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Our City, Our World: Britannia on the Prairies

Map of the Prairie provinces in central Canada...
Map of the Prairie provinces in central Canada. The northern reach or the Great Plains of North America are found in these provinces. :*See Image:Canada provinces blank vide.png for additional information. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before closing with a small postscript — mail me a revised New Testament, please! — young Scotsman William Lothian’s long letter to his family described the often-lonely immensity of his new home.
“It’s a monotonous process, this travelling over the vast Prairies, all so much alike,” the 24-year-old wrote in the fall of 1881.
“Jim and I always said we would like, if possible, to go ahead of civilization, to go where settlers would be sure to follow,” wrote William to his family southeast of Edinburgh.At the time, Lothian was taking a pioneer version of a long weekend, travelling 180 kilometres from his job at the sawmill at Riding Mountain to the new farm near Pipestone he and his brother James were clearing.
“And we came near enough to having our wish as we were, you may say, the first to settle on the Pipestone, and I was the first white man to sow grain in that part of the country, and Jim was the first to put a scythe in the ripe corn.”
On his trek, William encountered only spotty homesteads, some of them slovenly and makeshift, and several other Scottish settlers making their way west. He writes about devouring copies of the Glasgow Herald and makes note of the large English contingent in Rapid City, where a Mr. Whelms managed an English immigration scheme and a Mr. McIntosh ran the sawmill.
“I believe there will be a big immigration from the Old Sod next year, at least I hope so,” he concluded. “If the right kind would come out here, they would do well, and they are just what the country needs.”
Since the arrival of the Selkirk settlers 200 years ago, immigrants such as William Lothian have represented the province’s political and business elite. British stock, even the poor crofters cleared off Scottish farms or the urban working classes from the north of England, came to dominate the province — its elected posts, its civil service, its banking and business class, its grain trade, its social institutions such as the Manitoba Club.
Federal immigration programs favoured British settlers, who often arrived better-educated, got better jobs, lived in wealthier neighbourhoods and prospered more quickly than other immigrants by virtue of being the most desired. William Lothian may not have imagined it while camped out on the bluffs one cold October night on his way home to his half-cleared farm, but he was typical of the British newcomers who ran the province for generations.
Lothian would go on to have four children, serve on the Royal Commission on grain pricing and shipping, report for the Brandon newspaper and return to England as an immigration emissary.
After the Selkirk settlers, a steady flow of English, Irish, Welsh and Scottish immigrants arrived to take up skilled trades in Winnipeg or farm in rural Manitoba.
But an even larger influx of people of British and Irish heritage migrated west from Ontario. They arrived in Manitoba with a bit of money and education, a generation or two better-established in their new country. That includes businessman James Armstrong Richardson, Winnipeg’s first mayor Francis Cornish, police chief (and early advocate for regulated prostitution) John McRae and thousands of others who claim roots in the British Isles.
In spite of their ubiquity, there are only spotty data on the number of British and Irish immigrants who came to Manitoba in the early years and where they settled. Numerous studies exist of Ukrainian, Russian and Polish immigrants and their impact on the North End and on the expansion of the West.
But little has been written about the group that so completely dominated Manitoba’s establishment until Stephen Juba became Winnipeg’s first Ukrainian mayor in 1957.
The Archives of Manitoba could not provide a breakdown of immigration data for most of the province’s history, but historians agree Manitoba was, at its heart in the beginning, a largely British creation.
“The clearly stated preference pre-1900 was still for the British and the Ontario-born,” wrote historians in Manitoba 125, A History.
“These made up an ever-growing majority, enough to set a solid cultural base for the province well into the next century — Protestant, conservative and very British.”
Two hundred years after Lord Selkirk arranged for the Sutherlands and Mathesons and McGilvrays and others to settle on the banks of the Red, British immigration has slowed to a trickle.
A little more than 100 Englishmen and women arrive in Winnipeg every year, and even fewer Scots and Irish.
That makes Adrian Trimble a bit of an anomaly, even more so because the young graphic designer’s parents chose to settle in Steinbach, arguably a town with limited connection to Manitoba’s British heritage.
“When we first heard the name of the town, my dad was thinking ‘They’ll have great sausages and great beer!’ ” quipped Trimble, now 21.
Trimble’s family had considered leaving their West Wales home for some time before they arrived in Manitoba in 2006. The country had become expensive and crowded, with very steep university tuition and little chance of getting a job upon graduation.
“And the weather’s terrible,” added Trimble, who is preparing to attend university this fall.
His family was able to bypass the six- or seven-year wait to immigrate because his dad, a truck driver, secured a job with a Steinbach trucking company through the provincial nominee program.
What struck Trimble immediately as a 16-year-old immigrant was the same thing that struck William Lothian — the endless flat.
“There are very few places in Europe that are this flat for so long,” said Trimble. “That’s the first thing you notice right off the bat.”
That, and real seasons.
“It goes from very white to very grey to very green,” he said.
He spent his first summer here biking between his new home and a summer job at the Superstore in Steinbach, where customers would ask him to keep speaking because they loved the sound of his accent.
— — —
The first white baby to be born in Manitoba was born to an Orkney woman in 1807, according to the Manitoba Historical Society. In what might be the province’s most woeful tale, the woman, whose name is unknown, disguised herself as a man and stowed away on a Hudson’s Bay Co. ship to follow her fickle lover to Canada. In his journal, fur trader Alexander Henry recorded the baby’s birth on Dec. 29, 1807 at his trading post at the mouth of the Pembina River. Mother and child returned to Scotland the following summer, leaving a mystery in their wake.
Normally, though, the starting point for Manitoba’s long history of British and Irish immigration is pegged on the arrival of the first batch of Selkirk settlers in the summer and fall of 1812. Mostly from the Orkney Islands, the Scottish Highlands and Ireland, the group began a series of lurching attempts to create a permanent, self-sufficient river-lot settlement in what’s now north Main Street and West Kildonan. Several hard winters, crops that failed and often-violent conflict between the Hudson’s Bay and the North West companies, forced many of the early waves of settlers to abandon the project.
“It was ‘Try, try again,’ ” said George Hamilton, whose great-great-great-grandfather is John Sutherland, originally from Caen in the far north of Scotland and sent over with relatives in 1815 at the age of seven.
