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

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!