wednesday before a legislative committee.
After paying $130,000 each to enter Canada under the provincial nominee program, many said that they weren't matched with companies that suited their areas of expertise and they now want their money back as a matter of fairness.
The program, which was administered by Cornwallis Financial Corp., was scrapped by the Conservative government in 2006, setting off a series of lawsuits filed by the private firm that have yet to reach court.
The Office of Immigration decided in October to rebate $60 million in application fees to 600 immigrants who had yet to take part in the program. Another 200 were denied reimbursement because they had completed their mentorships with a company.
"All the nominees have immigrated to Nova Scotia through the same category, hence should be benefitted and treated equally and fairly," Vahid Kermanshah told the committee.
"The residency refund option is a good plan ... but should cover all nominees, particularly those who have been loyal to the government by settling down in this province."
Kermanshah, who is from Iran, said he was promised by his immigration agent and Cornwallis in January 2006 that, after the six-month mentorship, he would be matched with a job that suited his management background. He would also be offered assistance in settling in Halifax.
But he said he arrived last April to discover that Cornwallis was no longer in charge of the program and that there would be no settlement assistance.
Kermanshah finally signed a contract with the immigration office last July and was promised he would be mentored in wholesale, e-business, advertising and public relations with a fishing company in Shag Harbour, N.S.
He said he showed up for his first day of work to find that his job would be a lot less than promised.
"They had no such departments and were doing business in a traditional way with no valuable experience and knowledge in the areas I was supposed to be mentored in," Kermanshah said.
He said he wasn't even provided the most basic of facilities to do his job, even a desk or a computer. After trying to work from home he was eventually told not to come in and was paid in post-dated cheques, "half of which bounced."
Alireza Aghajan, a psychiatrist, told the committee he went so far as to arrange his own mentorship, but was told the position he had secured at Dalhousie University wasn't in keeping with the program's economic requirements.
Ahgajan said he ended up at a housing renovation company where he spent his time reading medical textbooks in order to collect his $20,000 salary.
Jamie Guerrero, former CEO of a 200-bed specialized care hospital in the Philippines, gave a more mixed review of the nominee program. He told the committee it was the fast-track nature of the program that attracted his family, but it was his command of English and the support provided by the local Filipino community that enabled him to network.
Guerrero eventually landed a mentorship with a high-end retirement home as a human resource manager, although the job was not exactly what he was looking for.
"While not all my original expectations of the program were met, I gained some valuable experience during my mentorship," said Guerrero.
But Guerrero admitted under questioning that he used the same community networking to eventually act as a broker to help other immigrants navigate the system, charging anywhere from $5,000 to $30,000 "depending on the client."
Guerrero and all who testified are in agreement that they shouldn't be penalized for simply following the rules and completing their mentorships.
Ken Friedman, who speaks on behalf of 72 nominees who want their money back, presented the committee with a proposal to pay back a portion of the $130,000 fee, using money and interest accumulated by forfeited fees.
Under the terms of the province's refund, people who did not go through a mentorship will get $100,000 back as long as they lived in Nova Scotia for 12 of their first 18 months after becoming landed. They also had to be living in the province when they applied for the refund.
Friedman said the irony is that many of those who forfeited their nominee fees did so because they didn't do anything for their mentorships or, in some cases, were simply looking to get landed in Canada and didn't even show up in Nova Scotia.
"Most of the people that completed their mentorships and stayed here are feeling a lot of anger, sadness, frustration and pain," said Friedman. "They feel that they came here under the same program and signed the same agreements as the nominees now eligible for the refund."
Elizabeth Mills, executive director of the Office of Immigration, said much would have to be sorted through before the province could even consider forfeiture payments.
Mills said the province doesn't yet know which nominees and how many have forfeited their $100,000 and is also dealing with four lawsuits that are pending from Cornwallis.
Among the suits is a claim of ownership for a portion of the interest earned from the trust fund set up to administer the program's fees.
"Right now the position of the province is that they are not eligible for a residency refund because the $100,000 they have paid in fees have been expended," said Mills.
"Whether that position is reconsidered, I really can't say because that would be a decision that government would have to make."

