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 23, 2009

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

It's been a quiet December and now comes the holiday. My love and I will be together again, though not home together in Toronto (yet). That being the case, I'll be far too busy and happy to be blogging for the rest of the year.

So let this entry be an end to the notes for 2009. It's been quite a year - my busiest ever in relation to this blog. I hope the pace I set will continue into the new year. I enjoy sharing immigration news with you all and I hope that its a blessing to you.

God willing, the new year will see me writing all my entries from Toronto - but this is something we just can't know right now.

God bless you in your personal immigration story in the new year. As Red Green always said: "We're all in this together - I'm rootin' for you!"


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

'Tis the season

Yes, it's the Christmas season. That means I'm busy with holiday plans and plans to see my love. We have made some forward progress, with an interview to be scheduled for the two of us in Buffalo. While it would've been nice to simply be approved, sometimes with complicated situations like ours, they want to talk to you. That's OK: we'll talk.

So it'll probably be quiet here most of the rest of this month, but I'll get back onto the blogging in the New Year. I hope yours, dear readers, is a beautiful one and that all of OUR immigration dreams come true in it.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Fake marriages or something else?

New Democrat MP Olivia Chow (Trinity-Spadina) inquired in a House of Commons committee meeting today about the nearly 50 per cent refusal rate for spousal applications from places such as China, western Africa and Hong Kong.

She was told that the government's immigration ministry believes that these marriages are fake - and potentially an effort back by organized crime. The question is: is this solely a concern in immigration from countries with visible minorities?

"Globally we do have a problem of marriages of convenience, commercialized, fake marriages to get into Canada," (immigration minister) Kenney said.

But where is the substantiation? Is there the same focus and refusal rate for, say, eastern European spousal applications? Applications from Italy? From the US? Or is this just an easy excuse for a ministry under pressure to keep immigration numbers down in 2010?

Read the article in the Star here

Friday, November 20, 2009

Happy Holidays - The Sweater By Sheldon Cohen

Some people have their holiday favorites - "It's a Wonderful Life", "A Christmas Carol" know them by heart. I have my own favorite: It's "The Sweater", an animated film by Sheldon Cohen, from the original short story and narrated by Roch Carrier. This is my holiday gift to all of you. I hope you enjoy it as much as I always do!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Court opens door to immigrant debt relief

Things change. Relationships end. But when it comes to immigration sponsorship, since 2004, a sponsor's responsibility can go on and on. The deal is: when you sponsor someone to immigrate to Canada, you sign a document that says if they have to go on public assistance for any reason, then YOU have to pay the government back for it. No matter what the situation may be. Since 2004, no one has been eased of this responsibility - not for any reason. Today, Ontario's Court of Appeals said, wait a minute - there needs to be some discretion here. The government owes it to it's citizen's to look at situations on a case by case basis. "The federal and provincial governments had argued that sponsorship was a contract the sponsor should be fully aware of and there was no discretion to forgive the debt, regardless of marriage breakdown, unemployment or illness." Of course they did. The court didn't buy it. Three cheers for a court that realizes life throws curves at people. That things are rarely black and white, and that real justice is a very individual matter.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Kenny's immigration plan - there is a method

A thought just came to me...isn't it interesting that Quebec is getting the largest share of the skilled worker program? I can think of a couple reasons here.

1. To solidify Bloc support of the Tories at least for now

2. Immigration to Quebec takes longer as they have their own approval process beyond the federal process; in essence, delaying the immigration of these skilled workers and appeasing those who will say Canada is letting too many in.

By the end of the plan year, the Tories will be able to point to lower overall immigration numbers, appeasing the conservatives who don't support immigration at all.

In Ottawa, the maneuvering never ends.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Is it just about the money?

I was reading an article today about a Mexican woman who was trying to visit family in Canada, but was denied entry because the visa official thought there was a good chance she wouldn't leave once her 16-day visit was over (see the article here).

Liberal MP Frank Valeriote's office looked into the matter after a complaint from the family of the rejected applicant. It seems the visa official got the facts wrong, and made the ruling based off of the wrong facts. This much, they seem to be clear on. Yet when asked by MP's office to re-open the case, the visa office in Mexico said, "no."

What option does the woman have? She can REAPPLY. She can pay the $150 fee again. Am I the only one who thinks this is wrong? She has no guarantee that the same thing wont happen again. If they make the right decision and let her in this time, she doesn't get the first $150 she spent on the process back.

So let me get this straight. The visa office can take your money, screw up the service they provide for that money and the only recourse you have is to pay them to do it over again?

I wonder if the situation would have been different if it had been a Tory MP asking for the case to be re-opened?

Either way - this is why people are very leery about the professionalism of the CIC officers. And rightly so.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Minister Kenny's 2010 immigration plan

Immigration Minister Kenney announced his 2010 immigration plan to Parliament on Friday and the plan is for a less compassionate, less family oriented and Quebec-centric focus in the coming year.

Of the 240-260,000 new immigrants expected in the coming year, the largest single number, over 100K, is for the skilled worker class, and of those, the largest percentage is being targeted for Quebec.

It's interesting that while at one time, one of the prime focuses of Canada's immigration policy was the reunification of families, nowadays you can't event find a single statement to that effect on the CIC site - and the Minister's announcement to the press ignored the issue entirely. His focus, like the rest of the Tories, is on the economy.

The cold fact is that last year, while 43,360 skilled workers came to Canada accompanied by 60,376 spouses and children, in the family class, only 47,451 spouses and children got in. And the plan for next year is only 42,000 (the lowest number since before 2003.

2010 is not the year to be in love with a Canadian.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

What's wrong with me?

Readers may have noted that October has been a quiet month here at the Mind. What's wrong? Well to be honest, I'm a little burnt out - a little disconnected right now. Fatigued. That's the word.

It comes from a lot of travel this month, with very little time that to spend online, or paying attention to immigration news. Our own situation remains in a black hole, so there you go. Excuses-a-plenty.

I'll get back to it soon. Travels should settle down in a week or so.

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and that the Fall here in North America is treating you well.

Don't worry - the Mind will return to form soon!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Emotional impacts

Just look at the archives. I've been at this since before 2005. That year marked the end of our first go-round with immigration. Now it's 2009, almost 2010. Who would've thought we'd still be at it at this point? Not me. But I know our process is actually not very long compared to many who are in the que for immigration to Canada in the family class. Some families are separated for years beyond us. Some are never permitted to reunite in Canada - sending the sponsors back home or leading to permanent separation.

This all generates a huge emotional impact. It's very hard to live in a state of constant uncertainty. It's hard to throw your hopes and dreams into the hands of an overworked, understaffed bureau and into a black hole of communications where only the slightest info is leaked and where it seems the squeaky wheel gets the oil, but if you squeak too much, they change the tire.

We have gone through feelings of loss, worry, hopelessness, and the anxiety that comes with not really feeling the earth under your feet. It manifests itself in anger, substitution, finger pointing, fear, denial, and all sorts of ways that if left unchecked can undermine even the most stable relationships. We have been lucky. We have been lucky because so far our love for each other has overcome the challenges of being apart.

