It's certainly a view that people might not have of the immigration system in Canada, as the two views nowadays tend to be A) sieve for evil terroists to sneak into America, or B) ideal system. I might have cause to dispute the severity of the problem as described, though. First of all, the Fraser institute is apparently a pretty hard right wing think-tank, to the extent that it was used as an example in a recent CBC (a Canadian Public TV station) round-table show on whether reporters should identify the political slant of think tanks whose studies they use. So they might well have a vested interest in both making government policy look bad, and in trashing the immigration policy specifically, as it's a program unpopular with the Canadian right. I don't want to speak definitively here, as I don't really know that much about the institute, but maybe another reader would have some links about it, and also maybe some critiques of this specific study?
That said, there obviously is a realy problem in the Canadian system of immigration. I don't agree, however, that it should be scrapped because of this, I think it should be fixed. I think that maintaining a working progressive immigration policy is crucial to Canada's economic growth. As our birth rate diminishes, a major source of new members of the work force will be immigrants, and it's important that we prepare an excellent system in advance of this need, rather than in response to it when it becomes a crisis. Furthermore, such a program would be something we could hold up to the world a an example of Canada's success, and be proud of. As it stands, I think many Canadians are that proud of the immigration system currently, but as your example shows, it seems that maybe the system does not yet deserve such pride. Like medicare, I think multiculturalism is a major part of the Canadian identity, but, also like medicare, this does not mean that we can simply be proud of it and disregard the problems. Wee need to try and fix it, just like wer're trying to fix medicare now.
How will we do this? I don't really know, but I think I'm aware of two key areas. Whatever else we do, I feel that we almost certainly will have to address job certification, and we will have to work more stridently to end racism and racial discrimination within Canada. Although this wasn't addressed directly in your article (IIRC), one major obstacle for skilled immigrants in finding employment is the matter of job certification. For professionals who require certification to work, such as doctors, nurses, or engineers, it can be tremendously difficult to accquire Canadian equivalency for the certifications they accquired in their countries of origin. The government needs to put money into streamlining the process of granting such equivalencies, so that they are easy to apply for, and so that the person processing the request can easily review the neccesary data and grant the request quickly, rather than the current waiting period of several years. It will also be important to hire many more such processing staff, as I understand one major obstacle is that the immigration department is swamped witht his sort of work. A related problem is that of universities only accepting as valid degrees from certain foreign institutions, when hiring professors, researchers, and the like. Ideally, the government would work with the country's universities in order to make this process easier. The second issue is, of course, much more difficult to deal with. How on earth do you actually stop racism? More money is needed for awareness campaigns, certainly, but awaeness campaigns only go so far. I think the government and corporations (though corporations, is, of course, harder to do here) need to make it more obvious that any discriminatory behaviour simply isn't tolerated, and is grounds for dismissal. I think such a cleaning of the government house would make it alot simpler to create fair, equal and efficient immigration programs. In Canada's defence, I would say that it seems to me that it is the most accepting of multiculturalism of all the major countries of the world, of all the other G8 countries at the very least. Also, although my evidence here is only anecdotal, it seems that the acceptance of people of different races and cultures is an important part of public school curriculae in the country. I think that, when the generation that is currently in elementary school grows up, racism will be a much diminished force in the country. Again, that's only an anecdotal observation, and maybe too idealist.
A few specific thoughts :
I'm a maritimer, and I certainly love the region, but I think that there should be a special booklet made for new immigrants entitled "Don't Fucking Settle in the Maritimes." It's a beautiful place, and the people (in my experience) are nice, but it's an economic hellhole. The whole place has collapsed, and unemployment is high. Aside from Newfoundland, which, really, is basically Maritime too, you couldn't find a worse region of the country to look for a livelihood, barring perhaps the Territories. This isn't really directed at you, but is advice for anyone reading this article and thinking of settling in this part of the country. Again, it has it's benefits, especially natural splendour (New Brunswick I particularly love, actually, it's just beautiful land), but you're really looking at an uphill financial battle. The one exception here would be Halifax, capital of Nova Scotia, which, although traditionally just as destitute as the rest of the region, has been booming for the past ten years. Although the events of recent years have taken some of the shine off the boom, the job market is still pretty open, and if you're involved in the tech sector, my understanding is you've still got a pretty good chance of landing something nice. Halifax also has a larger immigrant community than other major cities in the region, and so there would probably be at least a little less discrimination on that front.
Are you sure the Irving Oil thing was a case of cultural discrimination. I'm not at all trying to cast aspersions on you, but I know people on the same Irving direct billing plan, and my impression was that no-one ever even came by to look at the meter, the whole thing was automtic. Wo would they have even known you were an immigrant? Mayb this specific case was just a normal corporate cock-up?
As for the workmen never calling back or showing up, again, people I know, ancestrally Canadian for many generations, have had that happen to them many a time. Electricians never showing up, electricians saying a job was impossible because they didn't feel like having to do it, a plumber, for example, forgot to bill someone for work on some sinks for 4 months. He ended up calling them back to ask if he'd ever sent them a bill, as he really wasn't good at remembering to do stuff like that. So you might want to chalk things like this up to the laid-back maritime outlook on life. Utterly ineffectual workmen seems like a fact of life around here, I think. Although, again, I cannot know the specific details of your case.