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Taxman targets recent immigrants

Ads to be tested on Mandarin, Arabic and Punjabi speakers

From Wednesday's Globe and Mail
February 13, 2008 at 5:29 AM EST

Few citizens enjoy paying taxes, but the Canada Revenue Agency is hoping new advertising will offer some motivation and maybe even a new slogan: Paying taxes is the "Canadian way of life."
The CRA plans to launch a multimedia campaign this year that focuses on compliance and targets new Canadians in particular, according to a request for tender published yesterday. The campaign is set to run until 2010.
It's part of a new approach to use "communications as a compliance tool," the filing said. It's not clear what the ads will say because the CRA is still fine-tuning some themes.
One series targets new Canadians because the CRA is concerned about non-compliance among recent immigrants. The agency's research indicates "that a certain percentage of new Canadians surveyed do not realize that they may have had to file a tax return, while some didn't know how."
It plans to test the ads on focus groups in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, and wants to concentrate on Mandarin, Arabic and Punjabi speakers.
"The objective of research with these groups would be to determine how best to inform new Canadians that they are required to file a tax return if they have taxes to pay, and that they must file a tax return to receive benefits to which they are entitled," the document said.
Participants in the focus groups will be asked to discuss reasons why they might not pay taxes and what information they need that would help them file. They will also review several motivational messages the CRA is considering, with themes such as: "duty," "Canadian way of life" and "fear of penalty."
The CRA has been tracking the population growth of new Canadians for some time. In another document, it quoted a Statistics Canada study that "projected that, within 10 years, visible minorities will constitute the majority of the population of Canada's three largest cities."
"Since self-assessment is at the core of our tax system, the CRA must be able to communicate effectively with new Canadians who may be unfamiliar with our tax and benefit systems," the agency added.
There aren't clear figures on how much money the CRA loses from Canadians who don't pay taxes. The agency noted in its most recent annual report that non-compliance is relatively low "though financially significant."
Eyob Naizghi, executive director of Mosaic, a Vancouver-based organization that works with immigrants, said many newcomers are from countries where filing taxes is unheard of. Mr. Naizghi said he emigrated from Africa and had not heard of income tax until he landed in Canada. "A certain proportion [of new arrivals] are not aware that they have to file their income tax," he said. "I guess we would have to expect that."
He noted that Mosaic has worked with the CRA in translating tax forms into various languages.
Victor Wong, executive director of the Toronto-based Chinese Canadian National Council, was surprised that the initiative is targeting new Canadians. "New immigrants are just like long-time immigrants or Canadian born, they know that there is a responsibility to pay taxes," Mr. Wong said.
Mohamed Boudjenane, executive director of the Canadian Arab Federation, also based in Toronto, said his organization has never been told that non-compliance by Arab Canadians was an issue. "I never heard about it, to be honest with you, as an issue, but maybe it is," he said.
He added that the federation has started holding tax clinics staffed by Arab-speaking volunteers to help new immigrants and others file their taxes. Similar clinics have operated for years in other communities.
"Maybe this [ad campaign] will help," Mr. Boudjenane said. "But the new immigrant, what are you going to get from them quite frankly? They are in the low-income scale and sometimes some of them don't even have to pay taxes."


Filipinos find work faster


Globe and Mail Update

February 13, 2008 at 9:29 AM EST

Immigrants born in Southeast Asia, particularly those from the Philippines, tend to be best integrated into the Canadian work force while those born in Africa have the most difficulties entering the labour market, a government study suggested Wednesday.
Of adult immigrants, even very recent immigrants from the Philippines had a jobless rate that was close to the Canadian-born population, Statistics Canada said. By contrast, the unemployment rate among very recent African-born immigrants was more than four times higher than the Canadian-born rate.
The study comes as the country is grappling with increasingly acute labour shortages. Canada has the second-highest proportion of immigrants among Western nations, and many provinces are trying to attract newcomers to help fill the gap.
Statscan's study used data from 2006 labour force surveys to determine which groups tend to find work fastest, where they go and the gender differences in the immigrant labour force. It did not give reasons for why there are discrepancies, though the agency will release a study on the link between immigrants' education and labour market outcomes in the spring.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


The article below appeared in the Times of India:

