To allow or not to allow – self-preservation, racism or selfishness?

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The longest part of this post was the title; I didn’t know if I should be direct, subtle or what. You can see that I decided to go all out and be direct.

This story popped into my inbox today, courtesy of a lovely lawyer friend of mine who works with immigration cases. A personal note said: “This job is a lot tougher than I thought it would be. Five years, and I am ready to switch. Do you think corporate law would be easier?”

First of all, especially in today’s world, I don’t think corporate law would be easier.

Second of all, I deeply sympathize with my friend, because it’s cases like these that make one question everything about our ‘Canadian’ culture – are we really the wonderful people that we think we are? Or rather, is it difficult to hold on to our collective ‘wonderfulness’ when the world around us is trying more and more to take advantage of us?

MD rejected for immigration because daughter could burden Medicare

A Calgary critical-care doctor’s application for permanent residency has been rejected because one of his daughters might be a drain on the health care system. South African physician Stanley Muwanguzi says his 22-year-old daughter has been institutionalized since she was a toddler and he has no intention of moving her to Canada.

“It has been a nightmare…. [That] this is happening in Canada is truly shameful. That is the only way to put it,” he said.

Muwanguzi, who works at the Peter Lougheed Hospital, has been practising in Canada since 2002. A letter from the government sent to Muwanguzi says he doesn’t meet the requirements for immigration to Canada.

The letter says that under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, a “person whose health condition, severe developmental delay associated with cerebral palsy, might reasonably be expected to cause excessive demand on health or social services,” is inadmissible to Canada.

Since Muwanguzi’s “non-accompanying family member is inadmissible to Canada,” he is also “inadmissible.”


Doctor son also wants to immigrate

Muwanguzi said if he doesn’t receive an answer soon, he will have to move to the United States.

Wendy Danson, his lawyer, said Canada needs doctors like Muwanguzi. His son in South Africa, another practising doctor, would also like to move here, she said.

“Here we have someone so skilled, who has a son equally as skilled that would join him in a flash. There is no logic behind it.”

Muwanguzi, a father of five, has two daughters living with him and his wife, Susan, a teacher in Calgary, as well as two sons living in South Africa. One of his daughters is a pre-med student at the University of Alberta and is paying high international student fees of about $30,000 a year.

The couple returns to South Africa once a year to visit their sons and their daughter with cerebral palsy, who isn’t capable of recognizing them or even talking. (Cerebral palsy refers to a group of neurological disorders that affect control of movement and posture and that limit activity.)

Muwanguzi said it’s wrong he is being rejected “because of the notion that my daughter would be a drain on the Canadian economic system.”

“I told the Immigration [Department] very clearly that I didn’t want to destabilize my daughter. She has been in the same institution since she was 18 months old.… They are looking after her very well,” he said. “There is no reason to move her. It would actually be detrimental.” (…)

You have to admit, this is one tough dilemma. On the one hand, the Canadian government has to make sure it protects the interests of Canadians, while on the other hand extending a helping hand to all those it can possible help.

But how do we calculate this? It seems to cold to calculate a person’s worth by the money they will make (and, consequently, the taxes they will pay) and their contribution to society. But I don’t see any other way of going about doing it.

The one insight that I did gain from reading this article is this: these are the cases which makes people disengage themselves from involvement in the affairs of their countries. Why dirty your hands and participate in a discussion bound to make one uncomfortable?

Maybe we will not figure out anytime soon how to solve these ethical dilemmas, but one thing is certain: the more we wait before starting a truly open and honest discussion, the more we delay their resolution.

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