New Canadian Media

by Susan Delacourt in Ottawa

The best person to explain the big new-year changes to the federal cabinet’s makeup might well be someone who doesn’t even live here: outgoing U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden.

During a visit to Canada a month ago, Biden told Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that Canada needs to step up, internationally — comments that were widely interpreted as a gesture of passing the liberal torch from soon-to-be ex-president Barack Obama.

“The world is going to spend a lot of time looking to you, Mr. Prime Minister. Vive le Canada, because we need you very, very badly,” Biden said in remarks at a dinner during his visit to Ottawa.

While we don’t know how much the world was watching events at Rideau Hall on Tuesday, it is abundantly clear that Trudeau has set his sights on the world. As he told reporters after the shuffle, he needs to take into account a “shift in global context.”

In fact, it’s difficult to remember a Canadian cabinet shuffle so internationally focused — one that set so many parts in motion outside Canada’s borders, especially during a time of tumultuous, global change. Among the changes we learned about Tuesday:

  • A new minister to handle the looming challenges to Canada posed by Donald Trump’s incoming administration — Chrystia Freeland, now Global Affairs minister.
  • A new ambassador to China — former immigration minister John McCallum. This isn’t about a minister being put out to pasture: McCallum is being asked to represent Canada in a nation of immense interest to the current government. Faced with trade threats from a U.S. president vowing to make America great again (possibly at other countries’ expense,) Canada has been seeking to expand trade with China.
  • A new minister of international trade, François-Philippe Champagne.
  • A new minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship: Ahmed Hussen.

The departing Global Affairs minister, Stéphane Dion, was rumoured to be considering a diplomatic post, possibly in Europe, but at the time of Tuesday’s press conference the former Liberal leader was saying only that he was leaving active politics and considering his next move. My best bet is that this is a difficult conversation still in progress (which probably accounted for the unusual uncertainty about the timing of the shuffle ceremony itself at Rideau Hall).

The speculation about Europe as a landing spot for Dion, however, underlines just how much Trudeau and his team are thinking about what’s going on in the world these days. The Brexit vote to leave the European Union, the refugee crisis, ongoing terrorism threats and the rise of right-wing parties are all large matters of concern to progressive-minded governments.

As Biden said in his Ottawa speech: “I’ve never seen Europe as engaged in as much self-doubt as they are now.”

All prime ministers, sooner or later, become preoccupied with global affairs and their place on the big stage. It’s usually an interest that deepens with tenure, and their increasing confidence in rubbing shoulders with other world leaders.

With a comfortable majority, Trudeau doesn’t need to be worried about his government falling on a vote in the Commons while he’s abroad, as Stephen Harper was during his first two minority governments.

Trudeau, however, seemed to arrive in office with an intense interest in international affairs; he gave some of his first interviews to foreign media and has spent a lot of time commuting to the United States and other summits around the world. His critics have portrayed this as a lack of interest in his own country, accusing Trudeau of being too busy to even attend question period and thinking himself too important to spend his vacations in Canada.

Granted, it is a luxury Trudeau can afford. With a comfortable majority, Trudeau doesn’t need to be worried about his government falling on a vote in the Commons while he’s abroad, as Stephen Harper was during his first two minority governments.

Not all of this shuffle was outward-looking. Shuffles can be very useful in maintaining government discipline — dangling a few promotions as examples to other ambitious, cabinet wannabes in the backbench, and doling out demotions as a warning to others performing under-par. To borrow from that old Liberal campaign slogan from 2015, shuffles are all about hope and hard work — dispensing it (hope) or enforcing it (hard work).

On that score, this shuffle did deliver. While Trudeau’s office was putting out nice words about Dion and his contribution to the government in a press release, nobody watching the PM’s press conference had any doubts that the PMO had decided the former professor and Liberal leader wasn’t the right man to handle what’s coming with Trump and other big events on the world stage.

Other casualties: Maryam Monsef, now the Status of Women minister, was punted from the Democratic Reform post to which she was proving herself unsuited (to say the least). MaryAnn Mihychuk was ejected altogether from her job as minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour.