Canada says balle balle to Punjabi1

2 Feb 2008

VANCOUVER: Canada is sure taking to Punjabi in a big way. The latest census shows a 35% rise in the number of speakers of Punjabi since 2001, putting it on track to be the fourth most spoken language in the country in the near future. Today, it's the sixth most spoken language after English, French, Chinese, Italian and German, though it is already in fourth position in the province of British Columbia. As India overtakes China as the largest source of immigration for Canada this year, Punjabi is expected to surpass Italian and German by 2011 to take fourth place. According to Balwant Sanghera, president, Punjabi Language Education Association, "Punjabi is growing by leaps and bounds here. Within three to four years it will become Canada's fourth largest spoken language." Latest census figures show 367,505 people consider Punjabi their mother tongue, he said, a sharp rise of 35% since 2001. "This places Punjabi as the sixth most spoken language. The difference between the number of Punjabi speakers and those of German and Italian is very small. By the next census of 2011, Punjabi will overtake both to occupy fourth place," he added. In British Columbia, Punjabi is taught in many universities, colleges and schools. Hospitals, airports and markets have Punjabi signs and it's common to see signs of " Aseen Punjabi Bolde Haan " (We speak Punjabi) at banks. Guidelines on provincial issues come out in Punjabi, as do government bills and notices.

Monday, February 11, 2008


Canada beefing up immigration services in Philippines

News Services

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Canada will send three more immigration officers to the Philippines in an effort to speed up the application process for foreign workers, federal Immigration Minister Diane Finley announced last week.
The additional officers will be posted to the Canadian visa offices at the Canadian Embassy in Manila to handle the increased volume of applications under the Temporary Worker Program.
"Our government supports the Filipino community in Canada," Finley said. "There has been a longstanding concern that processing times needed to improve."
The number of temporary workers coming to Canada has increased in recent years as the country struggles to meet labour market demands. In 2006, 8,529 temporary workers from the Philippines arrived in Canada, according to the government, and that number is expected to increase as employers seek workers to fill jobs.
Finley said the visa office in Manila will undergo a $1.9-million renovation to accommodate the additional officers and staff who will be in place in the summer. She said the government may increase staff further next year.

Saturday, February 9, 2008


Here is something to make you think a little about how naive the authorities are in Ontario. First, there should be no reason why the government should accord ANY recognition to polygamy, no matter where it originates, at home or abroad, it is not only contrary to public policy, bu talso against common sense. Second, no polygamist wife should get ANY social assistance payments, they should not be in Canada in the first place, as their husbands probaly lied in their immigration applications when they brought them in (polygamy is a prohibited relationship under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act). Third, why should they get welfare in an economy that is begging for low-skilled workers? Let them go to work and stiop this politically correct charade.
Only one wife gets benefits: province

Social Services Minister upset by polygamist claim

Natalie Alcoba, National Post
Published: Saturday, February 09, 2008

Ontario's Minister of Community and Social Services said she is "perturbed" to hear claims that men with multiple wives are taking advantage of welfare and social benefits in Ontario.
According to a published report, an official from the Canadian Society of Muslims estimated that "several hundred" GTA husbands in polygamous marriages are receiving benefits for their many wives.
Mumtaz Ali referred to a passage in the Ontario Family Law Act that recognizes spouses in a polygamous marriage, provided it was celebrated in a country that recognizes the union as valid.
But provincial officials said yesterday the Family Law Act was designed to create equality among spouses when a marriage ends, and serves to also protect people who married into a legal polygamous relationship in another country, then moved to Ontario.
Polygamy in Canada is still illegal, the officials said.
"Not knowing the law is not an excuse," said Madeleine Meilleur, Minister of Community and Social Services, which funds the social assistance program called Ontario Works. "They should know that in Canada there is no polygamy and that only one wife is covered. I'm sure that if they are receiving more money it is because they are not reporting properly the situation of the other wife. They may be reporting them as children."
It is unclear from Mr. Ali's comments if the Muslim men are illegally claiming benefits for more than one wife, either as a spouse or a dependant, or if the additional wives are claiming as individuals, which is permissible. Under Islamic law, a Muslim man is allowed to have mulitple spouses.
John Tory, leader of the Ontario PC opposition, said the government needs to clarify how the Ontario Works Act and the Family Law Act apply.
"I think there would be a lot of people who would surprised there was legal recognition, even though the recognition was to protect the spouses, they would be surprised we recognized those [polygamous] marriages," he said, noting that does not mean it has to change.
"But I think there should be some exercise in making sure the public understands what the law says, and that the government clearly says this is their intention."
Both city and provincial officials insist that in Ontario, social benefits can be claimed for only one spouse.
"Nothing is stopping the other people who live in the same dwelling froºm applying as individuals, and if they meet the requirements they may be eligible for social assistance, but you definitely cannot tick off that you have more than one spouse because it's not recognized, it's not legal in Ontario," said Julia Sakas, communications assistant to Ms. Meilleur.
"It's actually quite a stringent application process because we want to make sure the money goes to the people who need it and are eligible for it, and not going to people who are trying to defraud the system."
She said the government works to limit welfare fraud as much as possible, and takes allegations of it very seriously.

