September 12, 2008

Pt 1: Immigration, Non-Issue - We are a country of immigrants. Our cities, our towns and our farms are populated with people who have come from all corners of the globe. Most come for the same reason -- they want a better life. And some have been lucky enough to find it.

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Pt 2: China Hiring - It's not surprising that many newcomers to Canada struggle. After all, there's often a new language to learn, new social structures to figure out. You need to find a job, a place to live, a school to send your children too.

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Pt 3: Sandra Laing - Sandra Laing was born in South Africa back in 1955. Her parents were white and middle class. They ran a general store. And they were members of the racist Nationalist Party. So Sandra Laing should have been destined for a comfortable life under the country's apartheid regime. But because of a genetic fluke and some unspoken family history, Sandra Laing was born with tightly-curled dark hair and toffee-coloured skin. The apartheid government classified her as "coloured" ... something her father refused to accept.

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It's Friday, September 12th.

For the second day in a row, Gilles Duceppe has criticized the Conservatives for running a candidate who is a member of the ultra-conservative Catholic organization, Opus Dei ... a group he says has no place in modern-day Quebec.

Currently, Duceppe insists he is not over-reacting ... and that his own criticism of Opus Dei falls clearly under the definition of "reasonable condemnation."

This is The Current.

Immigration, Non-Issue

We are a country of immigrants. Our cities, our towns and our farms are populated with people who have come from all corners of the globe. Most come for the same reason -- they want a better life. And some have been lucky enough to find it.

But a large number of immigrants haven't found what they are looking for. It's a story we've all heard before, but despite the fact that we know how hard it can be for immigrants in Canada, the tale never seems to change.

And despite the launch of a national election, immigration activists are lamenting the fact that the issue still isn't on the political radar. Avvy Go is the Clinical Director of the Metro Toronto Chinese and South East Asian Legal Clinic and she joined Jan Wong in our Toronto studio.

Positions on Immigration

We contacted the Conservatives, the Liberals and the NDP to get their positions on immigration.

The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Diane Finley commented about her party's position. The NDP's Olivia Chow and discussed her party's position as well.

Immigration History

But the thing is, this isn't the first time immigration has come up short as an election issue. Just ask the Toronto Star's Immigration and Diversity reporter, Nicholas Keung.

And none of this surprises Phil Triadafilopoulos. He teaches Political Science at the University of Toronto, Scarborough and researches immigration and citizenship politics. He joined us in our Toronto studio.


 

China Hiring - William XU

It's not surprising that many newcomers to Canada struggle. After all, there's often a new language to learn, new social structures to figure out. You need to find a job, a place to live, a school to send your children too.

So lets say you speak the language, you have more than one professional degree and immigration officials have told you that you have what it takes to make it in Canada. How long do you think it would take for you to get settled? It took William Xu three years. And it wasn't until Magna International hired him to buy auto parts for the company that he could really say he'd made it. Of course to get the job, William Xu -- a Canadian citizen -- had to move back to Shanghai where he now owns a lovely apartment.

Jan Wong has been to that apartment and, according to her, it really is a pretty nice place. She first met William Xu in 2004 when she was doing a story about how hard it was for immigrants living in a Toronto neighbourhood called Thorncliffe, to find work. They have since become friends. We reached him in Shanghai.

Back Home

Now in a country with so many highly-educated but under-employed immigrants, you'd think there might be more people like John Simpson. He's the Director of Personnel and Human Resources at Standen's Limited, a company that makes a point of hiring qualified immigrants in order to stay competitive.
John Simpson was in Calgary.


 

Sandra Laing

Sandra Laing was born in South Africa back in 1955. Her parents were white and middle class. They ran a general store. And they were members of the racist Nationalist Party. So Sandra Laing should have been destined for a comfortable life under the country's apartheid regime. But because of a genetic fluke and some unspoken family history, Sandra Laing was born with tightly-curled dark hair and toffee-coloured skin. The apartheid government classified her as "coloured" ... something her father refused to accept.


Phone a Friend

The Paralympics are underway in Beijing right now. There's a little less glitz than at last month's Olympic games, but no less heart and dedication. One of the heroes of the games is Chantal Petitclerc. She's a wheelchair racer from Montreal and a multiple medal winner at previous games. She won her latest gold earlier this week in the women's 100-meter T54 race.

Jan first met Chantal when she profiled her for the Globe and Mail. She had just been ranked the third favourite person in Quebec, behind Rene Levesque, but ahead of Celine Dion. Here at The Current, guest hosts are sometimes asked to pull out their little black books and call a friend. Jan Wong chose Chantal. She spoke to her from Beijing yesterday and she began by asking Chantal about her latest gold metal finish.

Last Word

In part one of today's program, we looked at why immigration wasn't even on the radar screen during this federal election. We heard brief summaries of the immigration platforms from the N.D.P. and the Conservatives. We were not able to connect with the Liberal immigration critic, Maurizio Bevilacqua, in time for our initial broadcast. We have since heard from him and he left us with some comments.


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