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Canada, land of sturdy self-reliance

I was sceptical when I read this story:

British man kicked out of Canada for helping girlfriend with DIY at her flat

A young British man is being kicked out of Canada for helping his girlfriend decorate her flat.

Tom Rolfe, 24, is accused of “doing a Canadian out of a job” because he did a bit of DIY.

He was locked up by immigration officials who found photographs of Tom and girlfriend Sam filling up cracks in the walls of her flat.

Tom was in Canada on a tourist visa and the pictures were used to prove he was working illegally.

Angry Tom said: “It is just ridiculous, I was just helping Sam to tidy up her flat before she sold it so we could get a place together.

“I was treated like a criminal and told I have eight days to get out of the country – it has wrecked our plans.”

Oh come on, I thought. This can’t be right. Don’t Canadians have DIY? Or was there something being suppressed by the Mirror journalist – that Rolfe was an illegal immigrant, or a Jihadi, or had a string of criminal convictions? Or was it simply “Blame Canada” day at the Mirror?

None of the above, it seems. Or at least the Edmonton Sun tells the same story:

A young British man in Edmonton on a tourist visa was kicked out of Canada by immigration officials for helping his girlfriend spruce up her apartment

As does the Toronto Sun:

Brit booted from Canada for helping girlfriend spruce up apartment

The presumably Canadian commenters seem to have no trouble believing it.

It is quite inspiring. Left-wing and right-wing lobbyists must have worked together to get this result. The Right demands tough enforcement of immigration rules. The Left demands that jobs be protected. The immigration officials find it makes for an easier life to expel people who want to start dog sanctuaries than to try to expel hardened criminals familiar with every legal trick. Everyone wins!

25 comments to Canada, land of sturdy self-reliance

  • Paul Marks

    Yes it is an unholy alliance – leading to demented results.

  • I have no trouble believing it.

    On the other hand, when did the right to work (for money or otherwise) become connected to immigration status in the first place? I suspect it was much more recent than most people realise. Who was responsible, exactly?

  • “doing a Canadian out of a job”

    This decade really is turning out to be a re-run of the 1970s, isn’t it? All we need now is for orange and brown to become the only acceptable colours for… well, anything, and we can just pretend the last 40 years never happened.

  • Thailover

    And people wonder why the US has a laugh-hate relationship with Canada.

  • Laird

    I could almost understand this if he were paid for the work, but that does not appear to be the case. If she wasn’t planning to hire anyone to do the work, which Canadian is out of what job exactly?

  • Laird

    Oh, and I suppose the moral of this story is don’t take photos. Anywhere, any time. Or at least don’t post them where anyone can see.

  • Actual comment on the Toronto Sun article: “As small as this seems it’s the slippery slope.Like all crimes this is not a victim less crime,no matter how small it may seem…”

  • Mr Ed

    I have to wonder if in this whole story an element is not included, e.g. that the photos were evidence that he was not ‘a tourist’ but someone coming to settle as evidenced by the work that he was doing on her apartement, and BTW, he’s ‘working’ and doing a Canadian out of an (er, unpaid) job, even perhaps his girlfriend in the bureaucratic mind (i.e. she should have been doing that ‘work’). I have seen on UK visas something like ‘No work, whether paid or not’ as a condition of entry, so this might be something similar here, but has anyone posted the reasons for his withdrawal of permission to remain in Canada so that we can see for ourselves.

  • Richard Quigley

    The universal stupidity of public officialdom never ceases to appal me.
    The constant in these stories is the absence of either a name or a title for the cretinous clod that made the decision and/or signed the order documents.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Mr Ed, I got the impression that he was hoping to settle in Canada eventually and had made that intention clear to the authorities, but that he had left Canada and returned in order to comply with the requirements of his current tourist visa:

    “He applied for a resident’s permit and had to leave Canada to be processed going back through immigration control.