Friday, February 8, 2008


Read for yourself: this character wants Canada to show him "compassion" and let him stay....I guess he would like to continue hsi crimila career. Why should a person like this even ahve access to such argument?

Kravchov v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship & Immigration)

Pavel Kravchov, Applicant


The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Respondent

Federal Court
S. Harrington J.
Heard: January 17, 2008
Judgment: January 25, 2008
Docket: IMM-2287-07

S. Harrington J.:

1 Be he Mark Vaisman or be he Pavel Kravchov; be he born in 1965 or in 1967; be he from Azerbaijan or from Armenia; the Immigration and Refugee Board determined in 1994 that he was a refugee within the meaning of the United Nations Convention.

2 Since then, he has run up some 26 criminal convictions. They set in motion a process which might ultimately lead to his deportation. It began with an officer preparing a report to the Minister pursuant to section 44 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) in which the opinion was voiced that Mr. Kravchov is inadmissible. The Minister, being of the opinion that the report was well-founded, referred it to the Immigration Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board for an admissibility hearing. At that hearing he was found inadmissible on the grounds of serious criminality as set out in section 36 of IRPA and ordered deported. Serious criminality includes being convicted in Canada of an offence punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of at least ten years, as is the case here.

3 Fortunately for Mr. Kravchov, he was never punished by a term of imprisonment of at least two years, and so was able to appeal to the Immigration Appeal Division (IRPA, s. 64, s. 67). The Member of the Immigration Appeal Division who heard his appeal dismissed it. This is a judicial review thereof.


4 In his personal information form (PIF) delivered to the Board in 1993, he said his name was Mark Vaisman, born in 1967, a citizen of the U.S.S.R. at birth and at that time a citizen of Azerbaijan. The form also noted that he used the name Pavel Kravchov. Indeed, the tribunal record indicates that he usually goes by that name; although he has used other names as well. More recently he claims also to be a citizen of Armenia. Although this may be attributable to the fact that he was born in Najorno-Karabkh (a region of considerable contention and tension between Azerbaijan and Armenia). He attributes his inability to obtain proper identification papers and thus to have applied in the past to become a Canadian permanent resident to this tension.

5 He says that for some years after his arrival in Canada he worked but was always paid in cash. He then learned he had Hepatitis B and C and turned to a life of crime in order to fund his treatment. However, there is no evidence in the record that he has Hepatitis B and C, that our health care system would not respond or that he ever received treatment, including when he was in prison.

6 His criminal activities include organized auto theft, leasing automobiles with fraudulent documents to resell or send them overseas. He was in possession of forged instruments including Immigration and Citizenship Canada stamps and seals.

7 He was last convicted in 2005. He was in pre-sentence custody for 15 months and then received a suspended sentence with three years probation. He says that he has repented. He first met a woman in 2002 and, after coming out of jail in 2005, obtained a job with her help and has moved in with her. He has been respecting his probation conditions and provided a psychological assessment.

The Decision Under Review

8 Mr. Kravchov did not contest that he had been convicted of serious crimes and did not seek that the deportation order be quashed. Rather he asked that its enforcement be stayed on conditions such as keeping the peace and avoiding criminal elements.

9 The Board carried an analysis pursuant to section 67(1) (c) of IRPA which provides:
67. (1) To allow an appeal, the Immigration Appeal Division must be satisfied that, at the time that the appeal is disposed of,
(c ) other than in the case of an appeal by the Minister, taking into account the best interests of a child directly affected by the decision, sufficient humanitarian and compassionate considerations warrant special relief in light of all the circumstances of the case.
67. (1) Il est fait droit à l'appel sur preuve qu'au moment où il en est disposé:
c ) sauf dans le cas de l'appel du ministre, il y a -- compte tenu de l'intérêt supérieur de l'enfant directement touché -- des motifs d'ordre humanitaire justifiant, vu les autres circonstances de l'affaire, la prise de mesures spéciales.

