Last week, the Province of Quebec stated that it was preparing to open its door to welcome more Haitian immigrants affected by the recent earthquake despite federal government protocols
90 per cent of the 135,000 members of the Canadian Haitian population currently reside in the province of Quebec. Quebec Minister of Immigration and Cultural Communities Yolande James has said she is prepared to use the “power of selection”, a clause in the federal and provincial immigration agreement, for allowing an implementation of the expanded definition of family to increase the amount of eligible Haitian immigration sponsorships by Canadians. This particular clause is very rarely used.
Canada’s Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney has firmly maintained that the Canadian government will not change the definition of family with regards to whom Canadians can sponsor for citizenship from Haiti. The definition of the Family Class for Immigrants is limited to spouses, parents, grandparents and dependent children and does not include other family members such as aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews.
Kenney’s main argument for the lack of flexibility with this rule is that it would be unfair to others who have experienced massive events of destruction in their home countries whom Canada has provided assistance for, using the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami as a prime example. It is estimated that over 200,000 people were killed or washed away during the tsunami, which was the result of the second largest earthquake ever recorded. The devastation caused by the tsunami was significant, destroying many coastal regions in several countries
However, in the case of the Haitian earthquake, an entire country, its infrastructure, its population and its means of survival may have been irreparably destroyed. The total death toll, numbers of Haitians left homeless or critically injured may never be known. Further, in my view, two wrongs don’t make a right. The Feds should have expanded the Family Class for Tsunami crises. Now they have an opportunity to correct their mistakes but it does not look like they will.
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