Two weeks ago, I attended a very interesting workshop held at the Law Courts Centre discussing the issue of how issues around ethnic diversity and race may affect the overall judgment of a legal decision-maker. Given that the speakers were a current judge and a former judge (now lawyer), I expected a very cautious discussion. I was surprised to find that both admitted there were significant cultural competency challenges facing decision-makers, particularly around such things as cultural traditions (re: marriages and families) as well as the importance of effective interpretation/intepreters.
The Use of Interpreters
I recently had the privilege of sitting in on an Immigration Appeal Division (IAD) spousal appeal where I witnessed interpreting challenges in practice. The interpreter admitted at the forefront that there were dialect issues and in general was having difficulty keeping up with the fast pace of the witness (who was testifying by phone). The decision-maker was noticeably irritated by the witnesses inability to be concise and cooperate with the interpreter. Cantonese for many who do not speak it comes off very fast and harsh (even to someone who speaks mandarin like myself). The Member at the hearing was noticeably unamused by the tone of the witness.
At the workshop, the judges both recommended that if the witness is able to speak English they should use that as the language of testimony. I completely agree. The individual used (particularly in immigration hearings) is not a professional certified interpreter. Furthermore, many terms and human emotions simply do not pass through interpretation. I believe that the credibility of the witness is is inevitably weakened and definitely not aided.
Another cultural challenge that I have seen in several IAD cases (a few that have led to Judicial Reviews) is the issue of mental illness and disability. In the West, we have a very advanced view of mental illness and disability compared to many countries of the world. While undoubtedly stigma and prejudice still exist, parents generally know from an early age from their family doctors and educators what the child suffers from and what type of treatment options are available.
In much of the world this is not true. Mental illness is not well-studied nor understood and it is often not an issue that families enjoy discussing at the dinner table. Rather than relating to the specific name of the disease, the Chinese name for many of these illnesses is simply the blanket term “mental illness” or “personality illness.”
Consequentially, I have seen quite a few cases where family members and spouses were unaware of the diagnosis of the mentally-ill/disabled individual and only able to describe several of the key effects (i.e lower IQ, trouble functioning in public, etc.). These factors were later turned around and used as signs that the underlying relationship (in the immigration context) was non-genuine and therefore excluded the family relationship and rejected the appeal.
I think decision-makers, particularly at the IAD stage need to be very aware of the different cultural stigmas around mental health and how lack of knowledge of diseases may not necessarily be a sign of a non-credible witness or a non-genuine relationship.
The ‘I Love You’ Factor
Another issue that I have seen arise in the IAD is in the assessment of the types of actions which demonstrate love.
Perhaps to the archaic nature of case law in the area, the genuineness of a relationships is still defined in large part on things such as telephone records and love letters. Importantly, the relationships must be centred around love and the need for proof of the “I love you’s.”
In the modern day however, this evidence of genuineness may not always be true. Several couples use Whatsapp, Skype, or some cultural chat software (QQ, Kakao Talk, WeChat) to communicate. Many of these platforms do not allow for message histories to be effectively kept and furthermore some of the sending of media images back and forth and video chats, and conversations in foreign languages, are not readily transcrible. In one IAD refusal decision I read, the sending of media back and forth between a couple was described as “illogical.” The individual Member had likely never used Whatsapp before.
A second challenge that bogs many foreign couples (particularly older ones), I find, is the actual use of the words “I love you” in various contexts. Even in my own parent’s generation, the words I love you are rarely ever said or heard around the house. If asked why they are together or attracted to each other, I am sure my parents would come up with issues related around responsibility, similar view on household chores/economics, etc.
I think it is important to be sensitive to the way love is expressed in different cultures and not draw negative inferences based on different understandings.
Just a few thoughts on this Sunny Sunday in Chongqing, China.
In this section, I will look at the Canadian Film and Video Production Tax Credit’s (CPTC) provisions around Key Creative Personnel and why, consequentially, Telefilm Treaty Co-Production Agreements are desirable from an immigration perspective.
Telefilm Treaty Co-Production Agreements
The first stage in determining whether the Key Creative Personnel are met is to determine what type of production is in question. the CPTC Guideline sets out two different types, Live Action Productions and Animation Productions, each with their own set of scoring rules.
For a Live Action Production the following positions are considered for a maximum of 10 points. To qualify, one of two of the director positions and one of two of the lead performer positions must be filled by a Canadian.
Director – 2 points
Screenwriter (see s.4.06) – 2 points
Lead performer for whose services the highest remuneration was payable (see s.4.05) – 1 point
Lead performer for whose services the second highest remuneration was payable – 1 point
Director of photography – 1 point
Art director – 1 point
Music composer (see s.4.07) – 1 point
Picture editor – 1 points
For a Animation Production the points are as follows:
Director – 1 point
Screenwriter and storyboard supervisor (see s.4.06) – 1 point
Lead voice for which the highest or second highest remuneration was payable (see s.4.05) – 1 point
Design supervisor (art director) – 1 point
Camera operator (in Canada) – 1 point
Music composer (see s.4.07) – 1 point
Picture editor – 1 point
The following points will be allotted if the work is performed solely in Canada.
Layout and background – 1 point
Key animation (must be in Canada) – 1 point
Assistant animation and in-betweening – 1 point
With respect to Animation Productions, there are some additional requirements. Either the director or the screenwriter and supervisor must be Canadian. Either the highest or second-highest remunerated lead voice must be Canadian, and all key animation must be done in Canada.
There are also several general rules that apply to all types of Key Creative Personnel. Among the general rules are several important for immigration purposes. No points are to be awarded for Canadians who share key personnel roles for other non-Canadians. Also, the camera operator role for Animated Productions must conduct his work in Canada. Also, scoring on a collection of films or a series of films must be done individually and the production company should make a separate list of individuals who worked on each production.
Why are Telefilm Treaty Co-Productions So Valuable from an Immigration Perspective?
Canada has currently 55 Co-Production Agreements and Memorandum of Understandings with several countries. The full list can be found here.
The benefit of a Treaty Co-Production Agreement is that pursuant to the CPTC Program Eligibility Requirements, these films operate under the specific Treaty Co-Production Agreement rather than the CPTC Guidelines with respect to the Key Creative Personnel and Producer-Related Personnel. The CPTC Guidelines regarding the Key Creative Personnel point system and the rules surrounding production-related personnel need not apply.
The language in these agreements is generally much more favourable than the CPTC Guidelines. For example, in the 2014 Audiovisual Co-Production Agreement Between the Government of Canada and the Government of the Republic of India ( the “India Agreement), Articles 3 and 5 provide that producers and participants can be a national of one of the parties and that through mutual consent in writing by administrative authorities, can also include third countries.
The India Agreement also provides in Article 6 that the Parties shall facilitate temporary entry and residence in the respective territories for creative and technical personnel and performers.
Importantly, one of the countries that does not have a Treaty Co-Production Agreement with Canada is the United States. One of the areas I will be researching into in the future (possibly through ATI requests) is how American film productions, through filming in Canada, partnering with local production companies, and utilizing Canadian actors in key lead roles have been able to take advantage of the CPTC tax credit.
Hope you enjoyed the post 🙂