Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Why I am Voting for Kellie Leitch

Conservative Party of Canada leadership race ballot
My Conservative Party of Canada leadership race ballot with Kellie Leitch as my only choice.

When I think about why I am voting for Kellie Leitch, many things come to mind: her toughness, courage, certitude, intelligence, stamina, and many other character strengths; a platform that consists of bold, common-sense policy proposals that are the much needed solutions to many of Canada's problems; her impressive performances at each leadership debate; her effective use of social media to make her platform and campaign better known and understood; her outreach to Canadians across the country; and the overall successful execution of a well thought-out and planned campaign.

Above all else, what stands out about Kellie Leitch is her patriotism: a common thread that runs through her entire campaign. It is expressed in a most identifiable way through her unwavering determination to protect and promote our Canadian identity with her Screening For Canadian Values policy proposal, which has resonated very well with me right from the start.

No other candidate can compare to Kellie's character strengths; nor, have any been able to match her policy proposals!

I vividly recall from my initial discovery of the candidates' platforms that none of them had impressed me except for Kellie Leitch's. Her platform was detailed and available on line from day one of her campaign launch, and it was presented in a very clear, complete, and forthcoming manner. How refreshing is that to see in a candidate?

Leitch's campaign has excited and given new hope to millions of Canadians; two-thirds of which share and support Kellie's vision for the future of Canada.

Part of that excitement stems from another impressive aspect about Kellie Leitch: she has been the only candidate unafraid to challenge the status quo and the political correctness that the mainstream media and elites continue to impose upon Canadians.

My own excitement and enthusiasm for Kellie's campaign has been funnelled through a dedicated blogging and social media effort. Today's blog post is the sixth in a series of blog posts that I have written since January of this year, in support of Kellie's candidacy for the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.

I firmly believe that it is important to not only vote, but to get involved in the political process, if you are really serious about making a difference and affecting a long lasting, positive change in society.

The remainder of this post expands upon getting involved in the political process; elaborates on Kellie's tough immigration stance including her important message of February 2; details Kellie's response to the illegal border crossings at Emerson, Manitoba; includes a brief note on Kellie's strength of character; and concludes with my encouragement to all those who remain undecided about choosing Kellie as their first pick on the ballot.

Getting Involved in the Political Process

When one thinks of a political campaign it doesn't necessarily conjure up a sense of excitement, enthusiasm and intrigue. Given the growing distrust and disappointment of Canadians with our current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada, it is certainly understandable why many remain skeptical and frustrated about politics.

I share those frustrations, but rather than give into them, I decided many months ago to turn those frustrations into something positive, by getting involved and actively seeking to help Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) leadership candidate, Kellie Leitch.

My decision to do so was in large part the result of the Trump-effect in Canada, taking to heart what I wrote about in my post-election blog post, Donald Trump's Election: A Call to Christians to Get Back Into The Political Arena

In that post I included a dedicated section on Christian Evangelist Franklin Graham who went from coast to coast, during his Decision America Tour, and spoke at each state's capital getting the message out to the American people to do three fundamental things: pray, vote, and engage in the political process.

In addition, I also wrote about Saint Pope John Paul II's post-synodal apostolic exhortation, Christifideles Laici (Christ's Faithful People) on the vocation and mission of the lay faithful in the Church and in the world. It is a document that is known for St. Pope John Paul II's directive, "It is not permissible for anyone to remain idle," which referred to the need of the laity to get actively involved in social, economic, political, and cultural life.

Among the many things that I learned from President Trump during the American election experience is that social media is an effective way to bypass the nonsense of fake news and skewed statistics from mainstream media—or to quote Pamela Geller, the "enemedia"—to obtain and share the truth.

Much in the same way that President Trump broke with precedent and presented a campaign platform with bold policy proposals that addressed the needs and concerns of the American people, so too has Kellie Leitch done likewise with the current CPC leadership race. If there a common ground between both individuals that serves to potentially bring both countries together in a united effort, it is their respective tough stances on immigration and protecting borders.

Kellie Leitch is Canada's compliment to President Trump, so necessary not only for a united, stronger North America, but even more so for Canada as "the" candidate who will undo the neglectful, irresponsible, and reckless policies of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Leitch's Tough Immigration Stance

What initially attracted me to Leitch's campaign was her tough stance on immigration; so urgently needed to address our growing demographic problems.

I was alerted to that tough stance, ironically through mainstream media television, where I saw Kellie holding up Vic Satzewich's book, Points of Entry: How Canada's Immigration Officers Decide Who Gets In. It was soon thereafter that I began to look into who Kellie Leitch was and discovered her platform at her web site,

Image of Kellie Leitch holding up Points of Entry in Saskatoon
Kellie Leitch during the Conservative Party of Canada leadership debate in Saskatoon on November 9, 2016.
Photo: National Post/John Ivison

It wasn't long before I homed in on Kellie's Screening For Canadian Values policy proposal, which not only promotes our Canadian identity and shared historic values, but seeks to protect it by ensuring that those who seek to come to Canada—be they immigrants, visitors, or refugees—receive a face-to-face interview by a trained immigration officer.

Interviews are the only way that immigration officers can accurately and thoroughly assess credibility and risk, and in the process identify those who are genuine applicants from those who are not.

Sadly, our immigration officers conduct very few interviews which is a symptom of an even bigger problem: the lack of nation building in Canada's immigration system. Kellie has identified this from day one of her campaign launch in mid-October 2016:

...I will continue to argue that Canadians want to protect our nation, our way of life – our Canadian values, our Canadian identity, a Canadian identity that so many people have fought and died for. 
Now the question turns to: Why should we screen? And, what are we screening for? The discussion of immigration and screening seems to focus heavily on questions of security and keeping out undesirables. 
When it doesn’t focus on these items it tends to focus on economic matters. 
But there is another aspect of the immigration system that is being over-looked which, applies what I have been talking about with thousands of Canadians over the last 8 months. 
That is the concept of immigration as an act of nation-building. A process that strengthens our country, the fabric of who we are, and what we will be in the future. 
This is reflected in the objectives of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act which states that the purpose of the act is to enrich the social and cultural fabric of our nation. 
I believe the significant decline of face to face interviews detracts from the concept of nation-building. (4)
Kellie's campaign launch speech is available in both a pdf document and on YouTube.

