My eBook, How To Immigrate To Canada For Skilled Workers: The Authoritative Guide To Federal And Provincial Opportunities is available now on Amazon and other online retailers. Get your copy of the essential guide to Skilled Worker class applications today!

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Also available is my new eBook, "How To Immigrate To Canada In The Family Class: The Authoritative Guide Including Québec And Super Visa Opportunities". Get it at Amazon or the other e-retailers noted above.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Christmas prayer for you and me

Christmas is here already. it's hard to believe. When I look to the right and see another 52 weeks have passed by, and that I'm still hoping and waiting to become a permanent resident of Canada and join my love there, I simply can't fathom how quickly time seems to go by.

For each and every reader who is on the same unpredictable journey to a new life in Canada, God bless you and grant you patience and favor in your application. I hope you will include my situation in your prayers as well. This is a season of miracles after all - but it's important to ask God for the things we most desire and include him, recognizing He is in charge.

In this season of miracles, I'm believing in one for me and one for you too.

Merry Christmas to all!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The List

On November 29th, the Harper government unveiled it's first attempt to solve the immigration backlog in it's focus on the skilled worker class. The solution? A list of preferred professions. If you are applying to Canada in the SW class and don't have one of these jobs in your professional background, the Harper government wont even look at your application.

Did you make the cut?

  • Financial Managers
  • Computer and Information Systems Managers
  • Managers in Health Care
  • Restaurant and Food Service Managers
  • Accommodation Service Managers
  • Construction Managers
  • Financial Auditors and Accountants
  • Geologists, Geochemists and Geophysicists
  • Mining Engineers
  • Geological Engineers
  • Petroleum Engineers
  • Specialist Physicians
  • General Practitioners and Family Physicians
  • Audiologists and Speech Language Pathologists
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Physiotherapists
  • Head Nurses and Supervisors
  • Registered Nurses
  • Medical Radiation Technologists
  • Licensed Practical Nurses
  • University Professors
  • College and Other Vocational Instructors
  • Chefs
  • Cooks
  • Contractors and Supervisors, Pipefitting Trades
  • Contractors and Supervisors, Carpentry Trades
  • Contractors and Supervisors, Heavy Construction Equipment Crews
  • Electricians (Except Industrial and Power System)
  • Industrial Electricians
  • Plumbers
  • Steamfitters, Pipefitters and Sprinkler System Installers
  • Welders and Related Machine Operators
  • Heavy-Duty Equipment Mechanics
  • Crane Operators
  • Drillers and Blasters — Surface Mining, Quarrying and Construction
  • Supervisors, Mining and Quarrying
  • Supervisors, Oil and Gas Drilling and Service
  • Supervisors, Petroleum, Gas and Chemical Processing and Utilities

Thursday, December 11, 2008

All I want for Christmas

Santa, in case you're reading this...

All I want for Christmas is to become a permanent resident of Canada.

Milk and cookies will be in their usual spot.

- J

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ignatieff's expected stand on immigration issues

Newly crowned Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff has said publicly that he believes Canada needs to expand the family-class portion of its immigration system, allowing Canadians to sponsor family members to become permanent residents of Canada. He has also said that the Canadian immigration system needs to be "streamlined," including a processing system based in Canada. While Statistics Canada reports that the country is taking in an average of 260,000 newcomers a year, Mr. Ignatieff says the number should be increased to "at least" 350,000 newcomers per year. He has stated that he feels the current immigration processing system is simply too cumbersome (amen, ed.) and does a poor job in matching up applicant qualifications with professional skill shortages. In addition, the current system isn't doing enough to help foreign professionals qualify for practice in their field of expertise in Canada.

Positive immigration reform? It may be closer than you think.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Parliament suspended - good for immigration?

With the proroguing of Parliament this week, the question arises - what impact will this have on immigration issues?

On the positive side, Harper's minority government wont have the opportunity to do more damage to the current immigration policies than he has done already. You could imagine that with the economy in trouble as it is across Canada that immigrants would be an easy target, and the reduction of numbers allowed in, barriers to entry, pace of the application process could all be easy targets.

Also on the positive side: the attempt to form a coalition government (even though it was done as the result of a hissy-fit by Dion and Layton) is a clear indicator that Harper's days in power are numbered (around 42, I believe). One way or another, he's going to lose most, if not all the power he currently wields. Chances are that his poor record on immigration management and poor policy choices in this area will get the attention of some opposition Ministers - and perhaps enough to reverse the course that has led to policies ripe with opportunity for abuse without checks and balances.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


As American Thanksgiving approaches, I'm thankful for a number of things:

- for my love who still gives me the promise and fulfillment of a beautiful life
- for my God who I can trust to see us through our immigration struggle
- to our families who support us in our love for each other
- for our friends who remind us that its all worth the struggle
- for Canada raising up such a wonderful woman
- my readers for giving me a reason to share this journey

I hope this list will help to remind you we all, even in the challenges we face in building our new lives, have so much - and that even having a chance is something.

Soon this list will include the following entry:

- for being married to a beautiful Canadian and moving home to Toronto.

Monday, November 17, 2008

CBC Digital Archives - meet Gordon Lightfoot

If you don't know who Gordon Lightfoot is, do yourself a favor and check out this introduction via the CBC Archives. Lightfoot is a wonderful Singer/Songwriter who found his voice in the 60's and was highly popular throughout the early 70's. He wrote songs that dealt with Canadian life, history and myth. You can learn a lot about your future home through his voice.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A positive change in Canadian Immigration

Goodbye Diane. Hello Jason.

