8.30.2009

wmtc day: four years of canada

It's wmtc day! Allan and I moved to Canada four years ago today. I looked up what I wrote last year at this time, and not much has changed.
When I think back to August 30, 2005 - driving through western New York State in the world's fullest minivan, Buster between us, Cody in a cave of boxes - it feels like a lifetime ago. And yet these three years have flown by, as time seems to move alarmingly fast, the older I get.

Not a day goes by that I am not happy and grateful that we left the US for Canada. Canada has turned out to be exactly what I thought it was: not a perfect world, just a better place.

And now, it is my home.

Next up: citizenship! We've got the forms ready to fill out. More on that as it happens.

This is all still true. Leaving the US for Canada was one of the best things we will ever do with our lives.

Not much has changed on the citizenship front, either. We applied in November 2008; in March 2009 we received notification from CIC that our application has been received and is in queue. It was a bit disappointing to see how long that one step took.

The queue letter said processing time is 8-12 months. With our immigration applications, the estimated times were longer than reality, for whatever that's worth.

I'd like to think the delay is down to an understaffed CIC and a slow-moving bureaucracy, rather than something more sinister. (CIC staffer, what do you think??)

In the 1980s, many of my activist friends - who, at the time, were all older than me - were paranoid about being spied on, even though nothing we were doing was even marginally illegal. They wouldn't talk our activities on the phone, and were always suspicious when a new person joined the group. My attitude was: Don't flatter yourself, we're not that important. Not that I knew we weren't being spied on. I just chose to proceed without fear, and not catch their paranoia, even if it might be justified.

Those friends had lived through the 1960s and early 70s, and they had seen ample proof that the US government did spy on activists - regularly and for no reason. And now I've lived through the early 21st Century, and I know it doesn't matter if my activism is legal or not. The government might take an interest anyway. No government can be considered free of that possibility.

It follows, then, that some wmtc readers have wondered if my writing critically about the Harper government, especially about Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Jason Kenney, could reduce our chances of getting citizenship, or at least delay the process. Especially since we know the CIC does read this blog.

I'd certainly like to think that's not the case. I've done nothing illegal. In fact, I might be considered a model citizen, as I'm actively engaged in society. In my work on behalf of US war resisters in Canada, I stand beside the mainstream of Canadian society, including many Members of Parliament. But of course, I do actively oppose the current Government.

Is there something going on? We really don't know. Maybe our citizenship applications are taking the slow route through CIC channels because of my outspoken opposition to the head of that ministry. Or maybe "don't flatter yourself" is a more appropriate thought.

To be honest, I'm not worried either way. I want to be a Canadian citizen. I'd like to be able to vote one day. Meanwhile, we're here, living our lives. When it happens, it happens.

23 comments:

johngoldfine said...

I just got my US passport renewed and found myself with my usual reactions dealing with the government: resentment, fear, and (sadly) a pathetic eagerness to please in hopes that somehow I can avoid the wrath and vengeance of the faceless ones.

The passport arrived in less than three weeks, months earlier than I expected. Apparently, I filled out the forms all correctly. My check cleared. My photo was cute.

As I say, I had that childish gratitude that I'd been a good boy and was in no trouble--and an equal and correlated rage that I'd been made to feel so helpless.

Last time I went through Homeland Security, the lady holding my passport said, "Look at me, 'sir.'" She apparently was checking my face against the ten year old photo. I could feel the hairs rising on the back of my neck. I put the "sir" in sneer quotes to try to indicate just how demeaning it sounded. My name is right there on the passport you're holding, Ms.!

Years ago, when I was having a tax hassle that required a lawyer, my experience was that I could extract an official apology for the direct rudeness of minions, but that nothing on god's green earth was going to save me from writing that big check to the IRS even though everyone concerned admitted that the law was ambiguous and that simple fairness was not being trompled in the dust.

Gawd, don't let me start on that!

Best of luck with your travails with officialdom way up north.

L-girl said...

