Another Letter To Canada’s Immigration Minister

If you’ve checked out my blog before then you may know that I am struggling with Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to bring my husband to Canada. Noreddine and I have been married for over two years now and just before I went on a five week trip to be with him at the end of 2013, to celebrate our 2nd year wedding anniversary, I received yet another wonderfully indifferent letter from the Ministerial Enquiries Division of the CIC.

Now I think I should point out that I have never actually written a letter to the Ministerial Enquiries Division of CIC. I have, however,  been writing letters to The Canadian Minister of Immigration, Chris Alexander and have yet to receive a response from him directly. Instead I keep receiving responses from bureaucrats who like to amuse themselves by inserting absurd statements in the middle of perfectly insensitive form letters.

The first response letter directed me to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and pointed out that due to functus officio Visa Officers could not revisit their decisions. Of course I had not asked the Visa Officer to revisit his decision, I had actually asked his boss to review his decision and explain to me why his employee could get away with refusing my husband entry into Canada without a single solitary piece of evidence that his ‘feeling’ that my husband just didn’t love me was valid and true.  In fact I was wondering how this man could be considered reliable when he was unable to get the facts of our case straight when we provided those facts to him.  My response to that letter, I posted here on October 1st 2013.

In the second response letter I was told that all decisions made by CIC are fair, equitable, objective and unbiased or in other words I was told that CIC employees are perfect and they NEVER make mistakes or let their personal bias enter into their decisions. I wonder how many Canadians currently facing the extremely long wait time for an appeal hearing to be scheduled would agree with this statement?

I have been back from my trip to see my husband for almost two months now and I miss him terribly. It was hard returning from Algeria without him and it is even harder today as it is my birthday and it will be his on March 1st so we are, yet again, missing out on an opportunity to celebrate together.  We are being robbed of our years together by a system that holds no one accountable for their decisions and, according to the professor who’s researched it, allows racial biases to creep in the selection process (http://www.thespec.com/news-story/4346417-inside-immigration-s-black-box-on-marriages/).

Here is my response to the Immigration Minister and his representatives:

Dear Minister Chris Alexander,

I am extremely disappointed by the callous indifference I continue to receive from your office about the situation I currently find myself in due to the actions of one of your employees.  Instead of addressing my concerns or answering any of my questions you continue to reiterate the fact that my husbands application was refused in October 2012. A fact which I provided to you in my very first letter and really don’t need you to continually remind me about in your responses.  I don’t expect you to overturn the decision of your employee.  I have already been informed by my ICCRC that you would not interfere in my case, however, you ARE the person in charge and you CAN review such a bad decision and hold the person who made it accountable.  Your ongoing indifference and continued defence of a decision that it is clear no one in your office has thoroughly reviewed offers insight into the reason why the Visa Officer has no fear of being held accountable for such a groundless and unsubstantiated decision.

I was especially fascinated by the comment made by G. Holmes in the last response letter I received from your office, “Citizenship and Immigration Canada reviews all applications objectively and consistently to ensure fair and equitable treatment of all applicants. We assess each application on its own merit against the program requirements and all decisions are neither discriminatory nor arbitrary.”,   which would imply that all the decisions made by CIC employees are based solely on the facts pertinent to the individual case and not on personal feelings, interpretations or regional statistics that may have been reviewed and/or collected by your office.

And yet, just today, I read the article INSIDE IMMIGRATION’S “BLACK BOX” ON MARRIAGES penned by Nicholas Keung, which was in both The Hamilton Spectator** and Toronto Star online.  In this article McMaster University Professor Vic Satzewich identified, “…a number of “flags” and “indicators” that visa officers rely on in their assessments:”, including flagging couples who are “deemed not compatible in age, physical appearance and values” as well as ” Applicants who come from poor countries need a visa to visit Canada and are from cities or regions of countries where fraud is common.” How do these “flags” represent an assessment of an application that is based on ITS OWN MERITS?  These “flags” have little basis in the facts or merits of an individual case, such as mine and my husband’s, but rather lean towards a basis of size discrimination, age discrimination and discrimination based on income.