In his recent cabinet shake up, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has named Jason Kenney as his new Minister of Citizenship, Immigration & Multiculturalism (note the new position title). Mr. Kenney has had previous experience in working with immigrant and minority groups in Canada, and it looks like he may be a refreshing change from Finley - being someone who actually brings direct experience and time in the trenches with immigrant issues.

While his job will be to implement the horrible policies of preference put in place by the Tories, I believe Harper has chosen a man with the potential to apply his discretion and power in a thoughtful way.

Make us proud, Jason. Don't sit on your backside like Finley did - fix this broken, biased and incompassionate system.

Read all about your new Minister in this article from the Star.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

CBC Digital Archives - immigration and multiculturalism

In an effort to fight some of the ignorance surrounding the role of immigration in building Canada, I would like to introduce my readers to the CBC Digital Archives. The Archives are a searchable collection of audio and video clips from CBC news and other programming that returns streaming audio and video to your computer. The good folks at the Archive not only present individual clips, but they also create collections organized around particular subjects over time.

I would like to call your attention to "Making the Mosaic: Multiculturalism in Canada", a 15-clip collection that will enlighten you with broadcasts from 1962 to 2004.

Here's the overview:

"In 1971, Canada became the first country in the world to declare multiculturalism as official state policy. The bold step charted the path to a vibrant and evolving cultural mosaic premised on mutual respect for Canadians of all backgrounds and ancestry. Yet the roots of multiculturalism in Canada can be seen in the country's earliest beginnings, as three founding cultures — aboriginal, British and French — were soon joined by many more from around the globe. Today, multiculturalism is a touchstone of Canadian national identity and a point of pride for Canadians from coast to coast to coast. In celebration of Canadian Multiculturalism Day on June 27, the CBC Digital Archives recalls some of the struggles and triumphs along the way."

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A letter to America

Dear America,
I just wanted to say congratulations. You did the right thing. You overcame fear anyd division to come together and make a stand for something positive. While Barak Obama may or may not have the right stuff to run the country, he does have the right stuff to unite one - and right now, that's a pretty important quality.

You have stood up for tolerance, for hope, for healing and for the future. You have put aside the ghosts of 9/11 and have made the choice to live for tomorrow. You have put Selma behind you, put the useless greed of the baby boomers aside and said, "we are in this together."

A generation will come to awareness with a black American leading the country. Anything IS possible in the US - even that we will stop being selfish and help one another for a change.

You done good.

Hope is alive again.

Monday, November 03, 2008

US and Canadian election processes compared

If you ever wondered what were the differences between the US and Canadian election processes, a great article published today on the CityTV (Toronto) website breaks it down for you in fine style. Just where do the processes diverge (other than the basic structure of the governments?!)? The differences are, naturally, many:

The length and timing of elections
Which parties have a chance at power
Who's minding the ballot box
The act of voting
When you know who the winner is
Who wins

Thursday, October 30, 2008

So how are you feeling?

The Star reported that "The health of immigrants decreases over time in Canada and actually gets worse than the health of people born here..." in a short article published on the 27th.

Stress, change in diet, change in activity levels all may play a role according to doctors.

I think it's the poutine.

So, how are YOU feeling?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

White noise

With the downturn in the economy in North America, public discussions of immigration issues and policies have taken on a decidedly edgy quality. Comments on almost any article now on the Star online are bombarded with uninformed opinions and acidic calls for immigrants to "go home" or "stay home."

Many are under the impression that sponsored immigrants are immediately on public assistance once in Canada - truth is that any assistance they get has to be repaid by their sponsor if they can't do it themselves.

Many lump all classes of immigrants in together - with no compassion for refugees, or skilled workers lured by the "streets paved with Loonies" picture painted by many immigration consultants and the CIC themselves at times (though they are much improved on this front).

It's sad to see economic fear bring out bigotry, bias and small-mindedness in otherwise very tolerant Canadians. The new immigrants always face the stigma of un-want, as history has shown time and time again. Never mind that those who "choose" a country other than the one of their birth are shown time and time again to become loyal citizens, and by the second generation, significant contributors to society.

Immigrant hopefuls: don't despair. The white noise generated by those who live in fear of you, who want to blame you for the problems Canada faces, who refuse to see you for who you are as individuals with your own unique stories - they will pass. Something else shiny-er than you will catch their attention and become the focus of their anger. Stay your course, follow your dreams, pursue the life you wish and remember that the best comeback is simply to contribute and to live a good life.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The government you deserve

The election is over and once again, the Tories have a minority. The liberals got just what Stephan Dion feared - a poor result. The NDP and Bloc actually had some gains. The left is more fractured than ever - the right - in control but un-vindicated.

By most counts, given the election turn out, Stephen Harper was elected by about 22 percent of Canada's eligible voters. Hardly a majority. Still, this minority is in control now. All Dion's maneuvering, his avoidance of confidence votes (including the budget vote that included the new immigration reforms), his and other Liberals lack of simply doing their jobs as opposition, all in order to position them for timing an election when they thought they could win...what did it get them? Nothing.

The lesson here? Do you job while it's yours to do and let the future take care of itself. Liberals could've taken Harper down a year ago, and backed it up with a "standing up for Canada" perception. Instead, they tried to manipulate the situation, and now Liberal MP's who could've left government service proud for having stood up for the people wont have the chance to. And don't deserve to.

