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* Independent topical weblog of current affairs, opinion and issues, featuring stories making news in Canada from the immigrants and newcomers' point of view. Join our Forum

David Wilkins and George W. Bush

George W. Bush: David Wilkins, the former ambassador to Canada who co-chaired and then chaired George W. Bush's two campaigns in the key Republican primary state of South Carolina, says the younger sibling has the skills to go the distance, according to Times Colonist. "If he decides to run, I'm not saying he'd win, but I think he'd be a very viable candidate." As Jeb Bush weighs a run for the White House, his prospective candidacy is being praised by a well-known Republican who helped organize his brother's successful campaigns in 2000 and 2004. "He brings a lot to the table. He would be a serious candidate from Day One," Wilkins said in an interview, touting Bush's track record as Florida governor and his thoughtful stand on immigration and education. (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

The Inaugural Program and Lakehill Soccer Association

Lakehill Soccer Association: The program is already overflowing, with 248 young players registered, and many more on a waiting list. , according to Times Colonist. This is hopefully just the inaugural program, with many more years to come. Kids are playing soccer on fields all over Greater Victoria, but not many are playing for free. In a groundbreaking move to open the sport to everyone wanting to kick a ball, the Lakehill Soccer Association is offering a no-cost spring league for youth ages under-8 to under-15. Every spot we had got snatched up right away, Lakehill president David del Castillo said. (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

David Wilkins and George W. Bush

George W. Bush: David Wilkins, the former ambassador to Canada who co-chaired and then chaired George W. Bush's two campaigns in the key Republican primary state of South Carolina, says the younger sibling has the skills to go the distance, according to CTV. "If he decides to run, I'm not saying he'd win, but I think he'd be a very viable candidate." - As Jeb Bush weighs a run for the White House, his prospective candidacy is being praised by a well-known Republican who helped organize his brother's successful campaigns in 2000 and 2004. "He brings a lot to the table. He would be a serious candidate from Day One," Wilkins said in an interview, touting Bush's track record as Florida governor and his thoughtful stand on immigration and education. (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

Dutch Prosecutor Michiel Swinkels and Amanda Todds

Amanda Todds: Aydin Coban was arrested in a house south of Amsterdam in January after Dutch authorities accused him of using his computer to extort money from girls, boys and even older men, according to CTV. We re looking at approximately 30 or 40 possible victims in the Netherlands, said Dutch prosecutor Michiel Swinkels. They have not all been identified and we re thinking there are dozens of victims abroad and The Dutch man arrested in connection with Amanda Todds suicide is unlikely to ever face trial in Canada, according to a veteran immigration lawyer. Officials allege that Coban enticed his victims to strip on webcam and then used screen captures of the footage as blackmail material. One of his alleged victims was 15-year-old Port Coquitlam resident Amanda Todd, who took her own life in 2012 after years of torment at the hands of what was then believed to be an online bully. (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

Flawed System and Lee Cohen

Lee Cohen: Cohen vowed then that he would do everything in his power to bring justice, fairness and equality to a flawed system and the individuals affected by it, according to The Chronicle Herald. At first, Cohen, who has no personal ties with the school, was surprised by the recognition and As a young man, Lee Cohen was bothered by the bigotry and racism he witnessed within the Canadian immigration system. Three decades later, Cohen, a Halifax lawyer who has dedicated his life and work to immigration and refugee issues, is receiving an honorary doctor of divinity degree from the Atlantic School of Theology at a convocation ceremony at St. Benedicts Roman Catholic Church on May 3. (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

Supreme Court of Canada

Supreme Court of Canada: Two of the cases involve an individual and a couple who were aboard the MV Sun Sea, which carried 492 Sri Lankan nationals to Canada in 2010, according to Globe and Mail. In a Bangkok apartment, Tamils wait for a ship to Canada The Supreme Court of Canada will hear three appeals in cases where people were denied refugee status because they were allegedly involved in people smuggling. The arrival of two ships off the British Columbia coast led the federal government to enact its so-called human smuggling law to discourage a repeat of the dramatic incidents. More Related to this Story (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