In the case of my husband, Noreddine Otmane Cherif, the visa officer’s notes included the following statements that could be interpreted as reasons for his decision, (a) “ The sponsor sent several letters of support from her family, but I am surprised no one from her family wanted to attend her wedding.“, (b) “ I get the feeling from the way he talks about the sponsor it is not a loving relationship for him.” and (c) “ The app has been unemployed for over a year and it is clear he married a Canadian citizen to try to obtain a Canadian immigration visa.”  All three of these statements offer subjective opinion rather than fact, making them entirely arbitrary and in direct contradiction with G. Holmes assertion that the decision was made objectively. Furthermore, the Visa Officer, in these and other statements made in his notes, completely ignored the facts provided to him in our application and further disclosures prior to my husbands interview, favouring his own feelings and opinions about how my husband, myself and our families should have behaved in accordance with his own personal bias.

I am confounded by the notion that your office actually considers this process to be fair and equitable to Canadians and their loved ones.  It is rather convenient for YOU that the ONLY option that a Canadian Citizen such as myself has after one of your employees rejects our loved ones application, other than accepting the decision, is an appeal that allows you to completely ignore and disregard our concerns about this process under the guise of being the ‘respondent’ in the case.  Not only have I been told by you that my decision to appeal means you won’t speak with me, but I have also been told by my Federal MPP’s office that my decision to appeal means they cannot help me or speak with me about it as I am in the process of fighting the government, which they are a part of, in essence making this a battle between me, a single individual Canadian, and the entire Canadian Government.

I am not interested in receiving another letter from S. Langlois, G. Holmes or any other person working in the Ministerial Enquiries Division of your office.  If you, Mr. Chris Alexander, cannot bother answering me then do me the courtesy of not wasting my time with another patronizing form letter that thanks me for bringing my concerns to your attention, when it is clear that no one in your office is paying attention to the concerns I have conveyed.

Sincerely,

Leslie Jennings, P.Eng.

Happy Together

Happy Together

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A Letter to the Immigration Minister

On July 10th I wrote about how the Immigration System is broken after having experienced yet another disappointment in my struggle with Canada Immigration to bring my husband here.  After our application was originally denied I sought the only recourse I had other than just accepting the decision of the Immigration Visa Officer, which was to file an appeal.  I had hoped that the ADR on July 8th would correct the bad decision, but it did not and after picking up the pieces of my heart I took action by writing a letter to the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, Chris Alexander.

Don’t you think that the person in charge of the Immigration System would want to know that one of his employees did a lousy job?  Shouldn’t he be just as upset as I that a person representing him and this country couldn’t even get facts straight that were provided to him?  I would think so.  Especially considering if I or my husband as the applicants in the process had made even ONE error on our application it could have been returned to us without processing and denied for the simple fact that we made that error.

Apparently, I continue to be a naive Canadian believing that those responsible for the system should actually care about how it operates and/or fails to operate fairly and justly.  In August I received a response from the Ministerial Enquiries Division offering, among other useless comments,  this gem of a statement, “As you know, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act gives visa officers the authority to review applications for permanent residence and to accept or reject them, based on review criteria outlined in the Act and its accompanying Regulations.  These officers are trained in the review and assessment of this type of application.  Visa officers are bound by the principle of functus officio, once a case is finalized and a decision made, normally it cannot be revisited.”

Along with being told that this was the work of someone who is ‘trained’ I was also told that because the Immigration Minister is the respondent in my appeal that he cannot comment on my situation further.  It seems rather convenient that the only recourse a Canadian citizen has against a bad decision of an Immigration Visa Officer is an appeal that allows the person who should be accountable to avoid accountability altogether.  What makes this even worse is that I was also told by my Federal MP’s office that he too cannot take any action because I am appealing a government decision.  The only option that was made available to me also pits me, a single individual Canadian, against the entire Canadian Government! Really?