Canada has the government and policies it deserves right now. They must not care, because they turned out in low numbers. The opposition will have to work harder than ever together to defeat the Tories, but after being so lazy, maybe hard work is what they need.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Grassroots immigration advocates surface in Toronto

Here's to Sultana Jahangir, Faria Kamal, and Gurratan Singh Dhaliwal - three Toronto residents who don't like what they see happening with the new Conservative immigration initiatives and are doing something about it.

While they are seen as radicals - being a part of the group, "No One Is Illegal" - they are advocates for those without advocates: women fleeing violence, refugees without status...

Critics would argue that those who enter Canada illegally should simply be kicked out. Lucky for them, they are not facing violence or oppression, imprisonment or death. When you get upset with those who are in the country illegally, ask yourself if you truly understand why they have come, and what you would do in their situation.

In the meantime, broaden your outlook by reading the profile of these brave Canadians in the this Star article.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

All quiet on the campaign front, immigration wise

Not hearing much news on immigration matters lately and I have to believe it's because of the distractions of the current news cycle and focus on the economy and the arts. All I really know is my heart in this election is with Jack Layton and the NDP. It's hard not to like Jack, and he and his wife Olivia Chow are clearly more concerned with the people of Canada than the business of Canada that seems to be the obsession of Harper and his cronies. Olivia even proposed sensible changes to policies and programs directly affecting immigrants.

Harper, if he wins a majority, would create what I can only call "George Bush's Canada" - which would be a horrible place to live. Layton has consistently called Harper to task when his proposals and policies have been out of line with the goals and needs of Canadians. The NDP has been the real opposition in this time of turmoil.

Dion has not led an opposition - in fact, time and again he led his party away from opposing Harper by not taking this flawed government out much earlier. And then Harper took himself out. I might think more of the Liberals if someone else was leading, but for now, it's gotta be Jack.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Canadian immigration blogs

Just got to wondering - are there other Canadian immigration blogs my readers might want to know about? Well, here are a few I've found and enjoyed. I hope you do too:

Canadian Immigration Reform Blog
Blogging to Reform Canada's Dysfunctional Immigration and Refugee System

Raj Sharma's Canadian Immigration Blog
A former immigration officer and lawyer in private practice reviews Canadian immigration developments.

We Move to Canada
American by birth, Canadian by choice...

Canada immigration blog
One of several blogs sponsored by those pesky immigration lawyers

So read on!

Monday, September 08, 2008 | Canada | Hard to see which programs help newcomers, study finds Canada Hard to see which programs help newcomers, study finds

Read the story above to get some context on my comments. The story is about measuring the success of government programs aimed at immigrant training and certification - assisting them to break into the job market.

First let's do some math around a couple quotes:

1. $920 million devoted to these Ontario-based programs over five years = $184 million a year
2. "Our most recent results for 2007-2008 show that 25 bridging projects helped 800 newcomers get a licence to work in their field. Another 17 projects helped 1,300 newcomers find jobs in a non-regulated profession," Payen-Dumont said. "Sixty-six per cent of those who took part in training projects found jobs during the year."
- That means that 800 got licensed (but not necessarily jobs - probably because they lack "Canadian Experience"). And saying 60% of those who took part in the programs found jobs doesn't mean anything...did they find jobs in their field? I mean, working the counter at Tim Horton's is a "job" - but not for a trained doctor...
- It's interesting that those who are reporting the results (and even the reporter) don't seek to qualify how many people were served with that $184 million dollars. They only mention 2,100 immigrants. I don't assume that's all that were served, but maybe it is? If so, Ontario, you just spent $87,619 per person to train people for jobs that will pay them what? $40-50K per year tops?

Finally, I love that the Star includes reader comments now in their articles because you really get a feel for the plight of immigrants in the Canadian job market.

There are a couple classic positions here:
a."What about making sure Canadian-educated professionals have work in their field?"
b."Immigrants did fine in the past without these programs, so why do we need them now?"

Finally there is what I'll call the "word on the street" - what educated and qualified immigrants who experience the Canadian job market have to say to other potential immigrants: to summarize, "If you are looking to use your skills and continue your career, don't come to Canada; it's job markets are protectionist, it's policies amount to lip service and the employers are not in step with their government. The government may want you - the employers don't."

This is a real disconnect: pro-immigration government leaders in a culture (and a bureaucracy) of anti-immigration sentiment.

New hotline to target misdeeds by immigrant consultants GTA New hotline to target misdeeds by immigrant consultants

Remember the Star's series on the abusive practices of some Canadian immigration consultants (Lost in Migration)? Well, here's a lovely follow-up. A Toronto community group is opening up a hotline for people who have stories to share. The idea is that with enough documented stories, politicians may push for actual regulation of immigration consultants.

Do you have a story to share? Starting September 22, you can call 416-978-6447 and let your voice be heard.

Thursday, September 04, 2008 Immigrants pass Toronto to follow money West, study finds Immigrants pass Toronto to follow money West, study finds

Interesting article that came across in my Connect2Canada email newsletter. Seems that immigrants (defined as all foreign born Canadians) are saying "show me the money" and the West is responding. What I found most interesting about this article was the additional information at the end from SHIFTING PATTERNS OF IMMIGRATION IN CANADA'S URBAN CENTRES BY JACK JEDWAB.

Here's the trends for immigration growth and decline in the following cities.

