Sunday, July 27, 2008


Doc removes MPP link

After Sun story, website revised


Dr. Shafiq Qaadri has quietly removed a link from his medical clinic website to his MPP website after a Sun story last week about his part-time practice, which bills him as a "world-renowned physician" and includes ads targeting new Canadians for a slew of services that aren't covered by the public health system.

The link to Qaadri's full-time job as the elected rep for Etobicoke North, for which he was paid $130,000 last year, could be found on his site as late as July 16, according to Google's cache service.

But since the story ran July 19, the link has been removed from Qaadri's list of "Trusted Sources."

"The domains are separate," Qaadri said Friday, taking a break from seeing patients at his Roncesvalles Ave. clinic. "Sometimes the tech guys make changes. I monitor it mostly for medical content."

Qaadri wouldn't say whether he knew the link existed or if he had instructed it be removed.

Ontario's Integrity Commission office monitors MPP conflicts and has in the past stated members should be careful not to include anything on their MPP sites that could be construed as advertising.


Nothing prohibits backbench MPPs from having a part-time career and Qaadri said the Friday afternoons and evenings he spends at his practice in no way inhibit his work as a legislator.

"I'm a pretty full-tilt, overtime, super-caffeinated fellow," Qaadri said. "I'm firing on all cylinders."

His most important job is a father to his two school-age children and everything takes a back seat to that, he said.

But he maintains he keeps up a heavy workload in his riding and said his constituents would back him up on that point.

The splashy medical website -- which he declined to give a cost for -- has been up and running for a few months and is intended to be a "public medical resource."

The slick site includes ads for his 2006 book The Testosterone Factor: A Practical Guide to Improving Vitality and Virility, Naturally along with a link to purchase it through

It offers videos on medical topics and notes Qaadri writes a monthly medical column, was recently appointed to the Healthcare Policy Group of the Council of State Governments in New York, has published more than 700 articles, given 140 lectures and 1,000 radio and TV interviews and is available to be booked for public events or a media appearance.

It also says he was elected an MPP in '03, re-elected in '07 and is a "long-time advocate of quality public health care." But in addition to his commitment to pubic health care, Qaadri also advertises his services as a designated medical practitioner who can attend to any number of immigration-related medical needs.

"To begin with -- welcome to Canada," Qaadri's full-bodied, online video presence says in the Immigration Medical Examinations section of his site.

"I'm honoured to be one of the Canadian doctors performing immigration medical exams or visa extension exams in Canada for a whole host of people -- permanent resident applicants, temporary resident applicants, convention refugees, those applying to be convention refugees, visitors extending their visas to stay in Canada, tourists extending their visas to stay in Canada, students extending their visas to stay in Canada, temporary workers extending their visas to stay in Canada, sponsored applicants and diplomats."

He also says he's designated by the government of Canada to do such work in English, French, Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu.


The website does not note that such services are not covered under OHIP.

Qaadri said many of the people who are required to take such medical exams can get covered under the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP). But Health Canada's website says the IFHP would only cover the cost for those who are unable to pay for the exams themselves.

"Dr. Qaadri's obsession with unlisted OHIP procedures betrays the Liberals' purported commitment to pubic health," New Democrat MPP Peter Kormos said, adding Qaadri can't have much spare time to work for his constituents in one of the province's least affluent ridings. "He's earning 100% of his MPP salary but he's not giving it 100% of his attention."

But Qaadri's boss, Premier Dalton McGuinty, says he's not troubled.

"One thing I know about Dr. Qaadri -- he's a high energy kind of guy and I think he does continue to work at least a little bit in his family practice," McGuinty said last week. "His patients are reluctant to part with him. ... His constituents obviously ultimately hold him to account when it comes to his work as an MPP. I certainly have never had anything but a strong contribution from him at Queen's Park and our caucus deliberations."

Qaadri earned $116,000 last year as a backbench MP and was paid an additional $16,000 as chairman of the standing committee on social policy.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Here we go again.....deja vu...

