Saturday, May 30, 2009


More raids in agricultural seems that the problem is widespread, bu ti you listen to the union spokesperson, it sounds like we should be awarding medals to law breakers. Typically, these workers come to Canada from Mexico pretending to be "visitors", and aided by suspicious "job recruiters", and then end up making refugee claims when arrested. I wonder if the unions ever heard of the rule of law....that is what visas are for! The reality is that unions do not like temporary worker programs because they undermine union power; instead they want illegal workers to be granted permanent residence so they can make them join unions. As for Mexico, the imposition of a visitors visa is long overdue.

Immigration raids firm, 8 detained

Mexican greenhouse workers in custody

Sharon Hill
The Windsor Star

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Canadian Border Services Agency has detained eight people after a Wednesday immigration raid at a Leamington business.

"CBSA officers have detained eight individuals for possible violations of the (Immigration and Refugee Protection Act)," agency spokeswoman Teri Mailloux said Thursday afternoon.

She said the CBSA conducted an investigation Wednesday at a Leamington business which she would not name. She said the agency enforces the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and conducts investigations of possible violations of the act.

"Since the investigation is ongoing I can't provide any further details at this time," Mailloux said.

Sima Sahar Zerehi, a national representative with UFCW Canada in Toronto, said the people being detained are women from Mexico who were working at a greenhouse.

UFCW Canada, a union that has fought for the rights of migrant farm workers and has an agricultural support centre in Leamington, called for money to be spent on better working and living conditions for migrant workers instead of immigration raids.

"What happens through these raids is that we are shaking a community to its core. We're seeing a community that has a large and vibrant population of migrant workers," Zerehi said.

"These rounds of attacks on the worker populations, the result of these attacks is the workers are further marginalized and made even more vulnerable."

Zerehi said there were other immigration raids in southern Ontario in April.

She said the immigration raids will force more foreign workers underground. There could be 250,000 to 500,000 undocumented workers in Canada, Zerehi said. She didn't know how many are in the Leamington area.

The only foolproof solution is to allow foreign workers to become permanent residents, she said. "If a worker is good enough to work in Canada, then they certainly should be good enough to stay in Canada."

There are programs such as the temporary foreign worker program which allow foreign workers to legally come to Canada.

The programs link a worker to a specific employer and Zerehi said it is difficult for them to switch employers if they find they are not being paid what they expected or the working conditions are poor. So some stay in Canada and switch employers but don't have valid work permits with the new employer. She said the low-skill workers are afraid to report problems for fear they will be sent back home.

Sometimes workers are refugees or have come to Canada as visitors and don't have the proper work permits.

Farms in the Leamington area bring in thousands of workers each year from Mexico and the Caribbean.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Where the jobs are: skilled professions


From Thursday's Globe and Mail, Thursday, May. 28, 2009 07:10AM EDT

More Canadians may be searching for work, but a report to be released today suggests some sectors are still having trouble filling certain positions.

Skilled trades, such as carpenters and plumbers, along with sales reps, engineers, technicians and accountants are the jobs employers are having most difficulties filling, a Manpower Canada survey of 1,909 employers shows.

The survey comes as the recession has thrown more than 321,000 Canadians out of work, sending the jobless rate to a seven-year high of 8 per cent. Yet even as joblessness rises, today's list suggests demand remains for some skilled professions.

"These results indicate that while more people may be looking for jobs, they don't generally have the skills that organizations are looking for," the report said.

The survey comes on the heels of a new report on Canada's job market, prepared for the federal and provincial labour ministers and obtained by The Globe and Mail, which detailed inefficiencies in the way the country collects and shares information about employment. That report found, for example, little co-ordinated knowledge about job vacancies across the country, or how many people are graduating from postsecondary training and what skills they have.

The Manpower survey also comes as the federal government is boosting spending on job retraining in response to rising unemployment. Some economists believe the jobless rate will veer into double-digit territory - around 10 per cent - over the coming year.

"As people consider work, they now have the opportunity to look at where the talent shortages exist for Canada, and what would suit them in terms of interest and aptitude," said Nadia Ciani, Manpower's vice-president of human resources.

Compared with previous years, the fastest-growing area for jobs lies in engineering, personal assistants and teachers, particularly at the postsecondary level, Ms. Ciani said.

Canadian companies, many of which have downsized in recent months, are far less concerned about talent shortages than they were a few years ago. Just 24 per cent of employers this year said they have difficulty filling positions, far fewer than in 2006, when 66 per cent of them were worried.

The survey was conducted in January and is part of an annual global Manpower release that polled 39,000 employers. Worldwide, it found that 30 per cent of companies are still having difficulty filling certain positions, and that the most sought-after jobs are much the same as in Canada - skilled trades, sales reps and engineers - along with managers and production operators.


Workers wanted

The top 10 jobs Canadian employers are having trouble filling, according to a new survey by Manpower Canada:

1. Skilled trades, such

as carpenters or plumbers.

2. Sales representatives.

3. Engineers.

4. Technicians, such as audio or dental technicians.

5. Secretaries and office support staff.

6. Teachers, particularly at

postsecondary level.

7. Drivers.

8. Accounting and finance.

9. Labourers.

10. Nurses.

Source: Manpower Canada

Sunday, May 24, 2009


This article appeared today in the New York Times:
May 24, 2009

New Requirements on Border ID Stir Worries at Crossings


WASHINGTON — After years of delay and hundreds of millions of dollars in preparations, Customs and Border Protection officials said new security measures would go into effect on June 1, requiring Americans entering the country by land or sea to show government-approved identification.

Currently, Americans crossing borders or arriving on cruise ships can prove their nationality by showing thousands of other forms of identification. But after the start of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, Americans will be required to present a passport or one of five other secure identification cards.

Coming as the summer vacation season starts, the measure is expected to lengthen lines at least temporarily at border crossings and seaports. But the biggest impact is expected along the nearly 4,000-mile border that the United States shares with Canada, which both countries once boasted was the world’s longest undefended frontier.

Before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Americans and Canadians crossing that border were required to do little more than state their nationality. Security has been gradually increased since then, causing longer lines and a steady drop in casual cross-border excursions, according to business and travel associations that monitor border traffic.

Now some local and state officials are concerned that the new measures might further disrupt a major trading relationship for the United States and drive apart border communities that have deep economic and cultural ties.

“We treat Canada like going to Ohio or to Chicago for the weekend,” said Sarah Hubbard of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce. “We have families living on both sides of the border. We have business partnerships on both sides of the border.

“We believe our community is unique because it is bi-national,” Ms. Hubbard added. “It’s seamless in many ways.”

Nearly 20 percent of all land trade between the United States and Canada — valued at an estimated $130 billion — crosses the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Ms. Hubbard said some 461,000 trucks, buses and cars crossed the Ambassador Bridge each month.

She said an estimated 4,000 Canadian health care workers commuted into Detroit to work. And the manufacturing industry is so transnational, she said, that a single car can be sent back and forth across the border 12 times before the finished product is ready to be shipped to a dealer.

Still, she said, cross-border traffic has fallen since Sept. 11. Traffic across the Ambassador Bridge is down by nearly 100,000 crossings a month this year compared with last year, Ms. Hubbard said. Representative Louise M. Slaughter, Democrat of New York, said that at border crossings in her state, traffic was down 13 percent to 19 percent this year from what it was last year.