Charlottetown: +50.2%
Halifax: +44.8%
Moncton: +74%
Edmonton: +52%
Calgary: +32%
Montreal: +36%

Toronto: -20.8%
Vancouver: -1%

It's also interesting to note that the report states the average immigrant family income in Canada prior to 2001 was in the $90K range. After 2001? Try just $45-60K per family. Have opportunities for immigrants in major Canadian cities really dried up this much?

I'm going to be cautious and take it as simply one data point - not the whole story.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Fall Federal Elections

Looks like Harper is going to pull the plug on his minority government this week and that Fall elections will be called for October 14, 2008.

Let's hope Dion and the Liberals can mount enough of an attack on Harper's poor leadership record and questionable mandates (including the new immigration laws administered by Diane Finley) that they can at least establish a minority government.

While I don't believe Dion is much of a leader at all (in fact - he's simply NOT a leader), I'd take that headless chicken over the bully that is Stephen Harper any day of the week.

So get ready Canada - the polls are calling!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

More Top 10 Toronto - Tourist traps!

The Star published a funny article today about the disconnection between a tourist's experience in the City vs. a resident's. With it they created a tourist itinerary and lived it for themselves.

It's really a funny read, and if you are a tourist planning a trip, worth it to get an insider's point of view. So here you go - the list is partially reproduced below, along with my own comments and the entire article can be found here.

Toronto Tourist Traps

Getting a caricature - I guess if you really do have a huge head, or maybe you can get the artist to sneak in the CN Tower or Nathan Phillips rink into the background, it could be a giggle to walk away from the City with one of these souvenirs. Of course it will be consigned to some forgotten place immediately upon return home...

Wayne Gretzky's restaurant - Didn't he play hockey in Edmonton? And LA? And New York?

Toronto Hippo Tours - No, this isn't a trip to the Zoo. Great use for recycled military amphibious transports though. You wouldn't want to drive a double-decker into Lake Ontario...

Town & Country Buffet - Terrible food, great value. Wait - you can say the same about a dumpster, can't you?

The Bata Shoe Museum - Any place where you can see a pair of Elton John's platform shoes from the 1970's is alright by me!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Finley's Folly

So now the immigration minister, given the supreme power over the long line of hope, has made her first move. Under a new policy, students who graduate from Canadian universities and who have a year of professional experience with a Canadian firm, as well as some temporary workers will have the opportunity to apply for Canadian residence without having to leave the country to do it.

Brilliant idea - let those who are already in Canada stay and apply. A stroke of genius really.

Of course there are a range of restrictions to go along with the policy if you more than scratch the surface. There are protected and excluded classes of temporary workers in case you were under the impression that people would be treated equally.

If you really care to discover what a messed up bit of policy this is, simply read the Canada Gazette announcement here.

Here's some of the nonsense:

- The CEC will be limited to Skill Type 0 Management Occupations, Skill Level A (professional occupations), or Skill Level B (technical occupations and skilled trades) of the National Occupation Classifications (NOC).
- Lower-skilled occupations (NOC skill levels C and D) will not be eligible, as they are more vulnerable in economic downturns. Consequently, caution should be taken prior to increasing the pool of lower-skilled workers.
- All applicants must have come to Canada to work or study, have been lawfully admitted to Canada, and have temporary resident status in Canada at the time of application for the CEC.
- Foreign nationals who are already in the process of receiving their permanent resident status through other avenues do not qualify under the CEC.

- Recipients of select Government of Canada awards for foreign students will not qualify for the CEC as one of the primary objectives of those programs is that these students return to their own countries to apply the experience that they acquired in Canada.

So I guess they only want a few of the best and some of the brightest, and only if you swing a pencil for the CIBC - not if you swing a hammer for some general contractor...

Oh, Diane...please tell me you can do better than this.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Feeling lost

I'm feeling lost today.

In a pile of applications.

Between two countries.

Without my love.

No horizon in sight right now.

No longer connected to the US.

Not yet accepted in Canada.

I wonder if anyone is looking for me?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

"Spacing" out

Spacing Toronto is a very cool website/blog/multi thread that deals with the urban environment and issues such as architecture, landscape, congestion, community, culture and more. This is one of the coolest reads I've found online in a long time and really connects you in a new way to the pulse of the City and what's important to its residents. Drop by and tell them the Mind sent ya!

Immigrant stories

Canadian Immigrant Magazine online regularly publishes a series of immigrant success stories that are inspirational for those of us tired of all the bad news that seems to come out of the press on Canadian immigration issues. Let's face it, the news is there to capture those events that evoke strong reactions, and they have had a field day with Harper and Finley and company. If you (like I) need a break from all that, then check out the link above for stories that re-instill that feeling called Hope.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Harsh Reality (comments from the Star)

I was reading an article on immigration in the Star tonight and followed onto the reader comments where I found this note from an American immigrant. Interesting point of view of the struggles immigrants have in finding work.

Now, I'm immigrating for love, not money, but the experience of those who have been attracted over the years by the Canadian government's "Help Wanted" sign is certainly a cautionary tale for those seeking greener pastures in the great white north...

"My advice to folks thinking of immigrating to Canada: Don't do it for professional success and if you have, then don't stay here so long and struggle so that it becomes impossible to go back to your home country. I am a trained engineer and project manager. I work here as an administrative assistant in a temp job. Most places will tell me I need Canadian experience even though I have significant American experience. I knowingly made the move because my husband is Canadian and I moved here for him. Professionally things here are even worse than what I had believed. If we need to succeed as a country that opens its doors to immigrants, its important to open those doors to educated immigrants. And then to make sure those educated immigrants aren't under-employed. That's how we will keep the trash out. I think its ironic that people here have a problem with the fact that educated immigrants want to work well and contribute to this economy instead of sitting at home on welfare."