Trudeau wasn’t doing this shuffle with home-grown concerns at front of mind, or even his prospects for the next election. The election that seems to be front of mind for Trudeau right now is the recent one in the United States.

Big promotions were handed out to Patty Hadju, moving from Status of Women to Mihychuk’s old job, and to new ministers Champagne and Hussen. Other MPs will be wondering what they did right — which is exactly what the PMO wants them to be thinking about.

Note, though, that the domestic posts in this week’s shuffle were almost afterthoughts. Trudeau wasn’t doing this shuffle with home-grown concerns at front of mind, or even his prospects for the next election (those changes will come closer to 2019, we can assume).

The election that seems to be front of mind for Trudeau right now is the recent one in the United States — the one that gave Canada, and now Freeland, a President Trump to deal with. And if we’re looking for deeper read of the shuffle’s international focus, Biden’s remarks to the PM may be as good any.

“The progress is going to be made,” Biden said, “but it’s going to take men like you, Mr. Prime Minister, who understand it has to fit within the context of a liberal economic order, a liberal international order, where there’s basic rules of the road.”

Don’t be surprised if words along these lines are in the mandate letters for many of the new ministers.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by all iPolitics columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of iPolitics.


Republished in partnership with iPolitics.ca 

Published in Politics

by Janice Dickson in Ottawa 

Sitting cross-legged on a thin UNHCR mat covering a concrete floor and nursing her 14-month-old, Yasmeen Al-Alow was glad to be out of the jail that is Village 5 — Azraq’s notorious camp-within-the-camp.

Surrounded by barbed wire, Village 5 and Village 2 are where new Syrian refugees were taken before Jordan sealed its borders. Those inside the villages haven’t been allowed outside the wire for months. The Jordanian government fears the new arrivals pose a security threat to the other refugees in the camp. Containing new refugees in the prison-like camps is one way to decrease the chance of ISIS infiltration, authorities say.

Those living in Village 5 and Village 2 are virtual prisoners; unlike Syrian refugees who live in Azraq’s other villages, they are not allowed to walk through the streets, to the supermarket, or anywhere at all.

The Azraq refugee camp, located in a remote, sweltering desert landscape southeast of the capital Amman, is home to nearly 40,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war. Half of Azraq’s residents are children.

Most of the Syrians living in Villages 5 and 2 arrived from a desert region surrounded by sandbanks along the Jordanian border. The United Nations estimates that more than 85,000 people are stranded in Ruqban — a camp near the point where Jordan, Syria and Iraq meet — and Hadalat camp, 80 km to the west, where Al-Alow and her family were stranded for months.

The Azraq refugee camp, located in a remote, sweltering desert landscape southeast of the capital Amman, is home to nearly 40,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war. Half of Azraq’s residents are children.

iPolitics asked to visit Villages 5 and 2. A government official at the camp said it’s forbidden, citing security reasons. Photos were not permitted, either.

Since November, the Canadian government has welcomed nearly 30,000 Syrian refugees. King Abdullah of Jordan told the BBC in February that his country is at the “boiling point” because of an influx of hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees. The king said the international community has to offer more help if it wants Jordan to continue taking refugees.

The Jordanian government compromised, however, and set up Village 5 in March. It was a move intended to help international aid agencies trying to expedite the admission of thousands of refugees, like Al-Alow, who were stuck waiting at the border.

Al-Alow, 21, and her husband Muhammed, 26, had been living in their new caravan in Village Six for just over a week. Two jugs of water and a small kettle sat atop the small table at the front of the caravan that serves as a kitchen.

Al-Alow said she and her family are refugees by accident. They left their home in Syria a few months ago with the intention of visiting family in Jordan — but when they arrived at the Syrian border, they had no choice but to live in the berm while they waited to get into Jordan. That wait took four months; by then, the smugglers who drove them to the Syrian border could not take them back home.

“My family came to visit from Kuwait and they were on the other side of the barbed wire,” Al-Alow said via a translator. That visit lasted five minutes.

