Ancient Nomad
PART 2: Back to Vancouver - surviving with a goal in mind.

Vancouver, Canada - February 26, 2010

Today I went to the Polish Consulate here to enquire about getting my Polish passport. This reminded me of my experience getting a Canadian passport replacement last year, so I will talk here a bit about passports.
I went to the Polish Consulate on Hastings. It turns out that I will have to wait longer than expected for my Polish passport. I have the old one, my birth certificate, the special PESEL number which means I am documented as a citizen of Poland, yet I have to go through the whole process of proving that I am a Polish citizen. I will have to write my short biography, translate a couple of documents to Polish, and it will take 5 to 6 months and 138 dollars. Then I will be able to apply for the passport - another 2 months and 170 dollars. Actually, I kind of understand why in my case it will require a bit of time, some money and a bit of foot work. I left Poland in 1986 - twenty four years is a long time.
But I don't understand why when you ask for a passport in Canada you have to go through this whole process of proving who you are in a similar way, every time you apply for it, even if you have the old one still valid and all the other documents proving who you are readily available. It doesn't take very long, but what it comes down is again the same thing - more money to the government. Your current Canadian passport, drivers licence, social insurance number, health card, citizenship certificate are not enough for the Canadian government as proof of your identity. Instead, they will ask for your doctor or a policeman to sign that they believe that you are who you claim to be. And in order for them to confirm this they have to know you for at least two years. Absurd ! If you don't have anyone, because you just came from another city for example, you can go to any notary public office, pay 30 dollars, show them the same driver's licence and health card, and for that 30 dollars some person who doesn't know you at all will sign that they believe it's you and the government will believe them. Not much sense there.
Once you get it, your passport will not be valid for 10 years like in any other modern country, but for five only.
It gets actually even better. This is what happened to me when traveling in South America. My passport was stolen in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I was a victim of theft. As I went to the Canadian Consulate, I was told that just a week prior to this the Canadian government changed the way they issue passport replacements - they are no longer being issued at the premises abroad, but are being printed in Canada and then send to the consulate at the country where you apply for it. It doesn't take a few short days like before, but at least two weeks. And of course you pay for it more, because it is done by courier. You are not supposed to carry any important and difficult to replace documents like original proof of your Canadian citizenship when you travel. But when you apply for a new passport, after it's stolen, lost or soon expired, you are asked for the original proof of citizenship. If you don't have it, the consul will look at you and for 30 dollars sign that she or he thinks that this is you and you can then apply for the passport. Since 2009 even this signature is not enough to give you a normal five year Canadian passport. You will only get one valid for two years, and you can't extend it. Yes - two years and you have to go through this process again and apply for a new passport. Looks like even the consul's signature is not enough !
So, when you are a victim of theft abroad and loose your Canadian passport, you get victimized again in many ways by your own country: you have to pay more, get less, and pay for extra two weeks of accommodation and meals on top of that. Without a doubt this system is designed to take your money, and unfortunately it prays on the most vulnerable, including unfortunately unsuspecting new immigrants. It's like a stealth predator, flashing an attractive lure and then jump on you from the hiding. Many highly educated, intelligent, well trained people coming here to Canada to start new lives are being run around and pulled through idioticy of endless volunteer jobs and internships to get the always required 'Canadian experience'. I think the big difference between Canada and the US is that in The USA they will look at what you represent first, but in Canada what papers you have.
Engineers, doctors, and in general any educated and intelligent people drive taxis, flop hamburgers and work as security guards - that's the reality of a new immigrant in Vancouver. Sure, give it years of persistence and you can get where you want here, maybe, but it often will require double income and one spouse supporting the other so they can go to school and start all over. What about the single people ? Why do they make it so difficult to accomplish things if you have no references ? Canada is supposed to be for the immigrants, but it is not. It is for the rich immigrant who can come here nd invest. The government will love them and make friends with them. But an average immigrant will struggle. What's worst is that often creativity and uniqueness are not appreciated here. There is lots of talk about it in British Columbia, but it's just superficial sales pitch to have you come here.
There is no real democracy at work in British Columbia. It is not about freedom and individuality - it's socialist. The bombastic words and positive attitude in this politically correct place is just a smoke screen to make you blind enough so you will buy into it, become a part of this crafted system to be used. It's like the Canadian Passport - bears a strong description of what it is while invalid as means of identity proof in Canada. You can get a new driver's license when you show the old one, but your current passport is like a worthless paper when you need to renew it.
By the way - driver's licence in British Columbia is valid only for five years. Another idiotism, or rather a carefully crafted money grabbing scam and as always justified by all the wrong reasons. Driver's licence is for life in Germany, England and .. well - about any other country. Just ask. But in Canada you have to renew it every five years. You will not be tested - they just want your 60 dollars. They just want your money. No eye check, nothing. Pay and you get a new one. If you are late for three years paying this fee - you loose it and you will have to go through all the tests ( written and road tests ) again, like if you never had a driver's licence, like if you never drove a car or a motorcycle. I know it, because I lost mine. I was out of the country and missed the payment due date by three weeks. I had to go through everything all over again. Unfortunately I didn't have a motorcycle of my own to do the road test, so I got only a 'limited' motorcycle licence, like if I was a new rider. This licence had to be renewed every year. After two years I went to renew it again, I was told that the government scrapped this type of licence so I lost it. They can arrange a car for your road test, but they don't offer a motorcycle. They told me to borrow a motorcycle from someone, or buy one. I was told 'don't you have any friend with a motorcycle ?' At the end, I lost what I paid for with my own money. The privilege of being able to ride a motorcycle in Canada was taken away from me without any other reason than the government just saying it's invalid from now on.
I paid for it, then it was taken away from me. This is why you can't plan your future here. British Columbia is socialist. It is not about people - it is about money. Some people will say - oh, everywhere is like this. Sure, I know the world out there is not perfect and similar or worse things happen. But British Columbia prides itself to be 'the best of the best', the best place to live on Earth. How could it be ?
I would say Vancouver is a good place for a short visit, but not to start your life over. They don't like constructive criticism here, it is not a place for open minded creative people with multi cultural experience. It is superficial and whatever good you have will get used to someone's advantage - like the 'native' theme during the Olympics. They found the niche to explore, like a when you dig for gold in dirt and find it - and they exploit it to extreme any given chance. Just go to the Vancouver Airport.
Ending this blog entry, anyone who things I am just a Vancouver hater - you are wrong. I am sure this place is a happy home to many people and it became that 'best in the world' place for them. Unfortunately I can't share this experience. The mountains don't make up for this - I have seen beautiful mountains in other countires. I am offering an objective view from my perspective, and I will later talk about the good things this city has to offer. BUt they are not enough for me to to make this a place where I would like to stay and live.


My life has always been about freedom and I shall continue to walk this path.
Safe travels ! ........... Stan


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