Maybe this is a cautionary tale. For those of you considering this road, to understand that even when you're in it together as my love and I are - it's a lonely and rocky one. There's no GPS to guide you. You can't follow anyone else's path. It's your journey alone.

If this was about economic opportunity, I would've given up on Canada a long time ago. But it's about love. And for me, giving up on love is like giving up on life - I can't do it.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Back from vacation

Hi friends - back from vacation and getting caught up. Watch for some new posts soon!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

More online resouces - Toronto

As promised, here's a few more links to good news and information sources. Those of you outside the Big Smoke may not get all the value out of these, but since I'm Toronto bound as a lot of you are too...

Torontoist - Toronto news, culture, events and everything else
680 News - All news radio from Toronto
City TV/CityNews - Downtown Toronto's popular TV news source
BlogTO - Arts, music, fashion, film, dining...this blog has the pulse of the City

I'll keep them coming. Please comment with your own favorite lists!

Monday, September 21, 2009

In honor of TIFF - a few Canadian movies to love

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) has just concluded and since I'm not feeling particularly polictical this month, I thought I'd share with you a handful of Canadian films (and US films with Canadian content) that you might want to consider checking out. Nothing serious here, as you will soon be able to tell, but I'm sure you'll be entertained.

The envelope, please...(the Netflix envelope that is!)

The Rocket - the story of Mauirce Richard, the greatest hockey player of all time!
The Sweater - Roch Carrier's short story of growing up in St. Justine, Quebec, animated by Sheldon Cohen
Les Boys - French Canadians, hockey, what more could you ask for?
Men With Brooms - A lighthearted comedy/romance with curling too.
Mystery, Alaska - Gladiator meets the NY Rangers. Sure it's a US film, but it was made in Canada!
Slap Shot - Roy Hill's hilarious minor league carnival wouldn't be complete without the song, "A Little Bit South of Saskatoon."
Strange Brew - SCTV makes good, eh? More stereotypes than you can fill a canoe with.
A Christmas Story - yes, Canadian film makers at work with Ralphie and the Red Rider rifle.
Atanarjuat - an Inuit legend of an evil spirit causing terrible trouble

What films have you enjoyed?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Losing your illusion - right-wing Canada

Every country has what we in America call "right-wing zealots". Canada is no exception. These are folks who subscribe to a very black and white view of the world, who regard immigrants with suspicion, who advocate closed borders, "get tough" policies and generally lack compassion for others.

Whenever there is a report on an immigration issue in The Star, these folks come out of their bunkers in droves to comment, stepping up anonymously and hiding behind monkiers like "Canada for Canadians" and "George W Bush".

In a recent article, The Star reported on a case for the UK involving a Canadian woman who was kicked out of the UK and wont be able to return for two years (when she's 21) under a law meant to protect the forced (arranged) marriage of young women to older men (a non-western tradition). She is 19, he is 28.

Sure enough, out come the vultures, ready to feed:

"Canada needs to stiffen our laws too. I am a Canadian citizen (single male) and I have been offered money in the past from a woman wanting to get married for citizenship. I wound (sic) how often that happens?"

"Canada wants to let in more people to support the aging population and pension plan, but at what cost? A good percentage of the people getting in don't want to work or are out rite criminals."

"Canada too should follow Britain in stopping this `business' of bringing spouses from one's native country. Canadian men go to their native India and Pakistan or wahtever and exploit people's craze there for foreign tag. They marry their daughters to them. What happens after that is well documented. Also, this practice doesn't encourage integration in local societies. Wake up, Jason Kenney."

While there are many, MANY who will welcome you to Canada as an immigrant, don't be surprised that there is also a very vocal contingent who wants nothing to do with you. It's always been this way, and always will be. Don't let it discourage you!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The Best in Canadian Blogging

If you are looking for the best blogs Canada has to offer (besides this one :)), then you can do no better than to check out those listed at the Canadian Blog Awards web site. Though the 2009 awards season has not started yet, there's still lots of great finds here. Every topic from the political to the personal, sports, photography, entertainment and culture and much, MUCH more is covered in the nominees.

And maybe when the polling opens again for 2009, you can throw a nomination my way too :).

- Cheers!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Scouting the web - Canadian immigration news

I found a nice site tonight I thought I'd share with you all. is dedicated to those looking to come to Canada to work and covers a lot of bases. It's focus however, is "to provide an interdisciplinary and collaborative site, where the analysis and discussion about discrimination against highly skilled immigrants in the Canadian job market can articulate effective proposals to eliminate systematic racism."

This is a great goal, but I stumbled onto them because they also happen to keep regularly up on immigration news. If you're looking for a sampling of the buzz about immigrant issues, they are certainly a good bookmark to add. Check out their news feed here. The only thing I'd like to see with their effort is a link back to full articles. You can always plug the headings into Google and get the whole thing I suppose, but it would be better if they simply linked us in.

I'll do a full survey of immigration news providers later this month.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

It's gonna take some immigrants!

In an article for the August 29th Star:

"Many Canadians are using information and communications technology devices these days, but not enough Canadians are entering the field of ICT. And that has left the country with a shortage of qualified workers, according to a national survey conducted for the Canadian Coalition for Tomorrow's ICT Skills (CCICT)."

(ICT stands for "Information and Communication Technologies")

"So where will the new ICT workers come from?

"CCICT research indicates there are three main feeder sources for this field: young people planning a career; immigrants; and people in the existing workforce who are looking to upgrade skills."

Good news - I work in tech. Hire me, Canada!

My love will be very pleased you have a job for me.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

WHTI-less policy drives Canadian tourism down

The Globe and Mail reports that samoe-day cross border visits between the US and Canada for June dropped 26% this year upon implementation of WHTI (the Western Hempisphere Travel Initiative).

"The dramatic drop in travel across the Canada-U.S. border shows that the fears of many in the tourism industry in both countries are coming to pass. After the tougher passport rules were announced in 2005 as part of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, many industry groups warned that the regulations would further discourage Americans already reluctant to travel due to the high dollar and gas prices."

Leave it to the US to make our best international friend an enemy in the name of security. This program, and its lack of real-world context (fear of terrorist attack FROM Canada? Is this 1812?) illustrates the worst of US political pandering and electioneering. And it illustrates the immediate need for the elimination of the Department of Homeland Security (my gosh but that has such a totalitarian ring to wonder in a republic where we call our department heads "Czars").

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

People are (not) having sex

From an article by Carol Goar in The Star:

"Our fertility rate has fallen below the population replacement level. Within two years, the growth of our labour force will be entirely dependent on immigrants. Within six years, seniors will outnumber children."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A little context - the other direction

My love asked me to look into the potential of her immigrating to the US today, and frankly, it's been a topic that just hasn't come up. Surprising isn't it, but we have been focused on the Canadian side of the equation, and she hasn't had much of a desire to immigrate here.

As usual, what I quickly found out is that the US makes it even more of a burden for spouses to come to the country in many ways.

