Monday, May 30, 2005

Canadian Government Shoots Canada In The Foot - Same Old Story

This weekend, approximately 100 language travel agents converged on Vancouver from all over the world. These agents make their living helping upwardly mobile students arrange study abroad programs. Each of these foreign students tends to spend over $30,000 per year in Canada. This is nice, clean foreign revenue, that doesn't involve mining, clear-cut logging, or drag-netting that are usually associated with British Columbia exports.

Some of these students take a shine to Canada and eventually apply for permanent residency. This allows our government to cherry-pick skilled workers, without having to educate them. Others bring foreign investment to our province.

Unfortunately, our government insists on protecting us from these rampaging hoards of wealthy, educated, polite students. Approximately half of the agents I spoke to expressed concern about our government's misguided policies.

One person told me about the group of Grade Six students she had brought to Saskatoon from Mexico. One - and only one - of her kids had her visa application rejected by the Canadian embassy in Mexico City. She said the girl "cried her eyes out for a week." Why was this little girl not permitted to visit Saskatoon for a couple of weeks? Were the immigration officials concerned that she wold rob a bank? Perhaps this 12-year-old Mexican schoolgirl would work illegally and take a job away from a hard-working Canadian?

Last year, approximately 90 Chinese students applied for a short-term summer program at our school. The Canadian embassy took months to process their visas. Eventually, they refused half of the applications because the students "did not have time to complete their programs". For some reason, the other students were allowed to come to Canada. The students who were lucky enough to come to Vancouver enjoyed their visit, spent quite a lot of money here, and returned to China happily.

Despite the visa rejections in 2004, the group organizers pressed ahead and put together a group of 136 students and teachers for this summer. Learning from last year's unfortunate and apparently irrational events, they applied for the visas much earlier. Today, our wonderful embassy in Beijing refused the group. Although I don't see anything that Canada can gain from this decision, I can clearly see the downside.

Firstly, our immigration officials have bluntly refused to accept approximately $200,000 of employment for Canadian citizens. I calculate that as about five good jobs for one year. More importantly, though, they have just kicked 136 prospective future overseas investors and skilled workers in their proverbial faces.

Will any of those 136 well educated people ever visit Canada again for any reason? Probably not.


TODAY'S HEADLINES

Logan climbers rescued
Erik Bjarnason will have all of his fingers amputated after suffering severe frostbite in a vicious storm that trapped him and two other North Shore climbers atop Mount Logan in the Yukon.

Still no sign of tourist missing on Grouse
GROUSE MOUNTAIN - An air of disappointment and frustration hung over Grouse Mountain Sunday evening as an exhaustive three-day search for missing 36-year-old David Koch began winding down with still no clue to his whereabouts.