Read the article, "Immigration: Dream or Nightmare?" here

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Summer break

The Mind will be on summer vacation for the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, check out the archives and talk amoungst yourselves...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Toronto is crying

I like to think it's because my love and I are still apart...

Read all about the record rainfall here.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Why I still want to be a Canadian

I started this blog in April of 2005, during a complicated period where my love and I were making our first stab at negotiating the immigration process. Ours is a complicated situation, though in the end, it's all about two people in love who want to be allowed to live and make a life together in Canada.

Now I am an American by birth. And there was a time that I believed in the myth that is America. I believed in the land of the free and the home of the brave. I still believe it's the home of the brave - but land of the free? Hardly.

This is not the post to rant about how many freedoms have been taken away from the average American, or the number of people we put in prison, or the disenfranchised, the homeless, the working poor, the ex-cons that will never hold a decent job, the wage slaves, the power elite, the gulf between rich and poor, the concept of economic Darwinism...this is not the time nor place for all of that.

Those are all reasons I don't want to participate in the American society anymore. Funny enough, by attempting to define myself by the ways I do not believe in the world Americans have created for themselves, I am Canadian. For Canadians do this same thing every day. In inclusiveness, not exclusiveness - by empowerment over disenfranchisement, by forgiveness equal to judgement Canada is a very different country than the US.

I know it is not a paradise, nor perfect. I know immigrants, even those with the family support I will enjoy when I come home, have a difficult time finding work and making the adjustment to the way things are done (or not done). Despite this, the fundamental DNA of Canada is of a country born out of cooperation and compromise - not one forged in war. And that spirit of finding common ground, sharing in the responsibility for all Canadians, and attempting to do the right thing despite the challenge it poses...these are all things I deeply identify with.

Besides the love I have for a Canadian woman, they are the reasons I also have a love for Canada - and why I still one day hope and pray to stand at a citizenship ceremony and become a Canadian.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Living in hope

I have been looking back at the posts from the last few months - primarily since the whole budget and immigration reform thing came up - and I noticed that I have been getting a bit aggressive in tone. The overview of this blog has always noted, "...and the occasional rag on the CIC." but I seem to have made that more than occasional of late.

Maybe the frustration is showing? Maybe I'm betraying some fear that I wont be reunited with my love? That's what this has all been about from the start after all. This immigration to Canada has always been about taking down a border between my love and I, that we might have a life together. Along the way, I also fell in love with Canada. I want to make the rest of my life there. I want to be a Canadian, and all that that implies.

I am a man of faith. Being such, I shouldn't be worried, as I can get, over the actions of the government, or of bureaucrats. I have to put my faith in God that he will hear my prayers and break down even the barriers that the Tories may want to impose. Those barriers are nothing to my God. I need to remember that and live again in faith.

So I'll try to get back on an even keel here at the Mind, and be of service to those of you on the same quest to reunite, to become Canadians. After all, living in hope and faith is so much better than living in fear.

Wait...until she makes up her mind

The Star reported on the 21st that immigration officials have completely stopped the intake of new applications while it awaits a decision from Her Supreme Highness, the Seer of the Economy, the Balancer of Diversity, the Determiner of Righteous Reunification, Les Grande Protector De Refuge, otherwise known as Immigration Minister Diane Finley.

What the Honorable Ms. Finley must decide is which category of applicants will be processed and which will have their applications returned, unopened. This isn't an immediate process. Once she does decide, the CIC will have 6-months to notify the impacted individuals.

They will get their application fees back, but significant legal fees (averaging $5,000CAD for a basic application) are non-refundable.

And what about the backlog? While we await a decision from the Minister, it is expected to grow by another 90,000 applicants.

Read the Star story here.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Downtown Toronto from You Tube

I thought you might all enjoy a little 10 minute video of a cloudy day in Toronto from 2007. Just a reminder of where we are trying to get to...

Friday, June 13, 2008

A new era begins

The Liberals rolled over, the Tories got their way, and Canadians have a new immigration plan to get used to. On June 10th, the Star notes, "Bill C-50, a budget-implementation bill containing the immigration reforms, passed 120-90 despite the criticism of opposition parties."

Criticism - not action. The Liberals could have voted the bill down - but that would have forced an election...and the Liberals don't want one of those because they are afraid they might lose (again).

So in reality, the Liberals assisted the Tories in screwing Canadians out a a chance to debate and decide upon a balanced immigration policy that addresses backlogs but that is still fair and balanced.

All we that truely oppose these new policies can hope for is that the Tory minority falls soon and that these wholesale changes to immigration policy are short-lived.

And to the Liberals - we won't forget the support you gave us.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Canadian IMMIGRANT - Welcome to Canada checklist

The Canadian IMMIGRANT is a magazine and a website created around the following proposition: "Research from Statistics Canada shows that it takes an immigrant an average of 10 years to settle in Canada. We know that immigrants suffer from lack of information. Could we in any way help that immigrant by providing information in an accessible format? Could we speed up the process of "settling in"? It became increasingly clear that immigrant settlement issues meant more than just providing a brochure listing how to get Social Insurance Number (SIN) cards and open bank accounts. There are broader information needs to be met."

To that end, they've published a three-part (so far) guide to the "landing" process, including checklists, tips and immigrant resources. Landing is what all immigrants eventually go through, and is the process that includes your initial entry into the country as a Permanent Resident and getting established with basic identification and services.