Canada threatens travel strictures

Move spurred by increase of Czechs seeking refugee status

By Curtis M. Wong
Staff Writer, The Prague Post
July 23rd, 2008 issue

Canadian immigration officials have advised the Czech Republic to curb a recent surge in the number of citizens asking for asylum, or to risk the re-introduction of travel visas. Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Minister Diane Finley met with Czech Foreign Affairs Minister Karel Schwarzenberg July 17 to discuss bilateral relations between the two countries, including the recent increase in the number of Czechs applying for refugee status in Canada since late 2007. “The discussion helped both Czech and Canadian parties to better understand each other’s concerns,” said Michael Vlček, public diplomacy officer for the Canadian Embassy. “It also provided an opportunity for the Czech government to reiterate to would-be refugees that there are far more economic opportunities in Europe now, compared with the situation 11 years ago — the time of the first wave of Czech refugee claimants in Canada.” Under pressure from the European Union, Canada removed visa requirements for Czech travelers in October 2007. The requirement had been implemented in 1997 after an earlier removal of the restriction had sent 4,000 asylum-seeking Czechs to the country. Nearly all of them were of Roma, or Gypsy, descent. Between November 2007 and this May, 449 Czechs applied for asylum in Canada, none of whom to date has been granted refugee status. Since May, immigration officials said the total number is thought to have reached 500. At present, Vlček said there are no plans for Canada to re-impose visa requirements on Czechs, provided both countries “recognize the importance of effective information sharing on migration issues ... and cooperate closely to make sure the visa-free regime is maintained.” Foreign Affairs Ministry spokeswoman Zuzana Opletalová said there is no reason to speculate that discrimination against citizens of Roma descent is an issue. The Czech Republic does not have the highest number of asylum seekers in Canada, and the purpose of the meeting, she said, was “to discuss how visa-free travel to Canada works in practice.” Finley and Schwarzenberg also touched on the Czech Republic’s 2007 implementation of the Youth Mobility agreement, which allows students the opportunity to gain work and study experience in Canada

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Credit-card fraud probe targets Pearson's self-service kiosks


From Wednesday's Globe and Mail

July 23, 2008 at 1:00 AM EDT

An investigation of suspected credit-card fraud at Toronto's Pearson airport is now concentrating on the security of its 150 self-service check-in kiosks.

In recent months, financial institutions that issue credit cards spotted isolated fraud patterns that appeared to stem from use of the cards in conjunction with getting boarding passes at the Pearson kiosks, according to sources.

While the investigation is in the early stages, it is currently focused on the kiosks, where passengers use passports, frequent-flier cards, reservation numbers, names, and/or credit card data to identify themselves for flights on any one of 13 airlines. It is not known whether any information has actually been stolen or otherwise gone astray.

Some members of the financial industry are very concerned because Pearson is Canada's busiest airport, with 31.5 million passengers travelling through it last year.

One person familiar with the investigation said the fact that personal data at airports might not be secure “should send shudders through every airport traveller.”

Privacy breaches are serious issues for the financial community, which stepped up its monitoring and reissued a plethora of credit cards last year after hackers broke into the databases of U.S.-based retailer TJX and stole credit- and debit-card information affecting millions of consumers around the world. Credit-card details and other personal data are extremely valuable information for criminals, who can use it to make fraudulent purchases or steal identities.

There are 150 self-serve kiosks at Pearson. The physical machines are owned by the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, the not-for-profit corporation that manages the airport.

While it owns the kiosks' hardware, it has a licence with technology companies that manage the flow of information to the airlines and back.

“We don't see the information, we just pass it back and forth,” Scott Armstrong, a GTAA spokesman, said Monday. “And that's been audited and that's working the way it's supposed to and our network is secure and it's been checked out very, very recently.

“Visa has done some investigating, and we're working with them. And that's not specific just to Pearson, that's just a standard thing. Apparently they have an investigations wing and they like to make sure things are working the way they're supposed to. I don't know what prompted their questions, but our kiosks have proven to be working exactly as they're supposed to.”

Visa Canada spokeswoman Tania Freedman said, “We're investigating isolated reports of fraud, and we're working with airport officials to investigate the situation.”

American Express spokeswoman Lauren Dineen-Duarte said, “We're aware of the situation and obviously monitoring it very closely.”

“We've been in contact with the other card companies as well, working with Visa, MasterCard, etc. But, because it's an active investigation, I can't really give much more detail than that.”

MasterCard spokeswoman Julie Wilson said the company could not “confirm any specifics regarding this case.”

Copies of July 11 letters sent by GTAA chief information officer Gary Long to two technology companies that are involved with the kiosks – ARINC Inc. and SITA Inc. – were obtained by The Globe and Mail.

They state that Visa is investigating the use of credit cards at the kiosks in Toronto, and that the GTAA has referred the card company's investigators to ARINC and SITA for further inquiry.

“We request that you provide your full co-operation to the VISA investigators and if your systems are found to be insecure, the GTAA requires that you implement immediate remediation measures,” Mr. Long wrote in the letters.

Doug Love, the GTAA's general counsel, sent a letter to the 13 airlines that said: “… We are very concerned about the potential repercussions of this situation should the travelling public lose faith in the security of the credit card system at Canadian airports … I am therefore writing to you to encourage your full co-operation with VISA Canada and other credit card companies and to take the necessary steps to resolve this matter as quickly as possible.”

Catherine Mayer, vice-president of airport services at SITA, said the company had no comment.