Ms. Hubbard said some of the decline had been caused by the recession. But some of it she attributed to “confusion about documents and hostile treatment by border officials.”

“We have many people who come from Canada and tell us they don’t feel welcome when they cross the border,” she said. “We talk about those complaints with our friends on the border, and they tell us their job is security, not customer service.”

Janet Napolitano, the homeland security secretary who forged her political career on the southern border and plans to travel to the northern border next week, makes no apologies for the tightened security measures, including using unmanned Predator aircraft from Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota to patrol the border with Canada.

Ground sensors were added along the border in Vermont, and towers equipped with cameras and sensors are being built around Buffalo.

“One of the things that I think we need to be sensitive to is the very real feeling among southern border states, and in Mexico, that if things are being done on the Mexican border, they should also be done on the Canadian border,” Ms. Napolitano said at a recent conference on the northern border at the Brookings Institution.

Her comparisons between the northern and southern borders have stirred outrage in Canada, where 80 percent of the population lives within 100 miles of the border and the government considers itself one of America’s most reliable allies.

Seizures of illegal drugs and the detention of immigrants along the northern border are a small fraction of what they are along the southern one, which is considered the busiest transshipment point for illegal immigrants and drugs in the world.

Still, Canadian officials said that their government, like the United States, had become much more sensitive to terrorism threats since Sept. 11. Canada has invested heavily, they said, in improving immigration controls, upgrading security at airports and seaports, sharing intelligence with its allies, and establishing its own homeland security agency, which includes joint American-Canadian border enforcement teams. And Canadian border guards began getting their first weapons in 2007, after years of debate about whether they should be armed.

A Canadian diplomat in Washington said his country’s biggest diplomatic problem had been dealing with the American perception that Canada poses a threat because of its open immigration policy and concerns that it is a haven for terrorists. “We spend a lot of time trying to explain the fact that just because you don’t have the National Guard or a fence along the border, it doesn’t mean it’s not secure,” said the diplomat, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of his comments.

Plans to put the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative into effect two years ago were postponed because of a significant backlog in passport applications and delays getting sufficient staff and equipment in place.

In a meeting with reporters on Wednesday, Jayson P. Ahern, acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, said Congress had allotted $350 million to help the agency resolve those problems.

Mr. Ahern said recent surveys of drivers across the border suggested that more than 80 percent of them had the required identification. The State Department, he said, has issued a million passport cards, wallet-size identification. And at least two million other people have gotten one of the four other kinds of acceptable border crossing cards.

“I don’t expect any major delays or traffic jams as a result of this program,” Mr. Ahern said. “There will be no story on June 1.”

Thursday, May 21, 2009


May 20, 2009

Napolitano to visit, review Canada border safety


WASHINGTON – Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will travel to Detroit and Ottawa next Tuesday and Wednesday to talk about border concerns and business interests with Canada.

It comes as Napolitano has caused concerns in Canada with remarks which some say indicate she believes America’s northern border should be controlled as tightly as the southern one, with Mexico.

Many in Canada see tightening border security as an economic threat between the world’s two largest trading partners – and Detroit in in the middle of it, with the Ambassador Bridge being the busiest trade crossing in the U.S. Nearly a quarter of all trade between the two countries travels across it and border delays are seen as a problem that could cost shippers dearly.

In March, Canadian Press reported Napolitano as saying, “One of the things that we need to be sensitive to is the very real feelings among southern border states and in Mexico that if things are being done on the Mexican border, they should also be done on the Canadian border. ... We shouldn’t go light on one and heavy on the other.”

Much of Washington’s attention and resources, however, have traditionally focused on the southern border and efforts to stem illegal immigration there.

In an interview this week with the Christian Science Monitor, Napolitano said her Canadian trip is intended to smooth feelings and look into genuine issues which may confront the two nations.

“There are issues about the security of that border, in part because Canada has different rules for who it allows to come to its country than we do,” she told the Monitor.

During an April interview with Canadian Broadcasting’s Neil Macdonald, Napolitiano caused a stir by suggesting that terrorists associated with the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, may have come across the Canadian border – which is at odds with the findings of the 9/11 Commission. She later said she knew that none of the Sept. 11 hijackers had come through Canada and her response to Macdonald’s question was misunderstood.

Her visit also comes as the private owners of the Ambassador Bridge continue to battle against a proposed publicly owned span which state, regional and federal governments are backing about a mile down the Detroit River. Canadian officials have argued that the new bridge – the Detroit River International Crossing – is a priority.

Details of the trip were not yet released, other than to say Napolitano would travel to Detroit and Ottawa to tour northern border operations and meet with Canadian Minister of Public Safety Peter Van Loan; Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney; and other Canadian officials about shared border concerns, business interests and the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative—which will go into effect June 1.

This is the first of what are expected to be twice yearly meetings between high-level Homeland Security staff and Van Loan’s agency to manage northern border issues.

“As close neighbours, our security and trade interests are shared,” said Van Loan. “The prime minister reminded us recently that threats to the national security of the United States also represent threats to Canada. The secretary’s visit will allow us to advance initiatives and develop a mutual appreciation of the economic importance of smooth trade and the progress both countries have been making to improve security.”

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Hillary Clinton says border with Canada porous, U.S. working to 'harden' it

The Canadian Press

15 hours ago

WASHINGTON — The Canada-U.S. border has been a problematic one, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday, which is why both countries are working together to "harden" the Canadian boundary.

"Americans are worried about every port and point of entry; I don't think we have any lesser concern about any other route into our country than any other one," Clinton told a news conference.

"I represented New York for eight wonderful years, and our border was pretty porous, just to be blunt. And it had never been a problem before. You know, we had both land and water points of entry that had been traditionally used without any questions being asked."

Clinton was responding to a question about why so many Americans still believe the 9-11 terrorists entered the U.S. through Canada - an oft-repeated myth that she herself has in the past been known to state as fact - but didn't answer it directly.

"Obviously, we're proud of the long, peaceful border that we share with Canada, but I think it is fair to say that since 9-11 we have been working with our friends in Canada to try to harden that border, to try to provide both more personnel and technology," she said.

"Unfortunately given the security environment that we have to deal with today, we have been focused on making sure that our northern border was as secure as possible."

Clinton was referring to the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, a measure that will require all travellers to the U.S. to carry a passport as of June 1.

The challenge in developing a Canada-U.S. border policy, Clinton said, is achieving security "without undermining either our relationship or the trade in goods and services, the tourism, the natural flow of people who both work and go to school and recreate on both sides of the border."

Nonetheless, many observers in Canada have fretted that the Americans are formulating border policy based on fallacies about the Canada-U.S. boundary.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano suggested last month the 9-11 terrorists came from Canada. She also said Canada's immigration regulations are far more lax than those in the U.S., and said Canadian authorities allow people into the country who would never be granted entry south of the border.

Napolitano later insisted she knew there was no Canadian connection to 9-11, but within days Arizona Senator John McCain, last year's Republican presidential candidate, repeated the claim.

