Category Archives: Immigration

MISSISSAUGA: Pakistani woman takes federal government to court over nikab ban

Ex-immigration minister Jason Kenney ‘dictated’ niqab ban at citizenship ceremony, court told

A ban on veils while taking the citizenship oath was driven by Kenney’s own ideology, say lawyers for Zunera Ishaq, who is challenging the policy in court.

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The federal government introduced a new policy to ban new citizens from wearing face-covering veil during the oath taking at citizenship ceremonies like this one in Toronto.

By:  Immigration reporter, Published on Fri Oct 17 2014

A Mississauga woman has taken the federal government to court over a policy that forbids wearing the face-covering veil while taking the oath of citizenship, arguing the ban breaches her Charter rights and fails to accommodate her religious beliefs and dress code.

Banning the niqab from citizenship ceremonies is the result of former immigration minister Jason Kenney imposing his own ideology of “Canadian values” on the process, Zunera Ishaq’s lawyer, Naseem Mithoowani, told federal court Justice Keith Boswell at a hearing in Toronto on Thursday.

“The true motivation of the policy is to compel Muslim women to abandon, albeit briefly, their religious adherence,” Mithoowani said.

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It’s the first such challenge against the niqab ban at citizenship ceremonies; if successful, it could strike down the policy. Continue reading

CALGARY: Fariborz Birjandian, head of Calgary Catholic Immigration society, thinks Canada should take in more Syrian refugees

October 10, 2014 7:20 pm

Refugee families now call Calgary home thanks to local help

By  and   Global News

It’s been a year since Fadi Yacoub and his family fled from war-torn Syria to Lebanon.

Once in Lebanon they applied for refugee status, and a year later Calgary is their home.

Yacoub says the year-long wait was well worth it.

“I’m happy that I’m here,” he says. “I want a good future for my kids; it’s been four years that they didn’t go to school. “

There are currently more than three million Syrian refugees in the world, a number that climbs daily.

Yacoub’s wife, Ralda, knows how lucky her family is.

Canada, I heard from a lot of people that it’s a safe place, “says Ralda. “Thank god now that I’m here, I feel like my life is back again.”

While the family is grateful, the transition from Syria to Canada has had its challenges. Their daughter Perla is still adjusting to life in Calgary. Continue reading

BURNABY, B.C.: Mayoral candidate Sylvia Gung wants to ban any display of affection, from wedding kisses to holding hands

You may not kiss the bride.

That’s what grooms will be told at the altar if this Burnaby mayoral candidate wins the Nov. 15 election.

Sylvia Gung is running on a platform to create a “wholesome society,” which would mean banning any public displays of affection including wedding kisses and holding hands in public.

These behaviours “hurt public decorum and lead to further violence,” according to Gung’s profile on the city’s website.

This is Gung’s second run for the mayor’s seat.

She’s up against incumbent Mayor Derek Corrigan, who has held the position for 12 years. Corrigan is known for his adamant opposition to Kinder Morgan’s proposed pipeline expansion.

There are four other candidates vying for the city’s top job.

Helen Hee Soon Chang, who has been elected as a school trustee, organizes multicultural forums and would strive to boost safety and inclusivity.

Realtor Raj Gupta, who ran unsuccessfully for the B.C. Conservative Party in the 2013 provincial election, promises to cut property taxes and improve spending.

Entrepreneur Daren Hancott, leader of the Burnaby First party, pledges his management expertise will make him a capable leader at City Hall.

Allan Hutton, a longtime Burnaby resident and volunteer, wants to preserve the city’s natural areas and create an accountable government.

VANCOUVER: City’s real estate market invaded by millionaire Chinese immigrants

Vancouver’s real estate boom: The rising price of ‘heaven’

IAIN MARLOW AND BRENT JANG

VANCOUVER — The Globe and Mail

Published 

Last updated 

 Qiqi Hong walks past her sleek, blue-tiled hot tub and an infinity pool that seems to disappear like a waterfall into the chilly air above West Vancouver. She leans on the patio railing and breathes in the majestic ocean view that takes in the towering Douglas firs of Stanley Park, the skyscrapers of Vancouver, the Asia-bound freighters anchored in English Bay and – way off in the misty distance – the faint, rugged outline of Gabriola Island.