Linda Hartwig, a spokeswoman for ARINC, said that ARINC and SITA are master systems integrators that link the airlines' networks to the system. She said that IBM is the software provider. IBM could not be reached for comment late Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for the federal privacy commissioner said on Monday that her office had not yet been made aware of the situation.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Today, the National Post run the story below. this is not an isolated case. It is amazing that a criminal such as this, who has betrayed the goodwill of Canada, could be given so many opportunities to stall deportation. Memo to the government: those who commit serious crimes in Canada after granted refugee status deserve no mercy and should be detained while awaiting deportation and expelled without any delay. And to all those well meaning but naive souls who think that people like this should be allowed to sta...well...I am sure it was not your luggage or family jewelery which got stolen...

Refugee board deports woman it calls a thief

Millions of dollars in goods stolen by little-known gang

Graeme Hamilton, National Post
Published: Tuesday, July 22, 2008

MONTREAL - A Peruvian woman granted refugee status in 2001 has been ordered deported from Canada for belonging to a South American criminal organization that specializes in robbing tourists and shoplifting luxury merchandise.

The case against Shirley Palomino Baltazar, 20, sheds light on a little-known gang that police say is active in Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver. A police expert testified before the federal Immigration and Refugee Board that since 2002, the organization has committed hundreds of thefts a year in Montreal alone, stealing goods valued in the millions of dollars.

Marco Gaetani of the Immigration and Refugee Board concluded last May that there were reasonable grounds to conclude Ms. Baltazar belonged to the criminal organization and was therefore inadmissible to Canada. Last month, she applied to Federal Court to have the deportation order overturned and to be granted a new hearing.

The IRB decision was based on testimony from Dominique Boucher of the Montreal police force. She said the gang, which is not named in court documents, lacks the organizational and hierarchical structure common to most criminal organizations. Instead it is a collection of loosely linked cells having up to 10 members, often relatives. Members would meet at a restaurant in Montreal, owned by Ms. Baltazar's mother, which police suspected of being a storage facility for stolen merchandise, the documents say.

Ms. Boucher said the organization had five main areas of activity: shoplifting; jewellery theft; robbing people as they leave banks, foreign-exchange bureaus and other financial institutions; stealing handbags in airports, hotels and other tourist locations; and extortion.

She said that since 2002 the gang has committed thefts at Montreal's Trudeau airport worth about $2-million a year. It is suspected of another 240 thefts a year in downtown Montreal hotels and 90 armed robberies and vehicle thefts a year. In 2005, she said, police seized high-end clothing valued at $500,000 in two raids on properties rented by the organization.

Members use a similar modus operandi in many of their thefts, Ms. Boucher told Mr. Gaetani.

Evidence before the board showed that in 2005, when she was just 17, Ms. Baltazar was arrested as she tried to buy gift cards worth $1,000 using a stolen credit card. She had six stolen credit cards in her possession when she was arrested. Because she was a minor, she was let go without a criminal conviction and told to do community work.

Last November, while she was under police surveillance, Ms. Baltazar and her mother were seen entering a shop-ping mall, then leaving rapidly at the same time as a woman reported having her wallet stolen at the mall. Ms. Baltazar was next observed buying perfume, transit passes, electronics and clothing, allegedly using the woman's stolen credit card. She was arrested in January and charged with theft and fraud in relation to the purchases. Those charges have not yet gone to trial.

Despite being unemployed and living on welfare, Ms. Baltazar had the means to travel often to South America, the panel heard. Since 2005, she has flown to Colombia, Argentina, Peru and Uruguay.

The immigration panel also heard that Ms. Baltazar's common-law husband and father of her children, Wilman Leon Olachea, was expelled from Canada in 2004 for belonging to the same criminal organization. He returned in 2006 under a false name and had lived with her until they were arrested together in January. Two of her half-brothers have also been ordered deported for belonging to the gang.

Montreal police led an operation called Project Sapphire targeting one of the organization's cells, which led to nine of the cell's 10 members being arrested and removed from Canada. The majority of the cell's members had a connection to Mr. Olachea, according to Ms. Boucher.

At the time of her arrest, Ms. Baltazar was carrying an international driver's licence that contained her photo but no name or signature. She claimed to have bought it in Argentina from a government official who did not have the time to include her name. Mr. Gaetani found her story farfetched and concluded she intended to use the licence "in a fraudulent manner."

Court documents do not indicate on what grounds Ms. Baltazar was accepted as a refugee in 2001. But in an affidavit accompanying her application to the Federal Court, she says she fears for her life if she is forced to return to Peru. She denies any involvement with a criminal gang.

Her appeal has yet to be heard.

Friday, July 18, 2008


This is a SCANDAL of gargantuan proportions. This CONVICTED TERRORIST AND HIJACKER has been in Canada enjoying life and using taxpayer-funded health care for himself and his scions for the last TWENTY YEARS. Why has he never been deported after exhausting all his legal remedies? Who is looking the other way? Has he cut some sort of deal with the government? It is time to take out the trash...

Convicted terrorist remains in Canada 20 years after deportation

'I'll fight to the last moment'

Barbara Brown and Paul Legall
The Hamilton Spectator

BRANTFORD (Jul 16, 2008)
A convicted terrorist ordered out of Canada two decades ago is still living with his family in their modest semi-detached bungalow in northeast Brantford.

