Open Letter: Gaza Family Reunification Measures

Over the past two months, I have become aware of more than two-hundred Palestinian Canadians with either citizenship or permanent resident status across the country that have applied to sponsor their family members in Gaza to come to Canada through the family reunification program. These families have begun the application process to bring nearly 2,500 loved ones from Gaza in total. Of these family members stuck in Gaza, 78 per cent are still waiting to receive the code from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) that is required to proceed to the next phase and complete their application.

Your department has stated that 986 people have received a code and used it to submit a temporary resident visa (TRV) application which has been accepted into processing. It is apparent that the code issuing system works in lockstep with the 1,000-person cap to severely restrict the inflow of applications. It should be abundantly clear that you must lift the cap.

It has been almost seventy days since the program opened for applications on January 9. These families are desperate to know when, or if, loved ones will be allowed to come to Canada. For many, the news is consuming their life as they anxiously await to hear from IRCC officials regarding their application. Yet they are met with radio silence from IRCC. The process is frankly excruciating to for family members. The federal NDP caucus has already condemned this non-communicative approach, called on you to lift the arbitrary cap, and change the discriminatory lens through which this policy approaches Palestinians.

 

 

Open Letter: Accelerating Funding for Public Transit in Metro Vancouver

Metro Vancouver are working cooperatively to expand public transit across Metro Vancouver and improve infrastructure, aiming to meet the ridership, emissions reduction and service expansion goals laid out in Translink’s Access for Everyone plan. The BC provincial government is partnering to provide post-pandemic funding, which will also to aid in meeting BC’s target of reducing light-vehicle kilometres-travelled by 25% by 2030.

For these initiatives to succeed, your partnership and support through long-term, stable, and adequate funding is required.

Surely, in the midst of an affordability crisis, it is sensible to invest in the robust improvement and expansion of public transportation. It will support population growth. It will support people who need reliable, affordable transportation so that they can continue to work, live, go to school, and play in their neighbourhoods without being forced into difficult circumstances due to lack of transportation access. It will accelerate the greenhouse gas emissions reductions we so desperately need in climate emergency.

OPEN LETTER: Concerns with the Application Process for the Special Immigration Measure for Gaza

The special immigration measure that our caucus called for on December 4, 2023, opened on January 9. It is riddled with problems. At the outset, nobody knew when the online portal would open. The arbitrary quota for applications only heightened anxiety as people felt that they had to compete with others for limited spots.

Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has not been proactive or clear in communicating with applicants and has been largely incapable of answering any questions about their files. Many people who completed the first stage of the application are still waiting to receive a code that will allow them to proceed and IRCC cannot explain why some people who applied on January 9 received a code quickly and others still have not. Others have been rejected without any explanation from IRCC or for reasons that were later contradicted. People have been rejected and then subsequently approved with the exact same application.

To highlight the absurdity of the situation, one family was told only two weeks after their application was rejected that the reason was due to a missing ‘notary seal or stamp’ even though no stamp is required by law in British Columbia. Notwithstanding, the application was in fact stamped. The applicant did resubmit with the stamp on a gold seal so that it’s more visible to the scan, but IRCC then approved the original application anyway.

 

Van Sun: B.C. MPs echo mayors, solicitor general on need for port police force

Van Sun: B.C. MPs echo mayors, solicitor general on need for port police force

East Vancouver MP Jenny Kwan told Postmedia that she thinks port police should be restored on the waterfront.

Kwan, who has a container terminal in her riding, said when the force was disbanded in 1997, she was an MLA and very critical of the decision.

“The port police should never have been disbanded. There are definitely ongoing implications,” Kwan said. “The port is the gateway for illegal activities in terms of people shipping illegal goods in and out. … that’s definitely an ongoing concern.”

“We absolutely support minister Farnworth and the municipalities’ call for the federal government to step back up and show leadership in addressing this concern and to fund the port police.”


Hill Times: Why Canada must protect the existing affordable housing stock

Hill Times: Why Canada must protect the existing affordable housing stock

OPINION | BY NDP MP JENNY KWAN | January 31, 2024
 
Affordable housing across Canada is being lost at a seriously alarming rate; not to alien abduction, as the leader of the official opposition sarcastically wondered, but to housing profiteers who care most about their bottom line. These investor-landlords are looking to maximize their profits by buying older rental apartments and often displacing long-time tenants by renovicting or demo-evicting them to jack up rents.

Housing expert Steve Pomeroy has said that Canada lost more than 550,000 units of affordable housing between 2011 and 2021, which represents a loss of 11 units for each new affordable housing unit built. In cities like Vancouver and Toronto, the rate is even more drastic. Worse yet, Winnipeg and Hamilton, Ont., are losing 29 units of affordable housing for each new one. When Stephen Harper’s Conservatives were in power (with Pierre Poilievre at the table), 800,000 affordable homes were lost as corporate landlords bought in bulk while renovicting or demo-evicting low-income tenants, and the Affordable Housing Initiative was axed. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals have lost another 276,000 affordable homes to developers.

CBC: Teenage surfing star Erin Brooks granted Canadian citizenship, now sets sights on Olympics

CBC: Teenage surfing star Erin Brooks granted Canadian citizenship, now sets sights on Olympics

Brooks's citizenship bid was initially turned down. But Immigration Minister Marc Miller had a change of heart after a December ruling by Ontario's Superior Court of Justice that it is unconstitutional for Canada to deny automatic citizenship to the children of foreign-born Canadians who grew up abroad.

The Brooks family then refiled its application under a hardship status, based on the recommendation of the Immigration Department, to accelerate the process.

"I love Canada. I have never been prouder to wear the Maple Leaf," Erin Brooks said in a statement released by the family. "To Minister Marc Miller and MP Jenny Kwan, you have changed my life. I believe that I will do something truly special for my country thanks to your gift of citizenship."

Kwan, the NDP's immigration critic, helped advocate for Brooks.


Surfer: Teenage Surfer Erin Brooks Granted Canadian Citizenship for Paris 2024 Olympics Bid

Surfer: Teenage Surfer Erin Brooks Granted Canadian Citizenship for Paris 2024 Olympics Bid

“Lost Canadian Erin Brooks has been granted her Canadian citizenship after reconsideration by the Minister of Immigration. Erin Brooks, a 16-year old surfing prodigy and has worked hard for her whole life for the chance to compete for Canada at the Olympics.

“When Erin was born, she’d the right to Canadian citizenship. Conservative C-37 revoked that right in 2009. As a result of this unjust law, Erin was denied this life-changing opportunity to represent Canada in the 2024 Olympics.”


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