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Saturday, September 29, 2007

 

New Project

I've been wondering of late what to do about documenting our there and back again trip across Canada. Yes, yes, I know I haven't been to Labrador and Newfoundland, but that is a side issue as far as I'm concerned. The goal was to start at the Pacific and go to the Atlantic. This we did. Eleven thousand (ish) miles later I'm busy hitting the keyboard with a vengeance.

The project I have in mind is a book with the working title "Dear Doug" after the series of humorous E-mails exchanged between us and an old family friend as we travelled cross country. First 2000 words will be done by Monday, and off in the post to a few parties who read the original book of this blog and have expressed an interest. All of a sudden I'm feeling quite sanguine about life.

Here is a snippet of information from Alberta; If you have out of Province Registration plates, you likely won't get a parking ticket. You might get towed, but you won't get a ticket because, according to one Parking Officer in Moose Jaw, he couldn't book out of province vehicles. Don't ask me about the rest of Canada, but I took no chances and stayed legal.

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Friday, September 28, 2007

 

Serendipity sometimes serendips

Sometimes, just sometimes, you want to get down on your bended and kiss somebody's feet. Today has that kind of feel. After what feels like months of beating one's head agaist the concrete barricades of immigration officialdom, what Robert Heinlein called 'the Fairy Godmother Department' in his novel 'Glory Road' opened it's doors and invited us in.

I went to the local offices of the HRDC to enquire about applying for a Canadian Social Insurance Number, only to be told I didn't need to apply if I was only going to do freelance work for an English company while I'm here and simply paid my taxes back home. Mrs S was to get a bigger surprise. Just in passing, I asked the clerk about how long a Canadian SIN lasts. "All your life." Responded the clerk.
"Really?" Quoth I.
"You aren't eligible at present. Does your wife have one?" She asked.
"Yes she does." I responded. "Would it still be valid?"
"I can't tell you that." Said the clerk. "But I can tell your wife if you bring her."
"Stay right there." I said and dashed off in search of Mrs S.

Half an hour later I crossed paths with Mrs S and we returned to the HRDC Pensions Office after an anxious call to Bathurst, Ottawa, confirmed that we had to go back to the local office. Two hours and four puzzled pensions clerks later, we were told that the SIN card my wife had been issued with at age 15 was still valid, as was her "Landed Migrant" status. All this after being turned down flat by another clerk at the Canadian High Commission in London three years before.

As we left, we were assured that the SIN card, which had been 'Dormant' would now be updated and reactivated, and provided the local HRDC Offices decision was upheld, my wife wouldn't need a work permit at all as she was already entitled to work legally in Canada (So we were told).

This means (All being well and provided the respective decisions are upheld) that we can both work without falling foul of officialdom and get deported for being naughty. I'm feeling happy about this already, although I'm having a lot of trouble walking properly with my fingers, toes, nostrils and eyes crossed for luck.

Just in case.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

 

Looking for clues

The word is this; people keep telling me that Canada is crying out for skilled workers. This seems to be true, my job hunt is turning up all sorts of possibilities. I'm amazed at the feedback I'm getting just by walking into places and asking "Got any work?"

Just need to get an offer from someone who'll help me with that all important work permit. Hi ho, per ardua ad astra and all that jazz.

Did I mention it's raining? Well it is for the first time in weeks. I think I'm okay with that.

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

 

Meeting the Mounties

While looking for houses and work, I’m doing a bit of social networking to move things along and see if I can get a job that way. Mrs S has signed up for a day or so a week doing literacy training, while I’ve opted to give the Canadian Red Cross a hand, humping and shifting things and just generally being useful on a Friday afternoon. You never know, it might turn something up.

To do this you have to jump through a hoop called an RCMP criminal records check. This costs ten dollars (For me) and shouldn’t take long as I’ve only been in the country a month and a bit. I haven’t been here long enough. Although I did get nicked for speeding in Ontario (Not watching what my right foot was doing, unmarked Police Cruiser, do I need to draw a picture?) Paid the ticket like an honest citizen and vowed not to be so careless again.

Now I never thought I’d ever see a real live, honest to God Mountie in full dress uniform outside of a special event, but here one is, large as life. Girls, they’ve got a few of these chaps over here and they come in economy size (Everything over here is 20% bigger than the UK and costs 10-20% less with a few exceptions), so buy yours today!

This particular chap I’d seen around town on foot patrol the day before with a beat buddy in tow. In full dress uniform no less. I was truly gobsmacked and impressed as hell. What teed me off somewhat was that I’d left my Camera in the car at the time.

The sad reality is that they wear only full dress when one of the big cruise ships full of rich elderly Yankees come to visit. The rich Norteamericanos come to Canada and want to see real live Mounties, Bears, Cougars etc; so the local cops put on a show to motivate them into spending their money. Quite impressive really, and makes good economic sense.

Update: I had a chat with a couple of the guys, so if any UK PC's are looking for a job with plenty of winter sports, I'm told the RCMP are looking for good coppers from the commonwealth, just log onto their website and apply online.

