Saturday, September 27, 2008


Sergio R. Karas will have the distinct privilege of leading colleagues from around the world in a discussion of "Global Business Immigration Update" at the International Bar Association (IBA) Annual Conference to be held in Buenos AIres, Argentina, from October 13 to 18, 2008. Several members of Visalaw Interantional are featured in the panel. Here is the program:

Global business immigration update

Session Chair
Sergio R Karas

This programme will cover the latest developments in immigration
law around the world, with special emphasis on workforce mobility,
new regulations and policies. The speakers will represent a crosssection
of different jurisdictions around the world.


Shalini Agarwal ALMT Legal, Mumbai, India
David Garson Guberman Garson Bush, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Jelle Kroes Everaert Advocaten Immigration Lawyers, Amsterdam,
the Netherlands
Edward Lehman Lehman Lee & Xu, Beijing, China
Julia Onslow-Cole PricewaterhouseCoopers Legal LLP, London,
England; Council Member, Legal Practice Division
David Ryken Ryken and Associates, Auckland, New Zealand; Vice-
Chair, Immigration and Nationality Law Committee
Gregory Sisskind Sisskind Susser PC, Memphis, Tennessee, USA;
Website Officer, Immigration and Nationality Law Committee
Michael Thornton Thornton Immigration Law, Dandenong,
Victoria, Australia

Thursday, September 25, 2008


A sea change in immigration, met by silence on the hustings - Federal Election -

September 20, 2008
Nicholas Keung
Lesley Ciarula Taylor
Immigration Reporters

When politicians talk about temporary foreign workers, which isn't often, the Conservatives see them as the SWAT team of the global economy, the Liberals as not conducive to nation-building, and the New Democrats as migrants whose wages are exploitative and families fractured.

But no less than the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development has decided temporary labour migration is the global issue of 2008. More than 2.5 million temporary foreign workers arrived in wealthy countries in 2006, three times the number of immigrants invited to stay.

It "does not appear to be a foundation on which one can construct a solid migration policy," says John Martin, OECD director for employment, labour and social affairs, in the lead editorial of the 30-country policy group's 2008 report on international migration.

Temporary foreign workers have a role to play, he says, but relying on them while letting an immigration system slog through backlogs and poor integration of immigrants just doesn't work in the long run.

When their visas expire and they stay, temporary workers find themselves in jobs with half the pay of a legal worker. The OECD says the vast majority of illegal immigrants in wealthy countries are working.

And the demand is there: small and medium-sized businesses in Canada say almost a fifth of current job demand is for people with basic skills and labourers. Who are they? Hotel, hospital and nursing-home workers, food-service counter staff, construction workers, truck drivers, cleaners, fish-plant workers and taxi drivers.

These people are filling a long-term need, says the OECD, and few wealthy countries have created solid programs to recruit and protect them. Canada, in fact, gives work permits to the spouses of high-skilled temporary workers but not the low-skilled ones.

The number of temporary foreign workers – brought in on one-year visas to do specific jobs – has jumped 58 per cent in the past five years. Last year, Canada imported 115,470 temporary migrants for a total of 201,057, just 25,000 fewer than the number of skilled workers brought in as permanent residents and a 58-per-cent increase in five years.

And as the short-term numbers have been rising dramatically, the number of immigrants who get to come and stay drops. Combined with changes this summer that let Ottawa hand-pick newcomers for specific job skills, Canada is closing its borders in a way not seen since the middle of the 20th century.

"There is something cynical about this new model," says Myer Siemiatycki, a professor in immigration settlement studies at Ryerson University. "On one hand, it rules out most workers from becoming eligible for permanent residency. On the other hand, we induce them to come with the Canada Experience Class as bait. But while they are here, they better be compliant, docile and non-complaining employees."

One of the main reasons Canada has been able to avoid the headache of a huge illegal migrant population has been its focus on bringing in skilled workers as permanent residents, says Jeffrey Reitz, a sociology professor at the University of Toronto and expert on immigrant employment and settlement issues.