“We didn’t talk. We just cried.”

Kuwait has also sealed its borders, blocking Syrians from joining family members there.

Najwa Al-Shaikh, 32, and her four children arrived from Syria a few months ago; her family also lived in Village 5. Al-Shaikh’s mother arrived beforehand so their caravan is quite homey. Her mother has set up a little convenience store where children come to buy candy.

Despite the 35-degree heat, Al-Shaikh offered me hot tea and sugar on a silver tray, a display of Syrian hospitality found in every caravan I visited.

Al-Shaikh said she and her young children waited in the desert for months with little food or water in harsh conditions before they were granted permission to enter Jordan.

Her husband was arrested by Bashar al-Assad’s regime, she said. Sometimes, regime authorities tell her that her husband is still alive — other times they tell her he’s been killed.

She gestured toward her 11-year-old daughter Ala, who pulled up her pant cuff to reveal a thin leg covered with scars.

Despite the 35-degree heat, Al-Shaikh offered me hot tea and sugar on a silver tray, a display of Syrian hospitality found in every caravan I visited.

“One of my daughters was killed by the regime, and Ala was injured by the rockets,” she said. All Ala remembers is playing in the playground that day.

The situation in Azraq is “very bad,” the young woman said. Her mother shook her head and suggested that in a month or two, her daughter will adjust.

Aecha Mohammed Shaban, 29, and her four children are thankful for the safety the camp offers.

“In the beginning it was very difficult to live here, how can we live here?” said Shaban, sitting on a long cushion which doubles as a bed for her and her children at night.

Suddenly, the sound of gunshots coming from a nearby military base shattered the desert silence. The children — who had been smiling by their mother’s side — covered their ears and began to cry.


iPolitics’ Janice Dickson visited Jordan from July 9 – July 25th. Dickson spent long days in Jordan’s refugee camps talking to Syrian refugees about the challenges in the camps and their gruelling journey across the desert to get there. 

Republished in partnership with iPolitics.ca

 

Published in Top Stories

by Judy Trinh in Ottawa

Now that Canada has settled 25,000 government sponsored Syrian refugees, the Immigration Minister says he will use the lessons learned in the process to improve the immigration system for all groups.

“We inherited a department full of problems and we want to transform it into a department that’s speedy and welcoming to newcomers,” said John McCallum in an interview with New Canadian Media.

One of the biggest lessons learned involves engaging the private sector. From the beginning the government pitched the settlement of Syrian refugees as a “national project.” The minister openly encouraged business leaders to donate money, and to date, McCallum says Canada’s companies, communities and NGOs have raised more than $30 million to help settle Syrians.

Helping with rents

Those private sector funds played a pivotal role in solving the problem of finding affordable housing for the Syrian newcomers. Although many government refugees were housed in hotels for weeks and even months, McCallum says 93 per cent have now found permanent homes despite expensive rents in some cities.

The federal government provides a refugee family of five, less than $800/month for rent, a daunting budget to work with especially in Toronto and Vancouver where average rents for a two-bedroom apartment top $1,300/month. McCallum says the government didn’t want to increase the housing allowance, instead settlement agencies were able to access corporate grants to subsidize rents for newcomers.

But successful engagement has also resulted in frustrated expectations – it’s a double-edged sword McCallum doesn’t mind wielding. 

“We have a problem that no other immigration minister has; I cannot produce these refugees quickly enough to meet all the demands of generous Canadians who want to accommodate them.”

“We have a problem that no other immigration minister has; I cannot produce these refugees quickly enough to meet all the demands of generous Canadians who want to accommodate them.”

Staffing in Jordan and Lebanon

Since the story of Alan Kurdi, the little boy washed ashore made headlines, thousands of Canadians coast to coast have formed sponsorship groups to take in refugees. But visa officers were pulled back after the government reached its settlement targets at the end of February and caps were imposed on private sponsorship such as Group of Five applications. The public outcry was immediate and McCallum has since announced that additional staff will return to Jordan and Lebanon to help interview Syrians.