Kellie has consistently communicated the importance of protecting and promoting our Canadian identity based on shared historic values throughout her campaign. Most noteworthy was her detailed email of February 2, An Important Message From Kellie Leitch. In that email Kellie talked about many aspects of her tough stance on immigration that is worth mentioning.

An Important Message From Kellie Leitch

Vic Satzewich's book and the Standing Senate Committee's report
Vic Satewich's book and the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence report

I recall when seeing Kellie's February 2, email in my inbox folder that the title had intrigued me somewhat: it was for good reason. Kellie presented her plan to screen all immigrants, refugees, and visitors to Canada for Canadian values with face-to-face interviews with a trained immigration officer.

It is an impressive email in which Kellie detailed her plan that included taking the screening process to the next level by checking the social media posts of all applicants. She also hit back at the criticisms of her tough immigration stance. Noteworthy was the substantiation of her immigration concerns and screening proposal by citing from Satzewich's book and the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence's report, Vigilance, Accountability and Security at Canada's Borders.

One of the more salient points that Kellie made was with respect to the important decisions that we as Canadians will have to make regarding our future; part of which includes not taking our free and prosperous society for granted. To ensure that we don't will require the conscious effort of Canadians to build and protect our society, and under no circumstances should we relax and fall under the assumption that as Kellie put it, "...[A] free, prosperous, and tolerant Canada will take care of itself."

The relevance of that most salient point can be best understood when it comes to decisions made about immigration. Many people want to come and live in Canada, but as Kellie so aptly pointed out, "...[I]s our immigration system doing the best it can?" The answer to that question is: no! 

As to the details of why that is, Kellie cited from Satzewich's book and the aforementioned senate report which made abundantly clear that thorough screening is not taking place at Canada's immigration offices, which points to an even bigger problem: the lack of nation building within Canada's immigration system. Here is what Kellie stated:
Immigration officers meet only a handful of the people whose applications they process. The result is the loss of "opportunities to assess credibility and risk" (page 216). 
Testimony before the Senate Standing Committee on National Security and Defence tells us that "only between nine and fifteen percent of immigrants receive an interview with a visa officer before they come to Canada" (page 14). 
That means that, in a year like last year, when more than 300,000 immigrants were admitted to Canada, only about 30,000 people were interviewed by a trained immigration official.
The reason for the lack of interviews is the focus on achieving predetermined quotas. The immigration bureaucracy, led by immigration ministers of different stripes, has put greater importance on the number of people who are admitted to Canada each year, rather than ensuring that those who are admitted will integrate well into our communities.
What has further impressed me about Kellie's tough immigration stance was the "second part of her plan," which would require all immigrants, refugees, and visitors to Canada, to not only understand, but agree with our Canadian values: hard work, generosity, freedom, tolerance, equality of individuals, and equality of opportunity.

Taking the screening process one step further to ensure that application dossiers are complete, Kellie's proposal insists upon each immigration officer's review of each applicant's social media posts, and other relevant information to, as Kellie put it, "...[E]nsure that we have a complete picture of those who are applying to come to Canada."

Kellie's toughness was on further display in this email when she defended her proposal against all criticism. Leitch made it crystal clear that in no way is her policy "racist," but applies equally to everyone regardless of where they were born. She went on to elaborate, "...As a nation we are as interested in keeping out white supremacists as we are in keeping out those who believe women are property."

In defence of those who claim such an approach is costly, Leitch made it clear that the costs of thorough interviews will be borne by the applicants, except those who are refugees which the government will incur. 

As for those who consider these screening procedures evasive, Leitch fired back by stating that the procedures are no more evasive or offensive than those used in other government departments. Moreover Leitch stressed that these are some of the most important decisions we will be making as a nation, that "...[W]e must make sure we make them with as much information as possible."

Some have argued that Leitch's proposal will easily result in application refusals. While this is true, it also means that genuine applicants will be accepted: those who are who they claim to be; those who meet the eligibility criteria for the visa; and those who are not inadmissible to Canada for reasons of public safety, security, or health conditions.

With regard to Leitch's response that immigration will be slowed down, this is only a natural result of a thorough screening process. Those who are fixated on quotas (visa issuance approvals) fail to understand what Kellie made abundantly clear, "...[O]ur immigration system is too important to get hung up numbers and quotas. That is the error of past governments."

Kellie is adamant about protecting our Canadian identity based on our shared historic values. Her Screening For Canadian Values policy proposal has been based on her travels across the country listening to the needs and concerns of Canadians. The result of which has seen two-thirds of Canadians share and support Kellie's vision for the future of Canada. As Kellie noted in the beginning of her email, "Everywhere I go, I hear the same message: Canadians are proud of their country. They are proud of our unified identity and they are proud of shared historic values."

No other candidate will defend Canadian identity and shared historic values as Kellie will. As I noted from the beginning of this blog post, Kellie has been clear and forthcoming about her detailed policy proposal from day one of her campaign launch.

This is in stark contrast to the other candidates, some of whom had a vague or ambiguous immigration policy to begin with, and over the course of the campaign developed what amounted to be nothing more than poorly worded bombast: a desperate attempt to appear to address the concerns of Canadians.

Others have had little or nothing to say about Canada's growing demographic problems, which speaks volumes about their respective candidacies: status-quo candidates who seek to please their betters, of which Maxime Bernier is at the top of that list!

