Immigrant MPs

As Parliament returns today, and the debate over Bil C-50, the budget bill – including proposed changes to immigration policy – continues, I thought this list of federal members of parliament (MPs) born outside of Canada might be interesting. Some arrived in Canada as children. Information from the Parliament of Canada website.

Conservative Party

Diane Ablonczy, Calgary-Nose Hill, immigrated from the United States, age not specified. Ablonczy was critic for Immigration and Citizenship from 2002 to 2006 and served on the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration.

Tony Clement, Parry Sound-Muskoka, immigrated from England, age not specified. Clement is currently Minister of Health.

Stephen John Fletcher, Charleswood-St.James-Assiniboia, immigrated from Brazil, age not specified.

Nina Grewal, Fleetwood-Port Kells, immigrated from Japan as an adult.

Rahim Jaffer, Edmonton-Strathcona, immigrated from Uganda, age not specified.

Wajid Khan, Mississauga Streetsville, immigrated from Pakistan, age not specified.

Inky Mark, Dauphin-Swan River-Marquette, immigrated from China, around age 11 or 12. Mark and his family were victims of the Chinese exclusion act. Mark served as Conservative critic for Immigration and Citizenship.

Deepak Obrhai, Calgary East, immigrated from Tanzania, age not specified. Obrhai is currently Parliamentary Secretary for Foregin Affairs.

Daniel Petit, Charlesbourg–Haute-Saint-Charles, immigrated from Belgium, age unknown.

Myron Thompson, Wild Rose, immigrated from the United States, age not specified.

Vic Toews, Provencher, immigrated from Paraguay, age 4 or 5.

John Williams, Edmonton-St. Albert, immigrated from Scotland, age not specified.

Liberal Party

Omar Alghabra, Mississauga Erindale, immigrated from Saudia Arabia “at a young age” (not specified).

Susan Barnes, London West, immigrated from Malta at age 5.

Maurizio Bevilaqua, Vaughan, immigrated from Italy, age not specified. Bevilaqua is the current liberal critic for citizenship and immigration.

John Cannis, Scarborough Centre, immigrated from Greece, age not specified.

Raymond Chan, Richmond, immigrated from Hong Kong as a teen. Chan served as Minister of State for Multiculturalism in 2004.

Sukh Dhaliwal, Newton North-Delta, immigrated from India, age not specified.

Ujjal Dosanjh, Vancouver South, immigrated from India to the UK as a teenager and then to Canada.

Raymonde Folco, Laval-Les Îles, immigrated from France, age not specified. Before election as an MP, Folco served on the Immigration Refugee Board and has also served as VP and President of the Conseil des communautés culturelles et de l’immigration.

Hedy Fry, Vancouver Centre, immigrated from Trinidad, age not specified. Fry served as Secretary of State for Multiculturalism from 1996 to 2002 and in the last Parliament, was Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.

Albina Guarnieri, Mississauga-East Cooksville, immigrated from Italy, age not specified.

Jim Karygiannis, Scarborough-Agincourt, immigrated from Greece to Canada as a teenager. Karygiannis is vocal about immigration issues, see the blog post about immigration wait times impact on children.

Gurbax Singh Mahli, Bramalea-Gore-Malton, immigrated from India, age not specified.

Keith Martin, Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, immigrated from England, age not specified.

Maria Minna, Beaches-East York, immigrated from Italy at age 9. Minna was president of COSTI-IIAS from 1981 to 1992.

Andrew Telegdi, Kitchener-Waterloo, came to Canada as a refugee from Hungary at age 11. Telegdi was was Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration from 1998 to 2000.

Yasmin Ratansi, Don Valley East, immigrated from Tanzania, age not specified.

Pablo Rodriguez, Honoré-Mercier, immigrated from Argentina, age not specified.

Michael John Savage, Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, immigrated from Ireland, age not specified.

Mario Silva, Davenport, immigrated from Portugal, age not specified. Co-authored a book on Canadian multiculturalism, Fabric of a Nation.

Lui Temelkovski, Oak Ridges-Markham, immigrated from Macedonia, age not specified. Temelkovski cites Prime Minister Trudeau’s multiculturlism as inspiration and served as chair for the Toronto Caravan festival.

Joe Volpe, Eglinton-Lawrence, immigrated from Italy to Canada, age not specified. Volpe was Minister of Citizenship and Immigration 2004-2005.

New Democratic Party

Chris Charlton, Hamilton Mountain, immigrated from Germany, age not specified.

Olivia Chow, Trinity Spadina, immigrated from China, age not specified. Chow speaks on behalf of children’s issues.

Libby Davies, Vancouver East, immigrated from England as a teen.

Peter Stoffer, Sackville-Eastern Shore, immigrated from the Netherlands, age not specified.

Tony Martin, Sault Ste. Marie, immigrated from England, age not specified.

Bloc Québécois

Vivan Barbot, Papineau, immigrated from Haiti, age unknown.

Maria Mourain, Ahuntsic, immigrated from the Ivory Coast, age unknown.

