TORONTO – By all appearances it seemed like a timely Christmas gift. On December 23, 2016, Peter Fonseca, and Sonia Sidhu two MPs from Mississauga and Brampton announced the formation of a “Pilot Project” through which the Federal Government was experimenting a solution to resolve a long-standing problem [primarily] emanating from the skilled labour shortage in the construction sector in the GTHA.
Their enthusiastic and receptive audience were members of The Undocumented Workers Committee (UWC), headed by Manuel Alexandre, an independent electrical contractor, and Joe Pimentel, a former government official.
Small contractors and community activists had organized themselves to better present their case professionally to the government of the day.
From my perspective, the two are individuals beyond reproach.
They took positively the news that there were several MPs, including Francesco Sorbara from the Italian community, who were working on this “never been tried before” – according to the MPs – attempt to solve the problem of visa-overstays.
Again, according to the same MPs, the “Ministry” estimated the problem included “more than a million” people.
The Minister’s chief of staff was intimately involved, leading the project on the Ministry side, they added, for good measure.
It was to be a multi-pronged approach to solving a labour shortage in the construction sector (and the restaurant an services sectors).
And, naturally, it would involve reassessing the entire Immigration program and its component parts, including proactive recruitment by the Minister among the hundreds of thousands of Southern European emigrants seeking a better future outside their own native borders.
Data collection, accuracy and completeness of applications (interestingly, to be submitted through them for processing) would be important.
As well, the implicit suggestion was that those who participated would be safeguarded from “removal action” if they were a part of the “pilot”.
The UWC turned to lawyers Rocco Galati and Richard Boraks, both equipped with the experience and expertise demanded by Department’s procedural requirements on immigration matters in general and with immigrants from [Southern] Europe in particular.
The Minister, then John McCallum, moved on.
A new Minister, Ahmed Hussen, appears to have come with different priorities … different advisors … different tactics and strategies.
The “more than a million” visa overstays are of no consequence to him.
His focus is on getting more VISA students for New Brunswick and resettling 1,845 potential Refugee claimants currently in Israeli detention camps awaiting deportation. He is also preoccupied with integrating the several hundred Nigerians who feel threatened by the Trump-inspired socio-economic conditions in the USA. Following his lead, the Federal Liberal Immigration Caucus Committee, headed by the MPs cited above, have developed collective amnesia about their Santa Claus impersonation in 2016.
A more cynical assessment would suggest that they have been given different talking points and are now singing from that song book.
“There is no Pilot Project”, they now say, “the Department says there is no pilot project”.
They forget that Canadians didn’t elect the Department. Their conduct now has become an egregious breach of public trust.
The “pilot”, like any pilot was a plan to lead to normalization of “status” in this country.
If anyone should understand this it should be the Minister who entered the country “illegally” – he was here for four years without papers attesting to who he was, where he came from or the nature of his [security] background.
It is part of his bio. Is there a reason why it cannot be a part of someone else’s?
What is reprehensible is the manipulation of Media outlets and [self-interested] competitors within the legal profession to engage in a character assassination campaign against members of the UWC and their legal team.
None of this helps solve the problem of undocumented workers who continue to provide services to their employers, pay taxes and mind their own business as they build our country and society.
(to be continued)