Kellie's Position on Illegal Border Crossings

Kellie Leitch talking with local officials about the illegal border crossings in Emerson, Manitoba
Kellie Leitch meeting with local officials in Emerson, Manitoba on April 21, 2017. Photo: Facebook/Kellie Leitch

They say that "actions speak louder than words!" Well, Kellie has certainly demonstrated this in a most admirable way with her fairly recent visit to Emerson, Manitoba; a location that has become a hub for border crossers and "asylum shoppers." Kellie spent a few days in Manitoba speaking with residents and local officials, which can be viewed at her Facebook page, beginning with her release of April 21: her arrival in Emerson. Kellie also visited residents in Altona and Morris.

Emerson is just one of a handful of preferred border crossing locations by illegals; there are others in Saskatchewan and Quebec as well. The border crossers are primarily individual men in their prime, who have been living in the United States for quite some time or recently arrived to make the trip to Emerson and other locations.

If you are somewhat new to this or have not seen much footage of it, here is a video report, FAKE NEWS: Border Crisis Not Trump’s Fault, by Faith Goldy of The Rebel. It exposes Canada's border crossing crisis that is sure to increase as the warmer weather approaches.

Make no mistake about it, Kellie is adamantly opposed to these illegal border crossings and firmly believes that a plan is needed to deal with it.

During the CPC Edmonton debate, candidates were asked how they would deal with the illegal border crossings from the United States. Here is how Kellie responded:
These people have entered our country illegally. They should be detained, questioned, and sent back to the United States immediately. Let me be very clear, I have been talking about this serious issue of immigration since the beginning of the campaign. Other candidates on this stage are now twisting themselves into pretzels to talk about it as well. I will implement what I talk about whether that's detaining these individuals now or whether it be interviewing every immigrant, refugee, and visitor to Canada, I will make sure that we protect our Canadian values. Let's be very clear this is important to our nation, this is a serious issue that individuals and democracies around the globe are talking about, but we have a government with their head in the sand and many candidates as well. Thank you.

Kellie's certitude and unapologetic delivery of this message is worth watching on YouTube. It is a display of leadership qualities in action, what one hopes for in a candidate: a real, sincere desire to protect our Canadian borders!

Kellie's visit to Manitoba further highlights how she has successfully distinguished herself from the other candidates, none of whom went to Manitoba; which speaks volumes about their concerns regarding Canada's open borders. 

Sadly, not even our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has gone to Mantioba or the other border crossing hubs which, in and of itself, is an indictment on Trudeau's "leadership."

Kellie's Strength of Character

Kellie Leitch's campaign has attracted me in large part due to Kellie's strength of character, which has come shining through in the way that she has handled a multitude of challenges and personal attacks.

It takes fortitude, certitude, and courage to embark on a campaign as Kellie has, knowing full well it would be met with sharp criticism and a planned effort by her opponents, the mainstream media, and the elites to shut her down. Those efforts have been primarily channeled through the mainstream media, to which I have dedicated a separate blog post, The Trump-effect in Canada and the Enemedia's Attempt to Stop Kellie Leitch.

Kellie has done an exceptional job of ignoring the hate and focussed on delivering the message that most Canadians have been desperate to hear. One need not look further than to the onslaught of fake news and skewed poll statistics that have been part of an ongoing effort to derail her campaign and stop it altogether. Such efforts have been a complete and total failure; they have in no way negatively impacted Kellie or her campaign. 

The failure of poll after poll after poll to create a narrative that suited Kellie's opponents and enemies, has been in large part due to the fact that Kellie's support has never been a function of polls, but based on her common-sense policy proposals that 74% of Canadians share and support. This is fundamental to understanding Kellie's campaign to which I dedicated another separate blog post, Kellie Leitch's Support is Not a Function of Polls But Based on Common-Sense Policy Proposals

To run for the leadership of the CPC also requires intelligence, toughness, stamina, and a tireless work ethic which Kellie has displayed in a variety of ways: her continued travels across the country; her well prepared and impressive debate performances; the consistent and effective use of social media, especially her Facebook releases and YouTube videos, and numerous email updates.

This has served Kellie well in her efforts to not only refute so much of the nonsense from her opponents and enemies, but to better inform supporters of her policies, latest efforts, and campaign developments; all of which has contributed to the execution of a well thought-out and planned campaign.

It is Kellie's strength of character that has played a big role in the successful effort to distinguish herself and her campaign from the other candidates.

My Encouragement to all Those Who Remain Undecided

With so many candidates in this leadership race, it can be quite the challenge to determine who your first choice will be. This especially holds true if you haven't had the time to navigate each candidate's web site, follow their social media posts, and compare their respective platforms.

I hope that today's post has helped undecided members to consider Kellie Leitch as their first choice, and perhaps their only choice!

Consider the fact that we are at the crossroads of either losing our country to leftists and foreign interests—who have developed a partnership with the Liberal Party of Canada—or taking our country back through the leadership of Kellie Leitch.

Make no mistake about it, Kellie Leitch is a patriot whose many common-sense policy proposals are the answer to Canada's future. Kellie is adamant about protecting and promoting Canadian identity and she is the only candidate with a policy proposal that is clear about how she will go about doing this.

To my fellow undecided members of the Conservative Party of Canada, I ask you to join me in making Kellie Leitch the new leader of the Conservative Party and the next Prime Minister of Canada.

God Bless Canada


Sunday, April 30, 2017

Points of Entry: How Canada's Immigration Officers Decide Who Gets In

An image of Vic Satzewich's book, Points of Entry
Vic Satzewich's book, Points of Entry
Today's blog post is about a book of the same title, written by Vic Satzewich, professor of sociology at McMaster University, and author of numerous articles and books.

Although immigration is not one of the most fascinating topics to read about, it is increasingly becoming an important one to understand given the fact that immigration (visa) officers are not thoroughly vetting all immigrants, visitors, and refugees, which is a symptom of an even bigger problem: the lack of nation building within Canada's immigration system.

Satzewich details why this is and in the process provides an immense amount of information on the intricacies of Canada's immigration system, making this book one of "the" sources on how Canada's immigration officers decide who gets in and the influential factors that impact their decisions.

