TORONTO - It bears repetition. Canada is not a country whose population is expanding.
If one accepts that there need to be 2.1 children per woman of child-bearing age in order for the population to replace itself, without immigration we would be in negative growth: deaths would soon outpace live births. It is already the case in New Brunswick. In Canada, the fertility rate (2016 statistics) is 1.6 children per woman of child-bearing age. Young people or young families are a “commodity” for Canada’s demographic-economic needs. Attracting them from abroad is a fundamental pillar – although not the only one - in any sensible immigration program.
If the political class were up to the task. The Minister for Refugees and Immigration, Ahmed Hussen, is responsible for identifying, and recruiting, the people who will join the ranks of futures citizens to this country and help shape it. He is a former refugee who arrived in this country without papers and documentation attesting to his identity and past experiences.
For some, he is an inspiration. Minister Ralph Goodale’s department, the Canadian Border Services Agency, is responsible for removing people who don’t fit the mold, so to speak, or cannot meet the test of economic and social integration. He speaks as a lawyer’s lawyer. The Courts determine whether the Law is respected in all proceedings.
The two Ministries sometimes appear conspire to uphold some tenet that makes sense only to those who are sleep deprived. Their Political masters, with their errant political posturing, don’t seem helpful. Take for example the Demitri, a “family on the run”. They entered Canada, in 2013, legally, and sought refugee status.
Mr. Demitri is a former under-cover police officer specializing in anti-terror and anti- organized crime operations. He offered his services pro bono on a consulting basis while his case was being considered. Briefly, Mr. Demitri’s “cover had been blown” during a major anti-mafia offensive. He and his family became vulnerable. They left Italy. Canadian authorities did not find their claim acceptable. They apparently approached several elected representatives for assistance, among them Associate Minister for Veteran’s Affairs (previously a Police Chief) Julian Fantino. They filed for Humanitarian and Compassionate considerations.
In other words, they complied with procedural requirements. Since their arrival, they tried to do all the right things, get a job, integrate. The Demitri have also had two other (Canadian-born) children. At every step of the way, they encountered intransigence on the part of the bureaucracy. Now “they are on the run “from eager CBSA officials who are trying to execute a removal order issued by Minister Goodale’s department.
The officer responsible for a Humanitarian and Compassionate consideration of their file elaborated, in a 17-page decision, every reason imaginable to set aside a Supreme Court order (December 10,2015) that decisions must always take into consideration the best interests of [the] child – no matter where they are born.He/she dismissed the professional assessment of a certified child psychiatrist and psychologist; gave mini seminar on the rights of Europeans (Italians) under the Schengen Agreement, and essential said; you may be on the run but run away in Europe” - there’s no room for you in Canada.
The Corriere contacted Minister Goodale’s office about the possibility of staying the removal order. His staff responded that this was a “status” issue and therefore the appropriate Minister to address the matter would be Minister Hussen. As a courtesy they referred the file to his office. Several weeks later, Minister Hussen’s office after considering the file, responded that this was a removals issue and therefore it would be in Minister Goodale’s court.
The Demitri family are still looking for a ready, hopefully sympathetic, ear. They thought Minister Hussen, with similar life experiences and representing a constituency with a large Italian demographic might be the one. Especially since he is on a recruiting mission in the USA to attract people anxious to cross the border into Canada – no sarcasm on my part intended, I have already indicated Canada’s need for more people. Canada is an inclusive, welcoming nation according to Prime Minister Trudeau.
On Tuesday, outside a Cabinet retreat, he had Minister Hussen, a symbol of our nation’s “acceptance”, address the Media to show the world that Canada has no tolerance for “racism”. “I have personally been the subject of racism”, he said commenting on the Quebecoise heckler incident, . Hard to see. He got his law degree in Canada, notwithstanding his “undocumented” status and was elected in a riding with a large Italian voting block. It may be time for him to come up with specifics.
The Conservatives, sensitive to their electoral fortunes, released their Immigration policy, replete with the usual generalities, at their own retreat. They may have to go back to the drawing board. Demitri is still awaiting that famous Canadian compassion.