“Lord Selkirk tried three settlements before he got a successful one.”
For many local descendents of the original settlers, the precise reason their ancestors chose to make the risky voyage to Manitoba is murky. As Hamilton said, it’s almost as though family lore doesn’t begin until the date of arrival in the new world.
The Highland Clearances, where tenant farmers were forced from their homes in favour of more lucrative agricultural practices, left many Scots landless, and big families with several boys exacerbated the problem. Migration into industrial urban centres was an option, but so was emigration.
The promise of good, free land and a degree of autonomy are likely what spurred people to leave, said Hamilton, who still farms part-time and works in agribusiness.
Some, like Catherine McGilvray, spoke only Gaelic, and it was a struggle to get schools and churches established and contend with floods, fires and the enmity of the Métis and the North West Company. Growth was slow, supplemented by former fur traders who took up land in the settlement.
By 1832, the settlement had only 1,200 people, and there was the occasional exodus to Ontario and the United States.
By 1997, though, one estimate held that 15,000 people could trace their lineage back to the roughly 45 original settlers who remained in the colony after 1817, proving farms could thrive on the Prairies, sparking Canada’s expansion west and founding Winnipeg.
In many cases, children of the original settlers moved farther into Manitoba as the colony expanded. Bill Matheson, president of the Lord Selkirk Association of Rupert’s Land and a descendent of original settler Alexander Matheson, is preparing to plant the 138th crop on land near Stonewall where Alexander Matheson’s son and grandson homesteaded in the 1870s.
As the descendents drive through Winnipeg or travel the province, their family history is all around them, in monuments and church cemeteries and most notably, in street names such as Polson, Matheson and Pritchard.
“There’s a temptation to think of it as my history,” said Hamilton, who has recently started to really study his Selkirk roots.
“But this is Manitoba’s history.”
The slow success of the Red River settlement didn’t open the floodgates of British immigration. Instead, there was a slow and steady flow throughout the 19th century, sped up by economic booms and railway construction and slowed in decades where grain prices were low.
Manitoba sidestepped some of the major waves of immigration that battered the continent. The province didn’t get many Irish newcomers during the potato famine in the mid-1800s. They went to the United States, Quebec and Ontario, mostly. And in the last 20 years of the 1800s, just after the Lothian brothers arrived, when wheat prices were low and much of the farmland bought up by speculators, immigration to Manitoba declined precipitously.
— — —
Things turned as the century did.
According to University of Winnipeg history professor Ross McCormack, one of the few to make a study of Winnipeg’s English immigrants, the period from 1900 to the start of the Great War marked a mini-boom in immigration from the Old Sod.
The period is best-known for the arrival of Ukrainian, Polish and Jewish settlers, who would eventually change the anglophile nature of the province.
But the waning of the British Empire and the economic boom of the Victorian age also prompted thousands of English and Scottish families to take a chance in Winnipeg.
They tended to be working-class people from big cities, but those with skills in demand.
“They came for the opportunity to have good, steady work,” said McCormack.
Many Englishmen lived in Transcona and Weston, near the CN and CP rail yards where they worked. Many Ulstermen found work at Eaton’s — Timothy Eaton was from Northern Ireland — and rose up through the ranks into management, while British women found work in Eaton’s garment factories.
Like many immigrant groups, they formed their own ethnic enclaves. Elmwood, for example, across the river from factories where many British immigrants worked, had a very English character, according to McCormack. They supported mutual aid societies, stopped off at English boarding houses while they got on their feet, built a booming Anglican church and married among themselves.
Even Adrian Trimble had some distant relatives in the U.K. who came to Winnipeg in the early 1900s to work on the railroad. The couple had no children, so Trimble can’t claim any long-lost cousins in Manitoba, and they retired in the U.K.
According to data from the federal government, Manitoba saw another British immigration boom in the mid-1970s.
In 1974 and 1975, more than 2,700 people arrived from England and Scotland — not a huge total, but significantly more than in previous years.
That’s when Pat and Tony Kennett immigrated to Winnipeg for the second time.
The couple first came over in the late 1960s, thanks entirely to happenstance.
Kennett, then finishing up his teaching certificate, went on a whim with a friend to a recruiting meeting in Bristol where representatives of the Manitoba government were desperate to woo teachers. Kennett had never really thought about leaving the U.K. — like any 20-something, he’d barely thought beyond graduation. But the friends figured Manitoba made sense because they could get jobs and university credit for their British teaching credentials — two birds with one stone.
Kennett and his friend arrived in late August just before Winnipeg’s final summer long weekend, and, again, it was the bright prairie vastness that struck him.
“The blue sky and no rain,” he said. “The blue sky seemed to stay forever. Oh God, it was absolutely beautiful.”
A few months later, after doing the long-distance thing for several months, Pat Kennett followed Tony to Winnipeg and, wearing a miniskirt in March, married him, with the couples’ seven friends as witnesses.
Pat, who grew up in Devon, quickly got a job as a telemarketer, but only lasted three days, stymied by all the Ukrainian pronunciations that filled Winnipeg’s phone book.
“This silly little English girl couldn’t get any of the names right,” she said with a laugh.
Five years on, with one son and another on the way, the couple did what they had always planned to do — return home to England.
They bought a house in England and Tony got a new teaching job, but the U.K. was in the grips of economic turmoil, thanks in large part to the oil embargo that drove up the price of everything, including houses.
Besides that, Winnipeg had “just gotten into our blood,” said Pat. The couple hated the rain, missed Manitoba’s real seasons, its outdoor life, the roots they had already put down and the friends they’d made.
“We just looked at each other and we said ‘We think Canada is home,’ ” said Pat.
“I just became part of what it is to be Canadian,” said Tony.
Now though, immigration from the British Isles has slowed to a trickle.
Only about two per cent of the province’s immigrants, perhaps 200 or 300 people, come from the U.K. and Ireland every year.
Unlike the British immigrants before him, Adrian Trimble didn’t expect Manitoba to be a mini-U.K. even though his people formed the genesis of the province. He said the family kept an open mind and expected an adjustment when they arrived.
“Without a doubt it’s better,” he said. “The way I perceive it, there’s more opportunities in Canada for young people.”
Trimble and his sister are planning to stay in Manitoba for the near future, and his parents are pondering doing a typically Canadian thing — retiring to British Columbia.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 28, 2012 J1