Reading this book was my first foray into the inner-workings of Canada's immigration offices; a shared journey with the author who had admitted in the Introduction, that prior to beginning the research for this book he had, at best, a "sketchy understanding" of the decision-making process for visa issuance. 

Points of Entry breaks open what was once a subject matter clouded in secrecy. Satzewich accomplished this through his determination, diligence, and a drive that, from July 2010 to January 2012, saw him visit eleven Canadian visa offices abroad: one in each of Europe, the Middle East, the Carribbean, the United States, and South America; two in Africa; and four in Asia. His time in each office varied according to size of the office and the respective manager's schedule. In most cases, his observations lasted for approximately two to four days. In total he spent 220 hours at various offices, interviewed 128 people involved in immigration, and had the opportunity to observe forty-two face-to-face interviews that visa officers conducted with various types of applicants.

I consider this book to be a very timely publication given the fact that Canada has one of the most open immigration policies in the world, the dangers of which could—and I would argue, already have—negatively impact Canada's identity, heritage, and culture. One could easily point to: the increased threats of terrorism; violence perpetrated against Canadians; Motion 103 (M103) and all other threats to the freedom of speech including current and future legislation; fraud in its most simplest and sophisticated forms; "jumpers" (those who after arriving in Canada with a visitor visa, make a claim for refugee status); asylum shoppers; economic migrants and so-called "refugees"; the exploitation of our failed immigration policies and procedures, and our open borders by organized crime; and the entry into Canada by those who have no intention of assimilating into Canadian society, but instead wish to live according to their own culture and customs with Canadian standards of living.

In addition to the Introduction, Conclusion, Appendixa detailed Notes and extensive References section, and an Index, Points of Entry's 291 pages are organized into nine chapters: Stated and Hidden Agendas, Delegated Discretion, Immigration Policy, Visa Offices and Officers, Approval and Refusal Rates, Spousal and Partnership Sponsorships, Federal Skilled Workers, Visitor Visas, and The Interview.

Amongst all the challenges that Canada's immigration system is faced with, what I found most disturbing was the lack of contact between immigration offices and applicants, and the fact that visa officers conduct very few face-to-face interviews with applicants.

This became a reality in large part due to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (2002), budgetary constraints, the use of outsourced private sector Visa Application Centers (VACs), and the "guidance" of various ministers from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), that all together imposed unreasonable quotas and time pressures upon immigration officers. The result of which has compromised the effectiveness of the screening process, and substantially reduced visa officers' role as "gatekeepers" of the nation.

Add to this the CIC's modernization agenda (driven by a need to "do more with less") in which many features of the application process were designed to minimize interaction with applicants.

These developments over the past few years have significantly diminished, and for some visa officers altogether removed, the sense of nation building.

The Importance and Necessity of Face-to-Face Interviews

In the Introduction, Satzewich alerts the reader to the necessity of face-to-face interviews by including a visa officer's interview of a Guatemalan woman, Maria, who together with her Guatemalan husband (not present at the interview, but living in Canada as a permanent resident), applied for a spousal sponsorship.

The case not only exemplified the importance of face-to-face interviews in the screening process, but set the tone for the remainder of the book; that is, there is cause for concern that visa applicants are not thoroughly screened at Canada's immigration offices.

Immediately into Maria's case, Satzewich pointed out that the visa officer, prior to the interview, had already reviewed the file and only requested an interview because the couple's story "did not add up." Sadly, this has become standard protocol at immigration offices, which has reduced the screening process to a paper-based exercise: the visa officer reviews a file for a few minutes and only requests an interview if during the triaged-analysis, a "flag" is raised.

The shortcomings of this approach is that visa officers are deprived of going through due process to assess credibility and risk, much of which can only be accurately identified and understood through face-to-face interviews.

This only begs the question, "Why are visa officers bypassing the proper protocol in such an important job, one in which visa officers are in essence, the "gatekeepers" of Canada's borders?" It is a valid question that Satzewich answers and elaborates on:
The bureaucratic environment in which officers work also imposes its own set of pressures. All workplaces have expectations regarding staff productivity, and visa offices are no different in this respect. They and their offices must meet certain processing targets and client service expectations, and those too help mould officer decisions to dig more deeply into certain files. In the context of scarce resources, time constraints, and a heavily back-logged system, offices and officers must triage applications, deciding which ones warrant further probing and which ones can simply be approved...They also rely on locally engaged staff members who are familiar with local conditions, customs, and contexts to help them address issues of credibility and risk. (17) 

Targets (visa issuance quotas) and the time pressures created by them, originate from Ottawa and the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, who announces the targets the year before in Parliament.

If a visa officer fails to meet his/her target, it reflects negatively upon the entire respective immigration office, including the immigration program manager. Citizenship and Immigration euphemistically refer to unreviewed files as "inventory," which as Satzewich points out is code word for "backlog." (2) If no other immigration office fills the gap of another office's failure to meet its target, then that failure works its way up to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, who will be held accountable by the Opposition. 

Satzewich noted that in 2011, the Auditor General of Canada had the number of processed permanent or temporary visas at 1.36 million at Canadian overseas visa offices in 2010 alone. (6) Satzewich also noted that in 2010, there was a backlog of approximately 1 million applications awaiting to be processed. (121)

As for the interview with Maria, it ended after one hour at which time the visa officer (Brenda) informed Maria that she was not satisfied that the relationship was genuine, and suspected that the purpose of Maria's application was to obtain permanent residency status.

Brenda determined this through detailed questioning, that probed deeper into Maria's relationship, putting Maria to task to explain certain things that she was unable to do. Throughout Brenda also assessed Maria's facial expression and body language, demeanour, responses to questions, and overall behaviour, which in most, if not all, cases is telling about whether an applicant is genuine or not. This is precisely what visa officers must do on a daily basis: separate genuine from non-genuine applicants.