“We’re in heaven,” says Ms. Hong. “I can’t find any house that can compare to my house.”

The serene West Coast lifestyle did not come cheaply: Ms. Hong’s home cost $6-million. But it is an investment she can easily afford. The irrepressible businesswoman founded a successful lighting-design business in Beijing that thrived in China’s building boom. It now has more than 100 employees. But tired of Beijing’s hectic pace and foul air, she decided to come to Vancouver – after looking in Switzerland, Germany and the United States – on the Canadian government’s immigrant investor program in 2011. She now also owns three other houses on Vancouver’s west side, each valued in excess of $1.3-million, as well as a downtown condo she uses on weekends and lends to visiting friends.

Demand from wealthy migrants from mainland China such as Ms. Hong has helped make the Vancouver area the most expensive real estate market in Canada. The average price of a single-family detached home is $1.26-million, higher than any other Canadian city. The rising flow of foreign capital – stemming from a long tradition of transpacific migration and investment – has turned Vancouver into a truly global real estate market. One large real estate firm calculated that roughly one-third of the detached homes it sold within the City of Vancouver last year went to buyers from China. Vancouver developers and real estate firms have hit the jackpot, and some have rushed to set up offices in Shanghai and Beijing. Some now say Vancouver is a bedroom community for the world.

The upscale Point Grey neighbourhood is on Vancouver’s west side, where benchmark prices for detached homes have soared. DARRYL DYCK FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL

But Vancouver real estate prices have also become increasingly unhinged from local incomes, prompting concerns about affordability. It has led to middle– and even upper-middle class Vancouverites renting permanently or fleeing for cheaper suburbs such as Burnaby. There is a search for better data on foreign buyers, which is only haphazardly tracked. There is now a heated debate – that includes accusations of racism – about whether anything should be done to curb foreign buying, or if what is happening is simply an inevitable, and welcome, facet of globalization in a free market.

After all, the ebullient Ms. Hong hasn’t just bought houses here. She founded a charity with other wealthy migrants from China; the group just held a Thanksgiving lunch for 1,000 seniors and recently collected $250,000 for a local hospital and pet shelter. She has founded several businesses in Vancouver, including one in real estate, and drives to ESL classes. She’s learning English, and has even joined a protest, hitting the streets during the recent B.C. teachers’ strike. While she stays busy in Vancouver, her husband frequently flies to China to manage the firm.

In my opinion, I think it’s good for the economy,” Ms. Hong says, noting that the number of Chinese residents on her street has soared in recent years and that the local businessman she bought her house from made a cool $1.5-million more than he originally paid. “In Vancouver,” Ms. Hong says, “the house prices are perfect.”

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MONTREAL: Immigrants from France invading the city

Montreal’s French invasion: Why immigrants from France are moving in en masse

BENJAMIN SHINGLER

MONTREAL — The Canadian Press

Published 

Last updated 

When Christian Faure moved to Montreal last summer, the renowned chef saw a chance to start fresh in a new city, freed from the constraints of his native France.

Faure opened a pastry shop and cooking school in a renovated 300-year-old greystone on a busy street in Old Montreal.

“It would be totally impossible to open a similar patisserie in a historic quarter in Paris and Lyon,” said Faure, who had a stint as director of the Cordon Bleu chef school in Ottawa before moving to the city. “In Montreal, it’s still possible. It’s a city of arts and theatre, and it encourages young people.”

Faure isn’t alone. Faced with a slumping economy and high unemployment rate back home, the number of French citizens in Montreal has soared in recent years, particularly among the 25-40 age demographic.

These days, the unmistakable accent of the Old Country echoes through the bars and cafés of the city’s trendy Plateau district. Specialty stores offering made-in-France delicacies and pubs that televise French rugby and soccer matches have also recently popped up.

By 2013, nearly 55,000 French citizens were registered at the French consulate in Montreal, up by about 45 per cent from 2005, according to the consulate.

In reality, that number is likely much higher.

A consulate spokesman estimates only about half of the French in Canada register, putting the estimated number of French citizens in Montreal at about 110,000. Toronto and Quebec City are the next most popular destinations, each home to about 10,000 registered French citizens.

The growing French presence in Montreal has even stirred up hints of resentment.