First off, you must meet a minimum financial requirement (the poor cannot sponsor their spouses unless they get a co-signer).

Next, the while your spouse can immediately come to the country, they have to apply for a work permit (which can take up to 3+ months to acquire, and is not guaranteed).

Finally, if they want to leave the country for any reason (maybe to go home and sell the condo, take care of a sick relative, etc.), they must get permission from the government to do so. Again - fill out a form and wait. If they don't get permission, they can be denied entry into the country again, AND the application is considered abandoned.

Think of the personal implications of all of these policies together. Now remember, that this isn't even a fraction of the process...

In comparison, the Canadian process seems downright humane and fair-minded.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

One more for the missing

Ok - this trend wont last. Next post will definitely be back to immigration news, politics, sightseeing...something other than sadness and self-pity. But right now I'm feeling it, and as a friend says, "it doesn't do any good to bottle that crap up."

I miss...
  • Seeing my Love's face at YYZ
  • The view of downtown coming in on the Gardiner from the west
  • Shopping for cheese at St.Lawrence Market
  • Seeing a movie at the Paramount
  • Getting lost in PATH
  • Walking up Younge Street to The Bay
  • Philosopher's Walk
  • The AGO
  • The wading pool at College Park
  • Street hot dogs
  • Watching storms roll in from the west
  • Sunday paper with brunch on Queen Street West
  • The farmer's market at Nathan Phillips Square
  • Pineapple Fried Rice at Spring Rolls
  • Hockey puck checkers at Indigo
  • The restaurants on Baldwin Street
  • Figuring out where to put everything after a Costco run
  • Lunch at IKEA in Etobicoke
  • Walks along the Lakeshore
  • Summer evenings in The Beaches
  • Waking up to CP24 news
  • Drooling over guitars at Capsule
  • Poutine from the truck at Nathan Phillips Square
  • Wedding pictures in front of the mansion on Queen Street West

What do you miss?

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Nights when faith comes and goes

Today I have to acknowledge that I miss my love a lot. This separation is hard. The last week when we talk via Vonage (thank God for Vonage) each evening, all we can ask each other is for reassurance that we will be together soon, and each bedtime prayer is capped with us asking God to end this separation by allowing us to be togther and for this immigration saga to end. I can't say we don't both lose faith at times - we do. But not for long. Deep in our hearts we still believe God has a plan for our lives that doesn't include a border dividing us.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Shout out to Toronto Life

Every big city nowadays has a magazine or two to call its own that take on the job of informing residents and outsiders on the inside scoop for culture, news, restauants, trends, and on and on. Think, New York Magazine and Seattle Magazine...While never exactly accurate, they do have a certain pulse on what's going on.

Toronto's version of this is Toronto Life. I have been a subscriber to this monthly and I can recommend the magazine on a number of levels. First off, they cover news of the city in both a high and in depth manner. Always giving you an overview of the month's happenings as well as particular insight into topics ranging from the real estate market to health care to the arts, and on and on. You get to know the cultural movers and shakers and through their "Urban Decoder" section, even learn some interesting facts about the Big Smoke.

Additionally, the magazine has an extensive online presence where their articles are republished and that acts as far more than just a front for gathering new subscriptions.

If Toronto is your home or home to be, I encourage you to check them out at and pick up a subsciprion too. Their little red book guides to the best of the city are worth the price of admission alone.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Seasons of change

Ok, so usually I use this blog to comment on immigration matters and border politics and US and Canadian news of interest to those in the immigration process, but, as news is sort of slow and because I don't want to go silent for the summer...let's talk about the weather!

So here in Seattle it's been miserable hot for days and is supposed to continue in this manner for the week. Yesterday we had temps around 30C and thunderstorms - by the middle of the week, we're looking at closer to 32C! And that's not even counting what you Canadians know as the humidex reading. For Seattle - that's HOT.

Meanwhile, in Toronto, my love informs me of flooding downtown, and in general it's been unusually cool and rainy this summer too.

I like to think that the heavens bring signs, and this changed season will bring a season of change in my life. That change being, of course, that I am reunited with my love in Toronto.

If you have a moment, say a little prayer for us. And keep an eye on the weather too.

Friday, July 17, 2009

US Homeland Security gone wild!

Canadian border news from an article in The Canadian Press:

"Montana Rep. Julie French, D-Scobey, said the federal government is pouring $15 million in economic stimulus funds into upgrading a border crossing in her district that caters to about 10 cars a day.

"They need to be updated, yes. Fifteen million? No. I mean, common sense is what is lacking for all of this," she said."

Doing the math, that equals almost $411.00 in border security spending for every car that crosses at this remote Montana border station.

Read all about it here.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Fortress America's impact at the Canadian border

Paul Berton, in an editorial in the Winnipeg Sun, writes about the increasing difficulties trade and visitors encounter at our mutual border. Here's an excerpt:

"It is often proudly called the world's longest undefended border, but it's not exactly true. There may be no military presence between Canada and the United States, but the border is increasingly defended by law enforcement and government officials.

"The trend bodes ill for Canada's economy, and is perhaps best symbolized by the rising wall of security and bureaucracy for cross-border tourists.

"As if the recession weren't enough, citizens (with a few exceptions) of both countries must now carry a passport to cross the border.

"Before the new rules came into effect this spring, tourism was already in a tailspin -- spending fell 1.3% in the first three months of this year, the third straight quarterly decline, making it the most prolonged downturn since 9/11.

"In fact, it was as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks that both countries started spending millions to beef up border security, causing longer wait times, bigger line-ups, and a growing series of bureaucratic obstacles for visitors to both countries.

"Late last year, the number of trips into Canada from the U.S. plummeted by 5.9% to 2.2 million visitors, the lowest in more than a decade. How much worse will it get now?

"The problem is bad enough for travellers, but it's particularly acute for Canadian businesses that rely on American tourists, because relatively speaking, fewer Americans feel the need for a passport -- 30% compared to 54% of Canadians. "

Read the entire editorial here.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Ottawa's money shows where it's mouth is

If you read press releases from the office of the Minister for Immigration and Multiculturalism, Jason Kenny, you'd believe all was right in the world. You'd believe that Ottawa supports a positive immigration policy, and that they stand behind immigrants, recognizing their value to the country and the economy.

But then I read that this same Minister and his office have withheld over $190 million in promised funding to Ontario that was to be dedicated to immigration and integration programs. Additionally, Ottawa was looking to cut an additional $90 million from the $920 million dollar program (though this appears to have been reinstated).

Now, why would Ottawa be messing with immigration program funding at this time? Clearly this is a nod to the economy, but its also a bow to pressure from anti-immigrant voices in the country who believe that immigrants are bad for the country and the economy and that this spending is wasted, or better used to provide services to "real" Canadians.

It's time that those who were immigrants and are now citizens speak up for those who are most in need - which happen to be each other. According to the NDP, unemployment among immigrants who have been in the country 5-10 years have experienced a climb in unemployment from 8% to a current 16%.