The Immigration Minister and his team may want to pat me on my head and have me run along like a good little Canadian, but that’s just not something I intend to do. So, I have written another letter to the Immigration Minister addressing the statements in the letter I received from the Ministerial Enquiries Division and here it is.

Dear Minister Chris Alexander,

I wrote you a letter on July 16, 2013 expressing my anger, frustration and disgust at the situation I currently find myself in due to the improper and unfounded findings of one of your Immigration Visa Officers.  I took a great deal of time to construct that letter to provide you with as much detail as possible to outline for you why I would consider your employee to have failed at properly conducting himself in his role as an Immigration Visa Officer with regard to the sponsorship of my husband, Noreddine Otmane Cherif.  I provided you a summary chart with details as to what the officer stated were his concerns about my relationship with my husband and showed that his statements were completely inaccurate, presumptive or highly speculative with no foundation in fact and lacking evidence to back them up.  The evidence provided by myself, my husband, our families and my ICCRC Immigration Representative OVERWHELMINGLY contradicted every one of his concerns in the mere twelve sentences he wrote, but the reply I have received from your office would characterize this as the work of an officer, “…trained in the review and assessment of this type of application.”

I would be surprised that the response I have received from your office seems one of complete indifference to the concerns I have outlined and expressed in my previous letter, except that indifference is all that I have encountered in this process from the first refusal letter provided by the Visa Officer, to his pathetic 12-sentence explanation of his decision, the further decision of the CIC Official at the ADR and now this letter from your office.  As a person trapped in this process I am simply tired, but as a Canadian I am actually appalled.  Even if, as the respondent in my appeal, you cannot comment on my case or situation, you as the Visa Officer’s boss can surely review the work he has done, not only in my case, but in all the cases he has worked on and ensure that his failure to act responsibly and reasonably in the very important role as a Visa Immigration Officer does not devastate the lives of other Canadians trying to be reunited with their loved ones in this country.

You have failed to respond to the critical questions and concerns in my original letter.  In fact, YOU have failed to respond to me at all.  The only response I have received has been from your office via a form letter of sorts that offers no relevant information or clarification of the failure of the immigration system to function properly and effectively.  As the Immigration Minister answering my questions is YOUR responsibility.  You are, after all, the elected official!

Sincerely,

Leslie Jennings, P.Eng.

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What I Know About Algeria

Before I tell you what I know about Algeria I want to make it clear that from an historical perspective I know practically nothing about the country.  I didn’t even know there was a country by that name until I started talking to a couple of men who were from there on a dating website.  The first time one of them told me he was from Algeria I immediately googled it and was surprised to learn that it is the largest country on the African continent.  I felt a little bit silly at first.  How could I not know the name of the largest country on the African continent?  But when I fell for one of the men and decided I had to go visit him in Algeria to know if he was ‘THE ONE’, which he was, I found that the first reaction from almost everyone I told was, “You’re going to Nigeria?”  I didn’t feel so silly anymore.

Geographically speaking Algeria is a North African country that is on the Mediterranean coast.  Although it shares a border with Morocco and Tunisia, both countries with a significant tourist trade, Algeria doesn’t get many tourists.  It turns out that for almost ten years, starting in the early 1990s, there was a civil war in which well over one hundred thousand Algerians were killed.   Although that war is over and has been for many years now the Canadian government travel website travel.gc.ca says “…you should exercise a high degree of caution due to the risk of civil unrest and the threat of terrorism” and that, “Algerian authorities have succeeded in reducing, but not eliminating, terrorism-related violence over the last decade.”

War!  Terrorism!  It all sounds pretty scary to me.  Even scarier are the laws in Algeria that state women are minors under their husbands.  Learning all these facts about Algeria, I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into by traveling to the country, but love was compelling me to make the journey and so I did.  Stepping off the plane for the first time, my heart was pumping.  I didn’t know a word of Arabic and my French wasn’t very good.  What if they asked me questions?  How would I know what they were saying?  When I finally made it to the customs booth, there was a woman customs officer there to greet me.  She smiled, scanned my documents, searched the computer, stamped my passport and pointed me in the direction of the luggage carousel.  The next dilemma, after getting my luggage, was which door to go through to get out of the customs area.  There were guards with riffles at the one end that everyone seemed to be passing through.  I hesitated long enough for one of them to see I was confused, but he just smiled and caulked his head in the direction of the door and into the arms of my future husband, Noreddine.

