TORONTO - As a Minister and a “spokespeoplekind” for Prime Minister Trudeau’s agenda, Ahmed Hussen comes across as totally inept. His government is struggling to stem the erosion of trust and support from groups which used to consider the Liberal Party as the Party of choice.
It is casting about to land on issues that will divert the public’s attention from the failures of the PMO to appear relevant and competent.
Hussen needed to seize the opportunity laid at his doorstep, by the Comites, an Italian organization, to address the issues of immigration, specifically from Italy.
Here is the essence of his presentation. On the business side (that’s really the basis for justifying any immigration programme), Hussen said the following.
First, there are 250,000 jobs in Canada (120,000 in Ontario) that need to be filled TODAY, 50,000 in the trucking industry alone.
Second, “trusted employers” can by-pass the LMIA process, get accepted into the Global Express Entry Programme and get workers here in two weeks. His Atlantic Pilot Project (APP) will allow employers and potential workers to bypass all the rules on immigration. Under that Pilot, just one rule applies: immigrants have to want to go there and an employer from there has recruited/sponsored them. That’s it. So much for rules.
Third, Canada welcomes foreign students (at an average of $40,000 each – tuition and board); Italians are welcome! He conveniently forgot some important details.
First, he was speaking to a Toronto, Ontario, audience. His Cabinet colleagues acknowledge the existence of 500,000 undocumented workers over and above that 120,000 jobs go begging. Their employers have already hired and integrated them into the economy. But, they do not have status and are therefore liable for deportation, thus aggravating the labour shortage. Hussen refuses to consider avenues to grant them that status. In fact, he reneged on a Pilot Project his predecessor announced in this regard. Anyone hiring an “undocumented worker” is liable for criminal prosecution.
Second, the Alantic Pilot Project is under RCMP investigation. The APP has been discontinued in one province because the RCMP has uncovered widespread corruption among employers and officials; there’s more to come.
Third, he was speaking to an Italian-Canadian audience and, he stands accused of deliberately continuing a Conservative Party policy position, initiated when Jason Kenney was Minister, to shut the door on potential immigrants from Italy. More than 100,000 emigrants per year have left Italy over the last five years. Canada, which has a target of 300,000+ immigrants per year, has welcomed an average of less than 800 per year over that period - a mere 1/3 of one percent of its annual target – from Italy. The vast majority of those emigres are already highly educated or skilled.
Fourth, as the government face for Humanitarian and Compassionate issues towards others, Hussen refuses to approve the request of an Italian family, the Demitri, (four children, all minors, two born here) for permanent residency on the basis of Humanitarian and Compassionate considerations.
Their case screams for acceptance. Coincidently, the UK Guardian featured them on its front pages on Saturday, March 9. A “black eye” for Canada. Other publications in Italy are reporting similarly. Fifty percent of the crowd in attendance at the Comites-sponsored event were there to support the Demitri.
Hussen, contrary to previously agreed and advertised protocol, scurried away before fielding any questions. At a pre-symposium “press conference”, to which the Corriere Canadese was NOT invited, media were advised that if anyone asked a question on the Demitri case they would be asked to leave.
The armed, bullet-prof vested guard I approached for verification declined comment. The moderator of the “question period” claimed not to know.
Curiously, when the floor microphones were opened up for the public (something organizers had discouraged by email, asking attendees to submit their questions to the moderator, in writing, prior to the symposium), a certain Chris Ostakus began to rail against a lawyer, Richard Boraks, who was not on the Agenda and not in the room. The moderator did nothing to bring it to a halt.
I asked what the “attack” had to do with the symposium and the matters at hand. She gave me the same response. Mr. Boraks is counselling the Demitri, pro bono (full disclosure, he is a tenant of another unit in the building where Corriere also is a tenant).
It had all the markings of a diversionary tactic; a deliberate and orchestrated character assassination. Mr Chris Ostakus literally ran away when I tried to buttonhole him for questions away from the friendly microphone of another media outlet.
The Demitri are still here, even if they are hiding. Hussen is still hiding and still Minister. They should be given their status. Hussen should lose his as Minister.