A satirical song called Y’a trop de Français sur le Plateau, which takes jabs at the perceived snobbiness of the French and their love of cigarettes, has been viewed 143,000 times on YouTube. The tune was written by Fred Fresh, a musician who himself hails from France.

Still, many view Montreal as a place of opportunity.

Laure Juilliard moved from Paris seven years ago. Only 22 at the time, she completed a one-year technical program, found a job three weeks later and has lived here ever since.

“There was a sense of freedom – from family, and from France, which is much more traditional and hierarchical,” said Juilliard, now a freelance writer who runs the popular lifestyle blog Une Parisienne à Montréal.

“I felt you could be much more yourself here than in France, and not feel the judgment of others, and even if there is judgment, it’s not necessarily negative.”

It’s unclear how many of these new arrivals will stay for the long haul.

Over the past decade, 30,000 immigrants from France have gained permanent resident status in Quebec, according to the consulate, far below the total number here on temporary student and work-travel visas. But it’s still among the top immigrant countries of origin in Quebec, alongside Algeria, Morocco, China and Haiti.

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TORONTO: During rapid-fire exchanges, mayoral candidate Olivia Chow translates in her head

Chow responds to column on her English-speaking ability

OLIVER MOORE The Globe and Mail

Published Last updated 

Olivia Chow likes to say that she’s not a “fast” or “smooth” talker. It’s a self-deprecating way to explain her occasional struggles to be heard amid bombastic mayoral debates.

It’s also an acknowledgement that her English – while perfectly understandable – isn’t as good as her opponents. (…)

“It may look to some voters, many of whom struggle with English, as if she doesn’t care enough about communicating with them to get her nouns and verbs to agree,” Rick Salutin wrote in Friday’s Toronto Star. “I’m not saying that’s so, I know it’s not. But we’re talking about impressions.”

Ms. Chow came to Canada from Hong Kong at the age of 13 and her background prompted racist heckling during at least one debate.

Her people have said that she is not as fast during rapid-fire exchanges because she translates in her head as she goes. The possible political drawbacks of her speaking ability have generally remained a taboo subject for pundits, though. And when the issue was raised she was quick to hit back.

“[He] needs to open [his] eyes and look at what this city represents,” Ms. Chow said Friday morning. A lot of people that live in this city speaks with an accent. But they become top surgeons, top scientists. It’s quite astounding that you have journalists that want to pick on my language capacity. I have no problem communicating, I don’t believe.”

The analysis was part of a list of “potential incitements” that Mr. Salutin suggested could be swaying public opinion. But Ms. Chow brushed it off.

“Actions speak louder than words, right,” she said. “You want a mayor that can get things done.”

Follow Oliver Moore on Twitter: @moore_oliver

Tim Murray: The Department of Grovelling Apologies

Announcing  the formation of D.O.G.A.

The Department of Grovelling Apologies

tim apologyNavigating through a labyrinth of government agencies, departments and ministries to locate the appropriate service provider or information source can be exhausting and time-consuming to say the least.  To remedy this problem, governments at both the federal and provincial level have established  central directories which efficiently steer citizens to the department that would best be able address their questions.  “Inquiry BC”, “Service BC” and “Service Canada” are examples that come to mind.

These centres are one-stop points of contact for hundreds of services provided on behalf of government ministries, agencies, Crown corporations, various levels of government and private sector organizations. They provide toll-free access to basic Government information over the telephone to millions of callers.

Sadly, however, no contact centre has been available to capture the growing number of callers who are summarily accused, tried and convicted by the MSM and social media for making off-hand comments that are judged to be hateful, insensitive, racist, sexist, homophobic or ‘Islamophobic’ .  These callers are desperate to make immediate amends by contacting the identity group they have offended.  In such cases, timing is decisive. A tardy apology can be a career-ending mistake with devastating social repercussions.  Finding the right contact quickly can be the difference between damage control and damage out-of-control. Continue reading

Former diplomat Scott Gilmore wants more immigrants into Canada

Why it’s time for Canada to grow up

The Canadian model works, so let’s boost immigration and triple our population

Scott Gilmore

Stan Behal/Toronto Sun/QMI Agency

Stan Behal/Toronto Sun/QMI Agency

According to newly released data, Canada’s population growth is slow and getting slower. This is bad news. Great nations are not made from fewer workers, fewer youth and more retirees. If Canada wants to thrive, if we want to influence the world, we will have to change this. We need immigrants and we need lots of them.