The fraudulent nature of spousal sponsorship applications is something that Satzewich elaborated on in chapter six, Spousal and Partner Sponsorships, which apparently is so "plentiful," that it impacts the wider circle of applicants in "particular application streams." At the subheading, Client Behaviours: Fraud, Satzewich goes on to explain the fraud:
In several visa offices, and without any prompting from me, nearly every officer whom I interviewed immediately mentioned that "we have a lot of fraud here." Some was purely individual in nature: applicants may lie about their marital status, the existence of dependent children, or the biological parentage of children, or they may simply embellish certain aspects of their biography. Other types of fraud are organized and systemic, and they take various forms. Some arise from immigration lawyers and consultants who counsel their clients to invent stories about their relationship to satisfy the expectations of a visa officer. As one officer suggested, "In some cases, people have sold everything they own only to pay for a crooked agent, who cheats them out of their money by promising them something he cannot provide. People here often get cheated by agents." (147)
Although Satzewich did not explicitly include the outcome of the visa officer's conclusion, he did ask the rhetorical question, "In the end, what decision do you think Brenda made?"(6) The answer is rather obvious: no visa was issued!

What Satzewich did include was how visa officers make use of their discretion to determine whether to approve or reject an application. Discretion plays an important role in the screening process. Although laws and procedures do provide guidelines and specifics on how to assess each applicant, they by no means cover every scenario that immigration officers are confronted with. As such, immigration officers must utilize their knowledge, experience, and judgement when employing their discretion to properly assess each applicant.

To further elaborate, part of the bureaucratic environment in which officers and staff must work includes certain guidelines: the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, which spells out the general principles of Canadian immigration policy; the Immigration Regulations, which specifies the criteria to be used in assessing applications; and detailed processing manuals that explain how they should conduct and document investigations. In spite of all this as Satzewich points out, "...[T]he decision to issue or refuse a visa is ultimately a matter of discretion. An officer must be "satisfied" that applicants are who they claim to be, that they meet the eligibility criteria for the visa, and that they are not inadmissible to Canada for reasons of public safety, security, or health conditions. (6)

Although the Guatemalan case did demonstrate that visa officers are able to identify problematic cases, it only begs the question, "How many have they missed?" A thorough screening of an applicant can only occur through interviews, where quota and time pressures are removed from the process and visa officers can properly assess an applicant's file. The fact that this is not the norm sets off alarm bells that the screening process at Canada's immigration offices are not driven by nation building.

The Negative Consequences of Quotas and Time Pressures

At chapter five, Approval and Refusal Rates, Satzewich identified one of the many consequences from the lack of interviews: immigration officers tend develop negative attitudes about the application pool as a direct result of conducting interviews only for "problematic cases." Applications that "qualify" as problematic are those cases where there is a concern about credibility or the risk of making a wrong decision is high.

In that same chapter Satzewich noted, in a conversation with program manager, how time pressures had negatively impacted application processing since the introduction of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Here is the quote from the program manager:
There are so many things we miss. We only interview if we are leaning towards a refusal. We don't interview good applicants. This can make an officer sour. We don't get the sense of nation building that we use to have. It cuts into job satisfaction. There is no way of talking to clients, we don't counsel them any more. In face-to-face circumstances, we are only dealing with likely refusals. This can lead to the development of a negative mindset. (135)
Further to this Satzewich highlighted how target-driven time pressures work in favour the client (applicants). He went on to note how several officers informed him that if there weren't such high demands placed upon officers, the refusal rate would be much higher. One officer stated, "...If I had enough time, I would at least triple my refusal rate." (136) Another Canada-based officer was quoted as saying:
In some cases, you are 'feeding the target beast.' The big buzzword is 'risk management.' You just can't take the time to verify every document. Sometimes you have to overlook things to get the program numbers. That is why quality assurance exercises are very important. Risk management means closing your eyes. (136)
In chapter eight, Visitor Visas, under the subheading, Time Pressures, Satzewich further revealed how quotas for visa issuance have forced immigration officers to make swift decisions about each application. He went on to note that once visa officers opened a file, the expectation is that they approve or refuse an application within a few minutes. 

Satzewich cited a few examples. In one of Canada's Asian offices, an immigration officer, who dealt exclusively with visitor visas, revealed to Satzewich that she was expected to make seventy-five decisions per day. (196) This translates into a few minutes per file, not including the time needed to write notes in the database. (196) Another officer from that same Asian office was quoted as follows, "I spend about five to seven minutes per file...this office is ridiculous." (196) Satzewich also noted similar experiences from other visa officers as well. 

Most noteworthy was Satzewich's concluding statement about the Asian office experience, that in my view perfectly sums it all up, "As elsewhere in the system, time and productivity pressures provided the overarching context for decision making. A Canada-based officer remarked, "There's so much pressure. They want the numbers. They don't want waiting times...It's always about the numbers." (196)

The imposed quotas and time pressures are not conducive to nation building!

The Problem With Visa Application Centers

Another reason why contact between immigration offices and applicants has been reduced substantially is due to Citizenship and Immigration Canada's (CIC) outsourcing part of the application process to VFS Global; an international corporation that processes temporary visa applications including study and work permits, as well as travel documents for permanent residents of Canada. This is not done at CIC's offices, but at Visa Application Centers (VACs); private sector offices, most of which are in the same city as the visa office, but some are in other cities or regions.

Screen shot of VFS Global web site page for Poland
VFS Global web site for applications in Poland. Image: VFS Global/Apply for Visa to Canada in Poland

Satzewich goes on to point out that the use of VACs is a cost-saving measure that is intended to alleviate much of the expense of interacting with applicants. The rationale is that VACs eliminate routine and time consuming aspects of receiving a properly completed application, allowing for visa offices to focus on assessing credibility and risk.

What the use of VACs spotlights is the failure of CIC to recognize the importance of contact between its visa offices and applicants.

The fact that CIC uses a third-party, private sector company does not bode well with me at all. Although Satzewich states that VACs, "...[P]lay no role in the decision-making process and are expressly forbidden to provide any visa related advice to applicants," (193) I am not convinced that the integrity of Canada's immigration system won't be compromised, if it hasn't been already! In my view CIC should keep all processing in-house irrespective of the costs and time to properly screen all those who seek to come to Canada.