"Once you have a substantial underground economy, it is difficult to deal with," Reitz notes. "You see the backlash against immigrants in the U.S. If the public turns against immigrants as a result of misperception that people are bending the rules and are not authorized to be here, Canada's (immigrant) development program will be in jeopardy."

He wants the parties to explain:

What they would do to ensure temporary foreign workers leave Canada (we don't currently keep track).

How they would repair the lax system that allows employers to collaborate with recruiters and immigration consultants to exploit the temporary foreign worker program as a "back door to immigration."

How they would protect these workers who are being abused and exploited because their status is tied to specific employers.

"We bring in people for our permanent needs on a permanent basis and for our temporary labour market needs on a temporary basis," says Karen Shadd, spokesperson for Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

"Hogwash," responds Olivia Chow, NDP immigration critic and candidate in Trinity-Spadina. "This looks at immigrants as economic units. The expansion of the program was a band-aid for decades of neglect and a point system that is so perverse skilled trades can't get in."

Compared with other wealthy countries, Canada has carved out a policy that the numbers of who gets to come here should balance: skilled workers, refugees, families of workers, family reunification, temporary foreign workers. (The United States and France, by contrast, make family migrants 44 per cent of their total.) It means only about 25 per cent of Canada's immigrants are actually hand-picked skilled workers.

Another 21st-century phenomenon has skewed efforts to find the right workers: up to 50 per cent of long-term immigrants, the ones brought in to nation build, leave within five years for home or another country, says the OECD – even in countries like Canada, which give them permanent residence immediately and citizenship quickly.

There is much value to Canada's old open-door immigration policy, says Siemiatycki, the one in whichimmigrants were chosen based on professional skills and education, with the assumption they'd be more adaptable in an economic downturn.

"Tying permanent residency to employment is very short-sighted because the jobs that are available to you today might not be there tomorrow."

Citizenship and Immigration Canada praises its temporary foreign worker program as a quick response to rapid changes in the global market, as does Sergio Karas, chair of the Ontario Bar Association's citizenship and immigration section.

"This is the future of international migration, where we reward the highly mobile individuals who have the right skills to integrate quickly into the labour force and discourage those who will not be able to get a job and contribute to the society."

In an interview on Sept. 13, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said; "Our biggest challenge will be labour shortages, not unemployment."

Immigration has been shunted to the back shelf for years, deputy Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff told The Star last week. Immigration critic Maurizio Bevilacqua points out that as Tory spending increased 14 per cent, spending on immigration increased 1 per cent.

The ministry has been "a place where you blow your legs off," Ignatieff says of the five ministers in the past six years.

"This is about the Canadian dream and whether Canada keeps faith with that dream."

He evoked the memory of immigration minister Jack Pickersgill paying to fly hundreds of Hungarians caught in the revolution to this country 51 years ago. That, says Ignatieff, is what immigration needs to be again.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Visalaw International Canadian lawyer Sergio R. Karas recently attended an event sponsored by the "Give a Day" Foundation, an organization dedicated to raise funds to combat AIDS in Africa through local community involvement. Shown in the photo with me are former Chief Justice and Attorney General of Ontario, Roy McMurtry (far left) and former Canadian Ambassador to the UN, Stephen Lewis ( far right). The organization website is

Sunday, September 14, 2008


This story was published yesterday in the Financial Post section of the National Post, and it is an excellent summary of Canada's current economic situation.


More cmapaign promises....politics as usual:

$800M for immigration backlog Dion's most expensive campaign promise yet

Posted: September 13, 2008, 5:23 PM by Shane Dingman

Liberal honcho Stephane Dion started off small, promising to return $6-million dollars to the Court Challenges program, but in his latest federal spending pledge, he's offering a whopping $800-million to deal with the immigration backlog.