Ève-Mary Thaï Thi Lac, Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot, immigrated from Vietna, age unknown.

Proposed changes to immigration legislation

Continuing news stories about the federal government’s proposed amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Act, including:

Immigration changes unfair, critics charge“. Toronto Star. March 24/08.

Liberals urged to fight immigration proposals“. The Globe and Mail. March 24/08.

Finley defends contentious immigration overhaul“. CTV News. March 23/08.

Also see earlier posts on, including:

Canadian Council for Refugees on proposed amendments to the IRPA. March 17/08.

Amendments to IRPA. March 16/08.

Economic class favoured over family reunification? March 13/08.

Children’s books about immigration, II

The Canadian Children’s Book News, Winter 2008, Vol. 31, No. 1, includes two reviews of children’s books on immigration. In the article “Imagination & Immigration”, Toronto librarian Brenda Halliday profiles chapter-book Shu-Li and Tamara, written by Paul Yee and illustrated by Shaoli Wang (Tradewind Books, 2007). An excerpt from Halliday’s review:

“Shu-Li struggles to fit in and blend her Chinese and North American cultures. She is both embarrassed by her mother’s English and fiercely loyal to her when the cool girls from school laugh at her attempts. Though she respects her parents’ authority, she wishes to be more independent. … ultimately this is a story of loyalty and friendship…”.

Also in this issue, a review of Indian Tales: A Barefoot Collection, written by Shenaaz Nanji and illustrated by Christopher Corr which is billed as “The perfect read-aloud to foster multicultural learning” as it tells 8 stories, from different parts of India, each with a short introduction to the state’s unique culture.

World directory of minorities and indigeneous peoples

Minority Groups International (MGI) is an international non-governmental organization that works with over 100 partners in 60 countries to ensure minority voices are heard and rights are won and maintained. MGI has consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

MGI has released a country-by-country profile of the history and contemporary situations of the world’s minorities and indigenous peoples, entitled the State of the World’s Minorities. Each country profile includes information about the environment, history, governance, and current state of minority and indigeneous peoples.

A brief excerpt about Canada:

“Canada is often described as ‘a country of immigrants’, perhaps implying that it is by definition both a diverse and tolerant country. However, members of certain ethnic groups and most First Nations people face widespread discrimination and endure poorer-than-average living standards in Canada. … As a general rule, the relative position of minorities is determined by factors such as the darkness of skin colour, popular pressures, political expedience and economic conditions. Language is also a dividing line, especially between the English-speaking majority and French Canadian minority. Many English-speakers in the French-majority province of Quebec consider themselves disempowered”.

Lots of interesting information and data here, and searchable on-line. Visit the Minority Rights Group International website.

Conference call: 2008 (US) National refugee and immigration conference

The National Refugee and Immigration Conference will be held Sept 25-26/08 in Chicago. The aim of the conference is to identify issues, emphasize best practices and highlight innovations by providing those who work with refugees and immigrants an opportunity to learn from and to network with one another. Children and families are a focus of this conference.

From The Center website:

“Refugees and other immigrants in the U.S. must do their best to manage transitions and adjustments in new communities. Many families endure poverty, low wage employment, and attend schools under strain. Frequently, it is these families’ first experiences with formal education and urban life. Both adults and children experience tension in family relationships since cultural adjustment puts additional stress on marital and parental structures. Along with these struggles, however, comes evidence of strength and resilience, including healthy families, strong work ethic and aspirations, cohesive communities and faith.

Services for pre-school and K-12 refugee youth and their families may be compromised by differing perceptions and misunderstandings concerning the cultural adjustment process, health, health care, and nutrition, public education enrollment and attendance, academic roles and expectations, and American conventions and laws. Efforts to help refugee youth and families will have a better chance of succeeding if they are based on shared understandings and collaborative partnerships among families, schools, health and mental health providers.

Proposals are being accepted that address these and other related issues”.

Deadline for submissions is May 2/08. See the application here.

Registration questions: Tatiana Davidson. To receive conference updates, email

Childhood and migration conference, June 20-22, Philadelphia

A look at child migration through the lens of child rights. This US conference, sponsored by the Working Group on Childhood Migration features keynote speaker Jacqueline Bhabha, Harvard Law School and Executive Director of the Harvard University Committee on Human Rights Studies.

The conference is raising some of the following questions:

How are children’s rights and the notion of children as citizens affected by transnationalism, or by movement of parents and children in and out of various national legal systems?What are the emotional consequences of family separation across migratory families, especially for children?

What are children’s perspectives on migration, how are they to be elicited, how well can they be elicited and represented, and what can these perspectives tell us about socialization and processes of maturation in transnational families?

How is migration shaping any given culture group’s notions of childhood, and how are cultural notions of childhood shaping migration?

How do media and policy makers represent children in migration and how do discourses about immigrant children and migrant parents affect their lives and experiences?What can we do to generate better quantitative and qualitative data on the effects that migration has on children? What are the numbers of migrant children and how are they best defined as children in their own rights?

For more information, visit the conference website.