I was torn, this week, between writing about the municipal elections and continuing to talk about the Parents and Grandparents Super Visa, especially after the article in the Richmond News about apparent ethnic bloc voting in certain polling stations.
In the end, I couldn't resist the lure of the Super Visa, which has the community of immigration consultants all abuzz.
Jason Kenney has left a present under the tree, but it's too soon to tell whether it's this year's hottest gadget or a lime green sweater decorated with orange reindeer.
What does all this mean? The Super Visa "became available" on Dec. 1, 2011, but even as of Nov. 30, there was no hint from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) about what the conditions to apply would be.
What did appear on the CIC website, under the headline "New Release - Super Visa Earning Rave Reviews" was a list of glowing comments about the concept of the Super Visa, like the snippets of praise you see in ads for a new movie or book.
The news release went on to say, in the breathless tones of one of those tabloids that cover the misadventures of the glitterati, "The Super Visa is super great because processing will be quick and it will respond to a genuine need. Here is what some people are saying about the Parent and Grandparent Super Visa."
"The Super Visa is super great?"
Was this a press release from the government of Canada or had I stumbled into some Bizarro parallel universe where the Minister of Immigration is the host of E-Talk?
And if the Super Visa is super great why haven't I jumped on the bandwagon like all of the other "reviewers?"
For starters, all of the same criteria apply as for a non-super visa, including the notoriously subjective "sufficient ties to home country."
I've had clients who wanted to visit their family in Canada who had a spouse, children, grandchildren, property, pension income and a rich social life in their communities - everything but a bungee cord tethering them to home - who were refused a visitor visa because they were judged to have "insufficient ties to their home country."
What does it take to convince some visa officers? No one knows. And that is the real problem.
But I do know they're not going to lower those standards (whatever they may be) when they're considering issuing a 10-year, multiple entry visa that permits the visitor to stay for up to two years at a time.
Next, the visitor has to purchase a minimum of $100,000 worth of health insurance from a Canadian insurer (none of which offers such a policy as of today) valid for at least a year.
Insurers won't issue policies that cover pre-existing conditions, of course. And we are talking about seniors who are more likely to have some health issues.
Then there is the requirement to pass an immigration medical.
And finally, there is the issue of having a guarantee of financial support from the child or grandchild in Canada, who must prove they meet the minimum income threshold.
So if a family of four wants to invite grandpa and grandma to Super Visa visit them, they have to provide proof that they have an annual income of $52,838 - even if grandpa and grandma are Mr. and Mrs. Donald Trump.
I understand the need to impose conditions that protect the public purse from a tidal wave of medical expenses as frail seniors swarm across our borders for extended periods.
But I can't help but wonder whether the "super great Super Visa" is just smoke and mirrors - a ploy to distract us from the government's intention to completely eliminate the sponsorship of parents and grandparents, just as they did with the sponsorship of brothers and sisters, years ago.
We'll have to wait until we get to actually unwrap Jason's present before we know for sure.
Dr. Joe Greenholtz is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) and a director of the Premier Canadian Immigration Co-op. He also sits on the Richmond Intercultural Advisory Committee. He can be reached at email@example.com.