TORONTO - The meeting scheduled to clear up misconceptions, misinformation and levels of disinformation regarding “pilot projects” by Refugee and Immigration Canada didn’t go as smoothly as one might have hoped, Wednesday night, but the Undocumented Workers Committee (UWC) got their message across.
Significantly, the UWC, presented Video, audio, and email communication material wherein the Minister(s) of Immigration, over the last 18 months, repeatedly referred to the existence of a pilot project to “regularize” visa-overstays. So the Program exists.
UWC is a volunteer lobby group dedicated to bringing into “regular status” their neighbours whose families are here, integrated, working, paying taxes (and in most of cases) responsible for economic activity that provides jobs and services to Canadian citizens and Permanent Residents.
The Minister, currently Ahmed Hussen – himself a former Refugee who, by his own admission, lived in Canada for four years without any papers attesting to his identity, let alone “legitimacy” – has now taken to contradicting himself publicly on the existence of any such program.
However, as correspondence made public by UWC underscores, even the Minister responsible for the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA), reminds everyone that Minister Hussen has the Legislative authority to grant status (permanent residency or citizenship), and that a program - in Canada class – already exists for him to use for that purpose.
One could infer from CBSA Minister Goodale’s that Minister Hussen is trying the patience of his Cabinet colleagues. There are after-all, according to Hussen’s Departmental staff, one million residents in Canada in need of regularizing their status.
This must be a reason why MP Peter Fonseca gave an extended and enthusiastic interview to OMNI TV in Portuguese, in 2017, extolling the merits of the “pilot project” – encouraging viewers (and the UWC) to help gather as many applicants as possible and to file the applications through his office.
Odd, but according to a recording of that interview provided to the audience in attendance Wednesday night, that was a process preferred by the government.
Poor Fonseca. Someone must have pulled the rug out from under his feet. He now denies such a program exists. Minister Goodale reminds everyone that it does. If the structure to make it work properly is untested, it is not Fonseca’s fault. Nor are the Applicants who follow(ed) and meticulously filed applications through his office and those of other MPs to blame. Nor should they be cast by the wayside.
What is clear is that his Minister no longer believes undocumented workers merit his attention. He is focused on conducting personal interviews with Haitians and Nigerians resident in the USA. These now tiring of Donald Trump as President, want to cross our border illegally, some without papers.
He must have the support of his Government, or at least the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). If his assessment of the number of undocumented workers – one million – is accurate, then the Government will be faced with an enormous expense to remove them.
The latest cost estimates to CBSA for deporting “illegals” is $5,000 a person. That would be a $5 billion charge to the treasury and a $54 billion immediate hit to the economy for removing contributors to the (per capita) GDP, not counting the ensuing disruption.
Meanwhile, questionable, counter-productive and frankly disruptive tactics to disseminate confusion, by innuendo and allegations of conflict of interest speak more to the Minister’s inability to handle the file than to the commitment of the UWC to resolve a festering issue that eats away at the Government’s credibility.
That’s what the “documentation” presented Wednesday night indicates.