Although exact numbers haven’t yet been determined, McCallum says the staff will consist of  a mix of new hires and retired visa officers. The government is committing to processing applications accepted before March 31. The government’s goal is to have 10,000 privately sponsored Syrian refugees set foot on Canadian soil by early next year.

Addressing the backlog

But while Syria applications are being fast-tracked there is concern among other refugee groups that they are being forgotten. The Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada website indicates that government refugee claims out of Jordan can be processed in one month, while an application from Nepal takes 17 months.  Processing an application from Eritrea is estimated to take an incredible 85 months. It’s a huge discrepancy McCallum says he’s trying to fix.

“Certainly, there are long delays for many classes of immigrants and other newcomers. It’s not necessarily because of the Syrian experience.” McCallum says over the past decade, processing times have gotten worse as staff have been cut, while red tape has grown.

“Certainly, there are long delays for many classes of immigrants and other newcomers. It’s not necessarily because of the Syrian experience.”

In the next few weeks McCallum will be announcing measures to ease the backlog. The measures involve streamlining family reunification applications for spouses, parents, grandparents and caregivers. McCallum says he’s also hopeful more money will be found to hire more immigration officers across the board.

He’s adamant that resources were not diverted from other regions to deal with Syrian refugees and he stands by Canada’s commitment.

“I don’t make any apologies for making Syrian refugees a priority. This is a global crisis, the worst the world has seen in decade. Millions are displaced because of war ... it’s right that Canada step up to the plate.”


This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Top Stories

At the High Level Meeting on Pathways for Admission of Syrian Refugees in Geneva, Wednesday, March 30, Canada pledged to continue to resettle refugees from Syria throughout 2016 and beyond. Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship John McCallum also expressed support for the UN Refugee Agency’s efforts to secure the participation of member countries. […]

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by Janice Dickson in Ottawa

Canada’s use of both government and private sponsors to help Syrian refugees resettle is a model that should be exported around the world, the head of the United Nations refugee agency said Monday.

Canada was the first of what’s still only a handful of states which allow private groups to take on the costs and obligations associated with refugee resettlement and it’s an approach that ought to be tried elsewhere as the flow of displaced people from the Syrian civil war and other conflicts continues, Filippo Grandi said.

“It adds more places for resettlement, but it also contributes to create this sense in civil society that it is a positive thing to do,” Grandi said of the private sponsorship program in an interview with The Canadian Press.

Committed to the idea of refugees

He spoke ahead of a day of meetings with senior government officials, including Immigration Minister John McCallum, who will be a keynote speaker at the UN High Commissioner for Refugees’ summit on the Syrian crisis in Geneva next week.

Grandi is asking states to take in about 10 per cent of the estimated 4.2 million people who’ve become refugees from the Syrian civil war.

Grandi is asking states to take in about 10 per cent of the estimated 4.2 million people who’ve become refugees from the Syrian civil war.

The Liberal government had committed to taking in 25,000 government-assisted refugees by the end of this year and have about 8,000 more to go towards that goal. But they have not set a firm number for how many Syrians they will admit through the private system. The total refugee settlement target for this year — from all countries — is 44,800.

McCallum had previously said Canada could absorb between 35,000 and 50,000 Syrians, but wouldn’t say Monday whether those numbers will resurface in his speech next week.

“You won’t hear a number from me today,” he said. “As our behaviour suggests, we are committed to the idea of refugees.”

McCallum said he agrees the private sponsor program is worth looking at for other countries, noting it would help take some of the pressure off European states teeming with asylum-seekers. Canada is already working with Brazil to set up a program there.

Leadership creates solidarity, not fear

Under the Liberal program to resettle 25,000 Syrians by the end of last month, about 8,976 were privately sponsored and a further 2,225 were sponsored by a program that blends private and government support.

Canada has a leadership role to play in encouraging other countries to increase their resettlement efforts.

The private sponsorship program largely began with the intake of refugees from Vietnam in 1979. In order to admit more people, the government committed to matching numbers sponsored by private groups, mostly churches. By the end of 1980, Canada had accepted 60,000 refugees.

