'Trump' Cape Breton immigration inquiries draw offer of help from minister

Nova Scotia's minister of immigration says her office has not been asked to help process the thousands of immigration inquiries from Americans generated by a humorous website about Cape Breton.

Immigration Minister Lena Diab says 'Trump' website creator just has to ask

U.S. presidential hopeful Donald Trump is indirectly providing free publicity for Canadian vacation destinations like Cape Breton. (Getty Images/Destination Cape Breton)

Nova Scotia's minister of immigration says her office has not been asked to help process the thousands of immigration inquiries from Americans generated by a humorous website about Cape Breton.

'Cape Breton If Trump Wins' has generated hundreds of thousands of hits since it was posted three weeks ago. Many viewers — up to 4,000 by page creator Rob Calabrese's reckoning — have asked for information about moving to Canada.

Calabrese says the response has been amazing, and overwhelming, but he's been offered no help by either the federal or provincial governments.

Nobody asked

Immigration Minister Lena Diab told CBC Radio's Mainstreet in Cape Breton that her department hasn't been asked to help.

"We're here to help. We're here to answer all calls. We've done that. We're doing that. We will continue to do that," Diab said.

"We haven't heard from him directly at the Nova Scotia office of immigration. We would love to if there's any information they feel there's a gap or that's missing or anything they want to know. We are here to assist everybody in Nova Scotia on these issues."

Diab said she didn't realize how big Calabrese's website had become until last week. Dozens of news outlets and web sites across North America picked up the story.

Calabrese was interviewed by CBC News and CNN's main network. A reporting team came to Cape Breton last week for a story which aired on CNN International's flagship program Amanpour.

The interest has generated traffic not just on Calabrese's Trump website but also on those of Destination Cape Breton, the island's marketing agency, and Tourism Nova Scotia.

No permanent officials

Calabrese has complained that there are no permanent immigration officials in Cape Breton to shoulder some of the burden.

Diab objects to that statement.

"I have come there a number of times, I've sent many of my staff," she said.

"We are working very closely with the Cape Breton task force that includes Cape Breton University, Cape Breton Partnership, the many chambers of commerce across the island.

"It includes NSCC, Université Sainte-Anne. We also work in close partnership with the YMCA there, with Le Conseil de développement économique and Immigration Francophone on the island as well. So we are already working in partnership with all of those that already exist in the communities."

Diab said in contrast to Tourism Nova Scotia, her office has received only about nine inquiries about emigrating to Canada in recent weeks.

With files from Yvonne LeBlanc-Smith and Mainstreet Cape Breton

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