Read the Star article here

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Happy Canada Day!

Dear Readers,
you may sometimes read this blog and think by the tone that I don't love Canada. I am fairly critical at times about the government and the CIC - I'll admit. But I LOVE Canada. In my mind there is no better country in the world, nor a country that more completely reflects my view of the world. Canadians are in general some of the nicest, most interesting people I have ever met and have a social willingness to help each other that is decidedly not like the rest of North America in a very positive way. I want to be one of them. I can't wait to be Canadian. But I have waited and I will wait.

God bless Canada, and God bless you this Canada day.

- J

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cruel Ottawa - reunification statistics exposed

Yes, Canada can be a cold place.

Especially if you are a couple separated by a border (as my love and I are). But even more so if you happen to be unlucky enough to have your spouse or partner in a country like China or from the continent of Africa.

According to an article in today's Star - "The refusal rate for Hong Kong – which also serves Guangdong, Fujian and Hainan in southern China – was 48 per cent last year, the figures reveal. From the Accra office, which serves the West African countries of Gambia, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Liberia, the rate was 46 per cent."

The article sites unnamed Canadian officials who claim the reasons for this disparity is that they suspect fraud in the relationships, but of course, the simplest thing for a low level official (or in some cases, contractor) to do is to say "no", forcing the applicant to make the expensive choice to appeal - a choice that adds an additional year or YEARS to the process depending on where you are applying from. Now add to that the condition that out-of-country applicants are not allowed to visit Canada while their request is under consideration (for fear that they will remain regardless of the outcome of their case).

The online responses to this article are unfortunately full of the vehemence typical of a number of right-wing Canadians, though a voice of reason put the situation most succinctly:

"It would help if there were enough members on the Immigration & Refugee Board to conduct hearings in a timely fashion. It would help more if decisions were not made largely based on the opinions, beliefs, and prejudices of civil servants, who are largely unaccountable because "they can always appeal if they don't like the decision". To correct the problems, however, requires something that the present government does not have - a will to change and a vision of justice.

"Submitted by Northern Cynic at 8:26 AM Tuesday, June 30 2009"

Here's the sidebar on Sponsorship Rejection rates:


When it comes to sponsoring a wife or husband, the country of origin affects the chance of success. Here are Canada's top 5 and bottom 5 visa offices for spousal rejections.


Hong Kong (south China), 48 per cent
(West Africa), 46 per cent
, 34 per cent
Port of Spain
, 33 per cent
(East Africa), 27 per cent


Taipei, 3 per cent
Sao Paulo and Caracas
, 4 per cent
, 5 per cent
, 5 per cent
(Great Britain, Ireland, Scandinavia), 6 per cent

Read the entire article here

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Case argues for access to humanitarian channel

In a case before the Canadian courts, lawyers are arguing that poor immigrant candidates who are applying under humanitarian and compassionate grounds, should have their application fee waived if they cannot afford it.

However, lawyers for the government said the access to humanitarian consideration, as opposed to access to justice in courts and tribunals, is not a right but "an exceptional relief on discretionary bases." (sic)

To me, its another interesting governmental disconnect when you call a process compassionate, yet start it with an act of self-interest (making the applicant pay a fee to be considered). Face it, while it is government's role to provide a range of agreed-to services, legislated by their MPs, it is the bureaucrats role to limit access to those same services. There's nothing like a fee to keep something out of reach.

The government is granting residency in these cases over half the time - which tells you that half the time, these people should have been let in in the first place, if only the case officer considered the WHOLE case. This avenue of last resort for immigrants is in essence a path of extortion. H/C grounds applications are "appeals" - they are heard in front of an appeals official. To say you have no right to appeal a poor judgment unless you can pay (the current standard) is highly undemocratic. Unfortunately, it is not unique to Canada.

If you can pay a fee that covers some of the overhead on your case, that's fine. But if an applicant truly can't, then come on Canada - show some real compassion.

Read the whole story here

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Summer hiatus

Just a note to my loyal readers that The Mind will be taking a Summertime sojourn of sorts over the next few weeks. Be VERY surprised if you see much new, though I will try and login and keep you updated as I can. For now, travels with my love call me away from the world of immigration and blogging, but have no fear - I'll be back to provide you with the best in Canadian immigration news and commentary before you know it.

And by the way - why aren't YOU taking a break too?!

Cheers! - J

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Canada prepares to get paranoid

Why does it seem at times that the government of Canada takes its lead from the worst of US policies? In an article in today's Globe and Mail, "The incoming head of Canada's spy agency says new rules requiring digital fingerprints and photos at foreign visa offices will be extended to every visitor from any country in the world..."

Newly appointed CSIS head Richard Fadden is quoted, “The intention is to capture everybody,” Mr. Fadden told MPs during an appearance before the House of Commons immigration committee yesterday. “The idea is to increase our capacity to know who is in Canada at a particular point of time.”

Sound familiar?
How does "Fortress Canada" sound to you?

These plans are horribly consistent with the clampdown at US border crossings and only promise to be used as vehicles for discrimination (how's this for code-speak:
“We're going to phase this in and we're going to pick countries where there are more concerns, but the intent is to cover all temporary visitors,” said Mr. Fadden.), as well as provide justification for eventually collecting a database of biometric data on all Canadians.

As Robert Heinlein wisely said, "Love your country, but never trust its government." Remember - they work for you. Tell the Tories you don't want to live in the US.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

The doldrums

You know the doldrums - those latitudes near the equator where the winds rarely blow, where the still and the calm marooned sailors before the days of steam and diesel. Those are the latitudes of immigration at times for all of us who are sailing this particular ocean.

I was contacted last week by a man in New Delhi, India who was asking me about how long the process of immigration to Canada can take. I looked it up for him and discovered that for the New Delhi office, the standard - this is typical - wait, is 66 to 72 months. Without any of the complexities - if you had a rock-solid, no-problem immigration - five to six years.

It's no wonder some us feel lost at sea. Once we make a commitment to leave our home country and make a new home, it's like we've left port; we see our country diminish in the background, we see the new land in our hearts on the horizon and we ache to begin our lives there.

But until we know that we will be allowed to make our new lives where we have set our destination, we are at sea, and not knowing which way the wind will blow, or even if it ever will for us...these are our days in the doldrums.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Feel-good stories for the end of May

The immigration process can be depressing. It takes time and a lot of effort and expense, both tangible and emotional, to reach for the dream of a new life in Canada. And after all that you don't know if you're even going to be accepted. And after that, what will your new life really be like?

The CIC has posted a section on their website dedicated to "Success Stories" that may provide some inspiration when you are feeling a little low. I believe it's important TO believe that for you and I, the future we dream of is possible.

Click here to read a few tales or immigrants to Canada who more than make it there!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Be sure she shows you her passport!

U.S. Homeland Security boss to make Canadian visit
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Sheldon Alberts, CanWest News Service

"U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is planning to make her first visit to Canada next week amid lingering concerns in Ottawa over statements that raised questions about her understanding of security issues along America's northern border. While details of Napolitano's trip are still being finalized, officials at Homeland Security and the Department of Public Safety have been trying to finalize a border security deal that would make permanent a little-known—and potentially controversial—pilot project allowing the RCMP and the U.S. Coast Guard to conduct joint armed patrols of shared waterways."