The Importance of Contact Between Visa Offices and Applicants

At the time when Satzewich conducted his fieldwork for the writing of his book, many visa offices still permitted individuals to personally drop off their applications. This changed in 2013, after which applicants were required to send their applications to the VACs for processing.

In chapter nine, The InterviewSatzewich clearly demonstrates how detrimental the use of VACs has been with regard to the ability of visa offices to assess credibility and risk. Regarding the change in 2013, he stated, "This measure may have conserved departmental resources, but it also came at a cost for the assessment of credibility. In shifting the task to Visa Application Centres, Citizenship and Immigration sacrificed the opportunity to assess credibility and risk as people submitted their applications." (222)

Satzewich elaborates on how things used to be done, highlighting in the process how the shift to processing applications at VACs has removed the ever so important contact between visa offices—including program assistants, receptionists, and security personnel—and applicants. Here is what he stated:
Before 2013, when paperwork was dropped off in person, locally engaged staff, typically a program assistant or receptionist, ensured that the application was complete and that the necessary supporting documentation was present. If this were not the case, staff encouraged people not to submit their application, because they knew that a visa officer was unlikely to approve it. Thus, applicants would have paid the non-refundable visa-processing fee for nothing. In counselling individuals to hold back their applications, staff saw themselves as doing them a favour. (222)
Program assistants and receptionists played an important role in the triaging of applications. They were the first to come into direct contact with applicants, which afforded them the opportunity to begin a sort of pre-screening process, assessing whether cases were simple and straightforward or whether officers in the Temporary Resident Unit might be confronted with a problematic case.

Highlighting the importance of the "pre-screening" process, Satzewich pointed out that triage at the application submission stage also involved assessing demeanour. Here is what he wrote about applicants as they approached visa offices:
As they walked down the street to the embassy or entered the reception area to hand in their paperwork, most people had no idea that their mannerisms, behaviour, and body language were being scrutinized for anomalies that could reroute their application to the "problematic" folder. For example, if they were a "little bit too friendly," receptionists might intuit that they had something to hide and could alert the visa officer to this potential concern. (225)
Triaging applicants at the "pre-screening" stage also involved security guards. Having access to the offices, guards also kept a careful watch on applicants and relayed their observations to receptionists, who would provide this information, along with their own impressions of applicants to visa officers. This was a much needed collaborative effort that greatly aided visa officers giving them a "heads-up" on certain cases.

Full Marks to Kellie Leitch

An image of Kellie Leitch at the CPC's Saskatoon leadership debate.
Kellie Leitch during the Conservative Party of Canada leadership debate in Saskatoon on November 9, 2016.
Photo: National Post/John Ivison

It would be very remiss of me not to mention Conservative Party of Canada leadership candidate, Kellie Leitch, in a post about Points of Entry, as it was through her campaign that I first discovered the book.

Throughout her campaign, whether it was at the Saskatoon leadership debate (above photo)—where she has been captured in many photos actually holding up Satzewich's book—mentioning it on televison and radio, disseminating it through campaign email updates, or through social media, Kellie has consistently encouraged Canadians to read this book and discover some of the major issues surrounding Canada's immigration system.

I took that encouragement to heart, purchased a copy, and read it. Since my initial discovery, I have eagerly shared this book with others.

It has been quite the rewarding experience gaining knowledge about the intricacies of how immigration officers decide who gets into Canada and the factors that negatively impact the screening process.

It became abundantly clear earlier on in the campaign and even more so now, why the thrust of Kellie's campaign has been to spotlight Canada's failed immigration policies, procedures, and border security issues: they are real, serious, and need to be urgently addressed!

Leitch has done more than to just identify a problem, she has provided a solution: her Screening For Canadian Values policy proposal, which she detailed and provided on line at her web site, from day one of her campaign launch.

In addition, Kellie has made it crystal clear, at the Conservative Party of Canada leadership debate in Edmonton, that as Prime Minister of Canada, she will not be tolerating illegal border crossings, (like what we are witnessing in Emerson, Manitoba) which will entail the detainment, questioning and return to the United States of those illegals who have already come to Canada.

For those who are concerned about Canada's immigration problems, I hope that today's post has encouraged you to seriously consider purchasing a copy of Points of Entry: reading it will be time well spent.

To Kellie Leitch, full marks for making this book known to Canadians!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Prime Minister Viktor Orban's State of the Nation Address

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán speaking at the "State of the Nation" address.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban at the State of the Nation address. Photo: About Hungary/PM Orbán addressing state
of the nation: "Tomorrow doesn’t cast a shadow on today"

On February 10, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán delivered his State of the Nation address; one of the most insightful, informative, and impressive speeches that I have ever read. Like all of his speeches they are well written and delivered with poise and composure.

The State of the Nation address was not only an uplifting message for the Hungarian people, but affirmation of Hungary's success story that began only seven years ago; the result of the many positive changes that Orbán and the Fidesz Party—Hungary's national conservative party that he leads—ushered into Hungary after winning the 2010 parliamentary elections.

At the core of Hungary's success has been God's many, continued blessings that stems in part from Hungary's respect for God and the acknowledgement of its Christian origins in the constitution, The New Fundamental Law of Hungary (April 25, 2011), which also includes Hungary's National Avowal; both of which are explicitly Christian and patriotic.

Prime Minister Orbán, the Fidesz party, and the Hungarian people have responded very positively to God blessings with hard work, dedication, and a determination to rebuild their nation, which has resulted in Hungary's emergence as one of, if not, "the" leading nations in Europe.

The State of the Nation address not only captures much of Hungary's success, but instills in the reader an understanding of the courage, certitude, and strength of the Hungarian people and their unwavering desire to reclaim their autonomy.

That is not to say that Hungary doesn't face any serious challenges ahead; it certainly does and some of the biggest challenges come directly from Brussels, what Viktor Orbán referred to as the "five major attacks."