Check out Part 1 here.

Monday, June 09, 2008

You tell 'em, Phil...

"Legislation that is important in shaping Canada's profile in the international community has survived another vote in the House of Commons – not because it is supported by a majority of elected legislators but due to a failure of Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion's caucus, which has refused to exercise its responsibility as the official Opposition.

"This is government by default; a minority government growing in unpopularity imposes its will on the country because elected MPs are continually absent during critical votes.
Surely there must be some appeal to the Governor General to terminate this government when it is so dysfunctional and clearly flaunting democratic principles.

"In the interim, it would be reasonable that the Bloc Québécois or the New Democratic Party be formally declared as the official Opposition and be accorded the privileges of Parliament so that the Harper government answer to a formal Opposition in the House of Commons."

- Phil Little, Nanaimo, B.C.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

One step closer to immigration reform

Just a quick update:

According to an article in yesterday's Star: "The Tories' budget implementation bill – which contains the immigration reforms – survived three votes last night and looks certain to get the Commons' final approval tomorrow or Thursday before going to the Senate. Only a handful of Liberals turned up for the votes, which passed 114-83. "

So the Liberals have rolled over like the schoolyard chicken who says, "I'll meet you for a fight after school." then doesn't show up for it. How Dion believes that these sorts of actions make his party more electable in the future is beyond me. Do Canadians forget about these things? Do the generations of immigrant citizens care about these things?

I tend to remember who's got my back and who doesn't. I guess Stephane is counting on a different result.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Hope you've saved some Loonies...

It doesn't look like the one opposition party left in the Federal government has any intention of letting the current Federal budget pass with its controversial immigration ammendments. In a May 21 article in the National Post, Toronto NDP MP, Oliva Chow (wife of NDP leader, Jack Layton) is quoted, "We're going to throw everything we can at it," she said. "We will speak, we will move motions, we will have amendments, we will try to make sure it doesn't pass this summer."

"Ordinary Canadians have not had the chance to speak out about this," said Ms. Chow. "The New Democrats believe the public would be served by [having] at least a few months to discuss and debate this issue."

With no budget in place before Summer, I hope the Conservatives have saved some Loonies!

Read the entire National Post article here

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

If getting to the Budget vote is any indicator...

...Then it's going to be a long time before Canada's New Government (oh wait - they aren't new anymore) gets around to really doing something effective, as opposed to political, about the immigration backlog.

There's nothing really new to report in the current immigration debate. Every few days, a new article comes out in the Star or the Globe and Mail, citing immigration experts who all seem to agree that Finley and Harper have got it wrong. Their ad-hoc approach to immigration management does nothing to deal with the current backlog of over 950K applicants (it would only be retroactive back to February of this year) and it fact, may divert resources from the backlog to deal with current demand in areas the Minister identifies as those classes to be focused on.

Their appear to be a couple of areas of consensus emerging in the debate that would begin to solve the backlog and create a policy that would benefit the nation's immigration goals:

1. Staff up - hire more processors to deal with the backlog and get fair decisions made on those who have already applied
2. Increase the number of immigrants allowed each year - Canada has acknowledged that it's economic future, and the quality of retirement of it's boomer generation depends on a growing population that can only be supported by immigration. So, let us in!
3. Pre-qualify/pre-screen/prepare - Set up a system that allows economic class applicants to get in line only after they know they meet certain standards for immigration (language, education, professional training). Their time and Canada's aren't wasted. Coordinate these programs closely with Canada's trade and professional licensing organizations and demand for professionals will be met, and fewer doctors will be driving taxis.

But if the leaders of the nation wont even get to a vote on funding the government, what chance does such a coordinated program have? I guess time will tell.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Spring Break is almost over!

Hi my friendly readers! I've been away on vacations the last few weeks, but will be getting back to the blog no later than next week. I really should post these absences up front...I have a goal of being more involved with the blog this year, so watch out for more news and info and features. Please vote in the polls so I know you're here and thanks again for checking in!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

WTF - didn't the budget pass already?

I thought I read that it did, but I'm still seeing articles on the immigration reform package...maybe there's still time to protest. In the meantime, April flies by as some nice work hits the door. On the personal immigration front, still no additional info for us - by this time in the last round we already had both approval of sponsorship and a rejection of our request.

I guess the backlog IS huge!

And here's an interesting little side note on the current immigration debate. Were you aware that the proposed changed wont be retroactive? It will only apply to applications received after February of 2008 (I believe that's the right date). So while it will eventually have an impact on the total backlog of applications being processed, it will not in anyway impact the CURRENT backlog.

And we still don't hear any talk of Finley going on a hiring spree to deal with what is at it's heart, a human resources management issue...

And also in the meantime, we do hear of immigrant groups grumbling with increasing volume about what will happen to Liberal support if the Liberals don't support their constitutes.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Dion fails us - immigration reform passes

You can't have it both ways, Stephane...You can't call the Tories anti-Canadian over their immigration reforms and then allow them to pass through Parliment unscathed. The passage of the Federal Budget today, in-tact with it's sweeping changes to immigration policy was one of those watershed moments where the position that you take so obviously reflects your true and core values. The Tories? Well they created this monster - we knew where they stood. The Liberals? They stood aside.

Remember what happened when the Western Nations appeased Germany back at the turn of the last Century? Only WWI...

And Dion is going to have a war on his hands now. If he thought he had a slim chance of winning an election yesterday...well I've got news for you, Stephane - your chances just got a whole lot worse.

