TORONTO - Ahmed Hussen is so like Michael Ignatieff. Remember him? The distinguished visiting professor from Harvard who, almost single-handedly, nearly brought the Liberals to the brink of annihilation in 2011.
He was Party Leader; had help from a “team of sycophants”, hangers- on, who, like him, had never been members of the Liberal Party.
They just could not comprehend that its apparatus belonged to the citizens of Canada – new or old - and that its purpose is to serve the immediate interests of all Canadians while building towards a productive, sustainable, united future together.
Justin Trudeau’s victory in 2015 saved the Party from oblivion in 2015. He had the help Canadians who had grown tired of Stephen Harper or who had pulled back from Mulcair’s NDP, which imploded before their very eyes during the election.
Many electors came from the ranks of the roughly nine million new Canadians landed since 1985 - close to 300,000 per year - two thirds of them (6,000,000) citizens by 2015.
It may have been a temporary, “personal reward”. The “apparatus”, such as it was, became the fiefdom of erstwhile organizers with no connection to community, or with “personal agendas” that do not seem to transcend the moment or carry the weight of “national significance”.
They have forgotten some basic elements of the Canadian reality: Many were elected/appointed on Justin Trudeau’s coattails. Just as many will disappear when his public image takes a hit.
It’s happening now. Believe it or not, Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Refugees and Immigration, can help arrest the ebb of that tide. He seems particularly adept at hiding his interest in fulfilling that task.
His colleagues may well wonder why. His party was once considered the vehicle of choice for those who looked for an apparatus through which Demographics would sustain the critical mass of human resources needs of a vibrant national economy. Liberals used to stand for family reunification in immigration.
They trusted the judgement of employers to hire staff according to the best interests of their businesses. They used to look for ways to entice, welcome, employ and retain those eager to make Canada their future. Hussen seems determined to define his party as the biggest impediment to labour mobility, a “no-go zone” for people from Europe who are accustomed to moving as freely in search of work as goods and service are free to seek potential consumers.
He insists on nearly impossible- to-achieve grades in a flawed, corrupted, IELTS (language competency) test to keep them out and a mean-spirited deportation program to expel those that somehow make it here without status. The gravity of the situation has not escaped European governments.
In Portugal, national news outlets Diario de Noticias (print) and RTP (electronic) reported deportations from Canada of Portuguese Nationals (21 so far this year, another 22 issued expulsion orders, on track to surpass the 101 deported in 2018). Many of them came forward to be judged under a pilot programme he subsequently set aside, denying it ever exited.
This prompted Minister Jose Carneiro, Secretary of State for Foreign Communities to suggest that the figures and actions by Hussen were inconsistent with what the Minister appeared to promise him when he visited Canada.
At that time, he appeared open to allowing his officials to make use of a measure referred to as “substitutive evaluation” to replace the language test. It is a different air in Portugal.
Back Canada, Hussen’s immigration plan is on schedule to allow for the “landing” of enough new arrivals to replace the entire city of London Ontario (300,000 people), this year. But it will only have room for 600 Portuguese and 400 Poles, judging from the acceptance rates of the last five years; after he gets rid of some 240 Portuguese currently here.
The Italians fare marginally better. He is on track to accept 800, provided the Demitri family of six (two children born here) are caught and deported – contrary to a directive of the Supreme Court in 2015. They only have MPs, International Press and the Italian Comites speaking for them, along with a coalition of Undocumented Workers, Brazilians, Columbians and other sympathizers who gathered to protest outside Hussen’s office in Toronto on Saturday.
Why Hussen wants to rid the country of 1,000,000 gainfully employed and integrated, would-be Canadians (500,000 in Ontario), when he declared last week that there are 130,000 jobs in Ontario that go begging to be filled, is a mystery only another “Brainiac” like Ignatieff could possibly understand.
Lesser mortals like his colleagues who rely on the votes those nine million newer Canadians may exercise in a free election will wonder what in heaven’s name he has substituted for compassion and common sense.
Minister Hussen and his staff have continuously declined invitations to be interviewed.