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Lawyers fight Quebec in court over plan to scrap 18,000 immigration applications

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Quebec immigration lawyers are trying to overturn the province’s decision to cancel thousands of immigration applications, saying the policy has left thousands of people “very devastated, very surprised and very shocked.”

The Coalition Avenir Québec government announced earlier this month it is discarding 18,139 unprocessed immigration files from skilled workers, the immigration program managed by the province, as part of sweeping changes to the way it takes in newcomers.

An association of immigration lawyers, known by its French acronym AQAADI, is seeking an injunction in Quebec Superior Court.

The group argues the provincial government must respect the existing rules — and continue processing applications  — until the proposed reforms are passed into law.

“For a week or more now, we’ve had hundreds of messages from people all around the world,” said Guillaume Cliche-Rivard, the association’s president.

“It’s very devastating for these people and what we’re asking is for the government to do their job on the basis of the law now.”

The CAQ says applicants will be able to reapply under the new system and be refunded the cost of their application.

Quebec Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette outlined the reforms in Bill 7, tabled on Feb. 7 at the province’s National Assembly. 

Jolin-Barrette has said the new approach would better match applicants to the needs of the labour market, emphasize French-language skills and adhere to Quebec values.

Ho Sung Kim, another lawyer with the AQAADI, called the government’s decision to throw out the old applications “irresponsible” and said it will leave thousands of families in limbo.

“It’s not just the numbers and stats,” he said outside the courtroom. “It’s not just the paperwork. There are people behind that who have been [devoting] their lives to immigrate to Quebec.”

Ho Sung Kim said some of the people whose applications were thrown out put a lot of time, energy and money into coming to Quebec. (CBC)

The court challenge was filed on behalf of Seeun Park, a trained nurse from South Korea who has applied to settle in Quebec as a skilled worker.

The AQAADI presented three additional affidavits detailing the consequences the policy has had on other prospective immigrants, some of whom have been waiting to come to Quebec for more than a decade.

Prospective immigrants, including Park, have already received a notice saying their applications will no longer be processed.

Plan derided as ‘cavalier’

A number of groups, including unions, business groups and the Canadian Bar Association, have lined up against the CAQ’s plan.

The CSQ labour federation, which represents 200,000 workers, issued a statement Thursday calling the CAQ’s decision “cavalier” and “heartbreaking.”

The Conseil du Patronat, which represents Quebec’s biggest businesses, said it “undermines Quebec’s credibility on the international scene and reinforces cynicism about our immigration system.”

The Quebec chapter of the Canadian Bar Association sent a letter to Jolin-Barrette, saying it considers the move illegal.It said cancelling the applications “tarnishes Quebec’s image among the applicants it seeks to attract.”

Guillaume Cliche-Rivard is the president of the association of Quebec immigration lawyers (AQAADI). (Radio-Canada)

Jolin-Barrette declined to comment Thursday on the bar association letter and said the government will defend itself in court.

The CAQ’s promises to cut the number of immigrants and introduce a values test for new arrivals were key to their election campaign last fall.

The government tabled a plan last December to reduce the number of immigrants Quebec accepts this year to 40,000, down from more than 50,000 last year.

The immigration cuts have raised concerns from businesses already facing a labour shortage.

Quebec’s unemployment rate reached a historic low of 6.1 per cent last year.

Government lawyers are expected to present their arguments this afternoon.

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List of Tourist Attractions Open Now in Ottawa

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With Ontario now in Step 3 of 2021 three-step plan for reopening, museums and other indoor attractions are allowed to reopen with capacity limited to not exceed 50 per cent capacity indoors and 75 per cent capacity outdoors.

Here is a list of Ottawa attractions you can visit starting July 16th.

Do remember to wear masks and buy tickets in advance.

Parliament Hill

Parliament’s Centre Block and Peace Tower are closed for renovation.

You can join for tours of the Senate of Canada Building (2 Rideau Street), House of Commons at West Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill, and East Block at East Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill.

When: Grounds open; guided tours of Parliament are suspended through the summer of 2021.
Where: 111 Wellington Street, Downtown Ottawa

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Ottawa performer leapfrogs from gymnastics to Broadway to TV

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A new AppleTV+ series set in a magical town that’s stuck in a neverending 1940s musical includes a pair of Ottawa siblings in the cast. 

Warren Yang and his sister, Ericka Hunter, play two of the singing, dancing residents of the village portrayed in Schmigadoon!, a small-screen series that takes its cues from classic musicals like Brigadoon, Wizard of Oz and Sound of Music, and skewers them with the offbeat comedic mastery of Saturday Night Live. 

In fact, you’ll recognize many of the names from SNL, starting with executive producer Lorne Michaels, creator of the late-night, live-comedy sketch show. Schmigadoon! also stars SNL cast member Cecily Strong and comedian Keegan-Michael Key, who hosted SNL in May. They play a New York couple who get lost on a hike and stumble into a strange town where everyone sings and dances. 

For Yang, a relative newcomer to show-biz, the series marks his television debut. For Hunter, the younger of his two older sisters, it’s the latest in a career path that began with dance lessons as a child more than 30 years ago. She attended Canterbury High School, Ottawa’s arts-focused secondary school. 

“Her dream was always to perform,” said Yang, 34, in an interview. “But that was never the path I thought was an option for me.” 

While his sister studied dance, Yang did gymnastics. He was an elite gymnast throughout his youth, ultimately leaving Merivale High School at 16 to train in Montreal, finishing high school through correspondence courses. He was a member of the Canadian National Team and received a scholarship to study at Penn State, majoring in marketing. 

A few years after graduation, Yang was working at an advertising agency in Toronto when he got a call from a Manhattan number. To his astonishment, they asked if he would be interested in auditioning for a Broadway revival of Miss Saigon.

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COVID-19: uOttawa to require vaccination for students living in residence

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Vaccination will be mandatory for students who want to live in residence at the University of Ottawa this year, with proof of vaccination and at least one dose required before move-in, or within two weeks of doing so if they can’t secure a shot before arriving.

Those who can’t receive a vaccine for “health-related reasons or other grounds protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code” will be able to submit a request for accommodation through the university’s housing portal, according to information on the university’s website.

Students with one dose living in residence will also have to receive their second dose “within the timeframe recommended by Ottawa Public Health.”

People who haven’t been granted an exemption and don’t get vaccinated or submit proof of having done so by the deadlines set out by the school will have their residence agreements terminated, uOttawa warns.

“Medical and health professionals are clear that vaccination is the most (effective) means of protecting people and those around them,” reads a statement provided to this newspaper by uOttawa’s director of strategic communications, Patrick Charette.

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“It is precisely for this reason that the University of Ottawa is requiring all students living in residence for the 2021-2022 academic year to be fully vaccinated. The University recognizes that some students may require accommodations for a variety of reasons and will be treating exceptions appropriately.”

Faculty, staff and students are also strongly encouraged to get vaccinated, the statement notes.

“Ensuring a high vaccine coverage in all communities is critical to ensuring an ongoing decline in cases and ending the pandemic. This will be especially important with the return of students to post-secondary institutions in our region in the fall of 2021.”

Neither Carleton University nor Algonquin College is currently mandating vaccination for students living in residence, according to the websites for both schools. But uOttawa isn’t alone in its policy – Western University, Trent University, Durham College and Fanshawe College have all implemented similar requirements. Seneca College, in the GTA, is going even further, making vaccination mandatory for students and staff to come to campus, in-person, for the fall term.

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