Read the rest of the story

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

In the name of security

While not a perfect parallel, the current border issues with the US implementation of tighter border security, and the Canadian government's efforts to remove a former KGB agent living in Vancouver are both examples of power mis-applied.

I'm not a hand-wringing Liberal by any means. But clearly the US should be making it easier for Canadians to travel to the US to visit and do business, rather than make it more difficult. The "one size fits all" mentality of the Department of Homeland Security demonstrates leadership that is either too dumb or too lazy to develop programs that recognize the special relationship the US has with Canada.

Similarly, the case of Mikhail Lennikov should be reviewed carefully, as should all cases of would-be immigrants with less than ideal pasts. It is easy for a pencil pusher, who will never have to justify his/her decision to say "no" to someone like Lennikov, who was recruited by the KGB as a young man. Especially if you don't care to note that he left the agency as soon as he could (after the fall of the Soviet Union) and has lived without incident in Canada for 11 years. It's easier to throw him out of the country. Easier to pass the buck. Easier to let a judge decide. Easier just to hope he can't afford a lawyer and will go away.

What kind of security do immigrants have if proof of their good character - in this case 11 years of living peacefully in the country, mean nothing? Does the CIC seriously think Lennikov is some sort of sleeper agent?

It's sad, the injustices that are done in the name of security.

Read about Lennikov's case here.

Friday, May 15, 2009

My promise - a live Toronto webcam

When I was first separated from my love in Toronto, I used to go to and view the webcam that they had hooked up with a view from the top of the Panorama restaurant at Bay and Bloor. This was a cam that could be controlled over the internet and happened to be positioned so that you could see everything from Queen's Park to the CN Tower to the waterfront, to Younge Street. I could also clearly see my home from the cam. It helped me stay in touch.

When Panorama went through an exterior remodel, they took down the camera and never put it back up. I have missed having a live camera in Toronto ever since. It was great that I could see home from it, but more important that it was live - that I could see the city right now. I already knew what that heat felt like, or how the snow would howl through the tough it was to get to Spring Rolls when the Pride Parade was going on...With the cam, I could see it still as well.

I promise, when I finally return home to stay, I am going to set up a live webcam that you can control, so you too can see what's happening in Toronto right now. It may not have the view from Panorama, but it will still help you connect.

Tell to bring back the Panorama webcam today!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Ontario Municipal Immigration Information Online Program

The Province of Ontario sponsors Ontario-based municipalities interested in establishing locally produced, web-based resources for newcomers. So far, 13 newcomer sites have been established.
If you are planning to immigrate to Ontario, learn more about the opportunities the Province offers at the sites above. I hope this list is of assistance to you.


Friday, May 01, 2009

Good news from Canada

I got a call from our attorney in Toronto this morning to tell us that CIC is requesting fees from us that indicate we are on track to finally and positively ending this chapter of our story. They also asked for one more item of information from us that appears to mean we may be but a single review away from our answer. Please hold us up in prayer that all these indicators are true and that God will bless us with the granting of my Permanent Resident status.

This is one of those situations where fear can rear its head - the worry that we are so close to "yes", and yet it could all be snatched away from us too. In thinking about that, I'm trying to respond by thanking God for bringing us this far and trusting him to finish the work he began in me and my love through this trial.

I can see a light at the end of the tunnel and it is a beautiful one so far!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

These are a few of my favorite links

As I find different online resources, I collect the links in my bookmarks folder like anyone else. Every now and then I think about sharing them, like today! Turns out, I can drag and drop them! So in no particular order...

Blogs I like:
[daily dose of imagery]
The Steven Pages
by Sheldon Cohen

Newspapers I read:
CANOE - Canadian Online Explorer
Montreal Gazette
National Post - network
The Globe and Mail - Toronto
The Hockey News
Toronto Community News
Toronto Life Online
Toronto Star
Toronto Sun
Vancouver Sun

I'll publish some more later! Enjoy your surfing!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Change I don't believe in

This mantra of change in the US...we heard it all through the election. But in US politics and policies, somethings never change - especially when they cause America to examine itself.

The current blowup with Canada has to do with US Foreign Affairs Secretary Janet Napolitano's repetition of the myth that some of the 9/11 hijackers came from Canada.

Why is this more of the same idiocy from the Obama administration as came from Bush? First because it illustrates the development of border policy based on myth and not fact. Secondly, because it illustrates how the US continues to point at everyone but themselves when assigning responsibility. 11 of of the 9/11 hijackers came into the US from Saudi Arabia. Not a single one from Canada. The Millennium Bomber did attempt to get into the US from B.C. - but he was CAUGHT. Isn't that what border security is there for? Is it Canada's fault that he tried to get in from there? Apparently so, according to two US administrations.

Now if you understand US international policy at all, you'll understand that all policies are about money. The US is about money - making it, influencing with it, protecting it for their homegrown multinationals. So when Napolitano speaks about tightening the Canadian border with the US, which everyone knows will slow trade and commerce as well as communication and cooperation - don't believe for a moment it has anything to do with security.

It has to do with gaining a financial advantage for homegrown business. It has to do with bypassing NAFTA and making it easier to say no to business with Canada because of the "difficult" border security situation. It has to do with protecting American jobs. Keeping American money in America.

When Americans want to limit or eliminate access to something - be it a health program or a government benefit - we rarely do away with it. That would be too blatant. What we do is add a step, add a requirement. One additional requirement makes it that much harder for people to do something. In the case of the border with Canada, that one thing is a passport.

With one additional requirement, the US has potentially reduced the number of Canadians who access the US by 59% (according to Statistics Canada, only 41% of Canadians over the age of 18 hold a passport).

Maybe this is change, but its not change I believe in...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Obama wrongs a wrong

Sometimes you right a wrong, and sometimes you wrong a wrong. US President Obama's administration is clearly wrong in continuing to bar Mahar Arar from entering the US. Some of you may be unaware of his story, but this is a Canadian man who was wrongly accused of being a terrorist while on a visit to the US, barred from returning home to Canada, then shipped from the US off to be tortured for over a year. A Canadian inquiry found that the suspicions against Arar were without merit.

But the US, even the US of Change, is still predominantly run by bureaucrats that have not changed - and who still maintain Arar is a threat to US security.

I guess because it makes us insecure to be caught doing something very wrong - including violating human rights...they are right - he is a threat.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Google bends the rules?

Maybe you can help me. In this article published on the 13th by the Star, we read the story of a talented technology manager who works for Google in the US, but, because of US visa restrictions, is living in Canada. The article is titled, "U.S. red tape forces gifted workers north".

But that's deceptive. North to live, not to work. North without contributing to Canada - except living here. Now that's the story of the husband of this pair - the wife, also a technology pro, IS actually working and contributing to Canada.

