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December 8, 2010

Margaret Wente, paid to be mean

Dr. Mohamed Elmasry

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In her column on November 30, Margaret Wente, of Toronto's Globe and Mail newspaper, praised Australia for telling immigrants that "if they miss their elderly parents, they should buy a plane ticket home," instead of allowing them - as the case in Canada - to use "a family reunification program." She praised Australia again by saying that "language competence is so essential to immigrant success that if you can't speak English, you can't get in."

Let us be clear here – we are talking about old mothers from, for example, India, China, Serbia or Egypt (reason for these four countries below) who are sponsored by their well to do Canadian or immigrant children to come and live with them because there is no one left at home to take care of them.

These old moms do not know English, but they will help build a Canadian extended family. They will help baby sit their grandchildren, and teach them their language and culture. They offer them love, care and self-confidence. They are consumers. They contribute to raising good Canadian children with old- fashioned family values. In the long run Canada is the winner.

Why do these old ladies have to know English?

Or know the name of our prime minister for that matter?

Why does the citizenship test not tell them the truth about Canada’s history? Why does it not tell them about the mistreatment of our natives, about discrimination in the work place for people of color, or about our lost civil liberties?

I mentioned the four countries above because I sponsored my mother from Egypt to live with me at the same time three of my graduate students sponsored their mothers from India, China, and Serbia. When the four of us compared notes, we agreed that the added value to our family lives was worth it; something Ms Wente would not, and could not understand.

Wente’s claim that “The burden on Canada is growing as courts, hospitals and social services struggle to accommodate people who lack language skills,” is false for these moms. I used to escort my mother in her visits to the doctor and to translate for her. It was an act of love, which Ms Wente could not appreciate.

“Citizenship has its rewards as well as its obligations (a passport, for example). So a tougher citizenship test might not be such a bad thing,” said Ms Wente.

But the fact is this: these old moms love Canada with or without a tougher citizenship test, because they have new offspring who live here.

They wish Canada well and keep her in their prayers, as they have given Canada children, grandchildren and great grandchildren to make the country economically prosperous and keep Ms. Wente employed and paid, to be mean.

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