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Friday, September 21, 2007

 

Work Permit

A conversation held in the immigration department of the Canadian Government Offices (Open one day a week for four hours only with one solitary clerk on duty). We take our place in the queue and chat to a few other hopefuls until it comes to our turn.
“We’d like some help finding out how to get a work permit.”
“Do you have a job?” Says the clerk.
“Well, not yet, we need work permits.”
“I can’t help you. You have to have a job.” She responded.
“Oh, but we keep getting told that we need a work permit before we can get hired.”
“You’re a Permanent Resident of Canada?” She asked us.
“Erm not yet, no. We’ve applied.”
At this point Mrs S digs out her old ‘Landed Migrant’ status card and Canadian Social Insurance number. “I grew up here, and I have these, but we got told that I’ve been out of the country too long.”
“That’s correct, you have to have spent at least three out of the last five years in Canada.”
“I’ve got my Canadian Social Insurance Number here.” Mrs S hands over the original. “It’s in my maiden name.”
The clerk typed the SIN number into her computer. “Oh.”
“Is it valid?”
“I don’t know.” Said the clerk and then ran a Computer search on my wife’s ‘Landed migrant’ status. “It’s too old. It’s not in the system.”
Mrs S tried another tack. “What if we started a business here?”
“You can’t do that, you’re not permanent residents.”
“So no job, no permit, and we can’t work self employed?”
“Not really, no.”
“But we can open a bank account, yes?”
“Yes.”
“Is it okay for us to buy a house, car, that sort of thing?”
“Oh yes.”
“Can we do voluntary work?”
“So long as you aren’t paid for it, yes.”
“But we can’t legally work?”
“Not without a work permit, no.”
“Oh.” Thoughtful pause. “So what is the actual process of getting a work permit?” I asked carefully.
“Well, you can’t apply for a work permit within Canada.”
“Ri-ight. I thought you had to be here to apply according to your web site.”
“That’s incorrect.”
“Oh, that rather puts the tin lid on it. Say I was offered a job, what would I have to do?”
“You’d have to leave the country.”
“Say again?”
“You’d have to apply at your port of entry for a work permit.”
“Oh.”
“You could do it this way. Say you get offered a job, your would be employer writes to us for a market opinion to make sure you’re not putting a Canadian out of a job. We write back to them, you go down to the US border and leave Canada. Then you come back across the border and apply at a main border crossing for a work permit.”
“So that is how to get a work permit?”
“Providing the market opinion is favourable, yes.”

We left. You know it’s funny. You want to work, make money and contribute to the local economy and there’s stuff out there to do that is screaming out for your talents, but then there’s this seemingly huge adamantine wall of bureaucracy in the way.

On a similar subject; last week I was listening to a radio interview of a First Nations Project Manager who seemed to be having similar problems with the Governmental rule book. The First Nations elders ended up just ignoring the rules and went straight ahead and completed the projects anyway. The permissions came through in the end. They have a word for it. It sounds like “Wa-ey-ya”, which translates as “Just do it.” This is very tempting.

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I know what's bothering me

It's just how quiet it all is. There's a boat zipping around half a mile away but no traffic roar, no aircraft, no noisy drunks. All the sounds I'm used to. I mean how is a chap supposed to get some sleep around here?

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

 

Rat, Ship, Sinking

Well I never, so I'm not the only one bunking out of the overpriced UK. The famed author of the Policeman's blog has gone over to Edmonton, Alberta. Best of luck with the RCMP Dave, their dress uniform is spanking.

As for me, I'm just collecting my thoughts having driven all the way across Canada through the Rockies, across the great plains to the Maritimes and back again. Don't ask me why, just that I was fulfilling a promise to Mrs S who grew up on this side of the pond. I have touched the waters of the Pacific and Atlantic and feel some kind of Rubicon has been crossed.

More soon when I'm not bound to using flaky wireless connections and Library resources that won't let you cut and paste from a data key.

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

 

Blogless

I’ve been finding it difficult to write of late. It’s not just that I’ve lost the urge. That’s been as strong as ever. It’s more to do with being overwhelmed by everything in Canada, and not much opportunity to write on the old laptop due to lack of battery power. Never mind the fact that reliable wireless Internet connections have proved far and few between, so no blogging.

In less than two weeks we’ve crossed Canada from Vancouver to Halifax, about 8000 Kilometres, or 5000 miles by my reckoning. I’m sure others have done it faster, slower, longer, or by cycling, walking, running or Golf Cart, but that’s what we elected to do.

There is so much stuff from the journey rolling around in my overcrowded head that I’m going to have to prize it out with jackhammers and a JCB. This may take some time.

Notwithstanding; Mrs S and I recently looked at our budget, after travelling from Vancouver to Cape Breton and many points between, looked at the weather and the quality of Motels we’ve stayed in (I’ll write a list of some pretty unhappy stops if anyone wants to know where to avoid on the Great Plains, specifically Medicine Hat and Moose Jaw), and by the time we got to Moose Jaw decided that we were paying a lot for not much and decided to go camping the rest of the way.

Since making that decision I’ve been used as table de hôte by every sodding biting insect within a five kilometre radius and developed a pathological hatred of Mosquitoes. The Quebec Mossies were the most aggressive, and got worryingly close to my important little places despite several layers of heavy duty insect repellent. Several days running I woke up looking at each new crop of little itchy lumps wondering “How the hell did he get up there?”

Now I’m out and pitching in the workplace, seeking a job over in the west side of Vancouver that isn’t to do with the fast food or retail sector. The car is holding up well, and the Mosquito bite marks and prickly heat are healing. I’ve got to the stage where Karma be damned – those little suckers are going to die. My attempts to reach the status of Bodhisattva are going to have to wait. Pass me the RAID, Buddha.

Blog entries are going to be backdated, and I promise whoever reads my rabid drivel that the quality and quantities of entries will improve.

Regards

Bill

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Location: British Columbia, Canada

Exasperated expatriate expostulations all the way from British Columbia, Canada. As if anyone really cared. Oh, I also watch Icelandic Volcanoes and seismic activity. Don't ask me why.

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