Studies suggest long-term outcomes for privately sponsored refugees are often better than government-assisted ones, in part because of the strong community support. But there are also demographic differences.

Early analysis of Syrians who have arrived in Canada show, for example, that 70 per cent of government-assisted refugees don’t speak English or French, compared to only 37 per cent of the privately sponsored.

Grandi said Canada has a leadership role to play in encouraging other countries to increase their resettlement efforts, as it was mostly leadership that set the tone in Canada for such a swift response to the Syrian crisis last fall.

Leadership created not fear, but solidarity, he said.

“This is what I am saying to European leaders,” he said.

“It is true that some people are afraid here as well, but as everywhere you have people that are supportive and people that are more timid in this and I think leaders should utilize the good forces to create a positive environment. This was done here, there is no doubt.”


Republished in partnership with iPolitics.ca. 

Published in Top Stories

FEDERAL, provincial and territorial ministers of immigration met in Ottawa on Monday  to talk about the future of immigration in Canada, review the recently tabled immigration levels plan and share experiences resettling and integrating Syrian refugees into their communities. “The work to resettle and integrate Syrian refugees into our communities has just begun, and […]

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Immigration Minister John McCallum says up to 305,000 new permanent residents could be admitted to Canada this year under the Liberal plan.

TORONTO – Up to 305,000 new permanent residents could be admitted to Canada this year under the Liberal government’s 2016 immigration plan.

Immigration Minister John McCallum [...]

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Friday, 11 March 2016 06:37

Liberals Seek to Reunite More Families

by Rosanna Haroutounian in Quebec City  

In this week’s round-up of what’s been making headlines in Canada’s media: the federal government has a new plan to welcome immigrants that aims to reunite more families; women from ethnic communities in Canada call for a more inclusive International Women’s Day; and Saskatchewan language schools are dealing with a significant cut in provincial funding. 

Family reunification, refugees a focus: McCallum 

Canada will welcome between 280,000 and 305,000 immigrants in 2016, a significant increase from the number admitted in recent years. 

According to Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the 2016 target represents a 7.4 per cent increase in planned admissions compared to 2015. 

As reported in the Indo-Canadian Voice, IRCC said in its Mar. 8 announcement that this plan will emphasize family reunification in order to address the current backlog in processing applications and reunite families more quickly. 

“As we continue to show our global leadership, Canada will reunite families, offer a place of refuge to those fleeing persecution, and support Canada’s long-term economic prosperity,” immigration minister John McCallum is quoted as saying in the Voice. 

The Conservatives criticized the Liberal plan to cut the number of immigrants accepted under the economic class.

2016 will also see an increase in the number of admissions under the Refugees and Protected Persons class to support the Liberal’s plan to resettle Syrian refugees, as well as increase the numbers of refugees accepted from other countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Colombia, and Eritrea. 

Migrants without status in Canada have asked the government to grant them the same rights that are given to Syrian refugees and to process their claims for status that they say the previous Conservative government ignored. 

The Conservatives criticized the Liberal plan to cut the number of immigrants accepted under the economic class. 

“It is the responsibility of the federal government to balance the needs of the Canadian economy with our humanitarian responsibilities,” said Michelle Rempel, Opposition Critic for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, the Voice reported. 

IRCC said the economic class will still make up the majority of immigration admissions in 2016, representing more than half of the total. 

On Mar. 7, Quebec’s provincial government announced its new immigration policy, which also puts an emphasis on matching immigrants to the needs of its labour market. The plan, called “Together, We Are Quebec,” also aims to retain international students and temporary workers. 

Other provinces, like Nova Scotia, are still negotiating with the federal government to gain authority over their immigration targets and say they won’t see changes in their quotas until 2017. 

A more inclusive image of women in Canada 

On Mar. 3, Canadian Immigrant magazine presented its third annual “Immigrant Women of Inspiration,” which focused on the theme of immigrant women in academia for 2016. 