Maybe Dion really doesn't understand the importance of family unity to South Asians and others - maybe that's why he thinks its okay, even temporarily, to deal a blow to family reunification. Tomorrow, Diane Finley could simply declare that the Family Class is not a priority and that the government will not be processing any new applications for this class....Just like that, thousands are out of the que - and Canada is well on it's way to solving the immigration backlog.

Way to go Stephane - YOU betrayed us all.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Liberal opposition - an oxymoron

On March 29th, Stephane Dion was quoted in the Globe and Mail, "We will determine the timing of the election when we will have the best odds of winning," he said in an interview that will run on the French-language TVA network tomorrow."

In other words, "immigrants and your issues be damned - we'll take down the Conservatives when we think we can win - not when they attempt to inact legislation that's against reason, against the Charter, or against you."

In the meantime, The Canadian Arab Federation has termed the Tories immigration proposals "dangerous", warning that they would easily lead to racial profiling. "Tomorrow, the minister might decide: 'We don't like Arabs and Muslims here. We think they are terrorists. We think their culture and religion don't fit with Canada,' " he said in an interview.

"Maybe I'm pushing it a little bit, but you never know."

If you're lucky enough to have immigrated to Canada already, or you're a potential immigrant, let Dion know how you feel about his lack of leadership.

"Liberal opposition" really is an oxymoron, and come an election, many will remember how their representatives stood on this issue.

Email Stephane Dion.

Read the entire Star article.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Voices raising in protest to Finley's immigration plans

Finley has Dion scratching his head...again

It's heartening to see that voices from all over the country are raising in protest to Immigration Minister Diane Finley's plans to centralize power and control in the Prime Minister's Office. Here's a sampling of opinions and articles I've found protesting the move:

"If the government really wants to speed up the immigration application process, it could start by hiring more staff to deal with a backlog instead of slapping a cap on new applications." - The Toronto Star

"...Gerri MacDonald, president of the Refugee Lawyers' Association of Ontario, isn't hopeful.
"The Conservative government put in all these unwanted provisions in a budget bill knowing that the opposition doesn't want to force an election," she noted.

"It is disturbing.""
- The Toronto Star

"Members of some of Canada's largest immigrant communities say plans to give the Immigration Minister more power to decide who gets to stay are misguided and they are urging the Dion Liberals to vote against the proposals, even if it means plunging the country into an election. " - Globe and Mail

Conservatives Turning The Clock Back On Immigration, Charges Surrey MP

The only voice we aren't hearing from? The Liberal Party of Canada...

Friday, March 14, 2008

What would Gomery think? An open letter to Stephane Dion

Dear The Honourable Mr. Dion,
Just yesterday, retired Justice John Gomery stated that the growing concentration of power in the Prime Minister's Office must be challenged because it is threatening the very democracy that Canadians enjoy.

Now, a day later, Immigration Minister Diane Finley proposed legislation that would revamp the entire immigration program, focusing power where? Why in the PMO, of course. And democracy certainly doesn't look like it's going to find a home there.

The Toronto Star reports today:

"Embedded in a budget-implementation bill tabled Friday in the Commons are landmark amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act which would:

– Allow the government to deny papers to applicants otherwise ruled admissible by immigration officers.

– Allow the minister to set limits on what types of immigrants – ``by category or otherwise" – can enter each year."

Can you read between the lines? What the Conservatives are attempting to do to solve the backlog of immigration requests is to put a cap on the program, anywhere they choose, anytime they choose and on anyone they choose.

History remembers when the Conservatives tried to put a cap Italian immigrants who came in the family class in the late 1950's. That attempt failed, but everything old is new again in "Canada's New Government."

Its troubling to note that, "...waiting times have continued to expand since 2005, and the number of new, permanent residents has fallen since the Conservative government took office." In other words, the backlog has been growing, and more people are getting rejected while the Conservatives came up with their new plan.

"Our government has two objectives," Immigration Minister Diane Finley said.

"The first is to bring more newcomers here to fill the jobs and be reunited with their families. The second is to do it faster." bring in those newcomers they approve of, no matter what those in the CIC have already ruled. fill jobs in areas that don't threaten their supporters. reunite families who's structure middle-aged white folks can understand. do it faster by purging the rolls of who they will consider.

I for one am looking the the Opposition to take this bill and shove it up the PM's backside. If there were ever a measure that stood for the kind of Canada each party has a vision of, this one is it. And if ever there was a reason to question the confidence of a government to lead the country in a way that was in keeping with the hard won rights and freedoms it now enjoys, this is that reason.

Stephan Dion - roll over on this issue at your own peril. This is an historic moment.

Sir - take this government down!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Ombudsman an overdue idea

In a recent article in the Star, Allan Thompson proposes the CIC develop an Ombudsman's office as a way to see that the CIC operates in a fair manner, compliant with the law and without bias or malice or prejudice.

In my own situation, last time around - I certainly could've used an Ombudsman...Our officer got lots of basic facts wrong in the ruling that was against us. Unfortunately, we couldn't afford to pay the money to try and have the ruling reviewed at a higher level, and even then, the process has you returned to the same level to face another officer. It was justice by checkbook.

With an Ombudsman in place, we could've challenged the conduct of the CIC in making a ruling not consistent with the facts. I think it would've made all the difference.

So good on you, Allan Thompson! You have power I've seen influence the CIC before in having them make their website easier to use. Let's hope they are still listening to your sound words.

