Oil Sands Truth: Shut Down the Tar Sands

American Immigration Reform: Born in Canada

Sun, May 27, 2007
U.S. scores points with new immigration bill

WASHINGTON -- A colossal immigration bill, backed by a bipartisan coalition, is lurching its way through the U.S. Senate -- amendment by cumbersome amendment -- in an attempt to comprehensively reform a system that has been in place for more than 40 years.

The bill, which is expected to pass eventually, introduces a new approach to immigration that assesses applicants and gives credits or points for education, training, work experience, and language skills. Once a certain number of credits is reached, the application is granted.

This is a departure from the historical basis of approving immigration applications on the merits of family unification.

If this approach sounds vaguely familiar, that's because it mirrors the Canadian points system.

Imagine that. Not three years ago, the U.S. House of Representatives was endorsing a study to build a fence along the Canada-U.S. border, and today they're modeling a massive reform of their immigration policy on ours.



Canada's minister of indian affairs and northern development visited Washington last week to address a forum on climate change and promote the government's commitment to balancing energy security with responsible environmental stewardship.

In outlining the provisions of the federal plan to reduce greenhouse gases and make Canada a clean energy superpower, Jim Prentice emphasized the shared ecosystems and economies of our two countries, our work together on new technologies, our integrated auto industry, and our partnership in several multi-lateral initiatives.

"In meeting the challenges of climate change and energy security, co-operation is not only the best way forward, it is the only way forward," said Prentice.

It is not unusual for a Canadian cabinet minister to visit Washington in this spirit. Indeed, in recent months ministers Peter MacKay (Foreign Affairs), Jim Flaherty (Finance), David Emerson (International Trade), as well as premiers Gary Doer of Manitoba, Dalton McGuinty of Ontario, and Shawn Graham of New Brunswick, have visited the American capital in pursuit of improved bilateral relationships.

Cabinet Secretaries who have recently visited Canada include Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Energy Secretary Al Bogman, who last summer visited the Alberta oilsands in Fort McMurray.


After Canadian Ambassador Michael Wilson addresses the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce Annual Policy Conference on Mackinac Island at the end of the month, he will head off to Minnesota to make a special presentation to Justin Morneau, the Twins' first baseman and winner of the 2007 American League Most Valuable Player Award.

Morneau is originally from New Westminster, B.C. And he is only the second Canadian to take American MVP honours.

In 1997, the National League's MVP award went to Larry Walker.


Three staffers from the Ontario Chamber of Commerce spent a few days on Capitol Hill last week meeting with border state Congressmen and Senators in an attempt to restore bilateral talks on "pre-cleared" border crossings, which ended last month when the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) walked away from the negotiations.

At issue is a disagreement between DHS and Canada on fingerprinting individuals who approach the border, but decide not to cross. Canada's position is that there must be a reason to fingerprint people -- like say, an arrest.

A spokesman for the group said they were well received by the American lawmakers, many of whom were aware and not surprised to learn that DHS had walked away from the table.

Said Stuart Johnston: "We take the position that it is premature to end the negotiations and that the stakes are too high to walk away.We are each other's trading partners, we are strong allies historically and currently, and Canada has done substantive work -- over $10 billion since 2001 in security infrastructure upgrades to protect the border."

A pre-clearance border pilot project was scheduled for the Buffalo, N.Y./Fort Erie, Ont. crossing to lessen congestion and improve the flow of traffic between countries.

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