    Tom and Sam, 27, drove 300 miles to Montana in the United States and then immediately back into Canada to get his new visa stamped.”

    It was on the way back into Canada from the US that he was nabbed.

  • Snorri Godhi

    I believe that it is usually the case, as Mr Ed pointed out, that volunteer work is not allowed without a work permit of some sort. (No problem within the EU if you are an EU citizen, i suppose.) Still, punishing people for helping their hosts with home improvements, is repellent to normal people’s moral intuitions (or else i am not normal). Not to mention looking through a private photo album for evidence of such behavior.

    On a personal note, immigration officers were some of the most stupid people i met in Canada. (One exception was an officer who dealt extensively with students and academics.) As i replied to Canadians who said that all civil servants are stupid: immigration officers do not interact with voters.

  • Mr Ed


    Yes, but I suppose the official might have thought “…You are asking for permission to enter Canada again, yet on a previous visit you have done things against your terms of entry. Well that shows that you are an immigration cheat…”.

    Easy catch I suppose, boost the stats, justify the job and pension to come, a useful reminder that bureaucrats tend to work to norms not sense or decency, just a norm, no matter what the consequences.

  • Andy Dwelly

    Well it was Edmonton. Probably a lucky escape. It went down to -45c one winter I was there.-20c days are quite common.

  • Alsadius

    The scary thing is, Canada is famously pro-immigrant. It’s worse elsewhere.

  • Mr Ed

    I hope that it wasn’t that the poor chap was Welsh.

  • Julie near Chicago

    If it had happened in the U.S., I’d take it for granted that the problem is that “he’s not licensed to fill the cracks” or whatever, so the work just naturally can’t be up to code. We have a lot of laws about the handy-man work you can’t do on your own place, such as electrical repairs–must have a Licensed Electrician, meaning a member of the Brotherhood of Electrical Workers or whatever it’s called…. Depending on your local jurisdiction’s laws, of course. The excuse is always that “that’s the only way to be sure the work is up to code.”

    Come to that, I do hope Sam isn’t sweeping her own floors. I’m sure there’s some hale Canadian just champing at the bit to do that job for her. She probably even showers her own self. Some people have no consideration for others.

  • Well, they are pro-immigrant as long as the immigrant wants to drive a taxi but refuses to transport people from the airport because they have a duty free bag with a bottle of whisky in it.

    Of course helping your girlfriend out is verboten. Obviously we can’t help those we love or do favours for mates. I can contrast this with Poland were this happens all the time. I know this from my sister-in-law who lives there. Her boyfriend remodeled the flat with help from his mates. They did a bang-on job depite none being “professionals”. This is an ironic afterglow of communism and the barter economy it created. Due to the almost total decrepitude of the state getting anything done and done well operated on a grey economy along the lines of, “You fix my car”, “I’ll re-plaster your dining room” sort of thing. Poland is still good on this sort of thing because everyone developed “unofficial” skills and bartered. Having travelled on the Polish (still state-owned) railways a couple of times and had a bizarre run-in with Polish Officialdom in Krakow over an Ottomen tent (a story in itself)I have to disagree with Michael Jennings here about the normalisation of Poland. It is partial. The private sector is wonderful but the dead-hand of state with the railways and the tents and everything is still toxic.

    My sister-in-law’s boyfriend’s father was done for “drink-driving” for having a beer (a beer, singular) in a bar with his mate and cycling home. I get the distinct impression that many aspects of the state apparatus – the Sir Humphreys or Sir Vojteks* still trog on.

    On the barter front my sister-in-law did some teaching of English to a dentist’s kids and got not paid as such but some dental treatment. It is interesting to note here that the unofficial market is not all underage prostitutes and cryatal meth. I mean if you can’t do a favour with a quid quo pro then we is in a parlous state of affairs.

