Connect with us
[bsa_pro_ad_space id=12]

National

Canada and United States not facing asylum seeker crisis: UNHCR official

Published

on

If you like this, share it!




  • OTTAWA — Neither Canada nor the United States is experiencing a crisis in asylum claims, says the United Nations’ assistant high commissioner for refugees.

    Volker Turk, an Austrian in charge of refugee protection for the UN, was in Ottawa this week to meet with Canadian border officials. He said in an interview that Canada’s recent spike in irregular migrants is nothing compared to the millions of refugees who pour every year into much poorer countries.

    Likewise, the migrant caravan making its way through Mexico toward the United States, numbering in the low thousands of people, is small compared to the vast migrations borne in recent years by countries like Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, which have taken in over five million Syrian refugees.

    “A lot of the media debate that we often see is that there are hordes of people coming to the industrialized world — that’s absolutely not true,” Turk said.

    North America has largely been shielded from the true global crisis of 68.5 million displaced persons in the world fleeing war and conflict, he said.

    “I think it’s important to put everything in perspective and to bear in mind that when people talk about a ‘crisis’ these days, these crises are far away from North America or from Europe, they are taking place often in the poorest countries in the world who need our support, need our solidarity and who need also our humanity.”

    Political rhetoric whipping up public concern over the asylum-seekers has been rising in recent weeks, led by politicians in both Canada and the United States.

    In Canada, the federal Conservatives regularly refer to the influx of tens of thousands of asylum seekers crossing “irregularly” into Canada via non-official entry points from the U.S. as a border crisis and have used the issue to galvanize their base and criticize the Liberal government.

    In the U.S., President Donald Trump has spoken more and more harshly on the issue of “illegal aliens” as he continues to push for a wall across his country’s border with Mexico. In the lead-up to the American midterm elections this week, he was especially aggressive on the migrant caravan: he said its participants are part of an invasion and has deployed the military to the border.

    Nevertheless, Turk said, the U.S. continues to have a “robust” asylum system with checks and balances.

    Turk said 90 per cent of the world’s refugees who cross international borders do so far away from both Canada and the United States.

    “I think it is important never to lose sight of what we face globally today. The real crises in this world are in the Ugandas of this world, are in Turkey, are in Jordan, are in Lebanon, are in Ethiopia, are in Pakistan and Iran, where countries host literally millions of refugees year in and year out,” he said.

    Canada has indeed been cognizant of this and has been closely monitoring the rise in migration patterns, particularly in the Americas, according to government documents obtained under access-to-information law.

    Officials within the International Trade Department have raised concerns about this, notably over how the Trump administration’s “hard-line rhetoric” could lead to an influx of irregular migrants from Central America into Canada.

    Trump has moved to end temporary protected status for hundreds of thousands of foreign nationals living in the U.S. and has vowed to kill the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for people who grew up in the U.S. after their parents brought them illegally as minors.

    Canadian officials noted in a September 2017 briefing document that two-thirds of America’s DACA beneficiaries are Mexican nationals, and warned that if a lot of them decided to come to Canada, it would place tremendous pressure on Canada’s asylum system.

    Canada has been working with Turk’s agency to help Mexico build its capacity to handle asylum claims from Central Americans. The work has included training provided by Canadian immigration officials to their Mexican counterparts on assessing refugee claims and protecting claimants.

    Turk says the effort has already seen success, with asylum applications in Mexico rising from 2,000 in 2016 to 10,000 in 2017.

    “Mexico traditionally has been a country of transit, so many people did not apply for asylum,” he said. “Even in the last couple of days we have seen an increase in asylum applications (in Mexico), so it’s obvious that Mexico needs support both when it comes to the asylum system as well as when it comes to helping them integrate refugees.”

    — Follow @ReporterTeresa on Twitter.

    Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press


    If you like this, share it!

    National

    Online real estate auctions try to shake up sales with novel approach

    Published

    on

    If you like this, share it!




  • An online auction for a luxury home in Abbotsford, B.C., is drawing attention for its novel approach, which some observers say has potential to inspire new sales even if it doesn’t have any notable impact on the housing landscape.

    Bidding opens Tuesday on the 12-bedroom, 10-bath restored train power station known as the “Sumas Powerhouse,” which was previously listed for $5 million and has an assessed value of $2.2 million on B.C. Assessment.

    It’s one of three properties in Canada listed on global firm Concierge Auction’s website. A news release says it’s targeting Chinese buyers and will be sold in co-operation with Re/Max.

    Scott Pate, a project sales manager with Concierge, said luxury real estate has been a buyers market for quite some time in both the United States and Canada and auctions are a way to give sellers more certainty.

    “We’ll bring the market to this sale instead of the normal way of selling real estate, which is putting it on the market and waiting for an offer, which could take years and years,” he said.

    “The market is motivated because there’s a fear of missing out. This auction is going to end on a certain day … so it creates a lot of interest.”

    Real estate auctions are typical in Australia and New Zealand, but the model is less common in Canada. 

    A real estate agent in Victoria tried the in-person auction approach in 2016 with a property in the city’s upscale Rockland neighbourhood, holding a public auction featuring a pianist playing a grand piano in the ballroom at the event.

