Blast from the past. Syrian refugees are presented with a child's winter jacket by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on their arrival from Beirut at the Toronto Pearson International Airport, December 11, 2015. More and more people are finding it harder and harder to find the right path that leads to Canada. (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

Welcome to Canada…er…maybe not…hold your horses, please!


Several years ago, when Canada invited thousands of Syrian refugees to move here to escape the insanity gripping their native country, a lot of us were proud of what appeared to be our collective ability to deliver compassion and help when it really counts.

Many of the over 60,000 people from Syria who have arrived here over the past four years have done well.

Others have struggled, just like the rest of us.

Now, many in the first wave are becoming Canadian citizens.

I’ve been thinking a lot these days about those Syrians as I read the news and talk with friends and family.

Basel Alzoubi (right) arrived in Canada with his family three years ago; he’ll soon be eligible to apply for Canadian citizenship. He is pictured here in his Ottawa home with his wife Hanaa and son Mousa. (Stu Mills/CBC)

Was that opening of arms who we are?

Or are we something else?

Sadly, I am beginning to wonder.

Example: My wife has a friend who has fallen victim to the after-effects of the Canadian embassy in Havana closing its visa office, setting back both her and her Cuban husband’s attempts to reunite for keeps here in Canada. This spring my wife’s friend suffered a miscarriage. Her husband remains in Cuba, she lives in Canada.

Example: I read a somewhat similar story from CBC News this week about a Cuban man who hitch-hiked across the island only to discover the visa office was not longer there.

Carlos Gonzalez Trenzado and Laura Silver are separated as they try to navigate the challenging process of immigrating from Cuba. (Laura Silver/Supplied)

Both couples will likely have to proceed (if they can find the needed money) at the Canadian visa office in Mexico City.

Example: I have a dear friend, who was born in Mexico and has been a Canadian resident for 21 years, a citizen for 16.

A professional woman, she’s really, really smart.

Moreover, she’s really, really compassionate.

She is someone I treasure and so should Canada.

Yet immigration authorities keep throwing up roadblocks when she tries to bring her mother to Canada to live near her and her grandchildren.

I confess to becoming irate when confronted with these stories.

I am told by those involved to calm down.

“That’s immigration,” they say, a flicker of despair sometimes crossing their foreheads.

Visitors wait at the entrance of Canada’s embassy in Havana in April, 2018. Changes in visa procedures are adversely affecting many who want to come to Canada, especially those with little money. (Desmond Boylan/The Associated Press)

Immigration, I tell myself, is a government department.

A country is a country.

Are we not the country that invited all the Syrians just a few years ago, that invited thousands of so-called boat people from Southeast Asia–mostly Vietnamese–back in the late 1970s and early 1980s to seek asylum here, that asked 37,000 Hungarian refugees to come here 1956?

The answer, of course, is yes.

But Canada’s auditor-general, Sylvain Ricard, released a report last week that was critical of several aspects of the government’s handling of asylum seekers.

A story last weekend told of a “stringent” visa process keeping qualified international students away from from Canadian universities.

Guidy Mamann testifies about Canada’s policy towards Syrian refugees in Washington, D.C. in 2016.(Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs)

One wonders if words like compassion, despair, heartache, and empathy have been stricken from our vocabulary, never mind our policies.

So what the heck is going on with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada?

For an informed take, I contacted prominent Canadian immigration lawyer Guidy Mamann, a partner at the Toronto immigration law firm of Mamann, Sandaluk & Kingwell LLP.

Here is part of our conversation began by my asking him about the cases of the Canadian women and their Cuban husbands.

Categories: Economy, International
Tags: , , ,

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1.’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3.’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish or in one of the two official languages, English or French. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available