Prison Staff and Justice Ministry

Justice Ministry: For the first time, there are now more guards and other prison staff than there are prisoners in the Netherlands, according to data released by the Justice Ministry on Friday, according to The Star. Read more on thestar.com: The Dutch government is facing an unusual crisis: prison undercrowding. Crime rates have fallen slightly in recent years, but arent notably lower in the Netherlands than in neighbouring countries, and many Dutch people think sentences for violent offenders are too light. (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

Zouriya Jayman and Mohammad Jaffar

Mohammad Jaffar: Ms. Jayman, who is in her 80s, grew up speaking the creole language in the central Sri Lankan town of Kegalle, and she is one of roughly 40,000 Sri Lankan Malay speakers worldwide, and some 1,000 in the Greater Toronto Area. In a lively and loose interview with linguist Mohammad Jaffar, another native Sri Lankan Malay speaker, Ms. Jayman fielded questions on the languages uncertain future as a camera recorded the session, according to Globe and Mail. With no codified spelling system and a general community apathy toward preservation, the languages prospects for survival are grim and Since she arrived in Canada more than two decades ago, Zouriya Jayman has found few people to converse with in her native tongue, Sri Lankan Malay. But on a frigid day earlier this year, two linguists turned the living room of her high-rise apartment in north Toronto into a sort of television studio in order to document Ms. Jaymans endangered language. Zouriya felt that we were truly the last generation of full native speakers, Mr. Jaffar, 78, said, interpreting Ms. Jaymans answers into English. Later generations, she felt, showed a regrettable lack of interest and no enthusiasm for speaking in Sri Lankan Malay. (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

Asylum Officers and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services: The chief of the asylum division at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has told asylum officers that immigrants who make a "credible fear" claim, the first step in the asylum process, must have a "significant possibility" of winning an asylum case before a judge, according to Times Colonist. The memo, which updates an officer training course lesson plan, does not substantially change the standard for how the immigration agency handles such cases. The same language was used to describe the standard to win a full hearing before an immigration judge as far back as 2008, according to the website and The U.S. Homeland Security Department has reissued asylum rules to immigration officials amid concerns that they are misinterpreting how to decide which immigrants get to see a judge for asylum claims. In a Feb. 28 memo, the official, John Lafferty, said in order to meet that standard immigrants have to "demonstrate a substantial and realistic possibility of succeeding in court." (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

Dinaw Mengestu

Dinaw Mengestu: "On the most cliched level, our idea of the immigrant narrative is ... the person who comes to the U.S. is happy to be there, gets a job, gets a car, gets a house. And then they go through the process of success," the author said during a recent interview, according to Times Colonist. Set in the early 1970s, "All Our Names" Doubleday is told through the dual perspectives of Helen a social worker from a small Midwestern town and "Isaac," the mysterious African student with whom she falls desperately in love. Isaac's narrative traces his previous life as a student in post-independence Uganda, and slowly reveals the truth about his identity and Ethiopian-American novelist Dinaw Mengestu says he wanted his new novel "All Our Names" to break from the traditional immigrant tale. "I've always been curious about the immigrants who don't want to necessarily be there ... plenty of people end up in other countries because they have to, because that's their way of surviving. ... People who come to their new country not because this is their dream but because their nightmare has become true." (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

Canadian Citizenship

Canadian citizenship: This may be the larger point that we re missing in all the debate over the Fair Elections Act and how it will affect some Canadians right to vote. How do you prove you re a Canadian citizen?, according to The Star. For people born in other countries, Canadian citizenship is a bigger deal. Theres even a ceremony an emotional one, for many people and a handbook and even a test. Theres also a certificate : a full-sized paper document, suitable for framing, which includes a certificate number, a unique client identifier, name, date of birth, gender and the date you became a Canadian citizen and We used to talk about Canada having an identity problem. Now, it seems, we have a proof-of-identity problem. If you were born in this country, citizenship is something you probably take for granted. Its a box you tick off on customs forms when visiting other countries, or a feeling you occasionally get when you watch doughnut or beer commercials. (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