10 Mr Kravchov has no children and apparently no family left in Azerbaijan. He does have a romantic relationship here.

11 The Member set out the non-exhaustive H&C criteria identified in Ribic v. Canada (Minister of Employment and Immigration) (T84-9623), [1985] I.A.B.D. No.4, approved by the Supreme Court in Chieu v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) , 2002 SCC 3, [2002] 1 S.C.R. 84 . They are:
a) the seriousness of the offences leading to the deportation;
b) the possibility of rehabilitation;
c) the length of time spent in Canada and the degree to which the appellant is established here;
d) family in Canada and the dislocation that deportation of the appellant would cause to that family;
e) the support available for the appellant not only within the family but also within the community;
f) the degree of hardship that would be caused to the appellant by returning to his country of nationality.

12 The Member was of the view that the offences were very serious because of their organized and repetitive aspects, and because they victimized many individuals and organizations. He had no difficulty changing his identity when it suited him, indicative of criminal sophistication.

13 A psychological assessment concluded that Mr. Kravchov is suffering from a major depressive episode and from panic disorder from his past ordeals, his problems with the law and his ongoing immigration worries. However, the Member was of the opinion that because of Mr. Kravchov's lack of credibility, probative value could not be given to the psychological assessment which was based "...solely on what the appellant has told him". This was not quite accurate as he had also been subjected to testing. His lack of forthrightness with respect to his medical condition was also a negative factor.

14 The Member was of the view that he had minimal establishment in Canada, and only first filed a tax return for 2006. The fact that he began to live with a woman, whom he calls his commonlaw wife, in February 2006, did not constitute a sufficient ground to grant a stay.

15 In terms of the degree of hardship that would be caused if he were returned to his country of nationality, doubt was continuously expressed as to who he really is, and where he is from, as he has an expertise in creating or obtaining fraudulent documents.

Standard of Review

16 The overall standard of review in humanitarian and compassionate situations is that of reasonableness simpliciter (Baker v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration ), [1999] 2 S.C.R. 817 , [1999] S.C.J. No. 39. The Federal Court of Appeal recently applied that standard in this particular context (Khosa v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) , 2007 FCA 24, [2007] 4 F.C.R. 332 ). A decision to grant a stay is discretionary. Although there can only be one correct decision, there may be more than one reasonable decision, and so the Member is owed deference.

Mr. Kravchov's Submissions

17 Mr. Kravchov alleges breach of procedural fairness, errors in law and in fact. On the procedural fairness point he complains that the Member permitted documents to be introduced as evidence without sufficient notice.

18 The error in law is that the Member referred to two criminal charges which were withdrawn. The Member should not have taken those charges into consideration.

19 As to findings of fact, Mr. Kravchov submitted that it was patently unreasonable for the Member to question is identity and his inability to obtain documentation from Azerbaijanian authorities. The dismissal of the psychologist's report was unjustified. There was other relevant evidence which was ignored, such as that of his common-law wife that he is now toeing the line.

20 Having reviewed the record, and the submissions of counsel, I have come to the conclusion that procedural fairness is not in issue, and no error in law was made and that the decision was not unreasonable. A reasonable decision is one that can stand up to a somewhat probing examination (Canada (Director of Investigation and Research) v. Southam Inc. , [1997] 1 S.C.R. 748 , [1996] S.C.J. No. 116 at paragraph 56 and 57). Mr. Justice Iacobucci went on to say at paragraph 80:
I wish to observe, by way of concluding my discussion of this issue, that a reviewer, and even one who has embarked upon review on a standard of reasonableness simpliciter , will often be tempted to find some way to intervene when the reviewer him- or herself would have come to a conclusion opposite to the tribunal's. Appellate courts must resist such temptations. My statement that I might not have come to the same conclusion as the Tribunal should not be taken as an invitation to appellate courts to intervene in cases such as this one but rather as a caution against such intervention and a call for restraint. Judicial restraint is needed if a cohesive, rational, and, I believe, sensible system of judicial review is to be fashioned.

