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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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‘Babies who volunteer’ bring new life to seniors with care-home visits

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Seniors in several long-term care homes around Ottawa have been getting special visits over the last year from newborn babies.

Organized by non-profit group “Babies Who Volunteer,” the visits look to enrich the lives of seniors with hour-long sessions of cuddling and play.

“Oh, I love it,” 85-year-old Jinny Maclean told CTV News. “We have lots of good things that happen here, but to me, this is the best.”

An Ottawa senior plays with a volunteer baby during a ‘Babies who volunteer’ visit.

The program was born last year, when Jessica Turner took her newborn daughter along to visit a friend’s parent, who had Alzheimer’s disease.

She put the newborn in the woman’s arm, who hadn’t spoken in years, and was surprised when she started singing to the child.

“Her daughter was amazed that she was hearing her mom speak again for the first time,” Turner said.

The organization visits dozens of long-term care facilities across Ottawa and Kingston, with 1,100 parents volunteering their children.

They hope that in time, they can expand to include school-aged children in the program.

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Cross: Vegans, please leave your meat obsession at the door

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For those whose meatless Mondays have become fleshless forevers, deliverance is at hand. The veggie burger is here. Recent commercials by A&W tout the company’s Beyond Meat Burger and its Beyond Meat Sausage and Egger breakfast sandwich. Actors wax ecstatic over the product, exclaiming it “tastes exactly like meat.”

That meat memory is a big positive, apparently. So why not eat the real thing? Forget the foodie flim-flam.

If you believe eating meat is cruel, stresses the environment or contributes to chronic ailments, then why sculpt faux burgers, ribs, roasts and steaks out of veggies and grains to imitate the very animal flesh you profess to abhor? Seems counterintuitive to me.

As a species we evolved as omnivores, but I get it that you don’t eat meat. Go ahead, do you. What I don’t get is this obsession with creating stuff to look like meat. You gave it up, remember?

Sorting out the who’s who of anti-carnivores, there are vegetarians who choose vegetables, fruits, grains, seeds and nuts. Vegans, a higher order of vegetarian, do not eat any meat, or eggs, dairy or ingredients such as gelatin from animal collagen. There are pescatarians (from pesce, Italian for fish) who will eat fish, and ovo-lacto vegetarians who will consume eggs and milk products. Finally, there are flexitarians, who eat mostly plants and occasionally some meat or fish. Like when that meatatarian craving hits and you can’t face any more bluff beef or pretender pork.

In this file photo, customers stop to get a free vegetarian burger at a food truck in downtown Washington, DC. ERIC BARADAT / AFP/Getty Images

Canada’s re-vamped food guide recommends swapping out some meat, poultry and dairy for plant-based proteins. But the key is a balanced diet, not a meat boycott. European Union food regulations state, “labelling cannot be misleading as to a food’s primary composition” so the EU approved consumer labelling banning the use of meaty terms such as burger, escalope, hamburger, sausage and steak, in favour of “veggie disks” and “veggie tubes” to describe plant-based replicas. So, “vegan meat balls” is a no-no but “vegan balls” are fine. That wraps it up.

When we were kids, my cousins and I ate slices of fried bologna, which we jokingly called “tubular steak.” We all survived and are healthy. We now binge on SPAM, that spiced ham in a can with a key first conceived by Hormel Foods way back last century, followed by mouthfuls of Twinkies for dessert. Delish.

When we were kids, my cousins and I ate slices of fried bologna, which we jokingly called “tubular steak.” We all survived and are healthy.

All this substitution of fake flesh for the real thing has led to creative linguistics. A quick guide to speaking vegan includes “crumble” referring to a crunchy texture masquerading as bacon bits or ground beef. “Toona” is sham seafood from soy and veggie protein. A “flegg” is a non-egg made from flax meal and water. Soy or almond “milk” is a bogus bovine beverage of plant juice. Real milk comes from cows that eat plants. For Christmas, combine flegg with that beverage to make nutnog. It goes with that imposter gobbler called “Tofurky.” Should vegan bacon be called “vacon”? Or, is that just more phoney baloney? Is non-dairy cheese called “teese” or “sheese”? Whatever it is, it is not cheese. Sort of reminiscent of that venerable iridescent processed goop in a bottle called Cheez Whiz, isn’t it?

In the Ottawa area, the cleverly named Fauxmagerie Zengarry is up front about its products. It manufactures six flavours of all-natural artisanal cashew “cheese” or “fromage” at Alexandria in the Township of North Glengarry for those who “love cheese but not the dairy,” whether they are vegan or have milk allergies. It’s not real cheese and it doesn’t pretend to be. Hooray, honestly!

But by constructing copycat meat, vegetarians are secret meatarians. Just enjoy fruit and veggie fodder unaccompanied by reminders of past carnivore chow. Otherwise, cut the herbivore hype.

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Mapping the Glebe’s war dead — and turning it into music

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An Ottawa military historian has mapped out all the people one local neighbourhood lost during the Second World War — and that map is being set to music this weekend at the Canadian Tulip Festival.

Dave O’Malley recently created a map of the soldiers, airmen and sailors from the Glebe who died during the the war.

He said he got the idea while working on a story about the Dambusters Raid — a legendary nighttime air mission in 1943 on German targets thought to be unassailable —  and realizing that one of the pilots who died on the mission was practically a neighbour.

“He lived on Powell Avenue, and I thought, he is just two blocks away from me,” O’Malley told CBC Radio’s All In A Day.

O’Malley said he started researching and found the pilot wasn’t alone. In fact, he uncovered hundreds of Glebe high hchool graduates who’d been killed in the war. And spotting the music on the map…. After a local historian pinned down the addresses of World War two soldiers who died in his neighbourhood, an Ottawa composer turned the map into music. 13:46

‘This happened all over Canada’

“I was blown away by how many airmen, soldiers and sailors were lost,” he said. “The very first service person of the Allies to die in the Second World War went to a Glebe high school.”

O’Malley used newspaper obituaries, church records and other documents to discover where all the soldiers had lived. At the time, obituaries would publish the names of the service member’s parents and their address.

In total, he tracked 472 men who lived in the Glebe and then died in the war.

O’Malley said it would have been the same story in any Canadian community at the time. 

“There is nothing special about the Glebe. This happened all over Canada,” he said.  

From left to right, Dave O’Malley, Gilles Maurice Leclerc and Julian Armour stand outside the CBC Ottawa studios. (Jessa Runciman/CBC)

Turning it into music 

Julian Armour, the executive director of this summer’s Music and Beyond festival, saw O’Malley’s map and his mind went to a different place.

He said seeing the dots laid out on the Glebe’s street grid made him think of music.

“You have lines on them and dots and that’s music,” he said. “I thought, ‘Wow, this is really powerful … we have to get some composers.'”

Armour had composer Gilles Maurice Leclerc take a crack at it, and he came up with a piece called Glebe North: Leaving Home.

“There were interesting melodic colours [in the map],” Leclerc said, noting that the way the dots stacked up on the lines of the map naturally led to certain harmonies.

He said composing the music made him think of the sacrifice those soldiers made.

“The memories of the soldiers leaving home — it is such a powerful image,” Leclerc said.

The piece debuted this weekend at the Canadian Tulip Festival in Commissioner’s Park. An interactive version of the map will also be on display.

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