Ananya Mukherjee-Reed, Shalina Ousman, Parin Dossa, Leonie Sandercock and Purnima Tyagi are not only PhDs in various areas of study but “are pushing boundaries in education, in their passionate pursuit of knowledge, ideas and change.” 

In Canada, black women and other women of colour find themselves missing not only from movements for gender diversity, but also from seats of power.”

Some women say there is a need for more interfaith, intercultural events and dialogue to mark International Women’s Day (IWD) in Canada. 

In a column for CBC Edmonton, Nakita Valerio wrote that rhetoric surrounding IWD does not promote intersectional or inclusive feminism. 

She wrote that debates in Canada around issues concerning ethnic women, such as a Muslim woman’s decision to wear a niqab or a hijab, highlight how the day “accentuates the fact that equality for women in this country is still heavily tied to the individual's background, religious, racial, or otherwise.” 

In the Globe and Mail, Septembre Anderson wrote that the definition of “women” used in IWD discourse does not include women of colour. 

In Canada, black women and other women of colour find themselves missing not only from movements for gender diversity, but also from seats of power.” 

Both columnists pointed out that while 2016 marks 100 years since women in several provinces won the right to vote, Asian and African women in Canada gained this right much later, a struggle which is not described in the commemorative materials. Anderson called on women in power to work with women of colour and use their positions to eradicate discrimination. 

Uncertain future for Saskatchewan language schools 

The Saskatchewan Organization for Heritage Languages (SOHL) says it is disappointed to learn the province's Ministry of Education will stop providing it subsidies to run 80 heritage language schools. SOHL has been receiving provincial subsidies for 25 years and currently teaches over 30 languages. 

The organization says the decision is a step in the wrong direction at a time when Canada is accepting many new immigrants and refugees who need welcoming environments.

“The schools focus on teaching language and culture to immigrants and refugees, and improving access to indigenous languages,” reports CBC. SOHL's executive director Tamara Ruzic told the Regina Leader-Post that about 10 language schools have opened each year, many teaching Arabic. 

She added that the $225,000 SOHL receives is “peanuts to the government.” 

Minister of Education Don Morgan said that the decision was made for economic reasons, and added that the funding, which amounts to $4.58 per student each month, can be paid by parents. 

“As a result of the announcement by the Ministry of Education, many of these non-profit heritage language schools will be faced with the difficult decision of whether they can continue to operate,” said Girma Sahlu, president of SOHL, in a press release.

The organization says the decision is a step in the wrong direction at a time when Canada is accepting many new immigrants and refugees who need welcoming environments and support in learning languages.

“The heritage language schools contribute to the retention of immigrants in Saskatchewan by helping people to maintain their culture, identity and traditions, while simultaneously learning about Canadian ways of life.”


This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Top Stories

by Leah Bjornson in Vancouver 

In this week’s round-up of what’s been making headlines in Canada’s ethnic media: The Liberal government is set to repeal Bill C-24; municipal councils wage war on Uber and Canadians react to Haryana violence in India. 

Liberals plan to repeal Bill C-24 

The Liberal government has announced that it will be making significant changes to the Citizenship Act, repealing the Conservatives’ controversial Bill C-24. 

The bill gave the government the power to revoke Canadian citizenship from dual citizens convicted of terrorism, treason or espionage. According to the minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship, John McCallum, the new measures will make it nearly impossible to revoke citizenship. 

[T]he government says that it plans to remove barriers to citizenship posed by Bill C-24.

Immigration officials will still be able to revoke citizenship if it was obtained by false representation or fraud and the federal court will be able to remove someone’s citizenship if they are involved in organized crime, war crimes or crimes against humanities. 

Of particular interest to new and aspiring Canadians, the government says that it plans to remove barriers to citizenship posed by Bill C-24. 

As reported in the Canadian Immigrant magazine, McCallum announced Feb. 23, “We believe that it’s better to make it easier rather than harder for people to become citizens.” 

