With Respect to
Canadians and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship
Hon. Jim Karygiannis
Member of Parliament - Scarborough-Agincourt
is in response to our request subsequent to Editorial titled:
Kinds of Canadians in
Only members of the
First Nations can claim they are indigenous to Canada. The
rest of us all emigrated from somewhere, whether it was yesterday or
our forefathers 400 years ago.
Canada is like a table - standing on four legs or pillars.
First pillar are the First Nations. It is reported that they
immigrated to Canada almost 15000 years ago by crossing the Bearing
Straight and settling in North and South America. Second and
third pillars are the two founding nations, the French and the
English, who arrived as explorers and first settled in this country.
The fourth pillar are new immigrants, people from, to name just a
few, China, South Asia, the Eastern Europe, Italy and Greece, who
came to Canada in the last century.
Every new wave of immigrants to Canada has faced challenges and
discrimination. As a new immigrant, I can attest to this as I
faced difficulties and discrimination when I first came to Canada in
1966. This problem, however, is not alleviated for new
immigrants, as previous immigrants tend to forget the difficulties
they faced when they first arrived.
Many a times you will hear the older immigrants say; "These new
people have it so easy. Boy, when I arrived we had such a hard
time..." It is a vicious cycle, which I hope, one day,
In the early 1970's, when the concept of multiculturalism was
introduced in Canada, things got a little better. However, we
still have a long way to go.
There are some difficulties with people wanting to visit their
relatives in Canada. Canada, as other countries, has a Visitor
Visa system which applies to some countries and not to others.
Some say that this is discriminatory and everyone should be treated
There are two schools of thought on this matter. The first -
allow everyone to visit Canada and have no Visitor Visa
restrictions. The second - keep the system as is.
Let's examine both sides:
The first - allow everyone to visit Canada without Visitor Visa
restrictions. Those who support this option say open our
borders and let everyone come to Canada. Although this might
seem the fair and right thing to do, it would create havoc and
attract into our country people who will abuse the system and put
our social safety net in jeopardy. Even now when we have
Visitor Visas, we still have a number of people who when they arrive
in Canada try to jump the cue and claim refugee status. Others
stay in Canada, go underground and work illegally. Allowing
everyone to visit Canada without Visitor Visa restrictions would
further open our immigration system abuse. Many countries,
whether developed or developing, place restrictions on people who
want to cross their borders.
The second - keep the system as it is. Many people, especially
new immigrants, who have come to Canada from developing countries,
find it almost impossible to invite their relatives to come to
Canada, at the times of joy or sadness. It is very unfortunate
that the Department of Citizenship and Immigration, many times,
takes a heavy-handed approach to these applications. In one
case, I, as a Member of Parliament, made a representation on behalf
of a woman who wanted to come to Canada to attend the funeral of her
sister. I was told by an Immigration official that the reason
for the refusal was that they would rather "err on the side of
Canada" and, therefore, keep the woman out.
It seems people have a short memory when it comes to remembering
their hardships in Canada and usually do not believe that the new
comers have the same if not steeper hardships. Unfortunately,
those who are currently complaining will be on the other side of the
issue twenty years from now and will ask "Why are we letting
these people in?" The Minister of Immigration and
Citizenship will again claim that officials are doing their best in
order to have a fair system.
However, there appears to be inequity in issuing Visitor Visas to
applicants from developed countries and developing countries.
Well it's time to act and ensure the Minister of Citizenship and
Immigration is held to account.
Since the Conservatives became the government, it seems that there
has been shift toward not allowing people from developing countries
to obtain Visitor Visas for Canada. The number of Visitor Visa
refusals in many countries is alarming. Regardless of the
growing number of voices in favour of a fairer system the trend
seems to continue.
The Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration must review
this matter and make a full report to Parliament. The report
must recommend changes that will reflect the diversity of Canada and
the needs of new Canadians.
I intend, in the House of Commons, to recommend that the Standing Committee on Citizenship and
Immigration review this matter. I will be a forceful voice for
change. These changes will not only safeguard our way of life,
but will respect the wishes and needs of new Canadians.
Unfortunately, this situation will not be rectified overnight.