Mahmoud Mohammad Issa Mohammad made international headlines in 1968 when he and an accomplice attacked an Israeli commercial airliner at the Athens airport. They killed one passenger and destroyed the plane in a failed escape bid.

Nineteen years and several countries later, Mohammad entered Canada after lying about his terrorist past. Immigration Canada caught him in the lie and ordered him deported in December 1988.

Today, he is preparing to celebrate his 65th birthday in Canada, as appeal after appeal has delayed his expulsion. And there's no indication the man who describes himself as a Palestinian freedom fighter will be going anywhere soon.

The Brantford bungalow is the only home Mohammad has known since coming to Canada as a landed immigrant in 1987 with his wife, Fadia Khalil, and their three young children.

Now a grandfather, his two adult daughters and son have put down roots of their own. A family member recently offered to buy the other half of the Ashgrove Avenue duplex but lost out to a higher bidder, who scooped the unit for $172,000.

The family appears to have outlived the notoriety that hounded them when Mohammad's terrorist past first grabbed headlines in January 1988. For several weeks that winter, they were under siege from reporters, police and CSIS agents who were camped on the street in front of their house.

But in recent years, the story has cropped up only periodically and his new neighbours say they know nothing about Mohammad's immigration woes and criminal background.

"I heard only good things about him," said realtor Martin Sarkissian, who handled the sale of the adjoining unit.

When two Spectator reporters showed up at his door unannounced, two young boys played in the driveway and a penned dog barked loudly at the strangers.

Mohammad's youngest daughter, Lama, 23, came to the door as her father was heard through a kitchen window speaking in Arabic on the telephone.

Lama said her father was making an overseas call and wouldn't be interested in talking to reporters, who she claimed had always twisted his words in the past.

"You don't know what I went through as child," said Lama, referring to painful memories of growing up the object of ridicule and in the glare of unwanted publicity.

But several minutes later, the normally media-shy head of household appeared at the door. Tall and distinguished-looking, the man listened politely as the reporters asked for an interview on the 20th anniversary of what's believed to be the longest running deportation case in the country.

He complained that the news media falsely portrayed him as a terrorist.

"I was a freedom fighter -- not a terrorist," he said. "I was fighting Israel, the enemy of (his people)."

Mohammad was born in Palestine on July 20, 1943. His family was displaced and moved to Lebanon after the state of Israel was formed in 1948.

Mohammad stressed he has lived peacefully in Canada for the past 21 years.

"My record in Canada is clean, clear and good."

But it was his criminal record almost 40 years ago in another part of the world that put him in conflict with authorities here in Canada.

On Dec. 15, 1988, an immigration adjudicator ruled Mohammad should be expelled from the country because he had concealed his role in a politically motivated attack on an El Al jetliner airliner that was about to take off from Athens on Dec. 26, 1968, with 50 passengers and crew aboard.

Under orders of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the 25-year-old guerrilla fighter and another man hurled grenades and sprayed the plane with machine-gun fire. An Israeli passenger was killed when hit by a piece of shrapnel. Mohammad and his accomplice were arrested at the airport after they tried to light fuel that was leaking on the tarmac from a punctured tank. The aircraft was destroyed in the attack.

In 1970, a Greek court convicted Mohammad of manslaughter and six other charges and sentenced him to 17 years in jail. But he was freed a few months later after another Palestinian terrorist group hijacked a Greek jetliner and threatened to kill more than 50 passengers unless the Greek government released Mohammad and half a dozen other political prisoners.

After being pardoned by Greece, Mohammad lived in different parts of the Middle East, including Lebanon, where he married his wife in 1976. The couple spent a few months in Cyprus in the 1980s until he was barred from re-entering the country for security reasons in 1984.

They were living in Spain with their children before being admitted to Canada as landed immigrants in 1987.

In his application for residency, Mohammad denied being convicted of any crime and didn't mention he'd been barred from Cyprus.

He also claimed no involvement in any political organization since he was 18 years old. In fact, he was a long-time card-carrying member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine -- a militant group dedicated to armed struggle against Israel.

As a result of these lies and omissions, he was ordered deported in 1988. But Mohammad forestalled his removal by applying for convention refugee status, which protects people who would be persecuted for their race, nationality or similar reasons back home.

In 2001, the refugee board's appeal division concluded Mohammad was a "terrorist" under the Immigration Act and upheld his deportation. But through seemingly inexhaustible avenues of appeal and due process of law, he has staved off deportation to Lebanon, where stateless Palestinians in refugee camps face extremely harsh conditions.

When a government spokesperson commented on the case in 2006, Mohammad had been granted another pre-removal risk assessment (PRRA), which meant a new hearing and a re-evaluation of an earlier risk assessment that found it would not mean his certain death to send Mohammad to a Lebanese refugee camp.