Expected changes include reducing the length of time that someone must be physically present in Canada to qualify for citizenship, allowing time in Canada before permanent residency to count toward physical residency requirements and amending the age range for language and citizenship knowledge exams. 

The government also intends to repeal the intent to reside provision, which caused some immigrants to fear that they could lose their citizenship if they moved outside of Canada. 

While McCallum didn’t elaborate on what other changes would be made, he told The Globe & Mail that specifics would follow “in coming days, but not very many days.” 

The government is set to table its annual immigration report before Mar. 9 and it will outline targets for all classes of immigrants, including Syrian refugees. 

Uber-taxi war rages in Brampton 

The battle against Uber in Ontario continues as Brampton City Council voted on Wednesday to temporarily suspend ride-sharing companies until the City can decide whether or not to allow them to operate in the area. 

The motion, which was brought forward by city councillor Gurpreet S. Dhillon, was unanimously accepted by council, who cited concerns over public safety, consumer protection, fairness and regulation. 

“This is a victory for the residents of Brampton.”

“This is a victory for the residents of Brampton,” said Dhillon, as reported by The Indo-Canadian Voice. “I’m very proud that my motion was supported by all my council colleagues. This decision is a good first step to guarantee the public’s safety and security, while maintaining fairness — that is our priority right now.” 

According to councillors, ride-sharing companies like Uber have presented challenges for consumers and companies in Canada. There are also issues of legality, as many of these drivers are not licensed under the cities’ mobile licensing bylaws and as such are operating contrary to their requirements. 

Other cities in Canada are having similar conversations about the ride-sharing problem. Mississauga city council voted unanimously in early March to suspend Uber's operations in the city. 

“Innovation, technology and growth are driving competition in an established industry that has a long history of providing quality and reliable service,” said Mississauga mayor Bonnie Crombie. “The debate about how to regulate Transportation Network Companies (TNC) is not going away and we need to get it right.” 

The city will be seeking feedback from all stakeholders — the taxi and limousine industry, companies like Uber, as well as consumers — in reviewing the bylaws and regulations around ride-shares. 

Students stand in solidarity with northern India   

As caste violence continues to occur in the north Indian state of Haryana, Canadians are speaking out against fighting that has seen more than a dozen people killed. 

On Mar. 2, students, faculty, and staff from the University of British Columbia (UBC) held a rally in solidarity with India’s Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), where, as one student wrote, JNU students “are now facing deadly onslaught of the state – its entire students’ union and leftist leadership booked under the draconian sedition charges.” 

The violence has also affected non-resident Indians (NRIs) living in Canada ...

According to The Indo-Canadian Voice, “Hundreds of universities, public intellectuals, human rights [organizations] from all over the world have raised their voice in support of the JNU students and teachers.” 

The violence has also affected non-resident Indians (NRIs) living in Canada, who fear it will impact investment in the state. 

In a statement reprinted in The Indo-Canadian Voice, the Overseas Association of Haryanvis in Canada said, “We, the NRIs of Haryana origin, would like to appeal to our brothers and sisters to support centuries-old brotherhood among 36 biradaris in the larger interest of Haryana and the nation.” 

The organization further stated that the agitation has not helped the common man of the state. On the contrary, the statement said it “will create more unemployment and increase poverty in an otherwise prosperous state.” 

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Top Stories
Thursday, 03 March 2016 18:54

Canada Seeks "The Perfect Immigrants"

by Ranjit Bhaskar in Toronto

As the federal government prepares to table its 2016 immigration targets by March 9, Immigration Minister John McCallum has indicated that it would be more positively inclined towards international students.

Terming foreign students as “the perfect immigrants,” McCallum said the previous Conservative government took the wrong direction when it took away the 50 per cent residency time credit for them and other temporary residents when applying to become permanent residents.

He said this in a one-on-one conversation with Ratna Omidvar, Executive Director, Global Diversity Exchange, at the 2016 Cities of Migration conference in Toronto on Wednesday. The forum was held in the lead up to the 18th National Metropolis Conference that opened today.