On Friday, Dion unveiled his biggest platform promise to date, a $575-million program to help Canadians make their homes and other buildings more energy-efficient. That at least fits within his Green Shift frame.

But this latest promise, sent out via a Liberal Party e-mail, promises to pour cash on three immigration-related areas:

$400 million to modernize the immigration system, process applications more efficiently and support the admission of significantly more permanent residents to Canada.
$200 million in New Beginnings Canada - an enhanced language training initiative designed to help newcomers master the language necessary to get jobs that match their qualifications; and
an additional $200 million for Bridge to Work - a new initiative that will better prepare newcomers for the workplace through the use of internships, mentorship and work placement opportunities. And we will help get foreign credentials recognized, by providing direct financial support to assist foreign-trained doctors and other professionals in obtaining their Canadian qualifications.
If I didn't know better, I'd say a Tory wrote this. With almost $1.5-billion in new cash out the door in the first week, where can Dion go from here? $10-billion in new programs? $20-billion?

Saturday, September 13, 2008


This article appeared in the Wall Street Journal and is an excellent short summary of the choices in our upcoming election:

Canada's Change Agent

September 13, 2008; Page A12

One candidate believes in low taxes, gun rights and a strong national defense. The other has a dog named Kyoto and promises to levy a new carbon tax on industry. Any guess who is favored to win the Canadian federal election set for October 14?

The answer is Prime Minister Stephen Harper of the Conservative Party, who was elected in January 2006 on a platform to strengthen the military and cut taxes. He has done both. And though he once pledged not to call an early election, he did so on Sunday, explaining that the current parliament has become so "dysfunctional" he can't govern without a new one.

Mr. Harper's main opponent is the Liberal Party's St├ęphane Dion, a former environment minister who chaired the U.N. climate change summit in Montreal in 2005. The Conservative minority government would have to add 28 seats to its present 127 to seize a majority, and Mr. Harper is on record saying he doesn't expect that. But he clearly believes that, despite a slowing economy and the loss of the 97th Canadian soldier in Afghanistan last Sunday, he can beat Mr. Dion. The reasons are instructive.

Mr. Harper has restored the country's international prestige by demonstrating political courage on Afghanistan. The Liberals had sent Canadian troops there in 2001 but began agitating for withdrawal when things got difficult. Mr. Harper has refused to cut and run, and he has chastised those NATO partners in Europe who have shrunk from the fight. He has also boosted defense spending so Canadian troops are properly armed.

By contrast, Mr. Dion had sought to withdraw Canada's Afghan contingent "with honor" before 2009. His effort failed, even within his own party, and earlier this year Mr. Harper won an agreement with the Liberals to stick it out in Afghanistan until 2011.

Like Americans, Canadians are also worried about the economy and aren't eager for a tax increase. Mr. Harper has cut the corporate tax rate to 19.5% and has a plan to reduce it to 15% by 2012. (The U.S. rate is still 35%.) He has also reduced the national sales tax by one percentage point to 5%. That boost to consumer purchasing power may have helped Canada avoid recession in the first half of this year. GDP shrank in the first quarter by 0.8%, grew a meager 0.3% in the second and may not do better than 1.1% for the year, according to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty. Mr. Harper argues that now is not the time to raise taxes.

Mr. Dion has a different view, proposing what he calls "the Green Shift." It would impose C$15.4 billion (US$14.4 billion) of new taxes on Canadian industry for their carbon emissions while cutting income taxes. Mr. Harper calls Mr. Dion's plan "the Green Shaft" and likens it to Pierre Trudeau's 1980 "national energy policy" which, the Prime Minister said last week, "was designed to screw the West and really damage the energy sector." Though he added that there is a difference: "This will actually screw everybody across the country." The fellow can be blunt.