Don’t get me wrong, there was no public display of affection, just a half hug and the proper number of cheek kisses before we were off to Noreddine’s family home in Mazagran, Mostaganem.  It was a six hour bus ride west to get there from the capital city of Algiers.  For me the strangest sight was the armed police and soldiers that were standing in the middle of the highway or on the side of the road, riffles in hand, in what seemed to be random locations in an effort, I imagined, to protect against the not completely eliminated terrorism-related violence.  Entering the city of Mostaganem I started getting really nervous.  I was about to meet my future husbands mother and family for the very first time.  What would they think of me?  My stomach fluttered as I walked into the house, which from the outside, looked more like some type of commercial warehouse building back home.  Yet behind the big steel door lay a beautiful and welcoming home and the wonderful family that made it so.

Noreddine’s mother, Meriem and two of his sisters, Bakhta and Nadia greeted me with hugs and kisses guiding me to the front sitting room just off the hallway where we entered the house.  The sofa, chairs and love seat were all wingback-style with a dark wood frame and green material that had gold leaf and floral patterns throughout.  I was relieved to sit down and take my shoes off.  I had not been fully prepared for the heat of the country and what it would do to my feet.  I had barely been there and already my heals were severely blistered.  I wasn’t sure what I was going to do as even my sandals had straps at the back. I mumbled my dilemma to Noreddine who then immediately shared it with the room in Arabic.  Soon after I was whisked off to another room where Mom Meriem treated my feet with medicine, which she did every day until they were healed.

There was no moment in which I was not taken care of during my visit.  Bakhta, who was only 19 at the time, made me eggs every morning, translated for me all day and shared a room with me at night all while she did her usual chores around the house helping her mom clean and cook.  When Nadia, Bakhta and I went on a shopping trip in town, the two of them looked out for me like parents protecting their child.  Noreddine rushed around looking for a doctor and eventually took me to the hospital when my stomach couldn’t adjust itself to the cuisine that wasn’t made at home.  In the chaotic emergency room he made sure I was seen by a doctor as soon as possible and collected all the medicine I was prescribed.

Those are just a few of the reasons why I felt like a member of the family from the moment I walked in the door.  I still have a lot to learn about Algeria especially now that I’m married to an Algerian.  What I learned on my first trip was that some of the nicest people I’ve ever met in my life come from that country.  Some of the laws and traditions surrounding women in Algeria do not sit well with me, however, those laws have not stopped the women of Algeria from being strong and determined enough to become lawyers, doctors, police officers, translators, etc.  Noreddine’s mother, who grew up at a time when she was prohibited from getting an education, raised three highly educated, talented, strong, beautiful women and sons who value and respect women…and that is what I know about Algeria!

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Inside Your Lines

I always wonder if people who celebrate any type of discrimination and oppression comprehend that one day it could be them on the other end of it?  History shows that the tides can change on popular opinion at any time and suddenly YOU are the one at the butt end of every joke.  Media outlets talking about people who look like you as if they are a disease to society and all of ‘YOU’ should be ashamed of yourselves.

While I came to accept myself the way I am years ago, it is still a struggle every day not to fall back into abusing myself for the way I look because the messages are everywhere and getting louder and more abusive day by day.  CNN runs an anti-bully campaign and then spends days talking about how fat Chris Christie is and whether or not that will hurt his chances at being President in 2016 AND then they call the White House the bully pulpit!? Hypocrites!  They let a doctor whose never examined Chris Christie provide a diagnosis on air and hound the man about an election that’s over 3 years away to the point where he decides to get lap band surgery…and then they pat themselves on the back for it as he denies that the media had anything to do with it.