Maybe it's just me, but it really seems like Google - not the family - is the one taking advantage of the immigration system. While the husband is stationed in Toronto, he works in the US, collects a US paycheck, pays US taxes...

I'm just not sure how to think about this, but it seems like an abuse of the skilled worker visa program to me. I'm willing to be wrong about this opinion. Read the article and tell me what you think...

Friday, April 10, 2009

Seasons change

I was thinking today about how the seasons are changing and how the same sorts of changes go on in the world of Canadian immigration issues. In this world of immigration issues, we have seen seasons of need and promotion, where we are wooed and made aware of how badly Canada needs us, how welcome we are and what amazing opportunities await us. There are seasons of caution, where we are informed and helped to make wise choices. There are seasons of fear, where we are undesireable and politicians use us to shore up their support. And there are seasons of rejection, where we are the enemy - not wanted in any way.

Thank goodness these seasons come and go, and that there is, for each of these seasons, one of acceptance as well. No matter what season you are in right now, don't forget that seasons change.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Maddening status

Those of you in the immigration process to Canada like I am are aware that you can check the status of your application online at anytime. The value of this information however, is marginal at best. While there is a schedule of "status" and sub-status categories listed, so you can correlate your progress with them, the only ones that show up are top level ones, as in my case - "In Progress".

My reaction to that is: hasn't it BEEN "in progress" since the day you guys got it? You're not telling me ANYTHING!

The whole thing just makes me crazy.

Can you tell I'm anxious for this to be over?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Star's "Why I came here" series

The Toronto Star has been running an interesting series the last month titled "Why I came here". This series interviews immigrants to explore the many reasons they chose to make Canada their home. Read about the poet who fled for his family's life; the PhD making a living as a security guard; and even those like me, immigrating for love of a Canadian. Take a moment and learn something about just a handful of the thousands of unique reasons people choose Canada.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

New ads target bogus immigration consultants

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has announced that his department is launching a new advertising campaign to warn people about immigration consultants who are not registered with the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (CSIC).

The campaign is meant to inform potential immigrants about the risk associated with unscrupulous immigration consultants who misrepresent their ways to big fees on the backs of eager immigrants.

According to the news report published at, the ad campaign is "set to run until the end of March on the Internet and in mainstream and ethnic press. The adverts will direct people to the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website for more information."

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Markham's Mayor says it all

The Star has published an article looking at the issue of immigration in the current recession. It's a nicely rounded piece, with both sides getting their points in (pro and con). To me, the bottom line is in the example noted in the city of Markham, which has seen dramatic growth in it's population due to immigration:

"We are blessed with the diversity of the community and the highly skilled immigrants who came with worldwide experience and strong entrepreneurial spirit,"
said Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti after a recent meeting with developers of a proposed, $130-million shopping mall near Kennedy Rd. and Hwy. 7

Read the Star article on immigration in a challenging economic climate

Saturday, March 21, 2009

So much for Kenny - anti terror laws and the border

There was hope, a small hope that the new Conservative Minister of Immigration, Jason Kenny, would represent a reasonable voice in comparison to the former Minister Diane Finley. Kenny after all had some experience that should've proved valuable - especially his background as Chair of the House of Commons Subcommittee on International Human Rights.

But put anyone to work for Harper and it seems common sense goes right out the door. How else can you explain British MP George Galloway being judged inadmissible to Canada on grounds that he supports Middle East terrorism?

Kenny was simply applying a broad Canadian anti-terror law. One that defines as a criminal anyone who advocates any kind of relationship with an organization defined as "terrorist." Now this law has discretion in its application - but Harper's team will never error on the side of fairness, or looking for context in the application of law.

So much for my hopes for Kenny being a positive change from Finley. He's putting politics in place of border rights.

Read the Star article on the issue

Read about Kenny's new stand on citizenship and language requirements

Monday, March 16, 2009

Minister Kenney Announces Changes To Canada’s Immigration System

In an article published at, a summary of the new Canadian Experience Class for immigrants and the new "Action Plan for Faster Immigration" was summarized:

"For those who have worked in Canada on a work permit for at least two years, the new Canadian Experience Class promises completion within about 6 months, and with only two real criteria (beyond good health and no criminal record). The candidates must have very good/excellent english skills and two years of skilled work experience under a valid work permit in Canada within the three years preceding the application. Previously, under the points system, some excellent candidates had difficulty immigrating due to their age or the fact that they had not earned a bachelor's degree. Now, neither of those criteria would be a factor.

"The second change to the permanent residence system under the Action Plan is that people working in Canada (who don't qualify for the CEC because they have not been in Canada long enough) who apply for permanent residence will be given fast-tracking and improved service (a decision within 12 months), while those who have never worked in Canada may have their applications turned back. Canada no longer wants to hold on to a "backlog" of cases."

This last sentence is troubling: "...while those who have never worked in Canada may have their applications turned back." Is this to imply that for skilled workers, the only way into Canada will be through an employer offering a job in advance? Surely this can't be the case.

Think of the impact on the economy if you have a shortage of labor, need a professional as soon as possible, but have to wait on the CIC for a visa for that worker. I'm hoping the reporter's language here is simply vague, because that sort of change would have to make Canadian employers very, very nervous.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Unsubstantiated opinion

In an op-ed piece in today's Star, Harald Bauder claims that, "Throughout Canadian history, immigrants have been the shock absorbers of cyclical swings of the economy. Until the early 1990s, Canada's immigration levels were synchronized with the business cycle, increasing during boom periods and scaling back during recessions. Although immigration levels are no longer coordinated with the business cycle, immigrants continue to be the last to be hired and the first to be fired."

Mr. Bauder appears to be watching a lot of US cable TV news (can you spell FOX?). This type of statement of fact, that is, in fact unsubstantiated, is typical of sensational reporting whose sole intention is to generate controversy.

Now I guess I'm playing into this by responding here to his article, but the reason I'm doing it is to help potential and recent immigrants understand that this article is simply written by someone ignorant of how the job market works. For one thing, Mr. Bauder is an associate professor of geography at Ryerson University. He is not an economist, nor an expert on market forces.

He writes as if all companies have "Native Canadian" and "last hired, first fired" policies - when everyone knows that is not the case.

Let's test his assumptions with his own university as an example in the following scenario:

Let's say Ryerson just hired an associate professor of geography from Moscow who happened to have worked with a Nobel-laureate and who's classes were in high demand from students. Now, because of the economy, they need to cut someone in the department. It's either the new hire from Moscow, or a Canadian who writes opinion pieces in the Star on immigration (not geography...). Who do YOU think is going to keep their job?

Normally I link to the articles I mention, but this one isn't worth the bandwidth.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Happy 175th, no...249th, no...11th Birthday, Toronto!

Happy Birthday Toronto. You're 175 tomorrow. Sort of...

The City will be celebrating at an official FREE party March 6 thru 8, 2009. City Hall will open its doors and invite residents in to celebrate the heritage, unity and diversity through music, literature and art. City Hall will be transformed into an exhibition hall featuring art installations, the spoken word, dance and music. Special programming will also commemorate the City’s early history.