The larger question is what Mr. Harper would do with a real majority. In 2005 his Liberal opponents portrayed him as a far-right extremist. Yet like his countrymen, he has shown little appetite for extreme positions, and if anything he has proven to be a steady leader who until recently has worked effectively across party lines. Even the separatist movement in Quebec seems to have lost its mojo during his tenure. That may be why Canadians are likely to ask him to stay on.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


The problem of Chinese fugitives accused of major financial crimes has been a thorny one for Canada: after making their way to Canada, often fraudulently with false identities, Chinese fugitives request refugee status, a determination that takes several ye rs, and even when their cases are found not to be meritorious, they manage to stall deportation China for long periods of time on the grounds that China implements the death penalty against financial criminals. This has brought to Canada dozens of the most unsavoury characters from China....but change seems to be in the air.

Chinese fugitive's deportation hailed as landmark move

Co-operation on case of man accused in fraud scheme seen as sign of improving Sino-Canadian relations


From Thursday's Globe and Mail

September 4, 2008 at 5:14 AM EDT

BEIJING — After years of deadlock, Canada and China have taken a small step toward resolving one of their thorniest disputes: the fate of Chinese fugitives who take shelter in Canada.

Deng Xinzhi, whom the Chinese accuse of being a swindler, has been quietly deported from Toronto back to China to face criminal charges for his alleged role in a $3-million fraud scheme. Beijing has hailed it as a landmark move, potentially clearing the way for more than 500 criminal fugitives to be sent back to China from Canada and other countries. It is also seen as a sign of improved Canada-China relations.

Some of the Chinese fugitives have sought refugee status in Canada, triggering lengthy legal battles that frustrated China and provoked a storm of criticism in the Chinese media, where Canada is often described as a haven for Chinese criminals and corrupt officials.

Canada's reputation for giving shelter to alleged Chinese criminals has been one of the biggest stains on Canada's public image in China in recent years. Many Chinese opinion leaders have accused Ottawa of thwarting justice by allowing criminals to stay in Canada for many years without deporting them.

The federal Conservative government denies the charge. "Mr. Deng's removal from Canada further underscores this government's commitment that our country will not be a safe haven for fugitives," Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day said in a statement. "On this, our tolerance level is zero."

Mr. Deng fled to Canada in 2003 and lived in the Toronto area. Chinese authorities say that he and a gang of other suspects had swindled the equivalent of about $3-million from Chinese citizens in 2002 by fraudulently posing as employees of China Life, a major insurance company.

Canadian border security officers escorted Mr. Deng back to China on Aug. 22, during the height of the Beijing Olympics, when few people noticed the move.

But other fugitives - including Lai Changxing, the accused kingpin of a $10-billion smuggling ring who is often described as China's most wanted man - are still living in Canada in defiance of Chinese demands. Mr. Lai fled to Canada in 1999 and has been fighting a marathon legal battle for the right to stay. A federal judge has ruled that Mr. Lai could be at risk of torture if he is deported to China, where such methods are often used.

In another high-profile case, China wants to prosecute three Chinese fugitives who fled to Canada in 2004 after allegedly embezzling more than $100-million from a bank in northeastern China. The three men were arrested in Vancouver last year, but they are still embroiled in a legal battle against their deportation.

"There has been a perception among Chinese people that Canada has been too dismissive of Chinese concerns over Chinese criminals who resettle in Canada with their illegally gotten gains," said Charles Burton, a political scientist at Brock University who specializes in Canada-China relations. "[The deportation] will go a long way to improving Canada's image in China."

Some Chinese media have suggested that the deportation of Mr. Deng last month could "accelerate" the deportation of Mr. Lai and other alleged Chinese criminals. "I'm convinced it's the trend for the future," one legal expert told the China Daily this week.

Canada's decision to deport Mr. Deng was praised by China's Public Security Ministry, which said it "appreciated" the move and hoped for further "co-operation" with Canada in the future.

