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Thursday, December 08, 2005

Stop Canada's Policy of Destroying Loving Families

For those of you who may not be aware of the situation currently playing itself out in Newfoundland and Labrador and similar ones across this country let me fill you in. There are, as I write this, any number of families and individuals who are heading into the Christmas season under the specter of a deportation order from Canadian Border Services. Deportation orders that were issued by a single bureaucrat who is part of a system that has no appeal process for those who are affected by the decision.

Some of these individuals are skilled craftsmen gainfully employed using skills that can be found nowhere else in the province if even in the Country. When they go, so to do their jobs and other jobs dependent on them, not to mention the highly sought after products these people produce will no longer be available. Of course in the situation here, in Newfoundland and Labrador specifically, that wouldn’t matter to the bureaucrat in Halifax who made the decision.

Others under deportation order include people like the Portnoy family, from Israel. Thousands of people from all parts of the province have rallied around this family and shown their limitless support for them. At this point I doubt anyone in Newfoundland and Labrador does not recognize the name or feel deeply for this family. In other parts of Canada their name may not be known. With Christmas coming up and the feeling of love and friendship, not to mention an election in the air, let me give you a short synopsis and update on this family’s plight.

The family of 6, a mother, father and 4 children, are now living in the basement of a local church where they have been seeking sanctuary for several long months. They have been unable to return to their home during that time. The father, Alexi Portnoy, was gainfully and happily employed until he was forced underground with his family. The Portnoy family has put down roots and nurtured many friends in the 10 years they have lived here waiting for a dysfunctional federal department to decide their fate. To decide if they were qualified to remain in the Canada. Now after all this time, the family is being told they must leave.

Liberal Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan, who is also the Minister in charge of Canadian Border Services, has denied the family a stay of deportation that would have allowed for a review of their case to be conducted. This is in spite of the fact that a local support committee sent a 20+ page document to the Minister outlining the specifics of the case, where the system had failed them and clear justifications for the request.

Ms. McLellan didn’t even have the decency to respond to the request directly or even in writing for that matter. Instead, in a warm hearted, spirit of Christmas type of gesture, McLellan passed her decision verbally to area Liberal MP Bill Matthews, and had him do her dirty work for her.

That isn’t even the best of it folks, wait until you hear her decision. It’s a real heart warmer.

According to MP Bill Matthews, who was given the Minister’s response via telephone, Ms. McLellan recommends that the family go back to their home for Christmas and spend a few weeks preparing to leave the Country. She would like them to leave voluntarily in early January. She also recommends that once back in Israel they apply for re-entry and the government would “see” about expediting their application.

Well folks, what a great suggestion. Let’s have this family prepare to leave. Let’s have them take their ailing daughter out of the country. A daughter who suffers every day from Cystic Fibrosis and who nearly died within the past week or so (her family couldn’t even leave the church basement to be with her in the hospital for fear of deportation). Let’s have them pack her up and leave the Country, along with their other children, two of whom were born right here in Newfoundland and are Canadian citizens by birthright. I mean, what’s the big deal. They can re-apply for entry once they get to Israel right?


Despite Ms. McLellan’s generous Christmas gift, they are free to apply, but they have no chance of being accepted. It turns out that they’re daughter, the one with Cystic Fibrosis, would not qualify to come back to this Country for medical reasons. Once they are gone they are gone for good folks. Gone back to a Country who will likely welcome them with less than open arms since they left as refugees citing fear and danger if they remained.

As a gesture of good will, when asked about the moral dilemma presented by deporting the two younger children, who were born here and are Canadian citizens, Mr. Matthews told a representative for the family that those two children could stay if they chose to do so, but the rest of the family would have to go.

What a kind guy, sort of reminds me of Santa Clause. In his favor Matthews said he is asking the Minister for assurances that the family will not be harassed by officials if they attend to their ailing daughter in future, should she once again require emergency services. As of yet there has been no response to this request from Ms. McLellan.

I have to ask myself where it all went wrong. When did we become a nation that sends honest hard working family people away like they were a scourge on our landscape while our government spends millions of dollars protecting the rights of suspected and even proven criminals and terrorist types?

When did we become such a cold, callous and unfeeling nation that we have no problem deporting our own citizens, in the case of the two youngest Portnoy children, or coldly giving two loving parents the option of leaving their children behind forever? When did this happen to us, when did we become what we are?

People in the province are continuing to support the Portnoy family both morally and financially and they have decided to refuse the wonderfully Grinch like offer of Anne McLellan and the government of Canada. Instead this family will remain in the basement of the local church for as long as it takes. With the help of an immigration lawyer and the support of thousands of Newfoundland and Labrador residents, they will continue to fight for their cause on humanitarian and medical grounds. It's the last chance they have now.

I hate to politicize such a personal and painful situation, but I believe every avenue must be explored that might help these people and the communities in which they live, regardless of where that is in Canada. If there is one thing a politician understands fully it is public opinion and votes. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Although this particular situation is a very high profile issue in Newfoundland, it is not well known in other parts of Canada. With election time at hand, I ask everyone to do their best to make this a national issue rather than just a local one. Shout it from the rooftops if you must. Make sure that every person and every politician in this country recognizes the injustice that is happening to people like the Portnoys.

You might want to start by emailing your thoughts and feelings on this issue directly to the Canadian Border Services at:


Perhaps you might want to follow this up by placing a few, a dozen or even hundreds of toll free calls to the Canadian Border Services at:


Tell them how you feel. Deluge their email and phone systems so nothing goes in or out of their offices unless they deal with this issue.

It's time we brought our Country back from the brink. This is not simply about saving the Portnoys or other loving families and children from uncertain futures. It’s also about the kind of country we want to be. It’s a slippery slope we are on folks and if we let this issue die, if we let our government destroy the lives of these good people and others like them, we may find that it is too late for any of us to keep from going over the edge.

Take a stand today. Let’s be heard and heard clearly. Let’s do it today, not tomorrow or next week or next month, but today, right now. Let’s do it before it’s too late.


Patriot said...

Here is an interesting possibility. You may find that you recieve an out of office response if you email me over the next little while. This is for a very good reason.

I have turned on my out of office auto reply and you may want to do the same.

In this email option you will normally find one setting for general response to incoming email. But there is often another that you can specify for use when you are contacted by specific domains or email addresses.

It appears that the Canadian Border Services sends out an automatic email letting you know they have recieved your message. Here is where the opportunity lies.

All you have to do set your custom out of office message to reply to the domain: canada.gc.ca with a message outlining your feelings on the Portnoy case and then simply turn it on.

Now, send the border service a message and sit back. Once you send the border service one email on the subject they will send an auto response which will trigger a response back to them from your auto email and so on and so on and so on. What a fun way to cause havoc for these fine folks.

Patriot said...


Woops, it looks like they caught on to me. After two initial responses from the Canadian Border Services they have stopped coming.

Oh well, it was worth a shot. I guess I'll just have to keep pestering them manually.