Now of course, Toronto as a city is a lot older than 175 years. Known as the "Settlement of Toronto", the first Europeans built Fort Rouillé on the site in 1750. In 1787 The Toronto Purchase initiated domestic European settlement of the area and the creation of the town of York in 1790. So in actually, Toronto is 249 years old this year...It's name is simply younger, or older - depending on when you want to start counting.

I guess if you really want to play this game, the Mega City of Toronto is only 11 years old - not even a teenager yet!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Repeat after me: "I told you so..."

Just weeks after the stink Federal Immigration Minister Kenny made over the possibility of decreasing numbers of immigrants being brought into Canada due to the downturn in the economy, comes this news out of Ontario from Nicholas Keung at the Star:

"Worried that it's losing talented newcomers to other provinces, Ontario is expanding its immigrant recruitment fast-track program despite the economic downturn.

The province yesterday announced reforms to the two-year-old program that allows it to "nominate" applicants for immigration based on labour needs and provincial priorities. The program is intended to help employers and multinational corporations in Ontario recruit and retain talented professionals, as well as investors.

"While the trend may be proof of Ottawa's success in spreading immigrants more evenly throughout the country, it could also threaten Ontario's long-term economic growth and competitiveness when the economy recovers. "Now, more than ever, it's critical that Ontario's employers have the resources they need to compete at home and abroad," Citizenship and Immigration Minister Michael Chan told a news conference yesterday at Toronto General Hospital."

Sometimes being right feels so good.

Immigration is a complex and difficult process. Many, many forces are stacked against immigration. But don't give into fear - the kind that is generated from the messages the Conservatives are currently peddling to the population about lowering immigration numbers.

Canada is a great country and those who want to make it their new home often represent the best and the brightest, the most ambitious of their native countries. If you believe in making a positive contribution to Canada and have the patience and determination to see the process through, have faith. Don't ask "why me?" ask instead, "why NOT me?"

As Red Green always said, "We're all in this together, I'm pulling for you."

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Thanks, that was fun

So I was saddened yesterday to hear about Steven Page taking his leave from the Barenaked Ladies (BnL) after nearly 20 years together as a group. This is major news in Canada for a number of reasons: BnL have attained international success and charted a number of hits in the late 90's, and into the new century. They have also been unabashedly Canadian the whole way - and very positive ambassadors for the country. Even when things hit a sour note last year with Page's suspended sentence for drug possession in the US, they were classy about the situation and did the right thing by each other.

Now there's lots of speculation about why Page has left, which ranges from the band being pissed about the drug offense and all that cost them last year in cancelled shows and lessened opportunities to Page following his muse.

The way I look at it - everything changes. We all grow up. Our needs and our interests change. Why should musicians be any different? Page shows all the evidence of a man reaching midlife and questioning what he's going to do with the time he has left. I don't think there's anything wrong with that.

Did I love BnL? Completely! Heck, I'm even in one of their music videos! Will I still follow them as they reconstitute? You bet. I want them all to succeed and go on and be happy and fulfilled in however they choose, as a band and as individuals.

As John Lennon said after the Beatles broke up, "It's just natural, it's not a great disaster. People keep talking about it like it's The End of The Earth. It's only a rock group that split up, it's nothing important. You know, you have all the old records there if you want to reminisce."

Here, from the very beginning of time, BnL perform at Toronto's "Speaker's Corner" - a coin operated video booth run by CityTV that allowed users to express their opinions on anything and everything. BnL used it for promotion!

Thanks Ladies, that was fun!

The official BnL website

Friday, February 20, 2009

Understanding Toronto - neighborhoods mapped

The Toronto Star has a great team at work exploring the news through the use of the Google Maps API, and one of their coolest recent map projects has been to map the over 158 commonly described neighborhoods that make up the mega city.

The Star mapped Toronto not via the city's own attempts to define its landscape, but instead, "...using the city’s rich tradition of neighbourhood names (Swansea, for example, or Agincourt) in a way that everyday urban culture recognizes.

"With this in mind, feature writer Kenneth Kidd recently literally went back to the drawing board on the neighbourhood issue, carving up the city into 158 areas with a marker on an enormous laminated map. It’s in beta, and we’re posting an online version this week to find out what you think."

Here's the post-beta, version 1.0 of the neighborhood map. Now you can know where it is people are talking about when they say something happened in the Annex, or Korea Town, or The Danforth...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Americans and Canadian expats Connect2Canada

There are many, many Candians living and working in the US who want to stay in touch with their native land, and many US citizens (or potential immigrants) who want to learn more about their northern neighbors. Connect2Canada is published online by the Government of Canada, and provides, news, links, podcasts, and other resources either through their website or delivered via email.

" is a virtual network for Canadians and friends of Canada in the United States. Over 42,000 people have joined "Canada's network in the United States". Connect2Canada is a way to exchange news and ideas, and find out what is happening in the U.S. related to Canada. Members of the network can receive email notices on a range of topics and can share their stories with others. Sign up to strengthen your connection with Canada!"

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Kenny plays to the proles

Immigration Minister Kenny got the Harper government some press today by raising the spectre that with rising unemployment, Canada may look at restricting immigration numbers in the new year. While this sort of announcement strikes fear into those who are seeking permanent residence in Canada, and elicits support in Canada from residents impacted by unemployment, there are a number of reasons why it's unlikely to happen anytime soon:

1. Immigration levels are at less than 1% of the Canadian population (0.78%)
2. Canada is aging - according to a study by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, population growth is expected to drop to 0.6% by 2030. Canada needs immigration to support its aging population
3. Aging populations require more personal and health care services - immigrants are significant providers to the services industry, and Canada isn't growing or retaining enough medical professionals to even take care of the current population. Additionally, a tax base is needed to support these programs. Immigrants represent opportunity for Canada - not a drain

Remember - as immigrants, you will always be an easy target for closed-border advocates and politicians looking to soothe their constituents. Don't panic. When the rubber hits the road, and those in charge of long term planning and economics have their say (which is boring, so it doesn't make the papers), cooler heads will prevail.

The quality of discourse in the Harper government is questionable at best, anyhow. Remember, this is the guy who appointed 18 senators in one day who had serious qualifications to lead such as being a former CBC broadcaster and having an Olympic medal for skiing...

Politics are local, but the decisions of a country have to be global. The Immigration Minister is helping Harper tell the people what they want to hear right now, but there will come a day, not too far away, when they'll also want to hear that there will be a doctor to care for them when they are sick.

These things tend to wrap tomorrow's fish and chips.

Read the article here

Friday, February 06, 2009

Rick Mercer Report - Canada Explained

If you're going to move to Canada, you better understand how the government works. Who better than Rick Mercer to explain it all to us?

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Thinking the Unthinkables - video debate on immigration

Thinking the Unthinkables is a debate series sponsored by Microsoft. This edition has McLean's National Editor, Andrew Coyne debating former head of Immigration Services for Canada, James Bissett on the question of "Should Canada adopt a more wide-open immigration policy or should we be focused on more targeted immigration based on Canada's market needs?"

