“WORKING” IMMIGRANTS: THE PREMAKUMARAN CASE.
SOME IMPLICATIONS OF THE AUGUST 2005 FEDERAL COURT OF CANADA JUDGEMENT BY JUDGE KONRAD VON FINCKENSTEIN, AND THE CONTEXT OF THE JUDGEMENT
Reference: The Edmonton Sun , August 23 2005 – article, Canadian Dream Dies, by Mindelle Jacobs. CLICK HERE
This case concerns a couple who immigrated from the U.K and were then confronted with a series of unpleasant surprises, all involving the impossibility of getting meaningful employment. What follows is an analysis of why things went wrong for them.
Quote 1: The reality, however, is that enormous numbers of immigrants are having a terrible time either finding jobs in their areas of expertise or getting their foreign educational qualifications recognized by Canadian employers.
Comment: In fact, the problem really seems to be happening because of the absolute lack of jobs available relative to numbers applying for them, because there is no general appreciation of the true numbers of jobs required.. This, in turn, is being caused initially by continual monthly under-statements from Statistics Canada, in which the so-called “official” unemployment number actually represents only about one third of people totally out of work and wanting work. To this, one must add the effects of the “under-employment” problem which affects a significant percentage of those officially ”employed”.
Collection of the relevant statistics, and any analysis based on them, are a federal government responsibilities and this is simply not being done properly.
Quote 2: “Last week, after lengthy pretrial proceedings, a Federal Court of Canada judge ruled that the suit is not worthy of a trial.
The courts don't wade into policy issues, Justice Konrad von Finckenstein explained.
It is not the role of the courts to order that agencies be set up to assist immigrant workers, nor can the courts order that the municipal, provincial and federal governments recognize certain skills or credentials, he noted.
Those kinds of issues have to be settled at the ballot box, he added.“
Comment: Judge von Finckenstein was clearly not aware of the problems noted in the comment under Quote 1 above. Nor are most people – because of the mis-information already referred to concerning the unemployment numbers. Maybe the courts don’t wade into policy issues, but they can set a precedent when a big problem, not contemplated in any previous judgement, is brought to their attention. As is already clear, Judge von Finckenstein was missing the real point when he referred to the problem of recognition of certain skills or credentials.
Finally, these kinds of issues cannot be settled at the ballot box when the electorate itself is not properly informed about what is really going on.
Quote 3: I find that nothing would be gained by allowing this issue to proceed to trial, von Finckenstein declared. The federal government owes a duty of care to the public as a whole, and to the individual plaintiffs, he said.
Comment: The federal government indeed does owe a duty of care to the public as a whole, and to the individual plaintiffs. That means optimizing revenues for the tax base, to ensure optimal funding for essential government services. This, in turn, is not possible if - through carelessness, negligence or social custom which accepts high real unemployment – large numbers of people are routinely ignored as potential factors of production in the economy.
Quote 4:“Quoting a previous court decision, he added the government should be able to govern without worrying about being sued.
Government, when it legislates even wrongly, incompetently, stupidly or misguidedly, is not liable (for) damages.
Comment: Maybe. On the other hand, the government is accountable to the electorate and when problems are found, they must be corrected.
This should be clear to everybody by now. The Gomery Commission enquiry into the Sponsorship Scandal made this quite clear and led directly to the federal Accountability Act which became law in 2006.
In the Maher Arar affair - in which software engineer Maher Arar was branded as an Al Quaeda terrorist by the RCMP and others based on wrong information, deported to Syria where he was imprisoned and tortured – Maher Arar was awarded CDN $11.5 million compensation by the federal government to re-build his life.
Part of his problem, since the trouble started, is that - so far - he has never able to get any work again. It is possible that un-admitted job market problems referred to above, plus others, have been at least partly responsible for his difficulties.
General Conclusions: For the reasons noted above, this Federal Court of Canada judgement was inappropriate and extremely dangerous. It was also based on based on ubiquitous and popular mis-information and mis-guided but popular social customs in Canada concerning immigrants and people out of work.
An appropriate judgement would have required the setting of a legal precedent and a compensation award to the Premakumarans. However, like everybody else, the Judge was not aware of important information which could have affected his decision in this case.
Finally, as will now be clear, this case has important and fundamental implications for Canada as a safe place to work and live, at a time when it is said to need large numbers of immigrants to counter alleged skill shortages related to demographics.
In this author’s opinion, as things stand, Canada is quite definitely NOT a safe place to work and live, for anybody. This state of affairs is obviously unsatisfactory and must be corrected.
Development in the case – October 2006.
The Premakumarans have asked the Supreme Court for leave to appeal this decision.
Reference: Immigration Watch Canada – Press Release - CLICK HERE