His Toronto lawyer, Barbara Jackman, who represented Mohammad at his PRRA hearing, could not be reached for comment.

Immigration Canada spokesperson Lonny Kates said recently he would not disclose for privacy reasons any updates on Mohammad's case. Kates would only confirm that Mohammad was still in the country and that no decision has been made yet concerning his removal from Canada.

After being ordered deported nearly 20 years ago, Mohammad vows not to give up without a fight.

"Usually, expecting the (decision) is more difficult than to have it ...," he said. "But I'll fight to the last moment. I am not going to give up."

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Too much compassion can erode the rule of law

The Gazette

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The way Canadians and their government deal with refugee claimants is still, as it has long been, an incoherent muddle of exceptions, special pleading, unverifiable claims, activism, confusion and foolishness.

Politically unpalatable though it might be, somebody needs to drain this swamp, and that somebody will have to be the federal government.

Several recent cases illustrate the problem:

U.S. Army Private Joshua Key deserted, came to Canada, and claimed refugee status, saying that in Iraq he had witnessed looting and violations of human rights. His refugee claim was rejected, but a judge allowed him to stay in Canada anyway.

An un-named Colombian denied refugee status in the U.S. said the "r" word here. Despite the fact that Canada and the U.S. have a "safe haven" agreement governing such cases, a Canadian court said he could stay. Last week a higher court overruled this validation of "asylum shopping," but activist groups are complaining; the case may not be over.

Even when a bogus claimant loses his appeals, he can find a way to stay.

In British Columbia, Laibar Singh, an Indian who entered Canada with false papers, remains holed up in a Sikh temple. After the laborious hearing and appeals process, he was ordered deported from Canada, but ignored the order. In Canada he became ill and is now paralyzed. Immigration officials have been unable to summon the courage to arrest and deport him, even though he moves frequently from one refuge to another.

In Montreal, another failed refugee claimant, Algerian Abdelkader Belaouni, remains holed up in St. Gabriel's Catholic Church despite an expulsion order, having slipped into Canada after his U.S. visa expired. Here again, immigration officials defer to the medieval superstition that a place of worship should provide immunity from the law.

At least those two say where they are. An alarming 41,000 people ordered deported from this country - many of them criminals - have just vanished.

There are far too many cases such as those mentioned above, and each time a judge, a pastor, or anyone else puts knee-jerk "compassion" above the rule of law, Canada loses something.

Canadians like to think of ourselves as generous and compassionate people, but where can we draw the line between being welcoming and being suckers? If our refugee-determinations come to be based on simply accepting everyone who gets here and wants to stay, what will the consequences be? Do we want to accept deserters into Canada? From the U.S. alone, or from everywhere? If we do that, how can we think of imposing any penalty on deserters from the Canadian Forces?

Do we really want to allow the unpopularity of the Iraq war in Canada to lead us to treat the U.S. armed forces as somehow illegitimate? Even if we did, shouldn't this be articulated and regulated by Parliament, rather than by anyone with room in his church basement?

Immigration, including refugee policy, must be based on rules, not on individuals. If it's not based on rules, then it's not law.

It's past time for Canadian refugee law to be clarified, improved, and then enforced with determination and vigour.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


US pot crusader Steve Kubby out of jail, has fond memories of Canada

21 hours ago

VANCOUVER — An American medical marijuana advocate who tried to claim refugee status in Canada is out of jail in California and says he wants to come back here - at least for a visit.

Steve Kubby served a total of 40 days of a 120-day sentence for possessing drugs found in a police raid almost a decade ago.

Last week, California Superior Court essentially erased the conviction under legislation that allows the move when defendants have fulfilled the terms of their probation.

"This was such a tempest in a teapot," Kubby, a 61-year-old former ski magazine publisher and pot activist, said in an interview from his home in Mendocino, Calif. "This whole thing was so absurd. It's finally gotten straightened out."

Kubby suffers from a rare form of adrenal cancer that he says can only be kept in check by using marijuana. Without it, he says his body over-produces adrenaline, which can spike blood pressure, causing heart attacks and strokes.

He said his work on a 1996 voter initiative that set up California's medical marijuana licensing system brought him enemies in the anti-drug establishment.

Kubby and his wife Michele were arrested in 1999 by police in Placer County, near Sacramento, on allegations they were running a major marijuana grow-op. He was convicted of a misdemeanour drug possession of peyote and a magic-mushroom stem.

While appealing the conviction, Kubby and his family came to Canada in 2001, setting up house on British Columbia's Sunshine Coast and later near Kamloops.

He claimed refugee status, arguing that he'd be deprived of life-saving pot in jail in the U.S.

An adjudicator with the Immigration Refugee Board in 2003 rejected Kubby's claim that he was being persecuted and ruled he would not face cruel and unusual punishment in the U.S.