It's very interesting to hear Mr. Bissett, the person who was responsible for implementing immigration policy, speak passionately about keeping people out of Canada, and citing study after study on the negative impacts of, and marginal gains from immigration. Isn't it like having a member of Greenpeace lead your whale hunt?

This is one of the key disconnects of the Canadian immigration system. You have pro-immigration policies that are administered by anti-immigration bureaucrats.

Mr. Coyne's appeal to common sense and compassion is the voice of new Canadian thinking - Mr. Bissett is only concerned about maintaining his generation's status quo. "We don't need immigrants to fill up the empty spaces and fill the unwanted jobs." Mr. Bissett, his is last-century thinking.

Monday, February 02, 2009

20 things to do while you wait in the queue

I don't know about you, but I'm waiting. 14 months now I'm waiting. My love and my matter is a complicated one, so I expected it, but what to do while you wait?

That's what was on my mind tonight. I thought about the things that I do while I wait for CIC to make a decision. Now these aren't just random things - they are things that I think are helping prepare me for the transition to living in Canada with my love. I hope they will help you too.

A lot of this can be done online. So, in no particular order...
  1. Locate and follow Canadian blogs
  2. Locate the news from your planned city of destination and follow it (see my earlier post on online newscasts from all over Canada)
  3. Read Canadian history books and books on Canadian culture and politics
  4. Learn about hockey, watch hockey, LOVE hockey
  5. Learn to skate
  6. Call your lawyer and let him know you are still alive
  7. Explore Canada with Google Earth
  8. Watch Rick Mercer and 22 Minutes episodes online
  9. Learn French
  10. Join Loon Lounge or other such community
  11. Listen to Stomping Tom, The Guess Who, BTO, The Philosopher Kings, BnL, Sloan, Kathleen Edwards, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell (anything but Nickelback!)
  12. Read McLean's
  13. Research jobs, cost of living, housing, cultural options in your destination city
  14. Make your landing list of "goods to follow"
  15. Save your money
  16. Try Maple Syrup
  17. Have a garage sale for crap you aren't taking with you
  18. Learn the words to "O'Canada" in French and English
  19. Develop a patient heart
  20. Say lots of prayers

That ought to keep you busy!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Immigrants in the workplace - Bayer and Sun Life get it right

Wonderful article in the Globe and Mail highlights the philosophy at Bayer Canada regarding diversity in the workplace. Here's a company that gets it - immigrants are good for Canada and good for business.

"So-called visible minorities often approach Bayer on their own, attracted by the company's growing reputation as an equal-opportunity employer. Bayer also seeks out new immigrants for its work force, in particular physicians and pharmacists from other countries unlicensed to practice in Canada.

"We pro-actively reach out to that pool of candidates," says Ms. Wan. "We go to local colleges to recruit them for our medical department."

And from Sun Life:

"As Canada grows and becomes a more culturally diverse country we need to ensure that we have advisers who represent all our key markets across Canada," Ms. McMullen says.

Read the article here

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Canadian News on demand - one click away

CTV National News hosted by Lloyd Robertson and The National from CBC News hosted by Peter Mansbridge are both available online and a great way to keep current on events in Canada. Updated on a daily basis, you can learn a lot about a country from it's newscasts.

I particularly like The National, but both programs are full length newscasts and provide you with everything from International to National to human interest to weather. If there is a particular locale that you are interested in, then I suggest the following CBC local broadcasts (all links to the locale's evening TV newscast online unless otherwise noted. Some links will spawn an external Windows Media or Real player):

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Star: New Workers, New Skills

The Star just published a series on immigration, featuring 11 articles ranging from success stories to resources for immigrants in Ontario. Most articles are short and easy reads, and while they aren't deep, it's good to see the Star discussing immigration issues openly and myths being exposed and countered.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Foreign Credentials Referral Office: is your profession "regulated"?

Many professions are regulated in Canada. In many cases the requirements to become licensed to practice in a regulated profession amount to a "paper curtain" keeping completely qualified new Canadians from even seeking employment in their fields of expertise. Witness the classic "Doctor driving a cab" stories.

It's important for Skilled Worker Class immigrants to understand what they are getting themselves into before they begin the immigration process by getting as much information as possible about what will be required to find work in their fields. Often this involves a mix of educational, language and experience factors.

"The Foreign Credentials Referral Office offers internationally trained and educated individuals authoritative and accurate information on the Canadian labour market and Canada’s credential assessment processes. It also provides path-finding and referral services to immigrants. These services are offered overseas and in Canada to help immigrants apply their skills and credentials in the Canadian labour market."

The Working in Canada Tool is an online application provided by the Office that helps prospective immigrants and newcomers understand whether or not their profession is regulated and if so, some of the core requirements that will need to be addressed before they can practice.

I hope this information is of assistance to those of you intending to apply as Skilled Workers.

Monday, January 12, 2009

January blues

I don't mind sharing that I still have days like today - blue days, low days. On days like today I am filled with doubt and worry and I wonder if this wait will ever end. I know the day will pass and that my usual upbeat hope will return, but today it seems far away. I know we all have these days during the figurative winter of our patience. It's normal. We'll get there.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Check out the Loon Lounge

I got an email from the Loon Lounge the other day, and thought I would bring the site to your attention.

"LoonLounge is the Canadian immigration and settlement online community, made up of Canadians and people from around the world. With the collective knowledge and experience of a growing and engaged community, LoonLounge is the place where people inside and outside our country can work on building Canada together.

"LoonLounge was created to improve the Canadian immigration process for the millions of people involved: applicants waiting in the queue, new immigrants adjusting to life in Canada, Canadian employers waiting for skilled workers to arrive, and the many people around the world who dream of one day making Canada their home. By facilitating communication and centralizing member information, the purpose of LoonLounge is to empower Canadian residents, immigrants, and potential immigrants with the knowledge we need to build a stronger Canada together. "

The site is very much worth your attention. Tell them The Mind sent you!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Starting the year in context

In an article posted today in the Metro news, leading Canadian immigration lawyer Guidy Mamann provides some context to immigration levels, and their relationship to the economy, as well as what practical options that Minister Kenney has to exercise his power in the current political climate.

Minister Kenney has stated that immigration levels will remain essentially unchanged at between 240-265,000 people. How likely are the numbers to change given the retraction in the economy?

Here's an excerpt:

"...Up to 71,000 of these future immigrants will be coming to Canada under the family class as sponsored spouses, partners, parents, children, and grandparents. It would be unwise for the minister to tell Canadians that their close family members will not be coming to Canada this year due to a deterioration in our economic conditions. Another 27,200 permanent visas are reserved for protected persons who we are, more-or-less, bound to offer refuge or protection here. Then there is another 10,000 immigrants who we will be accepting for a wide range of humanitarian considerations. That will leave about 156,600 in the “economic class” of which a growing percentage is selected by the provinces and territories. Kenny is certainly not likely to take them on either."

Read the article here.