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What new Canadians should know about the tax system

By Mark Gollom, CBC News 

New Canadians can take advantage of a number of ways to reduce taxes.

When Tahir Mazari arrived in Canada in 1999 from Afghanistan, filing his taxes for the first time was a challenging task.
“At the beginning it was difficult for me [knowing] what to do, but some of my friends helped me,” he said. “We [didn’t have] that system in our country. It was very new to us.”
Mazari now volunteers in Ottawa at ACORN Canada to help new Canadians with their taxes come tax time.
“Usually they come to file their taxes, but they are not familiar with the documents,” he said.
Canadians who have lived in the country all their lives struggle every year to file their taxes, but new immigrants not familiar with the system may face even greater challenges.
“The whole concept can be quite foreign to somebody, no pun intended,” said Brian Quinlan, an accountant with Toronto-based Campbell Lawless.
“Sometimes new people to Canada are afraid a little bit, depending where they’re from and what their background is. They might be afraid of ‘big government.'”
A number of community groups and chartered accountant organizations provide free tax clinics at various locations to lower income Canadians and and recent immigrants.
The Canadian government also hosts the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program – a partnership between the Canada Revenue Agency and community organizations who host tax clinics and arrange volunteers.
The CRA provides training, tax software, and a network of CVITP coordinators across the country to help the community organizations and volunteers deliver the program.
The CVITP says it helps more than half a million Canadians file their tax returns every year.

Filing tips

Quinlan offered a few tips for new Canadians when it comes to filing their taxes.
He said they may be eligible for credits like the GST credit,Canada Child Tax Benefit, Universal Child Care Benefit credits or credits for rent or property taxes.
“It’s good to file, because a lot of our credits are based on your tax return. So if the government doesn’t know your income, you won’t get these credits sent to you.”
Quinlan noted that moving expenses can be written off if you’re coming to Canada to take a job or for self employment.
As well, new Canadians should be reminded that new homebuyers could be eligible for the First-Time Home Buyers $5,000 tax credit.
New Canadians also needn’t worry about being taxed on assets they bring in when they arrive, Quinlan said.
“There’s no real tax implication of bringing assets in. You’re not taxed on the amount coming in.
“When you become a resident it’s just like you bought all of those assets the day you became a resident here. So if you sell it in a year at a gain, Canada’s only going to tax that gain from the day you arrived,” he said.
Immigrants who know they will be coming to Canada can also set up what’s known as an immigrant trust before they arrive, which allows them to get a deferral of tax of five years on some of the income they’re generating outside of Canada. The disadvantage is that it only makes financial sense for people with major assets, since it generally costs tens of thousands in legal and financial fees to set up a trust.