Today's post not only lists and expands upon the "five major attacks," but includes: how 2016, was a year of uprising and revolt; the success of the Hungarian model; how tomorrow does not cast a shadow on today; and concludes with Orbán's intriguing question, "Did the Government lead the country well in 2016?" 

The year of 2016: a year of uprising and revolt

The State of the Nation address was in part a rebuke of the globalists, the media, and "the prophets of liberal politics," who did not expect the positive changes, that have occurred over the past few years, to have ever become a reality.

Hungary's recent history proved to be not some false narrative written by "clever people," but the existential reality of the Hungarian nation's will for self-determination in which autonomous decisions were made and implemented regarding its own political, economic, and social affairs. Orbán elaborated on this truth, "History is us – not just in Hungary, but throughout Europe. In our flesh-and-blood selves, with our thoughts and ideas, plans and hopes, we do not like – and will not allow – others to tell us or decide for us why we are on this Earth, how, why and what we should or shouldn’t do, or should or shouldn’t think."

This truth proved to be quite a reality check for the "arrogance and superiority" of the rich and powerful, which Orbán specifically highlighted:
A common mistake among humanity’s rich and powerful is to believe that they can act like God and be immune from the consequences. They declare supposedly incontrovertible facts; they push utopias onto other countries and peoples; they decide what others can or cannot say, and what they can or cannot believe in; they decide on membership of elite circles and they believe their global power is unquestionable. Money, the media, global governance and an open global society – in 2016 people in many places around the world had had enough of all this.
Citing the examples of Brexit, the election of President Donald Trump, the ejection of the Italian government, and the Hungarian migrant referendum, Orbán went on to state, "...[P]erhaps there is still more to come."

Indeed 2016, was a year of uprising, a revolt against political correctness, in which countries began to reclaim their autonomy. Here is how Orbán put it:
There has been an uprising by those who are not usually asked, whose voices are not usually heard: those who are not at home in the world of the media; who have been pushed aside by the wheels of the global economy; the seemingly weak and vulnerable; those who have been forced into economic and cultural straightjackets; whose mouths have been gagged in the name of political correctness; who were promised a share of the profits of the global economy and global governance. They demanded the return of their homelands, of their economies and social opportunities. They demanded the return of the world in which they once felt at home: the wide and diverse world of nations.
Orbán went on to state that this was the message of the American, French, Italian, Dutch, and Austrian elections.

The Hungarian model is working

Well into the address, Orbán asked the question, "But what is the state of Hungary's affairs, and those of the Hungarian people?" Making a comparison to other European and Western nations, Orbán distinguished Hungary's state as one in which the people have already put their uprising behind them.

Drawing from its recent history, Orbán made reference to 2010, the year in which Hungary announced its own political and economic system, and after seven years of hard work, has created a successful model. It is a model catered to Hungarian tastes, created from Hungarian traditions, instincts, and a national way of thinking: a system of national cooperation. Here is how Orbán elaborated on this:
...It is national because it springs from within us. It is cooperation because we want to prosper not at each other’s expense, but while helping each other. And it is a system, because its foundations, walls, roof, components and fabric are held together by the rules of common sense, while the timberwork was produced under the iron laws of economy and history...The mortar which binds the walls of the Hungarian model is courage: something without which no political structure can remain standing...
Reclaiming its autonomy meant in part that Hungary took control of its finances which resulted in: sending the International Monetary Fund (IMF) "packing"; called the banks to account; taxed multinationals; and scraped forex loans. Orbán highlighted how Hungary's effort to regain financial control proved to be very successful when he stated, "We rose up when they told us it was impossible to put our finances in order while also jumpstarting economic growth. We set out to do so, and we have shown them a Hungarian economy that has been continuously growing for the past four years."

Hungary's success story can also be expressed as a function of its efforts to seek full employment. Seven years ago, the Hungarian government sought to create 1 million jobs; today that target has almost been met with the creation of 700,000 new jobs. 

In its continued effort to help families, Hungary also reduced families' household utility charges.

Hungary has also built a border fence in 2015, which has proven to be very effective, staving off the flow of migrants coming from the Middle East and other parts of the world. In addition Hungary has recruited and is in the process of training 3,000 border-hunters, of which 462 have recently been sworn in by Prime Minister Orbán. What I found particularly noteworthy was how Orbán clarified Hungary's position on genuine migrants: 
And with the migrant referendum we barred others from deciding whom we should and shouldn’t allow into the country. We will of course be letting in genuine refugees: Germans, Dutch, French and Italians, terrified politicians and journalists, Christians who have been forced to leave their homes and who here in Hungary want to find the Europe they have lost in their homelands.
Other positive changes in Hungary include: credit rating agencies have upgraded Hungary; increased wages; a decrease in family debt; a rise in consumption; and the benefit of hard working Hungarians who have been remunerated for genuine performance of their jobs.

If all this isn't impressive enough, Orbán went on to express his commitment to protecting the Hungarian work force from "cheap outside labour," as well as highlighting the importance of everyones' contribution to nation building:
It would not be good to bring in cheap labour from outside to fill such jobs, as is the fashion in the West. Instead I call on us to value each and every job, every job done well, and the workers who do them. We must be capable of sustaining and running our own country. We need everyone to contribute, meaning that in future we must continue to respect Hungarian cleaning ladies, road workers, dock workers, hod carriers and labourers. This is why we are increasing the minimum wage by 15 per cent and the minimum wage for skilled workers by 25 per cent. We are one nation and one country, and they too have a place in our common future.
Tomorrow does not cast a shadow on today

About mid-way through the address, Orbán continued with what is essentially a very positive report on the state of the nation; so positive that Orbán confidently stated, "Despite all difficulties, with due caution what I can tell you is that the future of Hungarians – including that of schoolchildren and pensioners – is assured." 

Orbán highlighted that Hungary's progress was achieved through hard word and determination.