21 In my opinion such blemishes as there may have been in the reasons for the decision were taken out of context. I am mindful of what Mr. Justice Joyal said in Miranda v. Canada (Minister of Employment and Immigration) , 63 F.T.R. 81 (Fed. T.D.), [1993] F.C.J. No. 437:
It is true that artful pleaders can find any number of errors when dealing with decisions of administrative tribunals. Yet we must always remind ourselves of what the Supreme Court of Canada said on a criminal appeal where the grounds for appeal were some 12 errors in the judge's charge to the jury. In rendering judgment, the Court stated that it had found 18 errors in the judge's charge, but that in the absence of any miscarriage of justice, the appeal could not succeed.
This is the point I am trying to establish here. One may look at the decision of the Board, then one may balance it off against the evidence found in the transcript and the evidence of the claimant himself in trying to justify his objective as well as subjective fears of persecution.
On the basis of that analysis, I find that the conclusions reached by the Refugee Board are well-founded on the evidence. There can always be conflict on the evidence. There is always the possibility of an opposite decision from a differently constituted Board. Anyone might have reached a different conclusion. Different conclusions may often be reached if one perhaps subscribes to different value systems. But in spite of counsel for the applicant's thorough exposition, I have failed to grasp forcefully the kind of error in the Board's decision which would justify my intervention. The Board's decision, in my view, is fully consistent with the evidence.

22 As to procedural unfairness, the rules require that documents proposed to be entered as
exhibits be disclosed at least 20 days before the hearing. In this case, a list of Mr. Kravchov's criminal record was disclosed within time, but some of the police reports were only presented the Friday afternoon before the Monday hearing. As master of its procedure, the Tribunal has discretion to allow in documents on short notice.

23 The essence of the complaint is that during the Monday hearing Mr. Kravchov's counsel was only allowed a further a 20-minute postponement. However given that the documents had been provided three days earlier, that they were merely supplemental to what had already been disclosed, and that Mr. Kravchov's counsel examined in chief and led him through his criminal past, late disclosure does not serve as a ground for judicial review. Furthermore, counsel did not ask to file post-hearing commentary on these documents. Mr. Kravchov was not denied a fair hearing. Cases such as Cardinal v. Director of Kent Institution , [1985] 2 S.C.R. 643, [1985] S.C.J. No. 78, and C.U.P.E. v. Ontario (Minister of Labour) , 2003 SCC 29, [2003] 1 S.C.R. 539 have no application.

24 As to reference to the withdrawn charges, if they were material to the decision, then they would be cause for concern (Bertold v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) , [1999] F.C.J. No. 1492, 175 F.T.R. 195 , at paragraph 49 and Bakchiev v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration , [2000] F.C.J. No. 1881, 196 F.T.R. 306 , and Veerasingam v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration , 2004 FC 1661, [2004] F.C.J. No. 2014 ). The shoplifting incident, however, was relevant in questioning Mr. Kravchov's identity. He says that he gave that name to the police officers who apprehended him rather than his real name, Mark Vaisman. The concealed weapons charge was simply part of Mr. Kravchov's history. With 26 convictions and the Member's analysis limited to fraud related charges, it cannot possibly be said that the recital of these incidents entitle Mr. Kravchov to a new hearing.

25 The Member did not ignore the psychologist report or the girlfriend's testimony. Rather she gave little weight to them. It was her duty to determine whether or not Mr. Kravchov was credible, not the psychologist's, and not the girlfriend's. Despite his claim to have accepted responsibility for his actions and his claim that he has reformed, she was entitled to form the view that he was still weaving a web of deceit. For instance, she found that notwithstanding that he has been here since 1993, he only filed one tax return, and that for the year 2006, after he realized he was at risk of being deported. He said that he had not filed earlier returns because he had always been paid in cash. When told that one is obliged to file returns whether one has paid in cash or not, he quickly changed his story and said he had indeed filed three or four tax returns in the past.

26 Mr. Kravchov may well be depressed at the prospect of being deported. However that is no reason to let him stay. Depression and anxiety are inevitable aspects of deportation (Melo v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration , 2000 F.C.J. 403, 188 F.T.R. 39 ).

27 As pointed out by the Member, there is uncertainty as to who Mr. Kravchov really is, where he is from, (and indeed when he was born) as he was determined to be a refugee under both names. He remains a protected person notwithstanding that he is inadmissible on grounds of serious criminality. He can only be removed pursuant to section 115 of IRPA if in the Minister's opinion he constitutes a danger to the public in Canada.