Ottawa underestimates cost of immigration backlog wipeout, group warns

Elgin Street in downtown Ottawa, looking north...
Elgin Street in downtown Ottawa, looking northwards towards the Parliament Buildings from Queen Street (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nicholas KeungImmigration Reporter

Ottawa’s plan to wipe out its immigration backlog will cost taxpayers at least $6.2 million more than the $130 million estimated by the federal government, says the immigration consulting industry.
When Ottawa announced in March that it would return files and processing fees to applicants waiting in the backlog, its estimate did not include administrative costs such as courier services to send the files back to 280,000 people, said the Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants.
“The budgeted costs of a backlog wipeout are much higher than calculated and also do not include … liabilities of lawsuits affecting the administration for years to come,” warned Gerd Damitz, the association’s co-founding and past president.
The industry’s own estimate of the processing fees amounts to $145 million. That’s because some applicants also paid landing fees — between $490 and $975 each — upfront.
A spokesperson for Immigration Minister Jason Kenney confirmed the estimate did not factor in administrative costs, which will come out of the department’s operational budget.
The spokesperson said the department won’t return “physical” application files to affected applicants. The documents will be disposed of, in accordance with government privacy and audit rules.
While the industry appreciates the government’s attempt to bring in a “just-in-time” immigration system to respond to labour market needs, Damitz said the breach of contracts with would-be migrants will damage Canada’s reputation.
On Monday, immigration applicants affected by the decision will stage simultaneous protests in London, Hong Kong, Chandigarh, Karachi and Lahore to raise awareness of their plight and to condemn Ottawa’s plan.
“We want to warn any prospective immigrant of the dubious and uncertain Canadian policies,” said Preet Deep Singh, an organizer based in London.
Toronto immigration consultant Alli Amlani said Ottawa’s wipeout plan will force many in the consulting industry out of business.
More than 250 of Amlani’s clients have been stuck in the queue, some since 2004, and they are asking him for refunds.
Despite a $1,000 non-refundable policy, Amlani must still fork out at least $72,000 to clients for “incomplete work” caused by the government’s sudden change in policy.
“It will push a lot of us out of business,” said Amlani, who has been a consultant for 22 years and expects to cut his staff from eight to four as a result. “You don’t get new referrals if your old cases don’t go through.”
According to an internal survey by the regulator of Canada’s 2,000 registered immigration consultants, the government plan affects 63 per cent of its members.
Some 95 per cent said they would consider leaving the industry, while 58 per cent are pondering class-action lawsuits against Ottawa to recover alleged damages.
According to the industry, the backlog consists of about 100,000 files, representing both principal applicants and their dependants. It said it would take less than five years to clear for the backlog.

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Home prices in Canada fall

The distinctly black skyscrapers of the Toront...
The distinctly black skyscrapers of the Toronto-Dominion Centre, designed by Mies van der Rohe. Tiếng Việt: Trung tâm Ngân hàng Toronto Dominion – Toronto, Canada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 – Home Capital Group said it’s capturing mortgage business from Canadian lenders including Toronto-Dominion Bank and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce that are retreating from the nonprime market amid signs of a housing downturn.

“The big banks are sort of juggling around their mortgage strategy and as part of that, they’re tightening up in certain areas,” Home Capital President Martin Reid said in an interview. “We’re seeing some of the fallout.”

Canada’s banks have been exercising more caution on higher-risk mortgages after Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney warned that record household debt remains the biggest domestic risk to the economy.
Carney last week signaled the potential for interest rate increases that would cool off a housing market that has seen prices almost triple in some Canadian cities over the past decade.

“While interest rates have been at historic lows recently, the inevitable climb looks to be coming as soon as next year,” said Katie Archdekin, head of mortgage products at Bank of Montreal, the country’s fourth-biggest bank.

Home Capital, the Toronto mortgage lender, targets the Alt-A market – uninsured loans to home buyers who often don’t qualify at chartered banks because of their work history or other circumstances.
The Alt-A market is valued at 200 billion Canadian dollars, or 201 billion American dollars.
Home Capital’s clients include self-employed workers and new immigrants to Canada. Higher revenue from loans rejected by banks will add to earnings in Home Capital’s first-quarter results, to be released on May 2.

“We see opportunities with people that are really high- caliber borrowers with good proof of income, but their circumstances are a little different,” said Chief Executive Officer Gerald Soloway, who was interviewed with Reid.

Banks are paring back loans to below-prime borrowers amid signs that housing prices are starting to fall.
The Canadian Real Estate Association said April 16 that prices in Canada dropped 1.7 percent in March from the previous month, led by a decline of 3.1 percent in Vancouver.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said he’s “encouraged” by signs of a housing correction in Vancouver, preferring the market to “correct itself” without government intervention.

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Immigration changes are long overdue