After losing a court appeal, he complied with a voluntary departure order in 2006, flying back to the United States to turn himself in.

In the end Kubby served only 20 days of the 120-day term in Placer County jail, plus 20 more for a probation violation in coming to Canada.

It was gruelling nonetheless, he said.

"They pulled me off the plane and roughed me up, treated me like a criminal, like a terrorist," says Kubby.

"They nearly killed me. I was peeing blood. I scared the hell out of the hospital staff, I was having such a rough time."

In prison Kubby was given Marinol, a synthetic form of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.

Kubby applied to have his guilty verdict set aside under a section of the California Penal Code that allows a conviction to be expunged if the defendant has fulfilled conditions of his probation or it was terminated early.

Mendocino County prosecutor Katherine Houston said the application was granted last week in a brief court proceeding.

But it's not a full pardon.

"Criminal cases still stay on the record and on the rap sheet," she said, noting they must be disclosed in certain situations.

"Ultimately I expect to get a pardon from the governor but at this point it's good enough," says Kubby.

Kubby retains fond memories of his time in British Columbia, despite RCMP charges - later dropped - that he was running a grow-op and trafficking pot.

Without a full pardon, Kubby would still need a rarely granted special permit to enter Canada. Anyone with a criminal record must show they have stayed out of trouble for at least five years after completing their sentence in order to be admitted.

Kubby says with the drop in American tourist traffic into Canada, making it easier for those convicted of minor offences to visit would help reinvigorate tourism.

But he says his friends are afraid that Canadian border officials will turn they away.

"I'd like to see Americans going up to Canada. I think they need exposure to Canadian culture, I really do, because it's such a straight-jacket down here."

Saturday, July 5, 2008


The imposition of a visa requirement on Mexicans is long overdue. Hundreds of bogus refugee claimants and fake visitors are entering Canada lured by unscrupulous individuals and by the promise of well-paying jobs. Canada is fast becoming the laughing stock of all the world's fraudsters. The following article appeared in the Guadalajara Reporter from Mexico:

80 Mexicans sent home after short-lived Canadian odyssey

Written by Alex Gesheva
Saturday, 05 July 2008

Canadian immigration officers at Vancouver International Airport had probably never experienced anything like it: a plane load of 80 Mexican visitors detained in one fell swoop as they tried to enter the country.

Evidently, this was no package tour bringing well-heeled Mexicans to the ski resort at Whistler or for a coach tour through the Rockies. The suspicions of officials were quickly aroused and after some pertinent questioning the group of 35 men and 45 women was refused admission to Canada, held for three days at various correctional facilities, then ignominiously returned to Mexico.

“Apparently, they had no work papers and claimed to be tourists,” Fernando Alvarez, a representative of the Consulate General of Mexico in Vancouver, told the Guadalajara Reporter.

“The fact that 80 people were traveling together is what tipped off border officials. This is a very unusual case, the first of its kind at the airport in 30 years.”

The group of Mexicans arrived in Vancouver on a Japan Airlines flight on Friday, June 20. Initial investigations suggest that the group had booked tickets through a travel agency contracted by “someone” in Mexico, who had promised them jobs in British Columbia. They had each paid between 1,500 and 3,000 dollars for the bogus opportunity.

“These people were tricked,” Alvarez said. “There are still no details pointing to one person or organization, and an investigation is ongoing, but we understand that this is someone in California who may have done this before.”

Faith St. John, spokesperson for the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) in Vancouver, explained that due to individual privacy rights she was unable to discuss the specific cases of the deported Mexicans.

“But it is up to the traveler to satisfy the CBSA officer that they are a genuine visitor coming to Canada for a temporary purpose,” St. John said. “Several factors are used in determining admissibility to Canada including misrepresentation, involvement in criminal activity, in human rights violations, in organized crime, security, health or financial reasons.”

From April 1, 2006 through March 31, 2007, the CBSA processed over 95 million travelers – 84,834 were denied entry and 12,626 removed from the country.

Mexican citizens do not require a tourist visa to visit Canada. Border officials, however, will often ask for proof that visitors can support themselves and that they plan to return to their own country without working in Canada. Those planning to work are expected to arrive with the necessary visa in hand.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) pointed to a lack of communication between Canadian and Mexican authorities – the group of would-be workers was detained in Vancouver for three days without access to consular assistance. The delay is in violation of Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, which requires that arrested or detained foreign nationals be given notice “without delay” of their right to notify their embassy or consulate of that arrest. Instead, the consulate learned of the group’s existence on Monday morning and had just enough time to interview three of the 80 people involved. According to CBC News, the consulate last week sent an official diplomatic note to CBSA, expressing concern over the handling of the case.

“What we hope for is a cordial relationship with the local authorities,” said Alvarez. “We are just worried that we were not given time to respond in this case.”

A fraud warning on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) website has long advised that all application forms and guides are available at no cost, that no deposits to personal bank accounts will be solicited and that there are fixed processing fees for all services. Above all, nobody can guarantee a visa.

