When I turned 18, I was pretty stoked to finally be considered AN ADULT and have most of the rights and responsibilities that go along with citizenship. And so the moment there was an election, I registered to vote. Never mind that my ridiculousity and general ineptitude caused me to mark my selections with a check-mark instead of an X, and therefore spoil my ballot. We won't mention that.
Anyway, I was so excited about my legal-adulthood and my ability to participate in our democracy that I promptly did nothing about it ever again. I once thought about going out to vote, but it was raining, so I didn't.
But not this year. This year I'm voting the hell out of the election. I'm going to vote like the wind. I'm going to vote so hard, they'll feel it all the way in Whitehorse.
Because this year, I have an issue; I care about immigration. And this is why:
I am an expat. A migrant, and I guess in many ways kind of an immigrant. My parents are immigrants to the US. My husband emigrated to Canada. With all these migrants around me, I really don't feel good about the way the Harper government is treating our immigrants.
Why do people emigrate to another country? Is it because they have visions of bettering themselves by living on welfare and sucking the country dry of its resources, plotting against Canadians to steal government funds? Clearly not. To argue this is the case is simply preposterous.
People migrate in order to better their lives. And particularly the lives of their children. An immigrant's most fervent wish is to see their children receive an education, get a good job, and contribute to society. An immigrant will sacrifice her own career - drive a cab instead of utilizing her (unrecognized) professional certification - to reach that end. An immigrant will work tirelessly, day and night, at jobs Canadians don't want. And an immigrant will do whatever it takes to see his kids grow up to be successful, contributing members of society. Because the costs he pays to enter this country are too great to do anything but succeed. Immigrants leave all they know behind: their friends, family, language, food, climate,environment, customs, social competency; home. Everything. Few would trade all that just to come to freezing-cold Canada and sit on their asses collecting welfare.
Immigrants, and migrants in general, are often the most enterprising, entrepreneurial people in their social group. They are the ones who are brave enough to wish for something better, and act to see their dreams realized. Immigrants are people who see an opportunity, who are willing to take risks and work hard to achieve their goals. How can people like this be bad for a country?
When Canadians leave the country to persue jobs in the US, it's called Brain Drain. When perspective new Canadians come to Canada to work and contribute to our nation, it's called an immigration problem.
If you care about immigration reform and the future of our nation, please read this. Then go and email your MP. And Harper. And all party leaders. And then GO VOTE THE HELL OUT OF THIS ELECTION.
Why do I care so much about immigration reform this year? My cousin's childcare-giver, Nicole, has been asked to leave this country as part of Harper's immigration "clean up". Nicole is a hard-working, tax-paying, community-supporting, church-going legal immigrant to Canada. And it's not fair.
For more, read this, written by my cousin, Marisa:
"Dear friends and family,
I need your help. In two weeks, my close friend, Nichole Tannis and her 10 year old daughter, Renata, will be forced to leave Canada at the direction of our federal government. Working here legally awaiting refugee status, paying taxes to the Canadian system, our government has decided that Nichole is not a candidate for status and recently revoked her temporary work visa.
Nichole is a legitimate, tax-paying employee of mine, entrusted as a full-time caregiver to my daughters, Olivia (age 6) and Mia (age 3). Needless to say, Nichole and her daughter Renata, are family: she is a sister to me, a mother to my daughters, just as we are family to them.
Two years ago my husband and I went through a divorce. We sold our family home, each starting over in separate residences. For our young daughters, Nichole was just about the only stability they had at that time. She was, as she is now, a rock – providing strength and inspiration to each of us at a time we so desperately needed it. For all of the change swirling around, we could count on Nichole each and every day. Many of you know or have met Nichole and can speak to the fact that she is a bright, reliable and affectionate individual. In the five years I have known her, Nichole has worked hard to focus on her own personal growth and development, while teaching my children to be committed, respectful members of their community. Nichole has provided my kids with lessons on budgeting and recycling, helps each night with homework, and has brought them to the churches and community centres where she volunteers tirelessly each week.
So where do you come in? I need you to become a concerned Canadian citizen. Let’s rally to create a collective voice that can be heard through the noise of this election season. Nichole and Renata’s fate is set – we know that. But there are countless others who deserve the chance to contribute to Canada’s rich cultural tapestry. Nichole’s case has made it clear to me that it’s time for immigration reform. Nichole is everything that is right about Canada: she’s a volunteer who is committed to her community, engaged and involved as a citizen, a taxpayer who has always worked hard and with pride and who has never taken a penny from the system. Does this sound like someone who should be denied the opportunity to be a true Canadian? Or does it sound like an individual who is contributing to Canada’s greatness and who deserves every opportunity to raise her daughter in this diverse country? I think it’s the latter.
If you agree, please send an email to your local MP, as well as to Prime Minister Stephen Harper (email@example.com) and Minister of Immigration and Citizenship, Jason Kenny (firstname.lastname@example.org) . To make it easy, we have included some suggested text below. Together we CAN have a voice and together we CAN be heard. Please pass this email onto anyone you think would like to support this cause. With thanks, Marisa "
Here's the suggested text:
Dear Prime Minister Harper –
Under direction from your government, my friend Nichole Tannis (and her 10 year old daughter, Renata) have been refused their claim for refugee status and have been asked to leave this great country.
Nichole is everything that is right about Canada: a woman who is committed to her community, engaged and involved as a resident, a taxpayer who has always worked hard and with pride and who has never taken a penny from our system.
As concerned Canadian citizen, I ask you, does Nichole sound like an individual who is taking advantage? A drain on our social welfare? Or is she a committed volunteer, a taxpayer contributing to the greatness of our shared communities?As a voting Canadian, I think it’s the latter and I hope you do too, because it is individuals like Nichole who work so hard to make Canada the incredible country that it is.
As I prepare to cast my vote on May 2, I urge you to reconsider our current immigration policies so that amazing Canadians like Nichole and her daughter are given the opportunities they truly deserve to make it in this great country.
PS - Vote the hell out of the election.