Two-thirds of refugee claimants who come to Canada ultimately have their applications turned down.
For claimants arriving from developed countries such as the U.S. and Europe — who some years make up nearly half of our claimants — the rejection rate is upwards of 90%.
Given those two facts, is it really all that awful that federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced last Wednesday that Ottawa would be scaling back the health benefits claimants receive while waiting to learn their fate?
Kenney explained that beginning in June, Ottawa will no longer foot the bill for prescription drugs, dental care, eye exams and glasses or “mobility devices” such as canes, walkers or prosthetics for citizens of other countries who are in Canada awaiting a refugee hearing.
Kenney’s reasoning? “We do not want to ask Canadians to pay for benefits for … refugee claimants that are more generous than what they are entitled to themselves” through their provincial health plans.
He added the move is also aimed at “taking away an incentive from people who may be considering filing an unfounded refugee claim.”
Our benefits are so generous that lots of refugee claims are nothing more than bogus attempts to skip the lineups for regular immigration and cash in. Many claimants are benefit shoppers rather than victims of persecution.
To hear the opposition talk, you’d think Kenney had implemented mandatory flogging of claimants.
New NDP leader Thomas Mulcair called this week’s benefit cuts “scandalous behaviour.” Meanwhile, Liberal Leader Bob Rae maintained this was nothing more than an attempt to “whip up hostility to refugees.”
How is it hostile to legitimate refugees to want to keep claim-jumpers from clogging up the system?
Indeed, if Kenney can reduce the number of bogus asylum-seekers, isn’t that good for true refugees? If there are fewer bogus claimants gumming up the system, won’t that help those with legitimate claims get heard faster and find safe harbour here sooner?
Kenney has long believed (and quite correctly) that if his department can reduce the number of claimants who arrive in Canada by weeding out those unlikely to be successful before they even leave their own countries, then our refugee system will be better able to protect those who truly face discrimination, persecution or even death in their homelands.
To this end, in the past three years he has also increased the number of countries from which visitors to Canada require visas. This permits foreign-based Canadian diplomats to identify potential sham claimants before they even board a plane headed here.
Kenney has also changed federal policy so that claimants arriving here without proper documents — such as the boatloads of Tamils and others who periodically pop up on the West Coast in rust bucket ships run by human smugglers — must wait in secure camps or barracks while their applications are vetted.
Formerly, they were allowed to disperse into the general population while awaiting adjudication. From there, it was almost impossible to locate and deport them if their claims were rejected, which so many ultimately were.
Kenney is aiming at reducing the time it takes to get refugee decisions from almost two years to just 60 days. And he would like to see the appeal process for failed claims reduced from six levels to just three or four and the delay time cut from nearly five years to just 12 months.
All of this outrages the New Dems and Libs, as well as immigration and multiculturalism advocates. But is it really all that outrageous that Canada should want to be a true asylum rather than a doormat? 

Canadian Program Changes force Chinese Investors to US EB-5 Program

Česky: Kanadské muzeum civilizace v kanadské p...
Česky: Kanadské muzeum civilizace v kanadské provincii Québec Deutsch: Gatineau: Canadian Museum of Civilization English: Gatineau, Québec: Canadian Museum of Civilization. Français: De soir, vue sur le Musée canadien des civilisations à Gatineau, Québec, Canada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chicago, IL (PRWEB) April 23, 2012
Canada has been a major destination for wealthy Chinese investors since the 90s. To qualify, the investor has to own at least $1,600,000 assets. Unconditional permanent residence can be obtained if the investor deposits $800,000 for 5 years with the Canadian Federal government or the government of Quebec. The funds are completely secure as they are guaranteed by the Federal Government or by the Province of Quebec. It will be used for economic development and will be returned to the investor at the end of 5th year. Because of its safe nature of the Canadian program and it is relatively easier to be granted permanent residency in Canada, Canadian investment immigration program became a dominant program among Chinese emigration agents for last 15 years. The majority of 600+ licensed Chinese emigration agencies are now beginning to explore EB-5 program and investor program in European countries.
The most recent development that dramatically has changed the emigration industry in China is that the Canadian program reached its allocated quota in 2011 and is now “closed for renovation” leaving most China’s emigration agents with less profitable products they can choose to offer to their clients. The Canadian emigration authority is suggesting that the government it may develop the current program into an entrepreneur-investment program which would be requiring the acquisition of a business in Canada. Making it even worse for the Chinese emigration business, the Quebec immigration program reached its allocated quota of 2,700 on April 12, 2012 after 9 working days after it opened for petitions. Quebec program is now closed, it also closes the door to thousands of Chinese investors and have disappointed China’s agents since they don’t have anything to offer to their clients until March, 2013 when the program reopens again. Now many Chinese emigration brokers are looking into theU.S. EB-5 program which is becoming an important business option for them. Based on a April 20 survey by Gallup, 20 million Chinese population is interested in emigrating to the US and other countries.
The 2nd Annual EB-5 Investment Summit: Dealmakers Conference April 27, 2012 in New York City will update the latest developments in the EB-5 investors program. The event has drawn a lot attention from US capital seekers and commercial real estate developers. Brian Su of Artisan Business Group, Inc. has been organizing EB-5 events in both China and the US.
The all-day conference will feature EB-5 industry experts and VIP guests, including H. Ronald Klasko, Partner of Klasko, Rulon, Stock & Seltzer, LLP, and the EB-5 Chairman of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), Jeffrey B. Carr, President and Economist of Economic & Policy Resources, Inc., Mr. Boyd Campbell, Immigration Attorney of Immigration Law Center, LLC, Mr. Brian Su, CEO of Artisan Business Group, Inc., Joseph P. Whalen, Former USCIS Adjudicator, Mr. Ronald Fieldstone, Attorney & Partner, Arnstein & Lehr LLP, Ms. Hong Yu, US Project Manager of Wailian Overseas Consulting Group in China, and Mr. John Jiang, CEO of Micon International, Kevin Wright, President of Wright Johnson LLC, Dr. Scott Barnhart, Barnhart Economics Services, Ms. Jo Ann Clark, Founder of EB-5 Resource Center LLC. A 50-member executive delegation from China will also participate in the event.
This year’s event is being hosted and sponsored by Artisan Business Group, Inc., Wailian Overseas Consulting Group, Wright Johnson LLC, Extell Regional Center, and Amazing Journey Investment Consulting Co. The Hilton New York will serve as the venue for the conference. Those attending the event also have the opportunity to meet the prior day with Artisan Business Group’s CEO, Mr. Brian Su, for a 1-hour private consultation.
For more information regarding the event, registration, or a private consultation with Mr. Su, please visit:http://www.EB5NewYorkSummit.org.
Press Contact:
Mr. Brian Su
Artisan Business Group, Inc.
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Alberta praises new foreign-worker rules