“Don’t be the victim of a scam. If the offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Visa and Work Permit applicants may be tricked into buying false documents,” explains the text. “In several cases, the victims are offered high-paying jobs in Canadian hotels or on offshore ships. In other cases, they are promised a visa (sometimes including travel and accommodation) in exchange for money.”

What many would-be immigrants may not know is that they could be denied entry at the Canadian border even if all their paperwork is in order. New regulations in effect since 2007 require all CBSA agents to ask new arrivals whether they paid any fees to third parties in exchange for working papers. Such transactions are forbidden by Canadian immigration law.

Friday, July 4, 2008


Come to Canada! But only if you've got a job

Stories of Canada looking to poach British citizens are wildly exaggerated. We're only interested in professionals who can help us dig up oil

Heather Mallick, Wednesday July 2, 2008

I beg your pardon? Alberta. It's a western province of Canada. The Rockies? Edmonton? Calgary, had the Olympics in 1988? A variety of scenic spots named after various homely minor Royals of the Victorian era?

I know what will ring British bells. The tar sands. Alberta has oil, sadly mixed up with tar deep below the ground and extracting it will destroy water and land for generations to come, but never mind. Oil is the most-wanted fluid on earth next to water. Alberta has it, billions of dollars are rolling in and Alberta wants you to have a share because there aren't enough Canadians to get the muck out of the earth.

The province's minister of employment and immigration, an amiable farmer named Hector Goudreau, has been prowling the UK trying to lure what he sees as under-respected, underpaid, over-mortgaged Brits to come to sunny Alberta. The Mail on Sunday called his trip "one of the most audacious raids since Australia poached a million Britons – known as the £10 Poms after the fare they paid – in the 1950s and 1960s." It really thinks Brits wish to trade one country's high prices and dire schools and hospitals for another's.

But the Mail has it wrong, no surprises there, because it takes Goudreau at his word. Alberta wants skilled immigrants. If you can pick your way through the management jargon favoured by the province's government-is-a-business websites, they mean doctors, teachers, nurses and oilfield techies who already have a firm job offer. Interestingly, as of today, only nurses are listed in the "skilled immigrants wanted" section.

Alberta welcomed 14,000 foreigners in 2000, 20,000 in 2006 and claims it wants 50,000 this year, but it is by no means clear what they would do.

The official provincial website only has 100 job postings at the moment, a lot of them for hotel maids and short-order cooks. This means the temporary workers plan, which is desperate by definition.

Marina Lewycka just wrote a novel, Two Caravans, about the miseries of foreign strawberry pickers in Dover. Change strawberries to black goop and you have a recipe for suffering. The Alberta boom means huge prices for crap housing (so no change there, Londoners) and you'll have an intense earning experience accompanied by the Canadian winter, loneliness without your family, a taste of alcoholism, and a flight back home when the tar runs out.

I'm not sure if Britons are interested in Canadian motives, but our country is going through weird changes. The pro-immigrant federal Liberal party was voted out in favour of the profoundly anti-immigrant Conservatives. They and the provincial Alberta government compete to see who can be more rightwing. So I have doubts about the fast-track skilled immigrants program, which is intrinsically whim-based and a good way to conceal racist immigration rules.

I just received a sad email from an American immigrant who says moving to newly conservative Canada is like seeing a cool band from your youth. But when you get to the reunion concert, it's only the drummer and the bass player from the original band.

I'm sure Hector Goudreau means well. He was deputy mayor of Falher, population 1,109, the "honey capital of Canada". It has a giant bee on a stick. I suspect this was his first international trip, beyond that trip to Montana to buy seeds. A John Prescott without the sophistication and success with the ladies, he's in Britain because he thinks it's packed with white cockneys longing to clean Calgary's chimneys, guv.

If the NHS really feels its resentful junior doctors are going to be raided by colonials with oil, it should know that Canada has plenty of foreign-trained doctors who cannot get accreditation here and who are driving taxis with an understandable sense of grievance. I suspect they would move to Alberta with pleasure, being first in line and all.

So it's not all blue skies. Have your job offer framed and ready when you arrive at the border.

About this articleClose This article was first published on on Wednesday July 02 2008. It was last updated at 19:30 on July 02 2008.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


Canada Ready to Deport U.S. Deserters

One Deserter's Unknown Discharge Illuminates Debate on Objectors Who Flee to Canada
July 2, 2008—

Since deserting his unit in Iraq and fleeing to Canada two years ago, Corey Glass has become the poster boy of the war resisters movement. Thursday in Toronto, supporters are planning to protest his scheduled deportation back to the United States.

But it turns out Glass has had little reason to be on the lam, ABCNews has learned.

Unknown to him and his legion of supporters, Glass, 25, was actually discharged from the U.S. Army shortly after he went AWOL in 2006.