The media, weight loss industry advertising and societal judgements have EVERYTHING to do with how fat people feel about themselves.  The constant barrage of negative messages is overwhelming and hard to fight off, but it can be done.  It requires a support system that will lift us up rather than tear us down.  So we as the fat majority have to stop participating in the abuse not only of our plus size brothers and sisters but of ourselves too.  It’s time for US to stop apologizing and stop tolerating the bullying and abuse.  It’s time to stop waiting to live life until you lose those 10-50-100 pounds you’ve been told you have to drop before being accepted by society.  It’s time to love ourselves just as we are.

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THE SYSTEM IS BROKEN

I haven’t posted anything in a while.  I had been dedicating much of my energy to my work and preparation for my ADR Immigration Hearing.  I had a great deal of hope for a positive outcome because the Visa Officer who made the original decision to reject our application for spousal sponsorship of my husband, Noreddine, had done such a shameful job of documenting his decision.

In total he wrote 12 sentences to outline what had happened in the interview he had with Noreddine.  In those 12 meager sentences he made at least 3 factual errors, ignored statements that were provided as part of our application, inaccurately depicted the legal status of two of my husbands family members and made several assumptions that had no facts to back them up whatsoever.  We submitted all the evidence to counter EVERY argument he had, showing him to be incompetent and yet after meeting with the ADR Officer who not only told me that my disclosure was exceptional, but that he believed me 100%, we have yet again been denied the right to be together here in Canada.  Why?

The ADR Officer told me it was because the original Visa Officer had concerns about my husband and he can’t just overturn his decision without a reason.  What utter nonsense!!  He just didn’t want to step on his colleagues toes.  He could not argue that his colleague had done a bad job.  He admitted that, in front of a judge, nothing that was recorded by the Visa Officer would stand up and he believes that if Noreddine is as credible as I am as a witness that we will win at a full hearing.  He had the power to grant our Appeal right then and there.  He knew he had that authority, but he was more concerned about the politics and bureaucracy then he was about my husband and I.  He did not care in the least how his inaction would impact us.  It was not his problem.

You see, forcing us to go to a full hearing means that we have to be apart for, most likely another year!  We have to wait our turn to be scheduled to go before the Immigration Board Judge and have our case heard.  We have to continue to track every communication we have so we can submit it to the government so they can decide for me if my husband really loves me.  Our lives have already been on hold for over 19 months as we waited for this hearing and now we are expected to wait another 12 months for a hearing all due to the incompetence of one individual and the callousness of a broken system.  Why should the bad decision of the Visa Officer be upheld?  He had concerns about the character of my husband whose only crime is being Algerian!

I thought this was Canada – a fair and just society that did not discriminate.  When I told the ADR Officer that Noreddine and I had wanted to get married in Canada and that he was refused even a visitors visa he grunted and mockingly stated, “I would have been surprised if they let him in!”.  I couldn’t even believe my ears.  Noreddine has no police record, is well educated and has done all that his country has asked of him.  What is so bad about him that he should not even be allowed to visit Canada?  What gives the Canadian government the right to decide if he loves me?  What makes them think they know better then me and all my friends?

We did all that was asked of us, jumped through their hoops, exposed our lives and laid out our personal business on the table for them to view and analyze.  The stack of papers that we provided to them was enormous and the letters of support from friends and family extensive.  They countered with twelve pathetically incorrect statements from a man who talked to my husband for less than an hour and yet here we are still being kept apart by a system that is truly broken along with my heart that has been shattered into pieces.

