NDP MLAs want TV show filming immigration raids out of Vancouver

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      A trio of New Democrat MLAs have told the Straight that they don’t want a television show that some have accused of targeting immigrants filming in their neighbourhoods, or anywhere in British Columbia.

      “I don’t see any point,” said Mable Elmore, MLA for Vancouver Kensington. “I would rather that it not be shot or shown. I don’t want to see it.”

      Similar positions were taken by Jenny Kwan, MLA for Vancouver-Mount Pleasant, and Raj Chouhan, Opposition multicultural critic.

      On Wednesday (March 13), members of Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) conducted raids on at least three construction sites, arresting and detaining people of varying immigration status. Embedded with the officers were camera crews filming a documentary series for National Geographic Channel.

      According to a National Geographic website, the network is working with CBSA to produce a documentary program called BORDER SECURITY: Canada’s Front Line.

      Critics argue that the program objectifies immigrants and exploits people’s misfortune. The show’s producers maintain that their cameras follow the daily activities of CBSA officials and portray those events with accuracy.

      One of Wednesday’s raids took place within the boundaries of Elmore’s constituency. She said that families and members of the community have been affected, adding “I think there should be respect shown for immigrants and their families and recognition for their contributions.”

      Kwan, whose constituency neighbours Elmore’s, also said that she’d rather the show not be shot in Vancouver.

      “I think it is worthwhile to examine what other jurisdictions are doing and how they are dealing with such situations and to take that into consideration and formulate an approach in British Columbia,” she said.

      Kwan expressed concern for potential long-term impacts the television program might have on Vancouver residents.

      “When these stories are played out and sensationalized in such a way, does that create community tension?” she asked. “Are we going to create an environment where our social harmony is put in jeopardy?”

      On March 14, the Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE) called for the production of such television shows to be banned from the City of Vancouver. According to a news release, 36 North American cities, including Toronto, have passed laws forbidding the filming of “reality television shows that harass residents or workers based on citizenship status”.

      In order to film a television show or movie affecting public property in Vancouver, a permit must be approved by city hall.

      B.C. NDP multicultural critic Raj Chouhan said that the City of Vancouver should “take a stand” against such a show.

      “I’m really concerned,” he said. “It makes me wonder why people in authority are not sensitive to immigrants and their families.”

      He continued: “It really bothers me. I hope we are not Americanizing our delivery of justice here in Canada. Canada is a country with a tradition and history of compassion and understanding, and also people recognizing the contributions of immigrants in Canada. We are a country of immigrants. And yet it seems like we are somehow forgetting that. I find it bothersome.”

      In a March 15 email to the Straight, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson described BORDER SECURITY as “disturbing” and “media exploitation,” but did not call for the filming of such programs to end.

      The television show is produced by Force Four Entertainment, a Vancouver-based company. A representative could not be reached for comment.

      In a March 14 statement published on Facebook, Force Four states that the March 13 raids “occurred as we were documenting the day-to-day activities of the CBSA's Inland Enforcement team and were in no way planned or staged.” It continues: “We would not sensationalize any situation for this series. Border Security is a documentary, not a reality series."

      The message claims that Force Four receives people’s consent to film before a camera is put on them.

      “No one is filmed without their advance verbal permission and a written release is obtained only once the person has been properly cautioned by officers,” it states. “CBSA has no role in the obtaining of releases; this is done by the program's directors. Before any story appears in a program, it is vetted by CBSA and Force Four's lawyers to ensure privacy rights are observed.”

      Elmore said that the show should draw attention to the realities of temporary foreign workers in Canada, of which there are more than 60,000 in British Columbia and nearly half a million across the country.

      “They are often very vulnerable, working in the underground economy,” she said. “Those are my concerns. I think if we are inviting workers to come and do necessary and important work in Canada they should be treated respectfully and have a pathway to immigration.”

      You can follow Travis Lupick on Twitter at twitter.com/tlupick.




      Mar 16, 2013 at 6:45pm

      Made by Four Forces entertainment, part of Vancouver's shitty film industry whining for subsidies while providing little but 3rd rate tv shows, 4th rate made 4 tv movies and now racist exploitation.

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      Jacqueline H.

      Mar 16, 2013 at 8:30pm

      I want to know why there are no media coverage, no charges, no investigations, nothing said about the employers and sub-contractors who hired all these so-call illegals or undocumented workers. Where is CBSA and where is the film crew, no clips of CBSA arresting these employers? And BC Employment Standards and Canada Revenue Agency, where are they?

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      Mar 16, 2013 at 10:22pm

      We get to see CBSA doing their job, upholding our Laws, protecting Canadians' legal rights and now no one seems to like it. Go figure.

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      Mar 17, 2013 at 7:44am

      They are ILLEGAL ,and if they are doing important work,why has a legal worker not been hired?,o ya they would want to get payed because they pay TAXES .So Elmore likes the underground economy,maybe the rest of us should do that too,just think no taxes to pay no rules to follow,
      Maybe Elmore could make them all legal citicens that way they woul not get botherd.

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      Mar 17, 2013 at 8:42am

      They are not targeting immigrants. They are targeting ILLEGAL immigrants. Those who have legally immigrated and followed the myriad rules and regulations to become residents and citizens have the right to be protected for following proper protocols for entering the country.

      The law is equal and unbiased in this regard and CBSA is doing the right thing in the way they enforce it. Letting illegal workers in only fuels the already booming underground economy, which, if eliminated, would eradicate the national debt.

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      Mar 17, 2013 at 8:50am

      I didn't think it was possible but Conservatives have reached a new low.

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      benny hana

      Mar 17, 2013 at 12:07pm

      guess the NDP has to speak out on something. goodness knows they don't have any plans except for forming the next government.

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      Mar 17, 2013 at 12:08pm

      Aim a camera at a CBSA or any other person doing their job, and you are going to intesify the showmanship of their task at hand. I have had annoying incidents crossing into Canada, as border security detain and search me, as if I was a known criminal. The well orchestrated SWAT team routine is influenced greatly from watching movie crime drama over acting.

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      Jamie Brennan

      Mar 17, 2013 at 12:58pm

      Why aren't the employers charged? Film them, raking in their money on the backs of vulnerable workers. Those Nigerian tree planters, living in a container, have still not been paid. This is a third-rate country when we allow this kind of "reality" show.

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      Mar 17, 2013 at 1:34pm

      This BC film company is a paied for by your tax mony,in subsities.they would have to get city permission to film in the first place,so why if the mayor is so upset dose he not cancell the contract.
      Maybe because he likes the underground market,Or because these people are ILLEGAL and shiped home.

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