Republican Newt Gingrich also had to apologize to the Canadian ambassador in 2005 for making the claim.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Italy cracks down on illegal immigrants, landlords

By NICOLE WINFIELD – 17 hours ago

ROME (AP) — Italian lawmakers voted Wednesday to fine illegal immigrants up to euro10,000 ($13,670) and jail the people who house them, imposing stiff new penalties in an attempt to stem a flood of migrants on rickety boats from Africa.

The legislation approved by the lower house of parliament also lengthens the amount of time illegal migrants can spend in detention from two months to six months and allows towns and city officials to set up local citizen patrols.

Premier Silvio Berlusconi's conservative government is being pressured by the anti-immigrant Northern League party in its coalition to halt illegal migration as Italy's economy shrinks in the global downturn, like others across Europe.

But Italy's plight is particularly acute because its largely unpatrolled coastline and islands close to Africa make it a destination of choice for smuggling operations working out of Libya and other countries.

Some 36,000 migrants from Africa and elsewhere arrived in Italy by boat last year.

Under an immigration law adopted when Berlusconi was last in power, immigrants must have a job awaiting them in order to get a residency permit. If illegal migrants don't qualify for asylum, Italian authorities issue expulsion orders. But the Northern League has said those measures have failed to stem the influx, with hundreds of boat people continuing to arrive almost daily.

The new legislation makes entering or staying in Italy without permission a crime punishable by a fine of euro5,000-euro10,000 ($6,840-$13,670). Migrants would not face prison, but the bill provides for up to three years in prison for anyone who knowingly rents housing to an illegal immigrant at the time a lease is signed or extended.

Supporters of the bill easily won a 316-258 confidence vote. The measure must still be approved by the Senate, where Berlusconi's forces also enjoy a majority.

Some legal experts said that in real terms the new measures were merely symbolic because most illegal immigrants would not be able to pay the fine.

But critics charged they could further marginalize those living in Italy illegally by making them afraid to seek medical help or to register their children at birth for fear of being turned in to police, fined and expelled.

Italy receives the world's fourth-highest number of asylum claims each year — after the United States, Canada and France.

As part of its crackdown, Italy last week started sending back to Libya boatloads of migrants it intercepted in international waters without first screening them for asylum claims. The U.N. refugee agency, the Vatican and human rights organizations voiced outrage, saying Italy was breaching international law.

The government, which has complained that it has been left by the European Union to deal with illegal immigration alone, has defended the new policy, saying the U.N. refugee agency can screen the migrants in Libya.

In Greece, a major entry point for migrants seeking a better future in the EU, illegal entry is a misdemeanor punishable by 6 months to 5 years in prison and a fine, though it is rarely enforced. People who employ illegal migrants face imprisonment of 3 months to 5 years.

There is no law criminalizing illegal immigration in Spain, another frequent entry point for African migrants. Nevertheless, the number of arrivals in Spain's Canary Islands has been decreasing over the past few years, thanks in part to better surveillance of African coasts and Spain's own economic crisis.

The Dutch actually pay illegal migrants, offering small amounts of cash as inducement for migrants to leave immediately after their requests to stay have been rejected, rather than burdening the legal system with further appeals.

Center-right lawmaker Rocco Buttiglione said Italy's new punishments could force migrants to turn to the Mafia or vigilante justice instead of the police.

But lawmaker Manuela del Lago of the anti-immigrant Northern League party said Italy was embarking on the right path.

"We don't understand why we have to keep them all here, and in other countries they don't take anyone," she said.

In the past, critics of the Northern League's anti-immigrant policies have noted that many of northern Italy's industries — which form the base of the Northern League's support — rely on migrant labor to survive.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Immigration to cities helping rural towns vanish

Updated: Tue May. 12 2009 9:30:31 AM

Mark Milner, News

A new report on immigration in Ontario says that its growth in urban centres will have an unintended side effect: small towns and rural areas will see their population shrink and possibly vanish.

The report by two Ryerson University experts in immigration policy suggests that while many communities would welcome immigration, more than half of Ontario's immigrants will instead settle in large urban areas such as Toronto.

"The bigger problem is that there just aren't a sufficient number of immigrants settling in more rural and northern parts of the province," explained John Shields, one of the two co-authors of the report, to He partnered with Magdy EIDakiky, a colleague from Ryerson who was upgrading his PhD, for this study.

Shields said found the gap between the numbers of people who migrate to the GTA and northern Ontario surprising.

"The figures in the graph really show it," he explained. "They're quite stark."

"We have to remember there are very few settlers that go to the north at all. It's less than 500 per year between 1996 and 2006."

Some groups in Ontario are starting to tackle this problem. Late last month, the Conference Board of Canada held a roundtable meeting in Chatham, Ont. on how to make small towns more attractive to immigrants.

"I think we've got a whole host of small communities beginning to speak about this," said Shields. "I think a lot of the smaller communities are beginning to wake up to the problem of demographic decline."

Another way Ontario could deal with this problem is to look at Manitoba's program that matched up immigrants with jobs in rural areas.

"Manitoba's been very successful," said Shields. By matching job skill sets with what cities need, "they've brought people into smaller types of communities."

"Inevitably, these are smaller scale projects, because of the amount of detail and matching that needs to be done. But when implemented, they tend to be quite successful."

He explained that since most people already know immigrants are attracted to the GTA, the aim of the report was to give a graphical depiction to the data.

The report uses data from both the 1996 and 2006 Census, and shows that about half of the people immigrating to Canada settled in Ontario, with the vast majority (more then 830,000) in central Ontario.

That's an especially large number in light of how many people immigrated to other regions of Ontario over the same time period:

146,450 immigrated to western Ontario (including Hamilton, Essex and Waterloo)
68,635 immigrated to eastern Ontario (including Ottawa, Peterborough and Frontenac)
4,850 immigrated to northern Ontario (including Sudbury and Thunder Bay)
About 456,000 people settled in the GTA in the same period of time.

A 2008 report by the province of Ontario shows that while Ontario's population is expected to increase by more then 3.5 million by 2031, the population of northern Ontario is expected to decline.

The report also shows where ethnic groups tend to settle. Immigrants from Asia and the Middle East are the more likely to settle in urban areas while people from Europe are more likely to settle in rural areas.

For example, 68 per cent of immigrants that settled in Toronto between 1996 and 2006 came from Asia and the Middle East and 15 per cent came from Europe. But for the same period in Huron County, just 11 per cent were from Asia or the Middle East and 72 per cent from Europe.

Why are immigrants migrating to big cities?

"I think some of the reasons are quite obvious," said Shields. Cities like Toronto provide "a lot of employment opportunity as well as entrepreneurial opportunities" for immigrants.

Additionally, a city with a large ethic population will already have a community an immigrant can link into, people they can readily talk with and stores and services that cater to their needs.

In this sense diversity begets diversity, explained Shields. As cities attract immigrants, "they become incredibly more vibrant and diverse, which tends to reinforce the pattern."

"All of this builds a network that is encouraging for their migration to that location."

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Los Angeles Times

U.S. gets tough on Canadian border

The administration says security should be as stringent as on the Mexican frontier. Border residents and Canadian officials disagree, saying the terrorism threat is exaggerated.