Of course, I lack two important attributes of government harrasment: brown skin and a Muslim-sounding last name. Then again, those government targets are usually citizens already.

L-girl said...

Best of luck with your travails with officialdom way up north.

Thanks John.

Am I correct in remembering you are in Maine? You may be further north than we are. Although I understand you are using "up north" in a less literal sense.

In Ontario, "up north" means cottage country - vacation land.

In Canada in general, "up north" means the territories and the arctic.

L-girl said...

As I say, I had that childish gratitude that I'd been a good boy and was in no trouble--and an equal and correlated rage that I'd been made to feel so helpless.

I've heard this a lot from people. I'm pleased that it's a rage I don't share. I simply don't care about stuff like that. I know it bothers a lot of people, tho.

johngoldfine said...

I'm in Maine for sure. Anything beyond Bangor AFAIC is williwags, boonies, tules, bush, East Bumfuck, or, if Canada, Way Up North...whatever some darned so-called reality-based map may say.

johngoldfine said...

"I've heard this a lot from people. I'm pleased that it's a rage I don't share. I simply don't care about stuff like that. I know it bothers a lot of people, tho."

You don't strike me as the helpless type. More the "take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them" type.

L-girl said...

You don't strike me as the helpless type. More the "take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them" type.


Well, no. Not helpless. But I doubt you are, either.

What I mean is I know this kind of officialdom bothers a lot of people. For example, many people I know who emigrated to Canada hated the process of documenting their lives - felt it was intrusive or invasive, or that they had to justify themselves to strangers, or what have you. Or people who are extremely bothered by airport security or border guards.

Those things just happen not to bother me. I just take it in stride. I'm not saying this is better, or that other people's discomfort is unjustified. I just don't share it.

Which is good, because enough things bother me in this world!

PaulM said...

Laura
If I read your entry correctly, your total time lapse from the point of application is about 10 months. Six months from the time your application entered the queue. So you're still within the time frame of 10 to 12 months counting everything. If the letter meant 8 to 12 months from the time the application entered the queue, you're shy of the earliest possible date.
I wouldn't worry at this point. My experience with Canadian government agencies (which spans some six decades) is that couldn't conspire to cross the street. And I think we mut always keep in mind that gross incompetence presents the illusion of conspiracy.
(The CIC probably doesn't think it's that much of a big deal - after all, you're working and living here and paying taxes etc., what more do you want? The right to vote? Nah, they'll get around to it when they get around to it...)
Anyhow, hope this happens for you sooner rather than later
PaulM
ps. seem to be having some posting trouble. If this comes through more than once, apologies..

redsock said...

And I think we mut always keep in mind that gross incompetence presents the illusion of conspiracy.

In general, it's the illusion of gross incompetence which cloaks the presence of conspiracy.

L-girl said...

Thanks, PaulM.

My experience with Canadian government agencies (which spans some six decades) is that couldn't conspire to cross the street.

With respect, it's not "agencies" that conspire. People within agencies can and do conspire.

And I think we mut always keep in mind that gross incompetence presents the illusion of conspiracy.

In general, I heartily agree with redsock's assessment, above. I think history proves this out many times over.

However, I hope it's clear from my post that I'm not worried either way. I'm merely suggesting it as a possibility, as many people have suggested it to me. After all, we know the CIC is watching this blog - we have written proof of that.

L-girl said...

Anyhow, hope this happens for you sooner rather than later

And thank you :)

tim said...

Congrats guys! I'm sure you'll get the citizenship stuff going soon, I don't think its people spying on you. Incompetence/lazy employees is what I would think is responsible for the delays. If they're anything like every other federal government agency I've ever dealt with (except for Passport Canada, I was impressed with them)....then its just a standard process. And like you said, you aren't doing anything illegal, you have nothing to hide so you shouldn't have any problems getting your papers.

And I think I'm like you L. I don't get enraged about security guards/border guards or anything. They have a job to do, its expected and I have nothing to hide. So they can search away. I do get enraged with idiocy and incompetence though, when I'm trying to accomplish something and people can't tell their ass from a hole in the ground.

