TORONTO - Minister Ahmed Hussen has so many Pilot projects in his Department, he could run his own Union local and choose to be its business manager. That might be reassuring to potential immigrants. He has succeeded in building a Byzantine maze to Canadian Permanent Residency that only the Mad Hatter from the Batman movies can navigate.
Thanks to Hussen, there are now so many “new rules” and pathways to achieving Canadian residency that there are, in effect, no rules – only exceptions – and they require the lubricant that the SNC Lavalin affair has highlighted: money. And he, as Minister, is the only one with the jurisdictional authority to grant status, the prize that says you have found your way.
Sound odd? It will not seem so when you consult the Department’s website and find that its first entry is a disclaimer, highlighted in blue, advising the reader that the information they are about to read is posted only as a courtesy. The real facts are contained in the law Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
The explanations, in and of themselves, do not compel any immigration officer to take a specific decision; hence, they may require legal counsel for navigation. They are replete with ifs, ands or buts. The main, if not singular, goal of the Immigration programme is to provide Canada with the human resources it needs to remain demographically sustainable while serving the needs of its [hopefully] expanding and competitive economy.
The Government of Canada shares this goal and jurisdiction with the provincial governments, but, it alone grants “entry” into the country. Sometimes, it acts in concert with the provincial counterparts through “pilot programmes” to encourage settlement or investment in specific regions or industrial sectors. It involves “big money”, and large “political considerations”.
One case in point is the Atlantic Provinces Pilot Project (APPP). Potential Immigrants to Canada, who might not otherwise qualify for entry, can select this “pilot”, and once in, take advantage of mobility rights available to all Permanent Residents and leave for other provinces.
There is healthy price to pay by applicants for that privilege. Not surprisingly, there are ample opportunities for abuse – by the receiving provinces, whose participating “enterprises” are just as happy to take the money and “let the applicants run away elsewhere”. The abuse has been particularly bad under Ahmed Hussen’s watch as reported by some investigative journalism conducted by the CBC.
I found that the abuses bordered on fraud. The CBSA investigated the practice of the immigration departments concerned. One Department of government investigating another.
In New Brunswick, a province in negative population growth, employers have taken to advertising abroad for qualified help to fill positions in sectors that will profit from government infrastructure programmes, enticing potential workers with easy entry into Canada and subsidizing the wages of the employer in the process.
“What the Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away”, so to speak. In Central Canada, Ontario, to be more specifics, Hussen’s predecessor, faced with a veritable sea of “immigrants” who made their own way here without assistance or incentives, announced a “Pilot” project to “regularize” the roughly 500,000 men and women who labour in the marketplace, productively but without documentation. Hussen initially supported the “Pilot”, but now denies it ever existed.
His colleague Ralph Goodale, Minister for CBSA is left with no choice but to deport those 500,000 people - their families and children included. Were that to happen, the economy would take an incalculable hit.
At the very least, construction sites in the GTHA would be shut down and the Toronto Catholic District School Board (one of many to be affected) would lose about 8,000 students and the grants that accompany them.
Meanwhile, the political class is in the grips of the SNC Lavalin affair, fearful that some 3,400 jobs may be at risk in Quebec. Hussen, probably under the direction, or with the consent of, the Prime Minister’s office lead advisors, Butts and Telford, has taken the position that he knows best, preferring to “tinker with Pilots” rather than solve a problem.
And of course, he has abandoned the Demitri family.