By Bob Drogin

May 10, 2009

High above the rugged border, an unmanned Predator B drone equipped with night-vision cameras and cloud-piercing radar has scanned the landscape for signs of smugglers, illegal immigrants or terrorists.

Armed agents checked the identification of border crossers while radiation sensors and other devices monitored vehicles entering by road. Soon, a network of telescopic and infrared video cameras mounted atop 80-foot metal towers will rise above key locations.

The beefed-up border security is not taking place along America's chaotic southern border -- riven by drug smuggling, gun running and illegal immigration -- but rather, its traditionally boring northern boundary with Canada.

The changes have jarred communities along the 3,987-mile frontier, the longest undefended border in the world.

"Those of us who grew up here never considered it to be a border," said Bernadette Secco, a communications consultant on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls who sometimes dines or shops in the U.S. three times a day. "We're neighbors, not terrorists."

The U.S. has increased security along the Canadian border since the Sept. 11 attacks. But changes are coming more quickly now, driven by fears of terrorists exploiting the relative quiet of the northern border and complaints that the U.S. has been disproportionately soft on Canada.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano made the get-tough policy clear in recent comments.

"One of the things that I think we need to be sensitive to is the very real feeling among southern border states and in Mexico that if things are being done on the Mexican border, they should also be done on the Canadian border," Napolitano said at a March conference in Washington on border issues.

"In other words, we shouldn't go light on one and heavy on the other," she said.

Because Mexico, Canada and the U.S. share "one continent" -- as well as the North American Free Trade Agreement to promote trade and investment -- the secretary said, "there should be some parity there."

Before February 2008, the northern border was so open that an oral declaration of citizenship was sufficient to enter the United States.

Starting June 1, however, U.S. authorities will require anyone crossing from Canada to present a valid passport or a secure travel ID card. That has prompted protests from some residents along the border, who say a way of life is ending.

"It was so easy, so habitual, for so long," said Catherine Schweitzer of Buffalo, N.Y., chairwoman of a regional historic preservation group. "Now suddenly there's a gate. And all these new restrictions. And guards with guns. It's scary."

Unlike the Mexican border -- which is half as long -- no drug war or chaos rages in the north. Arrests and drug seizures last year totaled less than 1% of those down south.

"It's a whole lot quieter up here," said Azel J. Price, a Border Patrol agent in Buffalo who worked for seven years in Yuma, Ariz.

That's not to say that border authorities aren't looking for signs of trouble.

On a recent afternoon, an 18-wheeler with Canadian plates set off a radiation alarm as it crossed the Peace Bridge to Buffalo, the northern border's busiest crossing.

The driver was ordered to pass another monitor and park in an inspection bay. A metal arm swept the truck's top and sides and produced a gamma ray image of the cargo. A guard used a hand-held device to identify the offending isotope. Another grabbed bolt cutters and snapped the truck's rear lock.

He quickly found the problem in boxes stacked inside: scented kitty litter. Clay in cat litter emits harmless radioactive traces of uranium, thorium and other natural elements.

"We see this all the time," said Brad Kovach, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer, as he peered in the trailer. "Sludge, medical waste, tiles -- we get hits maybe a dozen times a day. It's not a problem."

Then there's bingo. Senior patrons of a popular bingo parlor on the Canadian side regularly trigger the alarms on the way home; they may be carrying pacemakers or have had other medical procedures in which isotopes are used.

The quiet may be deceiving. U.S. officials warn that, at least in theory, a terrorist attack is more likely to emerge from Canada than Mexico.

After all, Ahmed Ressam -- the "millennium bomber" convicted of plotting to blow up Los Angeles International Airport -- was stopped coming off a ferry from Canada in late 1999 with a carload of explosives.

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection report to Congress last year noted a "significant concern" that extremists could slip across the northern border. It cited the "undisputed presence in Canada of known terrorist affiliate and extremist groups," including Hezbollah, Hamas and the Armed Islamic Group of Algeria.

Contraband and illegal immigration from Canada also pose challenges. In a November report, the U.S. Government Accountability Office noted "networks of illicit criminal activity and smuggling of drugs, currency, people and weapons between the two countries."

Canadian officials, however, say the threats are overplayed and recently chided Napolitano after she suggested terrorists regularly cross the northern border.

In an interview last month on "The National," Canada's main evening TV news show, Napolitano said that "to the extent that terrorists have come into our country . . . it's been across the Canadian border."

Asked whether she was talking about the Sept. 11 perpetrators, she replied, "Not just those, but others as well."

Ressam is the only known case of a suspected terrorist trying to cross the border. None of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers arrived in the U.S. through Canada, according to the 9/11 Commission report. Napolitano later said she knew of other cases that had not been made public "due to security reasons."

Canadian officials in Ottawa contacted Napolitano's office to complain, and Canada's ambassador to Washington, Michael Wilson, said he was "frustrated" by the comments.

Regardless, the buildup at the northern border continues.

The Border Patrol opened its first northern base for unmanned Predator B aircraft on Feb. 16 at the Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota. Other high-tech equipment also will be deployed. The Border Patrol unit based in Swanton, Vt., will add more camouflaged ground sensors that detect motion, heat and metal as small as a wristwatch.

"To cross in our sector, where we have a land border, it's as simple as crossing the street in Los Angeles," said Mark Henry, operations officer for the Swanton sector. "You walk through a field, you walk across a road, and you're in the U.S."

The network of video cameras is being set up at 16 sites along the St. Clair River in Michigan and the Upper Niagara in New York. Less sophisticated cameras operate in other locations.

"It will provide us the extra eyes that we need," said Price, the Border Patrol agent, as he drove to Beaver Island State Park north of Buffalo. A bulldozer recently broke ground there for one of the 80-foot towers.

Up the road, at Border Patrol sector headquarters on Grand Island, three specialists monitored a wall of 10 large screens that showed live video of railroad and highway bridges, river gorges and other possible entry points.

One agent twisted a knob to focus on a bicyclist near the Whirlpool Bridge, and flipped a switch to go infrared. The cyclist glowed bright white on the screen, and he soon pedaled out of sight.

"It's quiet today," Price said with a shrug. "As usual."

Saturday, May 9, 2009


The Wall Street Journal

MAY 6, 2009, 12:47 P.M. ET

Berlin Court Rejects Demjanjuk Appeal

Associated Press

BERLIN -- A Berlin court on Wednesday rejected suspected Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk's attempt to block his deportation to Germany, saying his case must be argued in the U.S.

It ruled on an emergency suit filed last week against the German Justice Ministry for its role in the upcoming deportation of the 89-year-old Ohio resident, accused of being an accessory to 29,000 murders at the Sobibor camp.

The judges rejected the argument that Germany could block the deportation, saying the decision lies with American authorities, court spokesman Stephan Groscurth said.

He added that judges found the 89-year-old has "been sufficiently able to have [his case] reviewed in the USA."

Mr. Demjanjuk's attorney in Germany, Ulrich Busch, couldn't immediately be reached for comment but his son, John Demjanjuk Jr., said in a statement emailed to the Associated Press that the decision would be appealed.

