Ottawa's Shopify joins tech companies upset with Trump order

Default image

Local tech firm Shopify joined dozens of Canadian tech companies on Sunday condemning President Donald Trump’s ban on nationals from seven Middle Eastern and African countries entering the United States.

Harley Finkelstein, the company’s chief operating officer, said his own family’s experience shows the value of immigration.

“My dad was an immigrant when Canada let in 40,000 Hungarians into the country during the Hungarian revolution in 1955. Our family is here because of Canada's inclusive policies and warmth. I'll never forget that,” he said in an email.

He said the company has a strong belief in inclusion and diversity. He also said the company needs to be able to attract talent from around the world.

“Talent is not defined by borders and if they choose to come to Canada, the entire ecosystem will be better for it,” he said. “Canada is a country where the best talent from around the world can move here and do their life's work.”

The open letter commended Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for speaking in favour of inclusion Saturday evening. The tech leaders from across the country encouraged him to set up a new visa program for people who might be displaced.

“This visa would allow these residents to live and work in Canada with access to benefits until such time as they can complete the application process for permanent residency if they so choose,” reads the letter.

It said Canada should be prepared to help those displaced.

“We, as Canadians, recognize our privilege as a prosperous nation. We believe providing refuge to people seeking safety should remain our compass.”

Although the Trudeau government moved to calm anxiety over the weekend about the effects of a controversial American travel ban, more vocal debate over the measure is expected today.

Trudeau's senior aides and government officials worked the phones all weekend, looking for word from their U.S. counterparts that the ban didn't affect Canadians with ties to the seven countries covered by the order.

Federal Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said yesterday that the White House has provided assurances that Canadians with dual citizenship and permanent residents with a valid residency card and a passport from their home country will not be turned back at the American border.

However, those assurances haven't satisfied the opposition New Democrats, who are pressing for an emergency debate when the House of Commons resumes today.

New Democrat MP Jenny Kwan wants to delve more deeply into how the American ban effects Canada and how the government plans to respond.

Government House leader Bardish Chagger seemed open to a debate, but noted the decision is up to Commons Speaker Geoff Regan.

U.S. officials are expected to hear firsthand today how Canadians feel about the ban that affects people from Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Yemen and Libya.

At least two protests are planned, one outside the American embassy in Ottawa and the other at the U.S. Consulate in Toronto.

The size of the demonstrations is unclear, but American diplomats are concerned enough that they have announced the consulate will temporarily suspend services to the public today.

The U.S. State Department tweeted Sunday that American citizens should exercise caution today if they're in the vicinity of the embassy in Ottawa.

This story originally appeared in Metro News and includes reporting by the Canadian Press.