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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.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The whole Randy Quaid thing

OK - I have to admit - the whole Randy Quaid situation in Vancouver has me a bit befuddled and miffed. Here's a guy who enters Canada illegally - he was running from prosecution in the U.S. - and because he's a star and makes a bogus refugee claim (he's under death threats from "star whackers"? Are you kidding me?), the CIC lets him stick around until finally there's a resolution to the case in the U.S. (charges weren't filed), and now he's going to apply for Permanent Residence.

His wife is a Candian citizen, so this last bit makes sense - but everything before it: if this were some Somali actor coming into the country to avoid prosecution, do you think the CIC would be so understanding?

You can really see the issues that Conservatives have with the use of Refugee Status claims when a case like this happens. Because he is now going for a Family Class sponsorship, his crazy refugee claim won't be addressed. I guess the star whackers don't care about him if he's no longer a star in Hollywood. I guess all the protection he needs from Canada goes away if he becomes a Permanent Resident.

Am I the only one who feels like someone at the CIC took crazy pills?

Read the latest on the craziness here.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Obama's border tax plan

What is he thinking? Today President Obama of the U.S. floated a plan to impose a $5.50 fee for Canadians entering the U.S. by commercial carrier.

Come on, Mr. President: thanks to the wonders of Homeland Security, tourism is just starting to rebound - and you can thank the weak U.S. dollar for that too. But now you want to tax most of the 18-million visitors from the north because they want to come here and spend their money?

Taxing visitors from foreign countries for the privilege of entering your country is a lousy way to raise revenue. And besides, why not do what most clever politicians would do and simply increase the fee to foreign carriers landing at U.S. destinations? Or increase federal port taxes? Then you'd get your money but it would be transparent to the consumer - they'd just pay a higher airfare, or bus ticket.

Remember, every border tax dollar is one less dollar spent in the U.S. on good and services that drive the economy. The tax you impose on two Canadians, if spent at a local shop, equal an hour's wage for an employee. We could use JOBS in the U.S., right?

Obama should think about PAYING Canadians to come shop in the U.S. instead of taxing them.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The tough issues of family reunification

Ottawa has a balancing act. While immigration policy has to address a range of classes in need - refugee, family class, so-called "economic" immigrants: it certainly can't be all things to all people at all times.

The immigration ministry has reported that 2010 saw the immigration of 10% more individuals than was projected (280,000 in total), which is the highest total in 57 years. But in the year to come, there is a plan to reduce by 6% the number of family reunification immigrants (parents and grandparents of immigrants) entering Canada. That will mean current wait times, which can commonly reach five years, will certainly increase even more.

According to a report in The Star:

"Liberal MP Joe Volpe, a former immigration minister, questioned the Conservatives’ much trumpeted family-values platform.

“The Conservatives tell families to be responsible for their own child care when parents go to work, but the fact is new Canadians entering the workforce often rely on parents and grandparents for child care and help around the home. They are taking away a necessary support system,” Volpe said in a statement."

Read the entire article here

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Making plans, making lists

With the change in our status, and the light at the end of the tunnel making itself finally seen, comes a change in activities. I have to start thinking about physically immigrating to Canada. The first steps in this process actually started over a year ago. I made an inventory of all my possessions. This took about four days. Mind you, I didn't note every single thing (like the title of every book, CD or DVD), but I did summarize all the things I have, since all of them might follow me to Canada.

There are two Customs documents that you need to have ready when you land. One is called a Form B4 (Personal Effects Accounting Document), and the other is a Form B4a (commonly known as the "Goods to Follow" document). These forms are used to tell Customs Canada what you are and will be bringing into the country as you settle. The B4 is for what you bring with you when you land as an immigrant, while the B4a is for items that come later (for instance, if you have them shipped).

Not everything on my list is coming with me. In fact, I actually think very little of my US life will follow me to Canada. We won't have a lot of room, and my Love has the core household things pretty well covered. Clothes, some art, books, music, movies, personal archives, tools of my trades...those are the things I will settle with. The rest of what I have will either be given away or sold. It's odd to think of having an estate sale for a life that isn't half over yet - but that's in essence what will probably happen.

For now though, the material of this life is summarized on a list.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Learning about Toronto from Christopher Hume

If you are interested in the built environment and in history too, then there's a journalist working for the Toronto Star that you should really check out. His name is Christopher Hume and he is the architecture critic. Lately, The Star has featured Hume in a series of short videos where he comments on developments in the city's landscape: new buildings, transportation, parks, etc. His reporting is both entertaining and insightful. Unlike video journalists in the U.S. he actually knows his subject and shares his insights. Here's a link to a number of his video reports. If you want to learn more about the city that I love, there's no better guide.

Christopher Hume at The Toronto Star online

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Canada gets bullied on border policy

Is Stephen Harper a bully? He sure acts like one. I don't mean about how he keeps all his ministers from speaking to the press, or even having a thought of their own. I don't even mean in the brinkmanship he utilizes to expose the weakness of the opposition parties. What I mean is that, just like a classic bully, when a bigger bully shows up - he puts his tail between his legs.

The bigger bully is of course the United States. And the U.S. is telling Harper that they need to align their border protection policies with Big Brother. That means sharing information about Canadian citizens and permanent residents with the U.S. Homeland Security. It means Canadian citizens in U.S. databases. And while Harper and Obama want to ease the path for trade and business, for you and I it means you can expect increased scrutiny and aggression when it comes to the no-man's land that is the border.

Harper said it's in his country's interest to work with the U.S. on securing their shared border and ensuring that people and goods can move across it as safely and openly as possible. "That is what we're trying to achieve here," he said. But Harper has shown little compassion for the plight of ordinary Canadians in his five years as minority Prime Minister.

And you can bet if a bully can get someone else to take the punch, he's going to let them. That means you and I. Let your MP know that you expect them to protect your privacy and Canadian sovereignty when it comes to dealing with the U.S. Believe me - the U.S. isn't going to do it for you - and neither is Harper.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

The beginning of the end?

My Love and I heard from the CIC today. What we heard moved us to tears.

The days in your life when things change are rarely dramatic within themselves. They are just another day: work, chores, errands, meals. I was tending to my day when the phone call came and everything changed. Wonderfully changed.

We were informed that CIC has approved our (my) Permanent Residence application. After a couple routine (hopefully) final steps, we can expect that I will be a landed immigrant, reunited with my Love in Toronto! Those of you following this blog know how long we have waited for this day.

So starts what we hope will be the beginning of the end of a long immigration process. So starts what we hope will be the adventure of leaving the U.S. and relocating in Canada. We are excited and overjoyed with the possibilities.

I'm also excited to migrate this blog away from issues of the immigration process and onto the logistics of moving to and getting settled in Canada.

I hope you will remain with me as we start this new adventure. God willing, this is the beginning of the end. We won't be ending our prayers until I am standing on Canadian ground; until I am on the other side of that silver door at Pearson. But we have great faith, and God has been faithful to our prayers.

I'll continue to pray for all of you who are involved in this process, and wondering if you will be able to make it through. Have faith, have patience, believe.

Please pray for my love and I that the final steps go smoothly and quickly.

Thank you all for your support.