"It was the dumbest thing to do because if there's any group who would become good Canadians, it's them. They're educated, they know this country, they speak English or French. So why punch them in the nose when we're trying to attract them here in competition with other countries?"

"[W]hy punch them in the nose when we're trying to attract them here in competition with other countries?"

Family reunification

McCallum said the Express Entry immigration selection system, the key change to the economic immigration stream made by the previous government, was also being reviewed. The Liberal party election platform had proposed that candidates with siblings in Canada should be granted additional points under the system.

McCallum said now that his party's election promise on the Syrian refugees has been met, streamlining his department would be his new top priority.

This would include reducing the processing times for people already in the immigration system.

“We have learnt a lot from fast-tracking the Syrians in how inefficiencies can be eliminated,” the minister said. "I am ashamed that we, a country who view ourselves as being open to newcomers, should take two years to bring together husband and wife and even longer to bring in parents and grandparents."

He said some processes are not necessary and his government would be applying risk management principles to bring in families quicker. “This is how we want to bring about ‘real change’ without increasing risks to Canadians.” But he cautioned that the changes to reduce processing delays are not going to happen overnight.

"[W]e only have a certain capacity to increase our numbers. And we need to balance the competing demands.”

Multi-year immigration plan

Asked by Omidvar on why the federal government goes about setting annual immigration targets instead of taking a more long-term view, McCallum said he would soon present a multi-year plan.

He said the government will be announcing the 2016 immigration levels plan in Parliament next week.

“While we would need a bigger pie to accommodate all the demands, we only have a certain capacity to increase our numbers. And we need to balance the competing demands.”

He listed them as:

  • The need to take in more refugees
  • Provincial governments wanting more economy class immigrants
  • Bringing in more under the Family Class

Last year’s immigration levels plan had made a provision for a maximum of 285,000 immigrants. That pie was to be divided among 186,700 economic immigrants, 68,000 family class immigrants and 30,200 from the humanitarian stream.

Record intake of immigrants likely

In contrast, 19,000 Syrian refugees have already been resettled in the first two months of 2016 and the Liberals have pledged to resettle another 10,000 government-assisted Syrian refugees by year end.  

[T]he Justin Trudeau government would be the first to admit more than 300,000 new immigrants in one year since 1913.

And if McCallum makes true his commitment to increase the intake by even 15,000, the Justin Trudeau government would be the first to admit more than 300,000 new immigrants in one year since 1913.

On whether the focus on Syrian refugees would lead to cutbacks to other refugees and immigration streams and also welfare programs, McCallum said Canada would still accept refugees at the same pace from other parts of the world, but the rush to get Syrians into the country was both warranted and the right thing to do.

“I make no apologies to anybody. The Syrian crisis was the worst such crisis the world has faced in a decade and most Canadians agree with that. And we can always do more than one thing at once.”

Although privately sponsored refugees from Syria have to start paying their own airfare now that government-organized flights out of the Middle East have ceased, McCallum said the government is now considering paying the travel costs of all refugees Canada resettles in the future.

The federal government has been providing refugees loans to help them pay for required medical exams and travelling to Canada for decades. McCallum said that cancelling the loans is one of the options the Liberals are considering ahead of their first budget on Mar. 22.

"We were covering the travel costs for privately sponsored refugees [from Nov. 4 to Feb. 29] because most of them came on planes leased by the government,” McCallum said.

Canadians who sponsored Syrian refugees who arrived before Nov. 4 have complained that the Liberal government created a two-tier system when it decided to waive the travel costs for privately sponsored refugees who arrived in Canada after the Liberals were sworn into power on that date.


 

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

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Poll Question

Do you agree with the new immigration levels for 2017?

Yes - 30.8%
No - 46.2%
Don't know - 23.1%
The voting for this poll has ended on: %05 %b %2016 - %21:%Dec

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The honest truth is there is still reluctance around immigration policy... When we want to talk about immigration and we say we want to bring more immigrants in because it's good for the economy, we still get pushback.

-- Canada's economic development minister Navdeep Bains at a Public Policy Forum economic summit

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