"We understand there is tremendous political pressure being put on Germany by the U.S. Justice Department's OSI (Office of Special Investigations) and Jewish groups," he wrote. "However, the decision of the German government to accept a deportation remains solely the decision of the Germans."

Prosecutors in Munich allege he was a guard at the camp in 1943. Mr. Demjanjuk maintains he was a prisoner of war, not a camp guard.

Mr. Demjanjuk had been tried in Israel after accusations surfaced that he was the notorious Nazi guard "Ivan the Terrible" in Poland at the Treblinka death camp. He was found guilty in 1988 of war crimes and crimes against humanity, a conviction later overturned by the Israeli Supreme Court.

A U.S. judge revoked his citizenship in 2002 based on U.S. Justice Department evidence showing he concealed his service at Sobibor and other Nazi-run death and forced-labor camps.

An immigration judge ruled in 2005 he could be deported to Germany, Poland or Ukraine. Munich prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for him in March.

In the U.S., Mr. Demjanjuk's lawyer said Tuesday he is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to halt the deportation.

Attorney John Broadley said he will ask for a reprieve of at least 90 days so he can argue that a federal appeals court in Ohio erred last week when it denied the Ukrainian-born Mr. Demjanjuk a stay of deportation.

The U.S. Justice Department says Mr. Demjanjuk and his lawyers have used court filings as a delay tactic. The department provided the appeals court with surveillance video that government attorneys contend shows Mr. Demjanjuk is fit enough to travel.

But the filing by Mr. Demjanjuk's lawyer says that even a medically equipped airplane couldn't eliminate the risk of great pain. Such a risk provides grounds for halting the deportation and "failure to find irreparable injury is incomprehensible," it said.

Mr. Demjanjuk has said he suffers severe spinal, hip and leg pain and has a bone marrow disorder, kidney disease, anemia, kidney stones, arthritis, gout and spinal deterioration.

Mr. Groscurth said the Berlin court also rejected the argument that, if Mr. Demjanjuk is deported by the U.S., he should be returned immediately.

Judges ruled that "the Federal Republic of Germany has the obligation, because of the warrant for his arrest, to take the accused into custody," Mr. Groscurth said.

Copyright © 2009 Associated Press


Political conspiracy fuelling nanny scandal, Dhalla says

Liberal MP comes out swinging, calling allegations she mistreated foreign caregivers an organized attack on her reputation


From Saturday's Globe and Mail

May 8, 2009 at 9:55 PM EDT

BRAMPTON, ONT., TORONTO and OTTAWA — After days of being haunted by allegations that she mistreated caregivers, Liberal MP Ruby Dhalla emerged Friday and said she is the victim of a conspiracy to end her political career.

“Who's really behind them and who orchestrated or assisted or enabled these former employees of her brother to suddenly come forward one year after the last of them worked providing care for her mother?” asked her lawyer, Howard Levitt.

Ms. Dhalla told reporters that both the caregivers were hired by her brother, Neil Dhalla, and that she understands the trials of immigrants, having been raised by an immigrant mother.

“Anyone who has ever entered our home has always been treated with love, with care, with compassion and respect,” Ms. Dhalla said at her constituency office in Brampton. “As such, the allegations that have been brought forward against myself have come as a big shock and have been devastating to both myself and my family, friends and supporters.”

She asked Canadians to “hold judgment and give my family the privacy as we go through this due process.”

Mr. Levitt said that receipts and other documents, which he held up at the conference, show not only that the allegations are false, but that his client had nothing to do with the employment of the caregivers.

“I'm not going to permit Ruby Dhalla to deal with her brother's issue or potentially her mother's issue. … It's not her issue,” he said. “She was not the employer.”

He called the claim that the caregivers cleaned the family's chiropractic clinics “absolute nonsense,” and showed documents from contract cleaners who did the task daily.

“It's easy to make allegations. ... But again, the allegations are absolute nonsense,” he said.

Ms. Dhalla appeared to bristle as Mr. Levitt reminded reporters that he had advised her not to discuss the matter. She opened her mouth to respond to questions from reporters, only to be cut off by her lawyer.

The allegations first emerged on April 25 at a public meeting and then in a Toronto newspaper earlier this week. Two caregivers claimed they were forced to work in Ms. Dhalla's family home, and were paid $250 a week for 16-hour days of household chores.

Magdalene Gordo, 31, compared the job with slavery; Richelyn Tongson, 37, said Ms. Dhalla withheld her passport for weeks.

Ms. Dhalla stepped down from her post as the Liberal Party's youth and multiculturalism critic this week, and a third worker came forward with similar allegations.

The executive director of Intercede, a Toronto-based agency that helps domestic workers, said she spoke with Ms. Dhalla about a year ago, after Ms. Tongson complained to them that her passport was being illegally withheld. Agatha Mason said she called Ms. Dhalla and told her to return the caregiver's passport or she would involve the police.

Ms. Mason said the conversation with Ms. Dhalla stood out in her mind because its tone was so unpleasant and because she was kept waiting on hold for some time.

Mr. Levitt said it's untrue that the caregivers were made to shovel snow and held up a witness statement from the person who has been doing it for five years. He also showed boarding passes, which he said prove that Ms. Dhalla was not staying in the family home while Ms. Gordo was employed there.

“Make no mistake, Ruby Dhalla has been the victim of this,” he said.

Ms. Mason said she hopes the focus can shift to the larger issue – first and foremost being problems with the federal Live-In Caregiver Program.

Ms. Dhalla's dramatic appearance comes a day after a Conservative MP announced that the two caregivers who allege they were mistreated will be called to testify before a Commons committee next week as other federal parties seize the chance to prolong Liberal woes.

“The immigration committee is going to be studying the topic of migrant workers,” David Tilson, the committee's chairman, told reporters Thursday afternoon. “We'll certainly be inviting those particular nannies to come and talk about their experiences.”

Ms. Dhalla will also be asked to testify, Mr. Tilson said. And Ontario provincial Labour Minister Peter Fonseca and Education Minister Kathleen Wynne, who Mr. Tilson said failed to act on the allegations they first heard at a meeting in Toronto on April 25, may be called.

“It's very suspicious that [Mr. Fonseca] has known about it for some time and did nothing,” Mr. Tilson said. Of the two Ontario cabinet ministers, Mr. Fonseca is more vulnerable on the issue since his portfolio includes overseeing workers' rights.

The two women, both Filipino immigrants who have found other employment since leaving the Dhalla home, will not be compelled to appear before the committee.

The other federal parties continued to use the controversy to attack Ms. Dhalla, who won her Brampton-Springdale riding by fewer than 1,000 votes last year.

Bloc Québécois MP Pierre Paquette said that the allegations against Ms. Dhalla will have to be fully investigated, and could cause her to lose her position in the Liberal Party.

“I don't want to judge her before all the facts are known, but if they turn out to be true, I think that the only solution for her and for [Liberal Leader Michael] Ignatieff will be her exit from caucus,” Mr. Paquette said.

Mr. Ignatieff, in Toronto Friday to launch his book, said Ms. Dhalla's decision to ask Parliament's Ethics Commissioner to investigate the allegations was “a great thing to do” and added that he was “working closely with her” to sort out the issue.

The office of the Ethics Commissioner is still reviewing Ms. Dhalla's request for an investigation into the allegations.