One of the most fundamental responsibilities of a nation's leader is to ensure the safety and security of the citizenry. Orbán has taken this responsibility seriously by tightening up border security, and through the use a dedicated police force, maintained law and order within. In case of disasters, natural or otherwise, Hungary has disaster management personnel on standby and in position.

Orbán understands that the family is the vital cell of society, and has acted accordingly with a wide-ranging and diverse family support system, which he declares as "...[P]ractically unique in Europe."

Recognizing the importance of children in the "vital cell," Hungary has set out to provide support and assistance to children: nursery school begins at three; 318,000 children have received free meals; free textbooks have been given to 730,000 school children; and the government compensates children who are disadvantaged.

In addition to education, children also receive: guidance; physical education is given on a daily basis; and religious studies and ethics remains very much apart of the curriculum.

Hungary has taken concrete steps to improving health care. In addition to recognizing the importance of health care professions with increased salaries and wages, Hungary has also renovated seventy-one hospitals, constructed twenty-three clinics and renovated fifty-four others, built twenty-seven new ambulance stations and renovated another thirty-five.

Hungary has secured its continued economic development with the conclusion of its foreign affairs and foreign trade agreements. Hungary recently received Russian President Vladimir Putin, soon to be followed by the Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In July, Hungary will be directing the work of the Visegrád Group (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia), and hosting the leaders of sixteen Central European states in Budapest.

Orbán also expressed his concerns for the distant future of Hungary—in fifteen-to-twenty years from now—and the important role its population demographics plays in that future. Simply put, a country cannot seriously hope for a better future with a declining population. In this regard, there is good news for Hungary; that is, marriages are increasing and Hungary is seeing the highest birth rates since 2010. To further encourage population growth, Hungary provides assistance to those who decide to have children.

Hungary takes it one step further and ensures that children are raised to love their homeland, to be patriotic and to have a patriotic frame of mind. Here is what Orbán expressed about this:
Will Hungary be their shared passion, as it is ours? Will they too have a sense of national justice, which is fuelled by patriotism? Will they understand that the only way we can avoid being the slaves of other peoples – and the only way we can remain an independent nation – is if, first and foremost, we declare ourselves to be Hungarian? These are all things that we should take care to teach children in school, because it is only through this that our children can understand what links and binds us together.
Hungary's future progress is by no means without its challenges. Orbán identified those challenges: the five major attacks.

The five major attacks that Hungary must deal with in 2017

Hungary's self-determination has been met with opposition from Brussels, and in 2017, and that opposition has grown and become increasingly hostile. The result of which leaves Hungary with five five major attacks to defend from.

First, the European Commission seeks to prohibit Hungary's own mandated utility price cuts to make way for multinational corporations to set their own prices. Brussels wants to replace individual countries' independent energy policies with central regulation, which essentially removes Member States' right to determine the price of energy. 

Second, the issue of migration. Migrants freely travel across Europe, which Hungary adamantly opposes and seeks to remedy by detaining all illegal migrants until their individual cases are decided upon.

Third, the need for Hungary to defend itself against international organizations, who through their covert actions, seek to influence Hungarian politics. The threat is not from non-government organizations fighting for a cause, but from paid activists of international organizations and their branch offices in Hungary. Orbán specifically referred to the transnational empire of George Soros, who despite Hungary's rejection of the European Union's quota referendum, is working tirelessly to bring hundreds of thousands of migrants into Europe.

Fourth, Brussels' attack on Hungary's tax reduction policies. It is an attempt by Brussels to remove the decision making process and competence from Member States, which Hungary opposes. Orbán asked the very simple question, "Should nations be free to decide on their own taxes?"

Fifth, Brussels' attack on Hungary's job creation subsidies. Such subsidies are used as a tool for economic development to which Orbán asked, "...[S]hould nations be able to decide whether they want to give employers incentives to create jobs, or should this right also be transferred to Brussels?"

Orbán went on to state that, "If we want Hungary to continue being a winning country in 2017, we Hungarians must provide a clear response to these five questions." That response is a matter of self-determination in which Orbán stressed the importance of the government's need to reach an agreement with the people and ask for their support. Here is what he had to further say about the five questions:
In fact behind all five questions there is the issue of national self-determination. So we have returned to the starting point: nations against globalists, sovereigntists against federalists. If we want sure and solid answers, we must come to an agreement with the people. We must ask them and gain their support, as we have done on every important issue so far. It is not enough to state that we shall not allow these things. What is important is that the people of Hungary also shall not allow decisions affecting them to be made over their heads.

"Did the Government lead the country well in 2016?"

At the last segment of the address, Orbán asked the question, "Did the Government lead the country well in 2016?" From the reading of this blog post, one would think the answer to that question is rather obvious, "Yes." As I continued to read the remainder of the address, I was somewhat surprised by what Orbán pointed out to be the typical Hungarian mindset; that is, no matter how well things are going, Hungarians still want to see a government that they are satisfied with.

In my view, the State of the Nation address is proof positive that in fact, Hungary has been led well in 2016. The State of the Nation is a testament to the leadership of Viktor Orbán, the work of the various Ministers, and others in the administration, that the challenges to nation building have been successfully met.

Orbán pointed out what are perhaps two of the most significant indications of Hungary's success: that Hungary is no longer is a nation that is held back by failed leadership; and over the past few years, it has emerged as a country transformed from a "culture of self-pity" into a "culture of action."

Orbán ended his address by providing his opinion on what he considers to be a successful leader and administration:
Sándor Márai taught us that we don’t know the meaning of mediocrity. This is also the cast-iron rule for Hungary’s political leadership. The Hungarians can never be satisfied with mediocre leadership and a mediocre government: we need more, and we deserve more. But the question is this: what makes a good administration and what makes a good leader? In my opinion, good administration takes people to the finish line so that that when they get there, they feel that they hadn’t needed leaders at all.
May 2017 be a year which, when it is over, we feel that it went by like a charm.
Go Hungary! Go Hungarians!

May God continue to bless Hungary with success in 2017 and beyond.