    But local media reported that although 60 people filled the room, only one was an interested buyer so the auction was cancelled. In 2017, the B.C. Supreme Court accepted a $1.8-million offer for the historic mansion in foreclosure.

    Tom Davidoff, director of the University of British Columbia’s Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate, said online auctions aren’t all that different from the way we buy and sell homes traditionally in Canada, especially in cases where there are multiple interested buyers and a bidding war.

    That could make it comfortable for Canadian buyers to transition to the model.

    “It certainly could be a direction the market could go. In segments where the market is slow today, people will try different approaches to move product, so it’s certainly possible,” he said.

    But beyond creating another way for potential buyers to bid, he said he doesn’t believe there will be an impact on the market in terms of housing prices or competition.

    “This will have no impact on the market overall,” Davidoff said.

    In Toronto, On the Block sells real estate both the traditional way and through its online auction platform but doesn’t focus on luxury sales.

    Co-founder Daniel Steinfeld said online auctions offer a way around some of the frustrations that come with silent bidding wars under the traditional system.

    As part of the company’s model, buyers must sign agreements to make the value of their bids public while their identities remain protected. Real estate board regulations otherwise prohibit real estate agents from disclosing the substance of competing bids.

    “Buyers, especially in the Toronto and Vancouver markets, have grown pretty frustrated with the blind bidding approach,” he said.

    The platform also allows the company to post more information than might be available through MLS listings, like copies of home inspections and agreements of purchase and sale, which makes it less likely for a sale to fall through.

    The most important factor in a successful real estate auction is the starting price, which can inspire competitive bids, Steinfeld said. So when identifying potential properties for auction, the company interviews the sellers to determine their objectives and market expectations.

    If the seller has unreasonable expectations about the market value of their property, it’s probably not the right fit for auction.

    Market conditions matter less, he said.

    “We have seen in both good and bad market conditions that it can work, it really just comes down to the appropriate pricing strategy,” Steinfeld said.

    Auction properties are typically first-time listings and the company sets a reserve price, which represents the minimum value at which the seller is obligated to sell.

    “Once bidding reaches that number, everyone knows for sure that property will sell,” he said.

    “Then everyone starts to bid quit a bit more because they know at that point that if they win, it’s theirs.”

     

    Amy Smart, The Canadian Press


    If you like this, share it!
    Continue Reading

    National

    A week on, vigil held for Christchurch victims in Prince Edward Island

    Published

    on

    If you like this, share it!




  • CHARLOTTETOWN — More than a week after the deadly shooting rampage at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, a vigil was held at the Charlottetown cenotaph in Prince Edward Island on Saturday to show solidarity with the victims.

    Sobia Ali-Faisal, a faculty member at the University of Prince Edward Island’s psychology department, said while the temperature was cold the atmosphere at the vigil was warm.

    “It was sombre, but the signs that people had were very, very supportive,” she said, adding that the hundreds of people who attended “really wanted to be there.”

    Ali-Faisal said it was particularly heartening to see support from outside the Muslim community.

    “It’s soothing because you can feel quite vulnerable after something like this happens,” she said.

    “It could happen here. You could be a target, and you just kind of become cautious and take a lot more precautions. So it’s nice when you see people come out and support you. It makes you feel safer.”

    Vigils can also be a starting point for challenging hate by allowing people of different faiths to connect, she added, but said it’s important to keep up the momentum they create.

    Shaukat Khan, the president of the Pakistan Canada Association in Vancouver, said it’s “amazing” to see Canadians standing with the Muslim community, adding that Canadians always come together in hard times and these vigils show that.

    There are a number of groups in British Columbia and other parts of the country meeting up and thinking of ways to sustain the dialogue following the attacks, he said.

    The gunman killed a total of 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch on March 15, in the nation’s worst terrorist attack.

    Australian national Brenton Tarrant, 28, has been charged with murder in the attacks and is scheduled to make his next court appearance on April 5.

    Alhadi Abusneena, the president of the Muslim Society of Prince Edward Island who was also at the Charlottetown vigil, echoed Ali-Faisal’s words.

    The people of Charlottetown and P.E.I. support the Muslim community and “we stand as one family,” he said.

    “I see in their eyes, I see the love and compassion,” he said.

    Such vigils show that in spite of the sorrow, people choose love over hatred, he said.

    Although the vigil on Saturday took place more than a week after the shooting, Abusneena said the timing is irrelevant since the victims’ families have to live with a lifetime of pain.

    —By Hina Alam in Vancouver, with files from The Associated Press

    The Canadian Press


    If you like this, share it!
    Continue Reading

    march, 2019

    fri8mar - 30aprmar 85:30 pmapr 30Real Estate Dinner Theatre5:30 pm - (april 30) 10:00 pm

    sat30mar - 31mar 3010:00 ammar 319th Annual Central Alberta Family Expo10:00 am - 5:00 pm (31)

    sat30mar1:00 pm- 4:00 pmMAGSaturday @ the MuseumMAGnificent Saturdays welcomes all ages and abilities to participate in a fun art project every week! 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

    Trending

    X