Abo Khalil

Abo Khalil: For the right price, Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans can leave their true papers behind and become Spanish, Greek or even Canadian, according to The Star. Read more of this series on thestar.com: In the Aksaray neighbourhood of Istanbul, in one of the countless Turkish coffee shops crammed into one of the countless winding streets, you can meet with Abo Khalil and buy your new identity. I met with Khalil in the basement of a smoky cafe. His dark brown eyes twinkled as he explained his profession and how western governments could easily put him out of business, if they cared to. Khalil started human smuggling 14 years ago, moving Iraqis from Turkey into Europe. (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

Chantal Bernier and Ellen Richardson

Ellen Richardson: White House denies report that NSA has been using Heartbleed to spy, according to Globe and Mail. B.C. reveals too much in police background checks: privacy czar Combined images of L-R Chantal Bernier, Pam Dixon and Avi Goldfarb Life After Privacy They know everything about you: Whatas your privacy worth? There is little users can do to hide from the latest internet bug- a flaw in a security system used by the majority of web sites. Bobbi Rebell reports. Reuters Tech Video: Heartbleed bug puts private web info at risk Two years ago, Ellen Richardson made what she calls a half-hearted attempt at suicide while suffering from depression. A 911 call was placed, police duly arrived on the scene and, thankfully, Ms. Richardson survived. A year later, she was at Torontos Pearson airport, about to depart on her dream vacation a cruise but she had to fly to the U.S. first. Ms. Richardson never made it. After checking in for her flight, she was stopped by a U.S. customs agent, grilled about the suicide attempt and her mental health, fingerprinted, photographed and barred from boarding the plane. More Related to this Story Privacy watchdog wants police to stop sharing suicide attempts with U.S. (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

Jim Flaherty and Employment Minister Jason Kenney

Employment Minister Jason Kenney: Employment Minister Jason Kenney, who reportedly clashed with the former finance minister over Toronto Mayor Rob Ford in November, offered praise for his former caucus colleague and a warning, according to Huffington Post. Conservative Senator Don Meredith was similarly complimentary of the former minister. He saw Flaherty taking a stroll in Ottawa's Byward Market area on Tuesday evening, where they shook hands for the last time and Former finance minister Jim Flaherty's colleagues are praising him as a Parliamentarian who worked hard and maybe a little too much. "I think its a cautionary tale for all of us in public life. You re going like he was 100 miles an hour year after year after year with such massive pressure. To suddenly slow down ..." Kenney said at a news conference before he spoke off microphone. (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

Prison Staff and Justice Ministry

Justice Ministry: For the first time, there are now more guards and other prison staff than there are prisoners in the Netherlands, according to data released by the Justice Ministry on Friday, according to The Star. Read more on thestar.com: The Dutch government is facing an unusual crisis: prison undercrowding. Crime rates have fallen slightly in recent years, but arent notably lower in the Netherlands than in neighbouring countries, and many Dutch people think sentences for violent offenders are too light. (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

Starbucks and Damascus

Damascus: I am wanted in Damascus, he begins. Rahmoon, 32, speaks softly in near-perfect English. He runs his hands through his thick, curly hair and stares forward, according to The Star. Read more of this series on thestar.com: Jihad Rahmoon sips his single-shot espresso at a Starbucks adjacent to Taksim Square, surrounded by Turks on their laptops and smartphones surfing and chatting with their friends. I joined the revolution when it started. I worked with some networks inside Damascus to organize demonstrations and provide relief aid to those who suffered from the shelling and the killing, he says. (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

International Students and Graduate Business Studies

graduate business studies: Canada ranks third in a top-10 list of global destinations for graduate business studies, with immigration-friendly policies attracting a growing number of international students, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council, according to Globe and Mail. Recruitment They re rivals at home, but allies abroad The Globes biweekly business-school news roundup. The findings are among some intriguing trends identified in new reports from the Reston, Va.-based organization that administers the all-important Graduate Management Admission Test to potential graduate business students in 113 countries. More Related to this Story (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