L-girl said...

Thanks, Tim!

I feel obligated to point out that LOTS of people who have done nothing wrong are hassled at borders and by the government. They generally have brown skin and Arab-sounding last names - but not always.

People are arrested and put in prison who have done nothing wrong.

When it comes to civil liberties and privacy, "if you're not doing anything wrong, then you have nothing to fear" is both naive and untrue.

Also... I'm not sure if you've followed the links or this part of the story, but the CIC does monitor the activities of the War Resisters Support Campaign by reading this blog. That's what brought about these thoughts, not just random paranoia on my part. :)

deang said...

With respect, it's not "agencies" that conspire. People within agencies can and do conspire.

Indeed. I worked one year at the IRS processing applications for temporary residence permits. Agency rules didn't arbitrarily discriminate against certain people, but individual employees did, doing things like deliberately misfiling the paperwork from Mexican and Central American applicants, between bouts of grousing against "illegals." I did a lot of surreptitious correcting of bigoted coworkers' "mistakes" at that job.

Rick Barnes said...

I'm happy you are here and liking being here. I know my partner says it always feels like a big heavy quilt is holding him down whenever he goes south of the border. He is now a landed immigrant and will be happy to wait for the citizenship papers, expected in 30 months time!

Dharma Seeker said...

Five years ago I would have said there's no way the government would bog an activist's application down with bureaucracy. I've since learned not to put anything past Harper's Conservatives. You'll get it either way, as you noted it is just a question of when. And don't forget I want to be there!

L-girl said...

Wow DS, that would be great! I hope Hazel is still in office then. And I hope the Harper government is not. Imagine if Jason Kenney showed up for a photo-op at the ceremony??

Thank you Rick. All the best to you guys, too.

M. Yass said...

You know, if you're concerned, you could get a hold of your MP. Bill Siksay in Burnaby, for example, says on his website that he can and does help with citizenship and immigration issues. You could show the CIC emails that mention your blog and explain your concerns.

If nothing else, it might help keep honest people honest.

Just my $0.02 worth.

L-girl said...

Bill Siksay is your MP?? Lucky you! He is a big supporter of war resisters, both personally and politically.

It's a good idea to contact my MP. The population of Mississauga is overwhelming immigrant and she must get a lot of questions about this.

Thanks!

Scott M. said...

I second contacting your MP - having worked in Customs, I can attest that questions/comments from MPs are treated VERY seriously (too seriously in some cases).

As well, I second the comment that it's highly, highly doubtful that you would be targeted in the system to slow down. Chances are the queue is just slow. I do think Ockham's razor should be applied here - chances that they even have an eye on your application is highly doubtful.

That all being said -- WOW! Four years? Seriously?

Wow.

M. Yass said...

Scott M. said...

I second contacting your MP - having worked in Customs, I can attest that questions/comments from MPs are treated VERY seriously (too seriously in some cases).


They must, judging from an interesting exchange I had with one of the border agents on the way back from my last trip to the U.S.

I asked one of them if I could get my study/work permits renewed there at the border. He said I could do it there but that they would prefer if I went through Vegreville. I said I would do that. Then I said, "I figure if they give me any crap, I'll just call my MP and he'll take care of it."

The look on his face was, to say the least, interesting. It was as if to say, "hey, c'mon, is that really necessary? That's a little extreme, don'cha think?" He was definitely taken aback, a little shocked and wanted to end the conversation as quickly as possible. Does that make any sense to you?

What did you do in Customs?

M. Yass said...

L-girl said...

Bill Siksay is your MP?? Lucky you!


He was when I first moved here. I had to move when the heat was off at my place over the winter months. The inside temperature was around 10 C, i.e., unfit for human habitation. I took to calling the place "the ice box."

When I moved in with my now-ex girlfriend, it was Hedy Fry. Now that I'm back on my own, it's Ujjal Dosanjh. I think I could do a lot worse than a former NDP premier of BC.

geek guy said...

any news on this front??.