NOTHING MATTERS
By Leslie Jennings
 
We confide
You decide
I abide
Nothing matters
 
We are broke
You provoke
I invoke
We’re all shattered
 
An illusion is all you provide
To hearts and hopes that just awoke
This intrusion is not justified
Rage in silence, scream what you evoke
 
You deceived me
I trusted in your lies
Now believe me
It won’t be disguised…My pain won’t be disguised
This love won’t leave me
To our hearts your fears give rise
 
An illusion is all you provide
To hearts and hopes that just awoke
Your conclusion is not justified
Chains of freedom through our love revoke
 
We confide
You decide
I abide
Nothing matters
 
We enlight
You indict
I ignite
Our love matters

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Immigration Purgatory Part 2

On December 6, 2012 at the age of 40 I sat in my living room alone on my first year wedding anniversary, devastated by the decision of the Canadian government to refuse my husband, Noreddine’s, application to come to Canada.  Of course Noreddine and I did our best to celebrate our anniversary together by having our usual daily conversations over Skype, but we were both weary and worn out.  We were both simply disillusioned by the whole situation and it showed on our faces and in our lack of energy.  We still have not been together on the same continent since December 10, 2011, now almost a year ago and we won’t be together until the end of January 2013 when I will hopefully be able to visit him in Algeria for a week.

The hardest part of this situation is that we really have no idea why our application was refused.  The reason given in the letter provided to us by the immigration officer was as follows:

“…Section 4 of the regulations, states that, for the purpose of these regulations, no foreign national shall be considered a spouse, a common-law partner or a conjugal partner of a person if the marriage, common-law partnership or conjugal partnership is not genuine or was entered into primarily for the purpose of acquiring any status or privilege under the Act.

  • Following your interview in Algiers on October 22, 2012, I have determined that your are not a member of the family class.  You have not demonstrated that you have entered in a genuine marital relationship with your sponsor.
  • Subsection 11(1) of the Act provides that a foreign national must, before entering Canada, apply to an officer for a visa or any other document required by the regulations.  The visa or document shall be issued if, following an examination, the officer is satisfied that the foreign national is not inadmissible and meets the requirements of this Act.  For the reason set out above, I am not satisfied that you are not inadmissible and that you meet the requirements of the Act. I am therefore refusing your application...”

What these statements clearly say is that my husband; the man of my dreams, the man I could imagine as the father of my children, the man I fell in love with and want to grow old with, entered into our relationship and marriage primarily for the purpose of acquiring status within Canada and as such does not qualify as a member of the family class.  What these statements also clearly imply is that I’m either an idiot for believing my husband married me for any reason other than to get into Canada or I am complicit in a crime and knowingly entered into a fraudulent marriage.

Nowhere in the letter was there any indication of proof of these statements.  Nowhere in the letter was there any evidence provided.  We provided the Canadian government with evidence of our relationship and communications together through (a) Skype, (b) texting, (c) email, (d) phone/cell calls, (e) Facebook and (f) in person visits, to include the trip when we were married, spanning the course of our entire relationship from November 7, 2010 through to September 24, 2012 and they provided us with a two page form letter with nothing but vague and veiled legal mumbo jumbo designed to ensure that they don’t actually directly state anything that they could later be held accountable for.  So now my husband and I have officially, albeit vaguely and indirectly, been told we are guilty of some type of offence, whether it’s stupidity or complicity on my part or complete and utter deceit on his part, there is no doubt we’ve been accused of it.

As a Canadian citizen I have the right to appeal this decision, which I did as soon as I was able to print the forms and put pen to paper.  The Immigration Review Board (IRB) officially acknowledged receipt of my paperwork on November 15, 2012 and so CIC has to reply within four months.  In the meantime, we are left to dwell in this Immigration Purgatory, which has become our little piece of hell.  We are still waiting for our lives and choices to be our own again and wondering why the Canadian government has the right, without any evidence or justification, to indiscriminately decide that our marriage is not genuine.

I ask anyone reading this to just imagine what it would be like if someone from the government came into your home, uninvited, talked with your spouse or partner for an hour or two, invaded your privacy by insisting upon seeing your communications and knowing how often you speak to each other and then after having never met you or talked with you decided that your relationship was not genuine and therefore you were not allowed to be together within Canada.  Can you even imagine it?

I’ve written a song about our experience as well.  I hope you enjoy it.

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“Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?”