Jason Kenney and Citizen Kenney

Citizen Kenney: The pair have addressed history, diaspora and immigration from a queer perspective in works like Citizen Kenney, their campy video send-up of then immigration minister Jason Kenney part of 2013s Thats So Gay at the Gladstone , and Border Sounds, a disco with headphone-played tunes based on passport texts 2011s Nuit Blanche . Less overtly queer and humorous, Silent Citizen moves toward a more disturbing experience, according to NOW. Then the test begins. A voice asks you to read phrases aloud from karaoke-style screens. Between prompts, the screens hold the word for uncomfortably long periods. Is it a simple description or an ominous command that makes you wonder what you must not speak of? The interrogation-style light shining on the table adds to the atmosphere of intimidation and compliance and In a mall housing purveyors of Chinese herbal medicines, Asian DVDs and colourful childrens clothing, an innocuous-looking institutional-style sign announces the presence of Silent Citizen. Inside the bland retail space, a solitary desk holds a microphone and a start button. The set-up, mimicking Service Canada offices, is the latest participatory installation by Bambitchell, Toronto collaborators Sharlene Bamboat and Alexis Mitchell. Inside the room, a jumble of voices reciting phrases from the language test that Kenney instituted as a requirement for citizenship plays over speakers. All goes quiet when you sit down at the table and press the button. A condescending government video about immigrating to Canada plays with only minor interventions by the artists. (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

Types of Seizures and Hayley Rose

Hayley Rose: She was diagnosed with a severe form of childhood-onset epilepsy called Lennox-Gastaut syndrome when she was seven. The difficult-to-treat form of epilepsy involves frequent and multiple types of seizures and kills most children well before puberty, according to NOW. So effective was the treatment that seven to eight weeks after she started it, an electroencephalograph, or EEG, from BC Childrens Hospital showed that she no longer had encephalopathic epilepsy, meaning her LGS grand mal seizures were essentially gone and Hayley Rose just celebrated her 21st birthday. Thats six years longer than her doctors thought she would live, and she partly owes her life to medical marijuana. Hayleys doctors told her mother, Cheryl, to find a grief counsellor and prepare for the worst when Hayley was 15. Cheryl took matters into her own hands and started her on a course of cannabidiol capsules, CBD-enriched foods and smoothies. The strain of cannabis was donated by a grower. They call it Hayleys Comet. (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

Danial Schecter and Robert Kamermans

Robert Kamermans: Danial Schecter never expected to become a medpot expert, let alone a crusader, according to NOW. Schecter will open the Cannabinoid Medical Clinic at Yonge and Eglinton in June. Meanwhile, Robert Kamermans, who gained notoriety among medpot refugees because he prescribed marijuana when other doctors wouldnt, may face jail time for what the OPP say are multiple counts of fraud, forgery and money laundering. Over the course of a year, the doctor signed 4,000 forms enabling patients to consume or grow medical marijuana and In the same week that one medpot physician was sitting through the preliminary hearing for his criminal trial on fraud charges in Belleville, Ontario, another announced he d be opening a specialty medical marijuana clinic in north Toronto. But after working as a research assistant for world-re ned McGill medpot expert Mark Ware, the Ontario physician was hooked on the healing properties of the plant everyone has an opinion about. (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

African Migrants and European Countries

European countries: The foreign ministers from those seven European countries met in the eastern Spanish city of Alicante to discuss ways of tackling the problem, which has become acute, according to The Telegram. Many of the migrants who manage to enter the EU through its southern countries later make for northern Europe. Rome wants legal changes so that new arrivals can apply for asylum in their final destination countries, not just where they arrive and France, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Spain are unhappy about bearing the costs as tens of thousands of African migrants try to enter the EU illegally each year through their countries. Hundreds fleeing poverty and persecution die in unsafe boats every year. More than 20,500 migrants have arrived in Italy since the beginning of the year, compared with 2,500 in the same period in 2013, Interior Minister Angelino Alfano told the Italian Parliament on Wednesday. Meanwhile, in the first three months of this year, the number of migrants making it into Spains North African enclave Melilla surpassed the estimated 1,000 who got in last year. (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

