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Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Immigration Minister points in wrong direction

Canada’s immigration minister is in India this week, asking that country to get tough on crooked consultants fuelling immigration and visa fraud to Canada.

Some advice for his Indian minister counterpart. Ask Mr. Kenney what he’s doing about “the source” of the problem.

There are dozens, probably hundreds, of Canadian institutions, public and private, colleges and universities – engaging the crooks abroad. They contract with them. They promote them. They pay them. Are those institutions just naive back in Canada? Not quite, though the lack of due diligence does speak to incompetence. But really, it’s more a case of keeping eyes closed and just counting their money collected from foreigners paying tuition fees.

“In Chandigarh, in our consulate there, we have a ‘wall of shame’ with some examples of the thousands of fraudulent documents that are generated by this industry,” Kenney told the Globe and Mail. What’s Kenney going to do about the Canadian public universities and colleges who hire these industry crooks?

The Globe and Mail gets its wrong when it leads its front page story with “the Harper government going straight to the source of most of Canada¹s immigration to attack fraud in the system.” In more than a dozen years of working in the industry and writing about visa fraud, I’ve never seen mainstream Canadian media ask the tough questions back home of is own publicly-funded institutions. It’s one of those wide-open stories just begging for a reporter to walk in and start poking about.

I remember well a Visa Manager in New Delhi telling me they caught an education agent red-handed supplying fraud documents for its student visa applicants to Canada. “We called in the Indian authorities to have the agent arrested,” he told me. “But then we get a call from the public institution in Canada telling us to lay off our agent!” Probing further, I was told there was no political will or courage to have an elected Canadian government official take on a large institution in his own constituency.

Hopefully Minister Kenney can turn his tough talk inwards and lead to tough action in his own country.


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About Mel

Mel has consulted universities, colleges, governmental and non-governmental organizations in the field of international education since 1997. He is co-founder of Higher-Edge, the parent of Overseas, Overwhelmed, and a director of the Canadian University Application Centre. He is a former award-winning CBC reporter and holds a Masters degree from Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism.

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