Canada is doing well. As we approach our 150th birthday, we are rated among the world’s most peaceful, prosperous and admired nations. The Canadian experiment is, objectively, a success.

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The Canadian model works, but we are simply too small to ensure that this will continue to be the case 50 or 100 years from now. It is time we began to scale it up.

While Canada is ranked second in the world by reputation, we are 37th by population. Statistics Canada’s newly released report “Population Projections for Canada” shows our growth is now stunted. Our birth rate continues to fall and the 258,000 immigrants we accepted last year are not enough to meet our labour shortages or significantly expand our size. Unhappily, as our growth slows, our aging accelerates. The number of retired Canadians is now predicted to increase from 15 per cent to 25 per cent over the next 15 years. Simultaneously, our working-age population will shrink from 69 per cent to 60 per cent—fewer hands feeding more mouths.

Doug Saunders of the Globe and Mail has, in the past, convincingly argued that Canada should embrace prime minister Wilfrid Laurier’s dream of a significantly larger and more muscular nation. Saunders proposes we set a target of 100 million by the end of the century. Put more simply, let’s triple the size of Canada.

It would not be hard. Now at 34 million people, we would only need an annual growth rate of 1.3 per cent to reach that target. Assuming our fertility rates remain low, this means an additional 186,000 migrants annually, bringing our total immigration numbers to 444,000 per year. This may sound like a lot, but we could absorb them easily. By comparison to most cities around the world, Canadian urban areas are sprawling and empty. Even if we doubled our immigration numbers, the lineup at Tim Hortons would stay the same. It would only increase our workforce by one per cent per year, a number that our economy could easily engage, especially if we continue to recruit and favour skilled and educated migrants.

More immigrants mean more minds, more hands and more tax dollars. There is a misconception that new arrivals are a net drain on our economy. In fact, they are more entrepreneurial and work longer hours than average Canadians. The added muscle would make us smarter, stronger and louder.

As of this month, Ontario university enrolment has begun to decline due to our changing demographics. An influx of immigrants would turn this around and help grow our campuses into academic centres that matter globally. 

(…) Continue reading

VANCOUVER: Indo-Canadian women claim to hear taunt ‘Surrey’s that way!’ at Gastown bar (2013)

Indo-Canadian women claim to hear taunt ‘Surrey’s that way!’ at Gastown bar

Published: November 10, 2013

Raj Khangura 24, (left) Jas Dhillon (centre) and Mandeep Grewal 28, were out for Dhillon’s 26th birthday at The Charles Bar last month. She and her friends believe they were victims of racism because as they left the bar manager shouted at them “Surrey’s that way!” Mark van Manen/ PNG

LARISSA CAHUTE
VANCOUVER DESI

Vancouver’s Jas Dhillon will forever remember her 26th birthday – a day she’d much rather forget.

On Oct. 19 she hoped to celebrate over dinner with friends at The Charles Bar in Gastown. According to Dhillon, she and her friends – all Indo-Canadian women – arrived for their 6 p.m. reservation and were greeted with nothing but rude service, only to be kicked out of the establishment by 7 p.m. as a bar manager allegedly shouted at them, “Surrey’s that way!”

For Dhillon, that final comment changed it from being bad service to something more serious, she said, because she believes it was in reference to the Lower Mainland city’s large East Indian community.

“That’s ridiculous,” Dhillon told Vancouver Desi. “To be honest, we don’t think that kind of stuff still happens.

“To have that happen in Vancouver, in our own hometown – we were just shocked.”

According to Dhillon, the poor treatment began early in the evening, when she realized they were short a few chairs and sat at another booth , which seemed to prompt the manager to approach her and say she’d be kicked out if she didn’t go back to her table.

“The last thing I want to do is leave – it’s my birthday, I don’t want to ruin the party,” said Dhillon. “It’s six in the evening, we’re just sitting there having a good time … Why is this guy being so rude to me from the get-go?” Upon telling her friends what happened, some wondered if it was racism, but they brushed it aside and carried on with their evening. Continue reading

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