If you are a fan of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol then you probably already know that the title of this post is a quote from dear Mr. Scrooge near the beginning of the story before he’s been visited by Marley or the ghosts of Christmas present, past and future. He asks these questions in response to a request for some money to help feed the poor at Christmastime.  Scrooge’s disdain for the poor and his questions about prisons and workhouses have been ringing in my ears since I first heard the following quote from Mitt Romney.

“…there are 47 percent…who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. … I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” (http://youtu.be/M2gvY2wqI7M)

Now I’m not American so I suppose it really shouldn’t bother me one way or the other what Mitt Romney has to say about 47% of Americans because he’s not talking about me.  I’m Canadian.  So it might surprise you, as it did me, that I was actually quite irritated and angered by these comments.  In particular, I was taken aback by the disdainful way that Mitt Romney talked about those people who actually thought that in one of the richest countries in the world they were entitled to food, housing and health care.  How dare people have the nerve to believe that in a country of means there be a place they can go to get help when they are in need.  ARE THERE NO PRISONS?  ARE THERE NO WORKHOUSES?

The reason it bothered me, I have come to understand, is that I come from a family that, for all of my childhood, lived under the poverty line.  Yes, technically speaking my family was poor.  There was more than one occasion when I heard my mom, in fear, wonder if we would have a roof over our heads in a day, week, month or year. And yet, we never did go hungry and we always did have a roof over our heads because God took care of us, my parents never gave up and we had people in our lives, family and friends, who showed up to help just when we needed it.  And, in part, it was because there were government programs available for things like basic dental care or the baby bonus giving families some money back each month.  My father always paid the taxes he was required to pay.  He never stopped trying to make a better life for us.  He always took personal responsibility for his life and for our financial situation and he didn’t walk around thinking or acting like a victim and neither did the rest of us.

Mitt Romney’s comments, in my opinion, are disrespectful and judgemental of people like my father and families such as mine.  I have to believe that many of the American fathers, mothers and families that find themselves in that 47% he was talking about aren’t that much different then my father, mother or family was back when I was growing up in Canada.  I imagine that just like my family they don’t feel entitled to very much at all, however, when faced with needs that are greater than their means would like to think that their government would make available programs that could give them a chance to get out from under their burdens and strive for a better life.

I know that there are those who do feel entitled to be taken care of by the government and try to take advantage of whatever programs they can, but that is not the majority of people who at one time or another need help from their government.  Not here in Canada and I am guessing not in the USA either.  In fact, it seems to me that there are just as many, if not more,  wealthy people in our two countries who feel that they are entitled to get what they want from the government, whether it’s loopholes to pay less taxes, bills passed or ignored, regulations lifted or enforced that help out their businesses or ensure that they maintain their personal wealth.  What’s absurd about it is that those wealthy people who feel entitled to more think that they should pay less while everyone else bears the burden of their entitlement.

Working for a corporation that followed Mitt Romney’s top-down economic strategy I found myself, along with all my colleagues, taking a 10% pay reduction for a year while the top executives maintained their full salary and received bonuses all while telling us that they were doing it so we could keep our jobs, as if it was some altruistic act on their part.  Of course they wanted us to keep our jobs so we could continue to do the same work for less pay and achieve the objectives set out by the company for the year so they could get their bonuses.  When all was said and done many people lost their jobs anyway, but not those at the top who were never even touched by the cutbacks.  To understand true entitlement thinking I believe you have to stop looking at those who have the least who are just trying to ensure that their basic needs are met and look to those who have everything but still think the rest of the world owes them MORE.

Now I know that, unlike Scrooge, Mitt Romney gives a lot of his money to charities.  What does it matter if he doesn’t truly understand or at least empathize with what it’s like for those in the world who need to seek the help of charities or government to get a hand up in life?  How much does the accused racist’s argument that he has friends that are black/white/Indian/Chinese/etc. convince you that he is not racist when there is evidence, from his own mouth, to the contrary?  Mitt Romney and scores of Republicans wanting to ‘spin’ his words have tried to convince Americans that he just didn’t say what he meant very eloquently.  They might want to take a lesson from history and Marie Antoinette, “Let them eat cake”, didn’t go over very well either.

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