Stun Guns and Chief Bill Janes

Chief Bill Janes: Janes said the RNCs use of force committee recommended adding stun guns to the force for several reasons, including their use by other police forces across Canada, technological improvements to stun guns that have enhanced their reliability and consistency and an event log that will record the deployment and use of the weapons, which incapacitate people with a brief electric shock. , according to The Telegram. The Braidwood Inquiry concluded the officers werent justified in using Tasers against Dziekanski. RNC Chief Bill Janes announced Wednesday morning at RNC headquarters in St. Johns that the police force has ordered 15 stun guns, which will be given to a select group of officers, including the tactics and rescue unit, which responds to high-risk situations such as armed barricades, patrol officers, and the crime suppression unit, a new team tackling organized crime, especially motorcycle gangs. Janes also cited the Braidwood Inquiry, which concluded our society is better off with these weapons in use than without them. The Braidwood Inquiry was a public inquiry into the use and safety of Tasers a brand of stun gun after Robert Dziekanski, a Polish immigrant to Canada, was killed after being shocked five times by police officers attempting to subdue the unruly Dziekanski at the Vancouver airport. (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Charter of Rights and Freedoms: Today, April 17, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms celebrates its 32nd birthday. This great addition to Canadas Constitution is worth celebrating given its transformative impact not only on our laws, but on our lives not only on how we litigate, but on how we live, according to Globe and Mail. On the 10th anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, then chief justice Antonio Lamer spoke of it being a revolution in law comparable to the discovery of Pasteur in science. Madame justice Claire L Heureux-Dube, after just five years of the Charter being in effect, said in 1987 that Canada had stretched the cords of liberty more in five years in some instances than the United States had done in 200 years. And even if one wants to say that some of that was enthusiastic rhetoric, it is clear that the Charter was indeed revolutionary and Irwin Cotler is a former minister of justice and attorney general of Canada. He is a professor of law emeritus at McGill University. Indeed, Canadians now enjoy a panoply of rights and remedies that were almost inconceivable prior to the advent of the Charter. Beyond merely marking the day, one should pause to reflect upon the significance of this text, its history, and the proud legacy it has provided Canada. (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

Andy Byford and Toronto Transit Commission

Toronto Transit Commission: 1. Abysmal, according to The Star. Byford has spent his brief tenure promising TTC riders and workers that if they just stick with him, he will deliver a transit renaissance within the next five years. But on March 12, signal problems between Bloor and Eglinton snarled the evening rush. And today, his anniversary, a frozen switch near Davisville is causing more than the usual delays on the Yonge subway. The platforms are backed up 12 deep with riders waiting to board at the notorious Bloor-Yonge bottleneck. To make matters worse, transit control takes a southbound train out of service, disgorging about 1,300 customers at Summerhill into the bitter cold and These are tough times for the Toronto Transit Commission and its millions of users. The service simply has not kept pace with growth in ridership, leaving many fuming at their bus, streetcar and subway stops. But the system's worst critic may be its own CEO, Andy Byford, a veteran of London's tube whose tough assignment is to get Toronto's trains to run on time. In a new Star Dispatches ebook, offered here in its entirety, our transportation reporter reckons with the man facing the multi-billion-dollar challenge. Can Andy Byford make public transit in Toronto efficient, punctual, and pleasant again? Two years from the day he was officially named CEO of the Toronto Transit Commission, Andy Byford admits it has been an abysmal week. Its like a blow to the heart that two days in a row we ve screwed up our customers, laments the British-born transit chief from his office above the Davisville subway station. (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

Canadian Citizenship and British Citizenship

British citizenship: The cases involve dual nationals who were stripped of their British citizenship for suspected links to al-Shabab and killed soon afterward in U.S. drone strikes in Somalia. While U.S. and British authorities have denied that their actions were co-ordinated, they acknowledged that they may have relied on the same intelligence in making their respective decisions to strip, then kill. More Related to this Story, according to Globe and Mail. If Canadian citizenship becomes more exclusive it must be more meaningful Of all of the drone strikes Barack Obama has authorized as he works his way down a kill list of suspected terrorists acting abroad, two should be of special interest to Canadian MPs when they grill Citizenship Minister Chris Alexander about his new immigration bill later this month. Tories citizenship fast-track for soldiers would help few, figures show (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

Immigrants and OAS

OAS: Some immigrants facing unreasonable' hurdles with OAS, critics say, April 14, according to The Star. I was born in Canada, but spent two periods out of the country: a few years living in England after I graduated, and two years working for the UN in Vienna. I duly noted these absences in my application and Re: Some immigrants facing unreasonable' hurdles with OAS, critics say, April 14 It is not only immigrants who are affected. It took more than a year for me to be approved for OAS. (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.
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