But other Chinese media commentators say the Deng case is unlikely to become a precedent. They note that Mr. Deng had much less money than Mr. Lai and was unable to mount as extensive a legal battle. And there is still no extradition treaty between Canada and China. To think that the Deng case will pave the way for Mr. Lai's deportation is "wishful thinking," said one Chinese blogger who specializes in Canada-China issues.

In some deportation cases, Canada has obtained a promise from Beijing that it will not execute a suspect who is deported from Canada to China. It is unclear whether any such promise was obtained in the case of Mr. Deng.

On forums on the Internet, many Chinese people commented that Canada is still a "haven for criminals," despite the Deng deportation. Only if Mr. Lai is deported to China will Canada lose that reputation, they said.

"To deport a small fish and keep the big fish - isn't that just a show?" asked one person on a popular website,


Immigrants bypassing Toronto to follow money West, study finds


From Thursday's Globe and Mail

September 4, 2008 at 4:50 AM EDT

A new study shows immigrants earn more money in Calgary, Regina and Saskatoon than they do in Toronto, a significant trend that could help explain why the city's share of immigrants is steadily declining.

While Toronto remains overwhelmingly the dominant hub for newcomers, its proportion of Canada's total annual immigrant intake dropped to nearly one-third in 2007 from half in 2001. In contrast, the numbers settling in western cities such as Calgary, Edmonton, Regina and Saskatoon have increased every year in the past five years.

"This represents a significant shift in immigration patterns," said Jack Jedwab, executive director of the Association for Canadian Studies, which released the study on immigrant family income this week.

"We think of Alberta and Saskatchewan as a place for internal migration, but now the West is drawing immigrants as well."

Immigrants often settle where family members live, but are also drawn by economic opportunities. The oil and natural-gas booms in Alberta and Saskatchewan have led to huge labour demands and a rise in wages as business owners struggle to fill jobs.

In 2005, the average annual income for an immigrant family in Calgary was $102,118, which is $33,000 more than in Montreal, $22,000 more than in Vancouver and $12,000 more than in Toronto, according to the census data analyzed in Mr. Jedwab's paper.

The average income was $92,932 in Regina and $91,356 in Saskatoon. Between 2001 and 2005, Saskatchewan moved from the bottom three provinces to the top three in terms of average income for immigrant families, behind Alberta and Ontario.

The wage differential between non-immigrant families in Toronto - who earned on average $139,926 a year - and those born elsewhere was 55 per cent. In contrast, the gap narrows to 33 per cent in Calgary, where non-immigrant families earn on average $136,380, and 19 per cent in Edmonton.

In Regina and Saskatoon, non-immigrant families actually earn 1 per cent less on average than their immigrant counterparts. The income gap reflects social mobility. "People are asking the question, 'How am I doing as an individual, and how am I doing compared to others?' " Mr. Jedwab said.

For his study on family incomes, all foreign-born Canadians were considered immigrants. But more recent cohorts of arrivals show a similar trend. Their wages are substantially lower than for the overall immigrant population; however, they still fare much better economically in the West, as well as in some smaller Ontario cities such as Oshawa and Ottawa, than in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal.

For example, the average annual income for an immigrant family who settled in Calgary between 2001 and 2005 was $69,148. The only city where they earned more money was Sudbury, while in Toronto, the average annual family income was $57,239; in Vancouver $53,028; and in Montreal $45,435.

Ottawa's goal has always been to disperse immigrants more evenly across the country and avoid concentrating too many new arrivals in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. In 2007, cities outside the "MTV" received nearly one in three of Canada's total 236,000 newcomers.

This trend is healthy, said Myer Siemiatycki, a Ryerson University professor of immigration and settlement studies, although he noted that Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver still receive the lion's share of immigrants and Montreal has actually increased its share.

Well-educated newcomers may be faring better in smaller cities such as Regina because there is less competition for high-paying jobs. "Saskatchewan traditionally had problems attracting high-end talent," Prof. Siemiatycki noted.

As well, the economy is not as robust and dynamic in Toronto and Montreal as it has been in Alberta and, more recently, in Saskatchewan.