    I encountered this personally a coupla years back. I trimmed some hedges and went over the other side. to do the other siede on a heavily overgrown public path. I got atick over the mess I made from a walker over the mess I’d made. I still had the Flymo Sabre Cut in my hands and was going to stick the detritus on the bonfire but I will bet you dollars to donuts he wouldn’t have said a dicky if I was in a high viz jacket emblazoned with the Cheshire East council logo. I didn’t need to do that but it was getting inpassable to those other than hobbits on the crawl.

    No good deed ever goes unpunished.

    And yes, the Flymo still had enough charge on it to do something unspeakable to this git’s rectum. You seen a sawfish? This is an electrified sawfish. Everyone else said it made the path better but there are civilian sods who believe, sincerely believe, that unless it is “official” you shouldn’t do it. They are the same people who will bemoan NHS “cuts” but rather than help an injured person in the street (I have first aid training BTW) will bitch about the lack of NHS provision. The undermining of genuine charity in the UK is awesome. Everything has to be done by the state and in triplicate. I am a Quaker Warden. Just down that path is a CofE Church. The Blessed Rev Margaret hate the poor. She’s got a nice birth and a 4-bedroom, 3 reception room house in a smart Tory (since WWI) area and her divinity degree seems to have skipped over the Good Samaritan. My wife and I have helped the homeless and destitute who have pitched-up on our doorstep. We have given them tea, food, accomodation (in a pleasant summerhouse on the grounds. Rev Margaret told them to “Fuck off”. So, my libertarianism is “muscular”. I believe in helping those around me either because of a quid pro quo or because they are on their uppers. For me charity is doing something yourself and not lobbying for someone else to do something with everyone else’s money.

    I think that is the Christian way.

    I am not a Christian and certainly not a Quaker because at their worst they can raise sanctimony to an art-form that makes the Paris Opera looks like a karaoke night in Sunderland.

    For me a fundamental of libertarianism is to do it yourself (and your mates – free association and all that). To do charity and not to extort it from others. That is lazy and wrong.

    I have some projects in train. I wanna learn OOP properly. I also want to get my tower hulks (I can’t recall exactly how many computers I have – it’s 10+) spinning for charity for cancer research or similar via something like F@H. I like the sound of computers. I build them, you see.

    And they are a sense of freedom (almost) because our Lords and Masters don’t understand them. Whilst the genuine of technological intercourse has increased so has (in envy) the terminology of social sciences in (to paraphrase Freud) “physics envy”. There is of course a monumental difference between hard sciences and social “sciences” here. The first is difficult because it is difficult and the second is because it is made so. The first is reality and did we ever expect thebase code of the Universe to be simple? The second because it has had felt the need to become a cargo-cult to keep up.

    I defy anyone, anyone to compare the magnificent intellectual structure of Quantum Mechanics disfavourably against the intrinsicially social and political drivel that drizels from the faculty of Social Sciences. One is truth (or a striving towards it) and the other is an attempt to invent “truth”. That is the difference. There is a long track record here. Stalin himself objected to fermions (the stuff of matter itself) because the Pauli Exclusion Principle meant they didn’t collectivize. Seriously. The fact that [odd number or unity]/2 spin particles couldn’t all have the same quantum state within a system upset him. Surely Marxism applies to electrons as well as people? Surely Marxism applies all the way down from nations to sub-atomic particles.

    Er… “No”. That is the short answer. You want the long one? “No”. The longer one is that bosons can collapse within a system to all be in the same quantum state but fermions can’t.. Bosons are not matter, they are forces – roughly speaking.

    Why mention all this? Because it matters in terms of the appalling capacity of some to see human social constructs as reality and not what they are. This is not a criticism of the antisocial sciences as such but of thetendency of them to attempt to conflate a construct with reality. The irony of course is these constructs based upon human behaviour almost invariably result in the most terrible results for humanity.

    *Google that + “soldier bear”.

  • Tedd

    Left-wing and right-wing lobbyists must have worked together to get this result.