Glass and about 40 other American deserters who, like him, sought refugee status have prompted a national debate in Canada that last month reached the floor of parliament on where to draw the line between cowardice and conscience.

"I had absolutely no idea that I had been discharged," said Glass when ABC News informed him of his status. "This is insane. This is so weird. There are no warrants? No one is looking for me?"

According to U.S. Army documents and officials, Glass was discharged from the California National Guard Dec. 1, 2006, four months after he arrived in Canada.

"He is not considered absent without leave. He is not considered a deserter," said Maj. Nathan Banks, an Army spokesman. "He is running for no reason. He is fully welcome in the United States. I cannot believe this is a big deal in Canada."

But it is a big deal in Canada, where lawmakers last month overwhelmingly passed a nonbinding resolution, 137 to 110, to freeze the deportation of American deserters, starting with Glass.

Despite the resolution, the Immigration Ministry has decided to stick by its decision and plans to deport Glass July 10.

"The resolution was nonbiding," said Karen Shadd, a ministry spokeswoman. "Canada has one of the most generous refugee systems in the world, and each case is assessed on its individual merits."

Unlike the 30,000 to 50,000 American deserters who were given legal refuge in Canada during the Vietnam War, this latest crop of runaways is viewed by Canadian immigration authorities not as conscientious objectors avoiding a draft but as volunteers unwilling to fulfill their promise to the military and undeserving of refugee status.

"These claims that are coming up now are different from those of the Vietnam era. These individuals were volunteers and were not subject to forced military subscription. That's the difference," Shadd said.

Two years ago Glass, home on leave from Iraq, Googled the world "desertion" and after reading about American soldiers who defected to Canada during the Vietnam War got in a car and crossed the border.

Glass had joined the Indiana National Guard in 2002, just after the United States invaded Afghanistan and before war was declared against Iraq. He said he joined the guard to do humanitarian work and not to fight overseas.

"The recruiter told me the only way I'd have to fight was if there was an attack on America's borders," Glass said. "When I enlisted, we were already involved in Afghanistan, and it is specifically why I didn't sign up for the Army. I thought I'd maybe have to protect a nuclear facility or an airport or provide relief after a hurricane."

In 2005, Glass was transferred to the California National Guard and deployed to Iraq, where he served as a sergeant in military intelligence for the first five months of an 18-month tour.

"I tried to quit my job because I was stressed out. I was sent home on leave for two weeks and I told my boss I wasn't coming back," he said. "I didn't believe the National Guard had any right being there. I had been in the states eight months hiding out before coming to Canada."

For the first eight months of 2006, Glass hid out in the United States. In August, he went to Toronto, where he currently lives and works as a funeral director. He was discharged from the National Guard in December 2006.

"The Army called my mother and told her I would be treated as a felon and never be able to find a job," Glass told ABC News after learning he had been discharged. "But I never got anything official. I guess I never really asked."

A deserter is defined as a solider absent without authority for 30 consecutive days. Technically, deserters can face capital punishment, court martial, imprisonment of up to three years, forfeiture of all pay and a dishonorable discharge.

In practice, however, many are administratively discharged without court-martial and given discharges worse than fully honorable, but better than dishonorable.

"Most deserters are discharged administratively and not court-martialed," said Lt Col. Anne Edgecomb, an Army spokeswoman. "If someone deserts and that's their only offense, we're not going to send someone out to find you."

Glass was given a "general under honorable conditions" discharge, which is not as good as an "honorable" discharge, but it also carries none of the negatives associated with a dishonorable discharge, which is the equivalent of being charged with a felony.

According to Edgecomb, Glass is likely still eligible for many benefits.

In 2006, 3,301 troops out of 492,728 soldiers deserted from the Army, according to Defense Department statistics.

News that Glass had been unknowingly discharged was "bittersweet" said Michelle Robidoux, a spokeswoman for the War Resisters Support Campaign, which organized the protests scheduled for Thursday.

Despite his discharge, Glass remains in the Individual Ready Reserve, which means there is a small but still real chance he could be called up to serve in Iraq.

"It is bittersweet, if they had given him a real discharge this would be amazing," Robidoux said. "It is a poisoned gift. He may be discharged but he is still on the hook. He can still be called back to serve in Iraq."

In May 2008, Glass learned that he lost his last appeal to be given refugee status and would be deported July 10.

Canadians overwhelmingly support giving American deserters refugee status. In parliament the votes lined for and against the resolution to freeze deportations lined up along party lines. All those opposed to the resolution were members of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's minority conservative coalition.

Harper took office in 2006 pledging to improve relations with the United States, leading the deserters' supporters to claim the Immigration Ministry's decision to overlook the resolution and follow through on the deportations was purely political.

"We have a minority government behaving like a majority government and ignoring the will of parliament. The program won a majority in parliament but the government is opposed to it for purely ideological and political reasons," Robidoux said.

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