OTTAWA AND EDMONTON— From Thursday’s Globe and Mail

Canadian companies that want to bring in highly skilled foreign workers temporarily will be able to do so faster and pay them less under new federal immigration rules aimed at addressing the country’s persistent labour shortages.
In areas of the country that are booming economically – particularly Alberta – companies are complaining about the lack of skilled workers, a problem that Ottawa has identified as one of Canada’s biggest policy challenges. Of 190,000 temporary foreign workers who entered Canada last year, 25,500 went to Alberta.‬ Businesses that use the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, which allows employers to bring in workers if they can prove they have advertised the jobs locally without success, say they are relieved that it will become less cumbersome, but critics worry the changes will lead to lower wages across the country.
Under the new rules, Ottawa promises to respond to employer requests for highly skilled workers within 10 days, instead of the 12 to 14 weeks it currently takes to get a Labour Market Opinion – a government approval that’s one major step in bringing a worker into Canada.
Also, previous rules required foreign workers to receive the “average wage” paid to Canadian workers in the same region, but the new rules will allow employers to pay up to 15 per cent less than that average wage.‬ ‪In an interview, Human Resources Minster Diane Finley said Canada’s skills shortages mean there will be more temporary foreign workers coming to Canada regardless of the latest changes.‬
“[Wednesday]’s announcement is going to make the system more efficient, it’s going to be more effective for the employers and it’s going to add protection to temporary foreign workers who are brought in while still ensuring Canadians get first crack at the jobs,” she said.‬ ‪
While the new national rules will apply only to high-skilled jobs at first, the government says it could be expanded to include other occupations.‬ ‪Ms. Finley made the announcement in the small, industrial town of Nisku, in central Alberta, which produces infrastructure for energy producers. Labour-starved Alberta relies on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program as a key pillar of its fast-growing economy.
But although Alberta applauded the changes, the province is hoping for further changes to Canada’s immigration laws, including an increase in how many people Alberta can nominate for permanent residency under the provincial nominee program – or no cap at all. Currently, it can put forward 5,000 people per year.
“We’d like to see the cap removed, but if we could get it up to 10,000 that would be very helpful,” said Alberta Human Services Minister Dave Hancock, whose department includes the employment and immigration file.
“The Temporary Foreign Worker Program is not the be-all and end-all. It is a way to get workers when we need them,” Mr. Hancock said, but residency is preferred. “The permanence is an important factor. … Ideally, you want somebody who will actually come to stay.”
Alberta’s provincial government has also complained that a four-year cap on how long a worker can stay short-changes Canadian companies, which help develop employees’ skills (and, in some cases, fluency in English or French), then are forced to kick them out. Other countries are benefiting from Canada’s training, the Alberta government has argued.‬ ‪
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business’s Alberta director, Richard Truscott, applauded the changes and said the TFW program is a “godsend” for some businesses. He added that more changes are needed to cut red tape and improve the overall immigration system.‬ “This is one first step in that direction, but there are many more steps to go,” he said, noting the labour shortage is “going to get a lot worse before it gets better.”
Immigration consultant Peter Veress, the president of Calgary-based Vermax Group, also praised the move, saying a 10-day turnaround would be a big improvement.‬ He said the jobs are typically ones that Canadians don’t want. “I don’t think we can fix the [labour shortage] problem domestically,” he said.
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Immigration is a privilege, not a right

Immigration (Photo credit: lcars)