    That well sums up politics in Canada, generally. Our Liberals and Conservatives are, for the most part, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, and it’s commonplace here for the party in opposition to criticize the governing party for a policy they tried or planned to implement themselves, and for the governing party to trumpet a policy they stole from the opposition.

    Regarding this specific case, I suspect Mr. Ed’s “no work whether paid or not” explanation is good. I’m guessing the attempt to circumvent the rules by leaving the country and immediately returning is what got the attention of immigration officials. The photos and evidence of “work” are probably just the best technicality they could come up with, once they started looking for one.

    Not being an “open borders” libertarian I’m not sure I see anything wrong with this. If government has a purpose it is surely to protect the liberty of its citizens and, realistically, that means controlling who can enter the country and who can stay. That means rules, which will inevitably be flawed in both design and execution. I don’t see that a government has any obligation to protect the liberty of people it does not claim to represent. The idea is an oxymoron, to me.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Tedd, agree with you on the “Open Borders” thing. (By the way, there’s a Milton Friedman UT in which he explains that he used to be all for open borders and that they worked fine [no moving parts, heh-heh-heh. –Ed.] back when Americans swang down from the trees, but absolutely would not work in this modREN day & age when we have the Welfare State.)

    (“Assimilation” is another of those slippery word-thingies. Are the Hasid in NYC “assimilated”? What about the Old-Order Amish? There are other, less savory subgroups of various ethnicities I could mention but won’t.)

    Anyhow, according to the posting the beef is really an exercise of protectionism.

  • If government has a purpose it is surely to protect the liberty of its citizens and, realistically, that means controlling who can enter the country and who can stay.

    Tedd, did he originally enter Canada legally? More generally, the point I’d like to make is that protecting the liberty of citizens should mean flatly denying entry to people seen as threat to that liberty. That means that if someone is considered safe enough to enter as a tourist, he or she should be allowed to stay for as long as they like, and should be allowed to work.

  • Kevin Jaeger

    I think Tedd has it right and we aren’t hearing the entire story here. First, Brits don’t need a tourist visa to visit Canada in the first place. No doubt he had already overstayed a visit and been informed of that.

    Second, he apparently is trying to get the appropriate immigration status but it hasn’t been approved yet – that’s probably the point he was given a Tourist Visa and they started monitoring his compliance with its terms. They often can be renewed with a quick trip across the border but at some point they do tell you that you have to leave until you get your immigration papers approved.

  • Mr Ed

    NickM, your description of Poland’s favour/barter economy chimes exactly with a book by Victor Suvorov The Liberators about life in the Soviet Army in the 1960s. There were a class of soldiers called ‘craftsmen’ who even if privates had a cushy time, whether a sculptor making a bust of Lenin, a carpenter, singer or whatever, so long as you had a skill that could produce something useful to the Army, whether for agitation or practical use, you were taken off normal duties and got put to use. Of course, Soviet industry only made what the State ordered it to, so people who could innovate and produce stuff were highly valued. Suvorov reported that they were even traded between units.

    It sounds as if in Poland, the same incentives extended into private life, and a form of resistance, much like Italy’s fabled tax dodgers resenting Garibaldi’s nightmare Statto.

  • Nicholas (Self-Sovereignty) Gray

    What’s a would-be novelist to do? I was just going to write about an imaginary hell on Earth, with really stupid regulations making life miserable, and both Canada and Poland show that bureaucracy out-lunatics us all! I was also reading about a British woman who was fined for eating in her car, even though she was caught up in a traffic jam at the time!
    For bureaucrats, Red-tape-hell is their heaven.

  • Tedd


    If you’re suggesting that entry restrictions based purely on economic considerations are protectionism and therefore anti free market, I agree. I’m not necessarily defending the “no work whether paid or not” requirement (though I suspect it might be more defensible than it at first appears), only the principle of having limits. As I said, the rules are bound to be flawed, to some extent.