With reports from Nicki Thomas and Michael Valpy


See story below from The Canadian Press. I find it quite interesting, even amusing that, after so many years of living and working in Canada, suddenly some people can't speak English...Go figure...

Language, privacy issues derail immigration hearing for double murderer

14 hours ago

CALGARY — A landed immigrant from Bosnia who had been the subject of an international manhunt for the past 13 years made a brief appearance Friday at a Canada immigration detention review in Calgary.

Elvir Pobric, who lives in Grimsby, Ont., is wanted in Bosnia after escaping from prison where he was serving 20 years for robbing and killing two men in 1992. Court records indicate that Pobric lured two associates who traded in black market foreign currency to his mother's home where he shot them in the head with a pistol.

Pobric, who works in Calgary but returns regularly to his family in Ontario, was arrested on a Canada-wide warrant after a hunt by Alberta sheriffs and police in Hamilton, Ont.

Pobric's family claims the Bosnian was interned along with fellow Bosnian Muslims in Tunjice detention camp in Banja Luka shortly after the outbreak of violence between ethnic Serbs and Bosnians in 1992.

At his detention hearing, his Vancouver-based interpreter introduced herself over the speaker phone and said she was fluent in both Bosnian and Serbian.

"Can you tell me your name?," asked Pobric, clad in a blue jumpsuit and handcuffed.

"I'm sorry, I don't like to have a translator who have a Boza first name okay? That's a Serbian name," he added.

The translator, who said her first name was Boza, explained she had been born in Zagrab, Croatia.

"I'm sorry, I need somebody from Bosnia," said Pobric.

Hamilton police received information from Interpol that Pobric broke out of a prison in Foca in 1996 and surfaced in Canada in 1999 when he entered the country as a refugee.

He lived in Hamilton for several years before moving to Grimsby with his wife and children. Police say Pobric was a self-employed siding contractor who ran Ontario Custom Aluminum and had worked in Calgary for several years.

The detention hearing is held for foreign nationals or permanent residents if the Canada Border Services Agency has reasonable grounds to believe that the person is unlikely to appear for future hearings, is a danger to the public or is inadmissible to enter or remain in Canada.

In order to remove Pobric from Canada, he would first have to be stripped of his landed immigrant status - the most likely argument being that he had misrepresented himself when he entered Canada.

The news media was ordered to leave the hearing by adjudicator Lee Anne King. She said it was because Pobric came to Canada as a refugee and there are privacy concerns.

"What I'm trying to find out is if there are any members of the public in the hearing room?," she asked.

"They should be asked to leave so I can discuss how to deal with the privacy sections of the act."

The case was adjourned until Tuesday in order to find a Bosnian interpreter and to give the media time to make an application that the case be opened to the public.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Canada aims to curb flow of Czech asylum seekers

'Soft' Canadian system to blame, Czech prime minister says


From Thursday's Globe and Mail

May 7, 2009 at 4:08 AM EDT

PRAGUE and OTTAWA — Tensions over a surge in refugee claims from the Czech Republic to this country surfaced during Stephen Harper's visit to the Eastern European nation yesterday when its prime minister said Canada is soft on asylum seekers.

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek said the rising numbers of his citizens claiming refugee status in Canada reflects the fact it's very easy to obtain asylum under the "soft" Canadian system.

For his part, Mr. Harper warned that Canada may need to intervene to throttle back the stream of refugee claimants from the Czech Republic. It's expected that measures could include re-introducing requirements for Czech citizens to obtain visas before entering Canada - a restriction that Ottawa lifted only in 2007.

The Prime Minister met Mr. Topolanek yesterday as part of a one-day Canada-European Union summit. But the refugee issue has been brewing for months. It was just last month that Immigration Minister Jason Kenney called on Prague to clamp down on for-profit consultants thought to be driving the soaring number of refugee claims.

Czech citizens ranked fourth on Canada's list of refugee claimants for the first three months of 2009, behind Mexicans, Haitians and Colombians. Between January and March this year, 653 people from the Czech Republic filed claims for asylum in Canada.

Mr. Harper was extremely diplomatic yesterday. He didn't bristle at Mr. Topolanek's remarks about Canada's soft refugee system. He said the Czech government may not be to blame for the situation, but added that the flow of claimants is "a real concern" for Ottawa.

"It's not necessarily the fault of the Czech Republic but it is a reality that we do have to deal with," Mr. Harper said.

"Unless there is improvement, the government of Canada will have to take some actions."

The Prime Minister did not specify what these measures might include. Bringing back visa requirements for Czech visitors is a blunt instrument that would allow Ottawa to stem the flow of refugee claims because officials could scrutinize visa applicants before they enter Canada.

But another option under consideration is changes that will allow fast-tracking the removal of failed refugee claimants to designated countries - making it easier to deport those who cannot win asylum.

An Immigration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Czech Republic's minority Roma community - once called Gypsies - are behind the spike in claims. However, the Canadian government does not officially track the types of Czech nationals coming here.

The number of Czech asylum seekers has grown from virtually none in 2006. Things began taking off in 2007 after Canada lifted the requirement for Czech citizens to obtain a visa.

In 2008, Czech asylum seekers ranked seventh on Canada's list of refugee claimants. Canada received 861 refugee claims from the Czech Republic. That year, 84 claims from Czechs were accepted, 96 were withdrawn, 11 were abandoned and five rejected.

It's currently very difficult for Ottawa to deport failed refugee claimants because they have several avenues of appeal, the Immigration official said. A large number of Czech asylum seekers also withdraw their claims before they are rejected and instead go underground, "living here in the shadows," he said.

Mr. Kenney will be travelling to Prague in June or July to discuss the issue, officials say.

Ottawa remains concerned about profiteers and Roma groups encouraging migrants to head to Canada, the Immigration official said.

"They will say 'Come live in Canada. You just come there, apply for refugee status. You'll automatically get a work permit and you just run out the clock,' " the Immigration official said.

"This is creating very real risk we may have to re-impose visas."

Mr. Topolanek played down the idea that there is rampant persecution in the Czech Republic. But the Roma community in Canada has challenged this, noting the numbers of Roma refugee claims approved in Canada confirms their status as a persecuted group.

Amnesty International has raised concerns about the growing number of violent attacks by "far-right groups" against the Roma community in some areas of the Czech Republic.

"An increasing number of marches and statements by some Czech far-right groups include incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence against the [Roma] community," a May 1 Amnesty International release said.

"Roma in the country continue to suffer discrimination at the hands of both public officials and private individuals, including in the areas of housing, education, health care and employment," Amnesty International said.


Here we go again...another politician ensnared by a "nanny" scandal...I find it amusing that the only MP defending Mr. Dhalla in the article below is Judy Sgro, a Liberal MP and former Minister of Citizenship and Immigration who was forced to resign because of her alleged favoritism of a Romanian "Exotic dancer" who was linked to her re-election campaign. I am sure it is just a coincidence...