1. The application for judicial review is dismissed.
2. There is no serious question of general importance to certify.


The following was released by the Government of Canada:

Feb 07, 2008 16:03 ET

Government of Canada Improves Service at Visa Office in Manila, Philippines

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 7, 2008) - The Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, today announced more immigration officers will be sent to the visa office in Manila, Philippines, to speed up the processing of applications.It is estimated this initiative will incur one time construction costs of approximately $1.9 million."Our government supports the Filipino community in Canada," said Minister Finley. "There has been a longstanding concern that processing times needed to improve. Today, we are taking action and committing more resources to help applicants from the Philippines."Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada will be reconfiguring existing offices and adding new space at the Canadian Embassy to accommodate Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) program needs. Beginning in the summer, CIC will add three additional Canada-based Immigration Officers and four locally-engaged staff to work at the Embassy. More CIC staff could be added the following year.The increase in staff is intended to address the increased volume of Temporary Foreign Worker applications while at the same time ensuring that processing times for other lines of service are also improved.The number of temporary workers coming to Canada from around the world has soared in recent years in an effort to meet this country's labour market needs. In 2006, Canada welcomed 8,529 temporary foreign workers from the Philippines. This number is expected to continue to grow in response to increasing demands from Canadian employers for temporary workers.

Thursday, February 7, 2008


The following story was released by The Canadian Press:

Border agency to expand surveillance program to buses, trains, cruise ships

3 days ago

OTTAWA - Canada's border agency wants to expand its surveillance of travellers entering the country, with plans to force buses, trains and cruise ships to provide advance electronic lists of passengers and their personal details.
Since October 2002, the Canada Border Services Agency has collected advance information from airlines on arriving passengers. The mandatory reporting, enforced with $3,000 fines, now allows the agency to run computer checks on about 96 per cent of all air travellers coming to Canada.
But companies that operate buses, trains and cruise ships are currently required to provide such information only on request, and without the same mandatory electronic transfer of data demanded from airlines. Instead, the ad hoc passenger data usually arrives by fax or e-mail, and is often incomplete, making analysis difficult.
A January report from the agency, however, outlines a plan to broaden surveillance to require the same advance electronic data that airlines must provide, covering 100 per cent of passengers on all modes of travel.
"Pre-arrival targeting has not yet realized its full potential," says the document.
"With the proper leadership, design and delivery framework, electronic systems, training and regulatory support, pre-arrival targeting could become and excellent risk-management and workload-management tool."
The report says a single, central authority is being created this year to manage the collection, monitoring and analysis of passenger information to spot potential terrorists and criminals. Some of the information is shared with U.S. agencies under agreement.
As well, a series of internal studies is under way to determine how best to expand passenger surveillance - and to better monitor marine cargo and commercial goods before they enter Canada, along with tougher penalties for failing to comply. The first steps in broadening the system are expected sometime this year, the report indicates.
Under the current air-traveller system, a central computer system known as PAXIS sifts through information on the 20 million air travellers arriving in Canada each year, and checks the data against criminal records, customs infractions and immigration warrants.
The computer red-flags about 240,000 passengers before arrival each year and Ottawa-based experts known as 'targeters' review each file, issuing electronic 'lookouts' on the more suspicious travellers. Border officers then pull aside the suspects at airports for detailed questioning.
The personal information airlines must provide includes full name, birth date, gender, citizenship, visa and passport numbers, baggage information, and seat number.
The agency does screen travellers and crew arriving by other modes, although advance passenger information is provided only if requested and in non-standard formats.
The report notes that about 12 per cent of the 600,000 cruise ship passengers entering Canada in 2006 were given secondary, detailed questioning by border officers but "few travellers arriving by sea were identified as high risk."
The exceptions are the crews of commercial vessels. All such crew members are considered high risk, and the agency now requires their personal information to be sent seven days before arrival.
The agency currently spends about $63 million each year on pre-arrival targeting, including a parallel commercial-goods system.
A spokesman for the agency indicated that trains and cruise ships, rather than buses, will be the first areas for expanding the electronic transfer of passenger information .
"The CBSA is engaged in early consideration to integrate cruise ships and rail within the . .. program," Derek Mellon said in an e-mail response to questions.
"Once the analysis is complete, the CBSA will be in a position to consider the time frames for implementation."
A spokesman for Canada's privacy commissioner noted that the original legislation allowing passenger information to be collected referred to all modes of travel, and has already been approved from a protection-of-privacy standpoint.
But Colin McKay said there are concerns about private carriers, who have limited track records on safeguarding personal information, suddenly being required to manage confidential databases.
"Are these companies prepared to collect this information and keep it safe?" he said in an interview.
"Airlines have passenger-data systems and are used to collecting personal information and keeping it safe. Bus companies, I don't think, are in the habit of asking more than your name, if they ask you that. ... It raises a practical question for us."
In a 2006 report, the privacy commissioner warned that the border agency was sometimes sharing personal information with U.S. authorities orally, without written requests, violating government policy.