Judy Sgro speaks up on her file
Embattled Citizenship and Immigration Minister defends controversial decisions
By Angelo Persichilli
December 13, 2004
Embattled Citizenship and Immigration Minister Judy Sgro says she has no regrets and "would do it again," despite the fact that she's being investigated by Ethics Counsellor Bernard Shapiro for fast-tracking a Romanian stripper in Canada who worked on her 2004 re-election bid and has also been accused of handing out ministerial permits and eight travel permits to members of the Ahmadiyya community during the election, in exchange for the $5,000 donation which she subsequently returned.
Declared Ms. Sgro last week: "I have no regrets and I would do it again."
Ms. Sgro also explained why she allowed the exotic dancer to be in Canada, adding that she wants to change the law because "we shouldn't penalize people who fall in love."
"I'll be exonerated of any wrongdoing. I just helped a woman in need and to find a different job other than in a strip club. That was the right thing to do and I make no apologies for doing that. I did what I do for several people every week," Ms. Sgro said.
Last week, Ms. Sgro spoke to Corriere Canadese/Tandem.
Minister Sgro, if you had the possibility to go back, would you act differently?
"Not a lot. In fact, I wouldn't change anything. The decisions I have made were made for the right reasons and I'll continue to do that and I will exercise common sense in my decision-making. It was the right thing to do."
Many don't agree. Tell us what happened then.
"There was a young woman living here in Canada legally for two years, married to a Canadian citizen who had sent the renewal papers through an immigration consultant who didn't do what he was paid to do. This woman was out of status, which means she was an illegal in Canada and would have to go home for her husband to be able to sponsor her for a year."
So, what did you do?
"All I did was to allow her to stay here for the husband to sponsor her, and for her to be able to work in another business other than being an exotic dancer. She was legally married here in Canada, I did not break the law, I did not bring her into Canada, she was already here married to a Canadian."
There are many other people in the same situation.
"In fact, in a few days I'm going to change the policy in this sector in the country. I do not believe it is healthy for this country to be separating people who are legally married if another, for whatever reason, one becomes illegal. It just doesn't cut with me when we talk about reuniting family when we build this nation. It is not acceptable that you separate a married couple, sending one of them back home, to wait for a year to be processed. If we know that it is a legal marriage, we should help them to stay together, not to separate them. I'm going to be changing that policy that will allow the exact problem I had to help this couple with. I'll be fixing that in the next couple of days."
By making it easier, aren't you afraid that the abuses might increase?
"There are a lot of people, right now, in the same situation. As long as we know it is a bona fide marriage, we shouldn't penalize people who fall in love. It just doesn't make sense to me. It is a policy that I'll be changing in the next few days."
Let's talk about the problems with the cheque your campaign received.
"There was no problem with the cheque. The problem was with the receipt. The receipt was made out with the wrong name. All the kerfuffle in the House was a receipt issued with a wrong name. The individual who made the donation has been a supporter of mine for a long time. He was very active in the Ahmadiyya community. I have 8,000 members of this community living in my riding and they are almost a million in Canada. They have been supporting me for a long time. Their support goes way back when I was a municipal councillor and I've tried to be supportive of them as councillor, as an MP, and, of course, as a minister. I've known this individual for at least 10 years. The opposition continue to go after vulnerable women and immigrants. This man now, that has his name all over the papers, he is a volunteer putting a lot of hours in to make this country better, is now so embarrassed and humiliated because he has his name all over the place."
Why are there so many permits at the same time for the same group?
"They have a convention that attracts over 500,000 people. All this smear campaign is all about bringing a minister down. There is no justification to it other then cheap politics. When people talk about politics being dirty, well, this is an example of how dirty it is. I'm waiting for the ethics commissioner's report. The only thing I know is that they want to do a thorough job, which I support."
When is the report going to be out?
"I don't know. They are interviewing people up to this and next week, then they write the report. I hope to have some response before Christmas but we should leave them to do their job and take all the time they need."
Do you think you have the support of the Liberal caucus?
"I certainly believe that the caucus is behind me, especially after the meeting. I know I have the support of my caucus, of the government and of Prime Minister Paul Martin."
What about your constituents?
"I know that there are many of my constituents calling my office and they are worried. A lot of emails and phone calls and I know I have their support. I want to tell them that I'm quite confident that when the ethics commissioner['s report] is out, I'll be exonerated of any wrongdoing. I just helped a woman in need and to find a different job other than in a strip club. That was the right thing to do and I make no apologies for doing that. I did what I do for several people every week."
For the usual hypocritical bullshit from Judge Sgro visit
To read about a lady who got the "bums rush" from Judy Sgro" and had to call Paul Martin visit
also in the Toronto Star on December 17, 2004