Check out the story

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Examining the "Top 20"

"Best Employers for New Canadians is a new national awards competition conducted by Mediacorp Canada, editors of Canada's Top 100 Employers, in partnership with the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council.

"The award recognizes employers who offer leading programs to assist new Canadians in making the transition to a new workplace, and a new life in Canada."

Here are the Top 20 Firms:

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT BANK OF CANADA - Montreal - finance/banking
CAE INC. - Montreal - manufacturing
CHRISTIE DIGITAL SYSTEMS CANADA INC. - Waterloo, Ont - manufacturing
CIBC - Toronto - banking
ENBRIDGE INC. - Calgary - natural gas
ERNST & YOUNG LLP - Toronto - finance
ISLAND HEARING SERVICES - Victoria, B.C. - professional medical services
KEANE CANADA INC. - Halifax - information technology
KPMG LLP - Toronto - accounting and professional services
MDS NORDION INC. - Ottawa - medical manufacturing
MANULIFE FINANCIAL CORP. - Toronto - financial services
PROVIDENCE HEALTH CARE - Vancouver - medical services
REPLICON INC. - Calgary - information technology
ST. MICHAEL'S HOSPITAL - Toronto - medical services
TD BANK FINANCIAL GROUP - Toronto - financial services
TORONTO TRANSIT COMMISSION - Toronto - public transportation
UNIVERSITY OF SASKATCHEWAN - Saskatoon - education
WARDROP ENGINEERING INC. - Winnipeg - engineering and information technology
i3DVR INTERNATIONAL INC. - Toronto - manufacturing

Ontario really leads the way in this list, which isn't much of a surprise given the number of immigrants the Province absorbs each year. Let's hope that recognition of these firms will lead to others in their industries stepping up to the challenge of providing opportunities for all Canadians, old and new.

For more details on each firm, read the Star article here.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Movement at last

Just a quick post to note that we were assigned a case number in early January - our lawyer didn't pass the information until now. So it's nice to know that the clock really is ticking and the process really has begun. I'm excited and hopeful that our case will find mercy this time around. I want to come live with my love in Toronto. I want to become a Canadian,

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Bad Timing, that's all

I love that Blue Rodeo song.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the latest statistics on immigration processing wait times and my own application, it seems to be an applicable title.

Since 2004, wait times are up 20%. Yikes. I wondered why I hadn't heard anything yet from my lawyer, and this information released by the Liberals gives me a good reason. Our application is probabably still in the in box.

The Tories say they inherited big backlogs upon taking power. Oh poo - I don't buy that. The numbers were what they were and they are what they are. Everyone at the time knew Canada was actively trying to attract more skilled workers, as well as opening up new options for the family class. Did they think they would get through all these new applications without applying some increased manpower to the processing? In the US, we call that an "unfunded mandate" - in Canada, it's still the Liberal's fault.

Come on Stephen - this is the essence of managing growth.

Read the Star article here

Friday, January 25, 2008

Integration of the next generation

I just finished reading an editorial by Mehdi Rizvi in the Star regarding the challenges immigrants face in integrating with Candian culture. The editorial also took a stab at the stresses put on 2nd generation immigrants who's parents may resist the unstoppable conversion of their children's identity from one they understand (their own) to one they don't (Canada's).

Let's face it - we all grow up burdened with our parent's view of the world and culture and at one point we all shake it off in favor of our own. While that change may be a radical one for immigrants, it is certainly not a foreign one. Every generation experiences it. Second generation Canadians are, after all, Canadians. They may be hyphenated by race or color or religion, but not by birth. Like all of us, they cannot help but to ultimately be of their time and of their place in the world.

Those that face the biggest challenge are in fact first generation immigrant children. They have been raised learning the rules of their country and society only to be uprooted and caused to learn another. Imagine how difficult that must be...Just when you thought you had it all figured out, the rules change on you.

But from these rough experiences, Canada has gained character. Let's remember to have compassion especially toward those children engaged in that particular struggle.

read the Star article here)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A quiet January

Well, here it is halfway into the first month of the new year and all is quiet on the immigration front. Our application is in, we are waiting for our case number or sponsorship approval or both, and the days seem to fly by.

I'm saddened by the fact that I missed another New Year in Toronto, that I'm going to miss Winter City Weekends and the Winterlicious dining deals and another season of skating at Nathan Phillips Square, and NOT getting tickets to a single Maple Leafs game...but I'm trying to deal with it.

When I started the Expatriate Mind, the idea was to explore what it's like for an American to leave one home for another - Canada. But now, I feel more and more like a Canadian expatriate living in the US. I'm not really connected with the US in many meaningful ways anymore, save family. I don't approve or agree with the country's politics, I don't like how exclusionary we have become - the "close the border" mentality. I don't approve of how Geo-centric we are (the world outside the US doesn't matter to most US citizens), or our dominating ways on the world stage. I don't approve of the police state we have become.

So I am a stranger in my own land now, waiting to return to my love and my home of choice - Toronto. In the quiet doldrums of the New Year, that's what's on this expatriate's mind.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year

Hi readers! Well, the holiday is over and the Mind is back to consider all things immigration once again. Winter is a good time to ponder after all. I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday with friends and family. Mine was okay, but as I am still separated from my love, it wasn't as happy as it will be in the future.

I miss my love so much. We must've talked a half-dozen times a day over each day of the holiday. Then last night - New Year's Eve, we talked that many times, plus I called her at the New Year and she stayed up until 3am to call me too.

May this be the last New year we spend apart.

Lord, hear my prayer...