Immigration, per se, is not a bad thing.
Many birth rate deficient western countries, including Canada, need newcomers each year.
But putting a fanatical emphasis on immigration quotas or numbers is a bad idea.
Delivering needed foreign skilled workers and professionals to industries and businesses is not a bad thing.
But making immigration policies hostage to politics is.
Canada’s immigration policies have become hostage to politics since the early 1980s, when immigrant numbers swelled and ethnic enclaves sprang up around major urban centres.
Wily politicians saw ready-made vote-banks in these ethnic enclaves and cleverly ramped up family-class immigration, as well as instituting various grants in the name of multiculturalism, to keep these vote-banks working.
Therein lies the rub. Once in place, vote-bank policies are very difficult to dismantle.
Today, any politician who tries to scale back family-class immigration, or any other category, faces a backlash from these vote-banks.
Worse, these flawed policies have engendered a deep sense of entitlement among some newcomers.
They won’t brook any tinkering with immigration categories that allow them to bring in their extended families and clans.
That’s nothing short of blackmailing the immigration system.
How absurd that the moment some people land here, they start complaining about disruption of their family life and demand they be reunited with their families quickly!
They think immigration to Canada is their birthright, not a privilege.
Now, will any politician turn around and honestly tell these people: Nobody forced you to come here, or promised a quick passage into Canada for the rest of your family?
But one can count upon the same politicians to play upon these perceived grievances during election times.
Remember how some candidates in immigrant-dominated ridings in the GTA raised the seniors’ issue for political gain during the last two general elections?
With everybody — from newcomers to lawyers’ groups — shoving the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in our faces at the slightest hint of changing the system, the task of dealing with immigration backlogs and plugging loopholes has become nothing short of a legal minefield for policy makers.
Even applicants with no connections to this country are feeling entitled to “rights and freedoms” under the Charter and are threatening Citizenship and Immigration Canada with legal action for delaying their cases or deleting their files!
Since stories of misuse of the immigration system by refugees, criminals, fraudsters, hijackers and murderers abound, the impression has gone around the world Canada is a doormat and one can force one’s way into this country.
Imagine an applicant (some time ago) threatening to take legal action against Canada for sleeping over his case for “too long”!
The outburst by another foreign applicant, as reported in the media recently, is in keeping with the way Canada is perceived as a “soft” destination by would-be immigrants.
Imagine this individual, a mere applicant with no connections with this country, postponing his family life, marriage and dreams because he was so sure of entry into Canada.
One wonders where in the world can any immigration applicant be one hundred percent sure of success?
Perhaps all those applying for Canadian immigration? At least up until now.
Recent steps by the government to tighten the system are to the good. This country is finally getting real about immigration.
— Singh is a former correspondent with the Times of India and is based in Toronto 

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Why Bill C-31 Must Be Rejected: An open letter to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney

Distributing copies of the Canadian Charter of...
Distributing copies of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
“March of Hearts” rally for same-sex marriage in Canada on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, March 6, 2004 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Dear Minister: Canadians are proud of their country’s tradition of providing protection for those in need. Bill C-31, Protecting Canada’s Immigration System, however, contradicts this tradition.
The bill protects no one and threatens many. It treats asylum seekers as criminals rather than people who need our protection. It is discriminatory, conflicts with Canadians’ sense of fairness, and violates the fundamental rights guaranteed to all people by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
In particular, bill C-31 would give the minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism the power to “designate” a group of refugees – including women and youths – who can be jailed for up to 12 months without any judicial review. These individuals can be released only at the minister’s pleasure or when their refugee status is determined.
This type of discrimination is an obvious violation of the charter protection against arbitrary detention and creates a “second class” of refugees.
Other changes proposed are equally worrisome: The minister would be able to create a list of “safe countries”, assuming the residents of these countries cannot possibly suffer persecution, therefore denying refugees from these countries refugee status without appeal. One can easily imagine how economic or political objectives might influence the minister’s determination of whether a country is safe or not. For very good reasons, international law requires an individualized process for refugee determination and not a group assessment based on second-hand knowledge.
Furthermore, the bill would impose a tight timeline (15 days) for filing claims, rendering it unlikely that refugees will get legal advice or assemble the evidence needed to support their claims. This process will increase the likelihood that genuine refugees will be turned away and sent back to danger.
Moreover, the bill would impose a one-year ban on unsuccessful claimant to apply for permanent residency on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. Yet, the bill would not stop the government from deporting the person in the meantime.
The bill would even give the minister the right to revoke the permanent resident status of genuine refugees, simply because the minister believes the conditions have changed for the better in their country of origin. This practice would defeat the purpose of permanent residency, which should be – well – permanent. Rather than encouraging refugees to make a claim, the bill would instead encourage them to move underground.
These circumstances are worrying signs Canada is rolling back the rights of refugees. In recent years, we have seen other regressive measures, including the increase of temporary migration, the erosion of family class immigration, and the treatment of immigration as a mere economic utility. Bill C-31 is another step towards creating an immigration and refugee system that divides immigrants into desirables and undesirables, and that puts the rights of some above others.
The bill would also end up hurting vulnerable and marginalized people the most, including women fleeing gender-based persecution, refugees fleeing discrimination based on their sexual orientation, and anyone who has linguistic barriers and little knowledge of the Canadian legal system. The bill would make these claimants easy prey for unscrupulous immigration consultants.
When putting forward the bill, you have said that there are bogus refugees in Canada and harsh measures are necessary since other countries have them too. However, incarceration policies have proven to be counterproductive, cause further trauma to people, delay the integration of refugees into society, and are particularly costly. Furthermore, the bill will not stop human smuggling. Refugee claimants leave their country because they are desperate. And desperate people take desperate measures. Smugglers will find other ways of circumventing the law, while refugees will be the ones being punished.
What this bill does accomplish, however, is to give you and your successors more powers without the necessary judicial oversight.
Rather than addressing problems of abuse and human smuggling, the bill would politicize refugee and immigration decisions.
Despite Canada’s proud tradition of protecting refugees, the country has not always been generous with those in need of protection. Canada imposed a Head Tax and an Exclusion Act on the Chinese immigrants, turned away the Komagata Maru ship in 1914 and its Indian asylum seekers, refused immigration to African American farmers, incarcerated Ukrainians and later Italian and Japanese Canadians, and denied entry to the Saint Louis in 1939 (900 Jewish people were returned to Europe and concentration camps). Your government has seen fit to redress these historical wrongs and, in doing so, pledged to never again commit the same error. Yet, by passing this bill, it would seem that we have yet to learn the painful lessons of our history.
A plaque in 2050, commemorating the victims of bill C-31, will not suffice.
We therefore ask you, respectfully, to immediately withdraw bill C-31.
Harald Bauder, Director, Ryerson Centre for Immigration and Settlement
Nathalie Des Rosiers, General Counsel, Canadian Civil Liberties Association
Avvy Go, Clinic Director, Metro Toronto and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic
Winnie Ng, CAW Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice & Democracy, Ryerson University

