Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Rules would've kept out Aspers, Schreyers

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MANITOBA would be missing many prominent citizens if today's immigration restrictions were in place when their ancestors arrived, a Canada Day quiz discovered.

Former governor-general Ed Schreyer, philanthropist Gail Asper, Roman Catholic Archbishop of St. Boniface Albert LeGatt and filmmaker and photographer John Paskievich were among 19 well-known participants in the Canada Challenge whose ancestors would be rejected if they tried to immigrate to Canada today.

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"People used to come here with nothing and be willing to work very hard and they'd prosper, and their children would get an education and make huge contributions to society," said Thomas Novak with the Migrant Worker Solidarity Network in Winnipeg.

Members of the group advocating for temporary foreign workers and Migrante Manitoba were in Osborne Village on Canada Day quizzing passersby to see if their ancestors would be allowed into Canada today.

Of the dozens who took the test early in the afternoon, only two had ancestors who would now be eligible, Novak said.

"Today, they can only come as temporary workers. We separate them from their families for two years then send them back....

"If they're good enough to work here, they're good enough to live here," he said.

Since 2012, more temporary workers than immigrants have come to Canada, said Diwa Marcelino with Migrante Manitoba.

His organization advocated for the Three Amigos -- the moniker supporters gave to three temporary workers from the Philippines arrested in 2010 for illegally working at a Thompson gas bar for $10 an hour.

They paid a Toronto recruiter thousands of dollars to get them service-industry jobs in Alberta in 2007.

They were laid off so they took the jobs in Manitoba and were then ordered to leave Canada.

The quiz asks for the ancestor's age, education level, ability to write and speak in French or English, work history, if anyone in their immediate family had a serious illness or disability, affiliation with a revolutionary movement, and if they had $21,971 readily available in cash in today's dollars.

Schreyer's grandfather, Asper's grandfather and Paskievich's mother would all be rejected if they tried to immigrate to Canada today, said Novak who called the quiz an "educational event."

"We're just asking people to do the challenge and see if their parents or grandparents would be approved or denied --and to think about Canadian immigration policy and what is fair and what is just."

 

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 2, 2014 B4

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