Scandal sidelines 'high-maintenance' Liberal MP

Ruby Dhalla, defended by supporters as a hard-working woman, flies home denying complaints that she mistreated foreign workers


From Thursday's Globe and Mail

May 7, 2009 at 12:24 AM EDT

OTTAWA and TORONTO — Four days after she was pictured hoisting Leader Michael Ignatieff's hand in triumph at the Liberal coronation convention, Ruby Dhalla was in hiding from public politics for a second straight day. And Mr. Ignatieff wasn't talking about her at all.

Allegations that Ms. Dhalla mistreated two foreign live-in caregivers have tainted two Liberal parties with the whiff of scandal, forcing her to quit her post as the Liberals' youth and multiculturalism critic, and hitting Dalton McGuinty's government with allegations of a cover-up. Ms. Dhalla has denied the allegations and said in a statement Wednesday she will work to clear her name.

One of the party's high-profile MPs, she travelled widely to speak at public events, briefly flirting with a run for the leadership, and showed up at the convention in a white stretch limo.

But after a meeting with Mr. Ignatieff on Tuesday, she flew home to Mississauga to regroup, with colleagues wondering if her political career is over. “She's devastated,” a friend said.

Dhalla loses critic role in nanny scandal
Dhalla controversy spills into Ontario legislature
Adam Radwanski: Nothin' spells lovin' like protectin' your federal cousin
Question Period: Much ado about Dhalla
Internet Links
Globe Politics: Blogs, analysis and more
The MP for Brampton-Springdale is glamorous, energetic and career-oriented. She's also viewed by fellow caucus members as a “high maintenance” self-promoter, unwilling to do parliamentary drudgery, and demanding with her staff.

“I don't get the sense that too many people are feeling all that sorry for her,” one MP said.

Two women have alleged that Ms. Dhalla and her family had hired them under the federal Live-in Caregiver program for foreign workers to care for the MP's mother. They say they were paid $250 a week for 16-hour days of household chores – from shining shoes to shovelling snow – and cleaning the family's chiropractic clinics.

One, Magdalene Gordo, 31, compared the job with slavery; the other, Richelyn Tongson, 37, said Ms. Dhalla withheld her passport for weeks.

In the Ontario Legislature, Labour Minister Peter Fonseca faced accusations that he protected a fellow Liberal when he took no action after he first learned about the allegations from the employees themselves, in a town hall meeting two weeks ago hosted by Education Minister Kathleen Wynne.

“Will you penalize Ruby Dhalla? Will you put Ruby Dhalla in jail?” New Democrat MPP Cheri DiNovo asked in the legislature.

Mr. Fonseca said he gave the women information on filing a complaint, and a minister should not direct investigations. An embarrassed Premier Dalton McGuinty stood by his ministers, but conceded both Mr. Fonseca and Ms. Wynne exhibited a bit of a tin ear.

“There's obviously a perception issue, no doubt about it,” he said.

Liberal foreign affairs critic Bob Rae said Wednesday Ms. Dhalla wants to be able to clear her name.

“She feels very strongly that the allegations against her are not true. And she has a right to defend herself and there will be full investigations I'm sure at both the federal and provincial level,” Mr. Rae said.

Those investigations are likely to include an Ontario Labour Ministry probe, and possibly a federal Immigration investigation.

In this year's annual light-hearted poll of parliamentary staffers in the Hill Times, Ms. Dhalla was voted second-sexiest female MP, but also the worst MP to work for.

“It's everything starting with making sure she's in every photo-op with the leader. I often hear of events where she calls the organizers and says ‘I want to speak,' even though she wasn't invited,” one former caucus colleague said.

“… And she's also difficult to work for. She probably has more [staff] turnover than anyone on the hill.”

That's sour grapes, suggested MP Judy Sgro, a friend who served as Ms. Dhalla's mentor in her first few months in Parliament, and saw a young politician eager to prove herself as the first Sikh woman elected to the Commons.

“She's a good-looking, single, hard-working woman,” Ms. Sgro said. “She spends all her time working. And there are always people around who are fast to cut you down when you're one step ahead of them.”

And despite the Hill Times raspberry, at least one of the people who has worked for her said he always gets along with her.

“She does work her employees very, very hard. Yes, sometimes I was there until 11 p.m. or midnight or 1 o'clock in the morning. But so was she.”

A chiropractor with a string of Toronto-area clinics, she worked as a young Manitoba Liberal on Paul Martin's failed 1990 leadership bid, briefly flirted with acting in a low-budget Canadian version of a Bollywood film, and then was thrust into a messy squabble when she entered electoral politics.

Hand-picked as a Liberal candidate by then prime minister Mr. Martin in 2004, she essentially began her elected political career as a pawn in a bitter battle between Liberal factions.

The sitting MP in Brampton-Springdale, Sarkis Assadourian, was facing a stiff challenge for the nomination from a leadership organizer for John Manley, Andrew Kania.

Mr. Martin's team bumped Mr. Assadourian, promising a federal job, and appointed Ms. Dhalla as the candidate.

It prompted Mr. Kania, now a Liberal MP for a neighbouring riding, to support the NDP candidate. Mr. Assadourian is still bitter: “This is Paul Martin's legacy to the Liberal Party, and to Canada,” he said of the current scandal.

In the Commons, she's not known for many close friendships with Liberal colleagues, despite her ebullient personality and ready smile.

And though she was Mr. Ignatieff's campaign co-chair in 2006, she was demoted from relatively major critics posts she held under Mr. Dion to the less coveted post as critic for youth and multiculturalism.

Ms. Sgro said Ms. Dhalla has been passionate about children's issues and the concerns of immigrant women – and the allegations don't ring true to her.

“I know her mum and I know her brother … I've always found them to be a very caring family. These assertions just don't seem to connect with the people that I know.”

Monday, May 4, 2009


Border guards break rules allowing criminals into country: report

The Canadian Press
17 hours ago

OTTAWA — Border guards have been breaking rules in allowing hundreds of serious criminals to come to Canada, says an internal review.

The Canada Border Services Agency allowed 535 people convicted of serious crimes to enter the country last year for compassionate or economic reasons, under so-called temporary resident permits.

And a sample of about half those cases found a litany of problems, including failure to get the required permission from the immigration minister's designated officials.

The internal review also found the files frequently lacked key information about exactly why some criminals were given a pass into the country - some for repeat visits.

A draft copy of the report was obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.

The findings confirm and expand upon a critical examination of the border service last year by the federal auditor general, who also found incomplete documentation and sloppy standards.

Under Canada's immigration rules, border guards can issue temporary resident permits to people who would otherwise be barred from Canada, whether for medical reasons or past criminality.

Exceptions are supposed to be made only for humanitarian or compassionate reasons, or for the economic benefit of Canada.

The review cites one example in which a hunter with a criminal past might be allowed into the country because a Canadian outfitter would otherwise lose money.

The permits, which cost $200, are valid for between a day and three years, depending on the decisions of individual officers.

Canada has no exit controls, relying instead on the honour system. Expiry dates on the permits are neither monitored nor enforced unless the ex-offender comes to the attention of authorities for unrelated reasons, such as a fresh crime.

Most permits related to criminality are issued to Americans with drunk-driving offences. But each year hundreds of permits are also handed to persons convicted of "serious" crimes, defined as offences that, if committed in Canada, would be punishable by a maximum prison sentence of at least 10 years.