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Government of Canada Announces a More Efficient and Responsive Temporary Foreign Worker Program

Canada (Photo credit: palindrome6996)

NISKU, ALBERTA, Apr 25, 2012 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) — The Government of Canada is realigning the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to better meet labour market demands and support the economic recovery. The Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, made the announcement today during a tour of Advance Engineered Products Ltd.’s manufacturing facility.
“Our government’s top priority is creating jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. That’s why we are taking action to ensure that the Temporary Foreign Worker Program supports our economic recovery and effectively responds to local labour market demands,” said Minister Finley. “Our government is looking at ways to make sure businesses recruit from the domestic workforce before hiring temporary foreign workers, while also reducing the paper burden and speeding up the processing time for employers that have short-term skilled labour needs.”
Employers with a strong track record will receive an Accelerated-Labour Market Opinion (A-LMO) within 10 business days to hire temporary foreign workers in high-skill occupations, including the skilled trades. The Temporary Foreign Worker Program will become more responsive to skills and labour shortages, employers will have less red tape and temporary foreign workers will benefit from enhanced protections. In addition, the Government of Canada will propose legislative amendments to further strengthen protections for temporary foreign workers and ensure that employers comply with program requirements.
“This improvement is a direct result of consultations that were held with employers to discuss concerns with the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, and seek ideas on improving it. Going forward, our government will consider additional measures to strengthen and improve the program, so employers can get skilled workers when no Canadians are available,” said the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism. “A fast and flexible economic immigration system combined with a strong Temporary Foreign Worker Program will sustain Canada’s economic growth and deliver prosperity for the future.”
The Government of Canada will ensure that the employment of temporary foreign workers supports economic growth and helps create more opportunities for all Canadians.
“As North America’s premier manufacturer of bulk tank and vac equipment, our company’s success relies on the availability of highly skilled tradespeople-particularly welders and trailer mechanics,” said Ron Buchhorn, Vice-President of Human Resources at Advance Engineered Products Ltd. “We have been unable to recruit and train enough Canadians for our manufacturing and service facilities throughout western Canada because of the current highly competitive labour market. We strongly support this government initiative to expedite the hiring of skilled workers from other countries.”
“Today’s announcement by the federal government is welcomed news. This plan addresses industry’s immediate needs for skilled labour, but more importantly, by enabling projects to proceed, it fosters economic recovery and growth, while also creating permanent jobs for Canadians for decades to come,” said Ron Genereux, chair of the Association for Construction Workforce Acquisition.
Economic Action Plan 2012 also announced that the Government of Canada will work in partnership with the provinces and territories, and other stakeholders, to further improve foreign credential recognition, so that internationally trained workers are able to find meaningful employment and, in turn, contribute to Canada’s economy and overall competitiveness.
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This news release is available online at: http://www.actionplan.gc.ca .
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) jointly administer the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). HRSDC is responsible for issuing Labour Market Opinions (LMOs) to employers, while CIC is responsible for issuing work permits to temporary foreign workers.
The new streamlined, attestation-based model, known as the Accelerated-Labour Market Opinion (A-LMO), will be launched on April 25. The A-LMO will reduce the paper burden on employers, enable LMOs to be issued within 10 business days and strengthen protections for foreign workers through employer compliance reviews.
The new model will feature:
-- a simplified, online application process;

-- faster and timelier processing for employers with a good history;

-- risk-based and random in-depth compliance reviews of employers after
LMOs are issued;

-- enhanced automation to reduce paperwork, and improve capacity to track
compliance and share information; and

-- call centre support for employers.

Employers will have to consent to post-LMO reviews to verify compliance with the TFWP requirements (e.g. all reasonable efforts to recruit from the domestic labour force, providing wages and working conditions that are consistent with Canadian standards). HRSDC will closely monitor employer compliance and take action when necessary to protect temporary foreign workers.
A new wage structure will also be introduced to provide employers with greater flexibility. Wages that are up to 15% below the average wage for an occupation in a specific region will be accepted; however, employers must clearly demonstrate that the wage is consistent with that of Canadian workers based on Statistics Canada data.
The A-LMO will cover high-skill occupations, including the skilled trades, and will be open to employers across Canada. Through a tested and measured implementation, the A-LMO may gradually be expanded to include risk-based processing for all occupations and components of the TFWP.
While in Canada, temporary foreign workers have the same rights and protections as Canadian workers under applicable federal/provincial employment standards and labour laws.
Marian Ngo
Office of Minister Finley

Media Relations Office
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada

SOURCE: Canada’s Economic Action Plan
Copyright 2012 Marketwire, Inc., All rights reserved. 

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