Ratna Omidvar, executive director of the Maytree Foundation, a charity that aims to reduce poverty and inequality in Canada, said Toronto is still a huge draw, as are surrounding cities such as Brampton and Mississauga.

"For sure, there are fewer immigrants coming to Toronto, but they are going to the outlying suburbs comprising the city region," she said.


New Roots

Where new immigrants are finding work and putting down roots in Canadian cities.

The number of foreign permanent residents is rising in these communities:

Charlottetown: +50.2%

Halifax: +44.8%

Moncton: +74%

Edmonton: +52%

Calgary: +32%

Montreal: +36%

...while declining in these cities

Toronto: -20.8%

Vancouver: -1%


Monday, September 1, 2008


Heritage department takes aim at religious radicals

Multiculturalism plan under scrutiny

From Monday's Globe and Mail

September 1, 2008 at 3:41 AM EDT

The federal culture department wants to fight religious radicalization in Canada.

Canadian Heritage officials, who are responsible for the promotion of citizenry, say the country has moved beyond the "mosaic" model of the 1970s and entered an era of "integrative multiculturalism" that requires, in part, a battle against youth extremism.

In a presentation to a federal national security advisory board, Andrew Griffith, Canadian Heritage's director-general of multiculturalism and human rights, raised a series of issues including the question: "What is the appropriate role for Canadian Heritage and its Multicultural Program in countering radicalization?"

"Are traditional government objectives [civic participation, anti-racism/cross-cultural understanding, inclusive institutions] enough to address radicalization, or are radicalization-specific initiatives required?"

His PowerPoint presentation offers no concrete answers, but hints that shifting demographics mean the government must "adjust multiculturalism programming" in order to "advance core Canadian values."

The "Canadian Multiculturalism Act is flexible," the presentation notes.

The slides point out that Islam is, by far, the fastest growing religion in Canada and that the Middle East and Asia are, by far, the biggest source countries for immigrants.

The presentation was given in March to the cross-cultural roundtable on security, an advisory group drawn from government-appointed Canadians who come from a wide array of ethnic and religious backgrounds.

"Members were briefed on program and policy changes related to multiculturalism that better supports ethno-cultural minority participation and inclusion," reads a short synopsis of the meeting that is posted on the roundtable's website.

According to the Heritage presentation, 1970s- and 1980s-era initiatives geared toward "celebrating differences" and "accommodation" should now promote "rights and responsibilities" and the "Canadian identity." And compared with earlier problems such as "prejudice" and "systemic discrimination," a "clash of cultures" is highlighted as a major issue faced by immigrants today.

The presentation notes that Australia, the United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands have all been taking steps to integrate immigrants and combat religious extremism.

Jeffrey Reitz, a University of Toronto professor and expert on immigration, said Canadian Heritage's multiculturalism program has had limited reach. Successive governments have cut funding for the general multicultural program to less than a dollar a year from each Canadian, he said.

The professor said official multiculturalism has become a value so ingrained in the Canadian psyche that changes to programs should be debated by society as a whole. He argued that radicalism, to the extent it might exist, remains a problem best dealt with by police.

CSIS and the RCMP officials have become increasingly outspoken about how they see radical youth as a major problem, including several ongoing cases where they've never managed to arrest anyone.

Canadian Heritage's multiculturalism branch is distinct from its arts-funding branch that has lately been a source of controversy for the Conservative government. The Tories are denying allegations that ideology is playing a part in their plans to cut $45-million in artist grants.

It is difficult to determine what amount of money - if any - might be going toward the multiculturalism branch's deradicalization initiatives.

Spokespersons for Canadian Heritage were last week unable to formulate replies to questions The Globe and Mail asked about the department's stated objective of "addressing issues of cultural social exclusion [parallel communities] and radicalization" - a test now applied to applications by community groups for grants to promote multiculturalism.