Agency investigators last fall visited nine border offices - including the airports in Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax - where they examined 628 files for permits issued to people convicted of past criminal activity.

The land borders visited were at Coutts, Alta., Landsdowne, Ont., Fort Frances, Ont., and Lacolle, Que. All locations were chosen because of the high number of such permits issued over the previous two years to people with past criminality.

The list of crimes included child molestation, fraud, automobile homicide, burglary, bank theft, arson, cocaine trafficking, handgun possession and other offences.

Of the 628 permits examined, 282 went to people convicted of serious criminality.

The review team found that officers failed to get permission from senior officials delegated by the immigration minister for 31 of those serious criminals, as required under the rules.

That's 11 per cent of all such cases and, if consistent for the entire year, would mean about 59 people convicted of serious crimes were not properly vetted before they were allowed to enter the country in 2008.

"Given that concurrence is a requirement for all serious criminality cases, there is need for some improvement," says the report.

The files also lacked key documentation in more than half the cases that would justify these decisions.

Investigators were also concerned that about a third of the permits they examined allowed the person to re-enter Canada, rather than having to re-apply for permission.

The report questioned why such persons should not be required to re-apply abroad each time they intended to visit Canada.

A spokeswoman for the Canada Border Services Agency did not respond to requests for comment.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


Shaky refugee system let in killer

Shaky refugee system let in killer

Paul Morse
The Hamilton Spectator

(May 2, 2009)

As the mystery of how a convicted double killer managed to enter Canada as a refugee deepens, experts say our overburdened refugee system is likely partially to blame.

"At this point, the system is close to collapse," said Sergio Karas, a Toronto immigration lawyer and past chair of the International Bar Association Immigration and Nationality Committee.

The 1990s "was the time of the highest influx of refugees, because we had people coming from China, because of Tiananmen Square, the Balkan crises and war in Latin America in Nicaragua and El Salvador."

It was also the time of the breakup of the Soviet Union, he said.

"The system was overtaxed at the time, and the system continues to be overtaxed."

Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) says it cannot make any information public about the case of Elvir Pobric, 37, a Bosnian landed immigrant arrested this week in Calgary on a Canada-wide immigration warrant.

According to authorities, Pobric shot two foreign-currency dealers to death and robbed them of large sums of money in a small village in northeastern Bosnia on April 4, 1992, just days before the outbreak of ethnic violence between Bosnian Serbs and Muslims.

Pobric was caught and sentenced to 20 years in prison. According to Interpol, Pobric broke out of prison in 1996 and disappeared from view.

Pobric entered Canada as a refugee under his own name sometime between 1996 and 1999, living first in Ottawa and then moving to Hamilton, where he became an aluminum siding contractor. Now married with a young family, the Bosnian immigrant set up a permanent home in Grimbsy.

Two years ago, he began working in Calgary and commuted home to Grimsby every month or so. Hamilton police and the Canada Border Services Agency began to hunt for him when Hamilton police Chief Brian Mullan received two letters from the daughter of one of his victims. She said Pobric was in Hamilton and begged Mullan to return him to prison.

But members of Pobric's family say the contractor had been interned in Serbian "detention camps" and was under the eye of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) until his legal release in November 1996.

Relatives yesterday handed over a document to the Canadian Red Cross in Hamilton with an ICRC stamp on it that lists Pobric's release from prison on Nov. 6, 1996.

Canadian Red Cross officials say they are checking the veracity of Pobric's story with ICRC delegations in Washington and Geneva.

During the Balkan conflict, refugees entered Canada either by arriving in the country and claiming refugee status or through Canada's government sponsored resettlement program, which fast-tracked refugees in war-torn regions and transported them to Canada.

Morteza Jafarpour, executive director of Hamilton's Settlement and Integration Services Organization (SISO), said it was not uncommon for refugees to use fake documents to escape horrific genocide or persecution so they could make a better life in Canada.

"Whether (Pobric) escaped from prison or was released is irrelevant," said immigration expert Karas.

"The only thing that is relevant from an immigration point of view is, first, does he have a criminal history, and, two, how come nobody picked it up?"

Saturday, May 2, 2009


I find it interesting that the individual below managed to enter Canada without difficulty, and even remain here for quite some time, and his identity was only discovered after a tip from the public. This does not speak well or our screening system.

Accused child molester removed from Canada

Fiancee in Montreal knew nothing of his past until arrest

Adrian Humphreys, National Post

An accused child molester from Tennessee who hid in Canada for 10 years -- the last five living with his Montreal fiancee who apparently knew nothing of his past -- has been returned to the United States where he faces up to 30 years in prison.

Russell Victor McCollum, 30, was first arrested in Nashville in 1999 after a young boy complained to his mother about his tutor who had befriended the family through their church, according to U. S. authorities.

Mr. McCollum would drive to the boy's home to collect him for tutoring. The boy was sexually assaulted several times inside the car while stopped in vacant parking lots in 1998, authorities allege. Mr. McCollum was arrested in his dorm room at the local university.

After being released on US$50,000 bail posted by his family, Mr. McCollum's father suggested he flee until the legal problem died down.

He came to Canada by bus in late 1999, crossing into Ontario using his real name at the border, he admitted to Canadian authorities, according to Immigration and Refugee Board records.

He lived first in Ottawa and then Montreal.

A year after he arrived in Canada he started using an alias: Jeremy Thomas.

In 2004, he met Stavroula Zobolas in a bar in Montreal, according to IRB records. The pair started dating and then living together. He eventually proposed to her, although she knew nothing of his past until after he was arrested last month, both of them told officials.

After two years of engagement, his fiancee was losing patience, pressuring him to commit to a wedding date, the IRB heard. He started wondering how he could legalize his status in Canada, he said.

Still, it took a tip from the public in February, after his case was broadcast on the popular television show America's Most Wanted, for police to learn he was in Canada.

His life as a fugitive ended when Canadian authorities came to his apartment on March 24. He first blockaded the door and tried to flee, police said.

When captured, he denied he was Russel McCollum until authorities compared his fingerprints with those of the fugitive.

"We have been on his trail for quite a long time," said Kristin Helm, spokeswoman for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, which had Mr. McCollum on its Top 10 Most Wanted list. "We knew he was out there somewhere and we had a couple of narrow misses. These are very serious charges."

The tipster is eligible for a US$10,000 reward.

Despite finally learning her fiance's real name and of the charges against him on such sordid allegations, Ms. Zobolas stood by him, offering $5,000 from her meagre savings as bail for him to be released from immigration detention.

She testified at his detention review hearing that she cannot even bring herself to use the name Russel McCollum, saying she knows him only as Jeremy Thomas.

She said the situation has left her in shock and that the charges do not match the man she knows. His release was denied by the IRB.

Yesterday, officers with the Canadian Border Services Agency escorted Mr. McCollum from his detention in Montreal to the Champlain border crossing, where he was turned over to U. S. authorities, said Robert Gervais, a spokesman for the CBSA.

Mr. McCollum faces four charges of aggravated sexual battery of a child, a charge of failure to appear in court and another of fleeing to avoid prosecution.

Under Tennessee law, the battery charge is one of the most serious sex crimes and is punishable by up to 30 years in prison.