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Canadian tech firms ask Trudeau to give immediate visas after US immigration ban

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A group of Canadian technology company founders, executives and investors on Sunday called in a letter for Ottawa to immediately give temporary residency to those displaced by a U.S. order banning the entry of people from seven Muslim-majority countries.

The open letter said U.S. President Donald Trump’s executive order, which temporarily bars travelers from Syria and six other countries and also puts a four-month hold on allowing refugees into the United States, had already “impacted several in our community.”

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“Canadian tech companies understand the power of inclusion and diversity of thought, and that talent and skill know no borders,” said the letter, signed by more than 200 industry players.

“Many Canadian tech entrepreneurs are immigrants, are the children of immigrants, employ and have been employed by immigrants.”

Signatories included John Ruffolo, head of the venture arm of one of Canada’s biggest pension funds, and Tobias Lutke, chief executive officer of e-commerce software company Shopify, which went public in 2015 and is valued at around $4.6 billion.

The Canadian government has not said what, if any, tangible action it could take, but in tweets on Saturday Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada welcomed those fleeing war and persecution and posted an archived picture of him greeting Syrian refugees arriving in Toronto in 2015.

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Canada is eager to attract skilled tech workers from abroad while also retaining existing workers and students that are often lured away by global tech firms. More than 300,000 Canadians currently work in Silicon Valley in the United States.

Last year, Canada benefited from the raucous U.S. election campaign, with new Canadian work permits for highly skilled workers from the United States soaring nearly 54 percent in the first eight months of the year.

One Ontario-based software developer, Sortable, ran an ad campaign targeting tech workers that extolled Canada’s calm political climate. In November, Canada introduced new visa measures that would allow tech firms to quickly recruit foreign talent, including fast approvals and 30-day work permits.

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“Policies such as (Trump’s) put everybody in the business community on edge because all global firms have a multicultural work force.‎ But it’s also an opportunity,” Jim Balsillie, former co-CEO of BlackBerry Ltd, said in the Globe and Mail newspaper on Saturday.

“If Canada can quickly implement the global skills visa for tech talent … we can reinforce our country as the place to attract the best talent.”

The U.S. tech industry, a major employer of foreign workers, hit back on Saturday at the sudden executive order on immigration, with some leaders calling it immoral and un-American.

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(Reporting by Alastair Sharp; Writing by Amran Abocar; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)


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WATCH: Lewandowski’s lawyer freaks out, tries to block Congress from asking any further questions

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During the House Judiciary Committee testimony of President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski about the Russia investigation, Lewandowski's attorney frantically crashed the witness table and demanded that Congress stop asking questions of his client.

"Mister Chairman, as you know I am counsel for Mr. Lewandowski—" began the attorney.

"You are not a witness and you should not be seated at that table," cut in House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) sharply.

"I understand that," said Lewandowski's attorney. "I will leave after I register a formal protest based upon the debate that I heard. These seem to be unauthorized questions and I know you choose your words carefully—"

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Congressman blasts ‘tough guy’ Lewandowski for blowing off hearing: He wants to ‘launch his senatorial campaign’

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On Tuesday's edition of CNN's "The Situation Room," House Democratic Caucus chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) laid into President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Corey Lewandowski for his aggressive behavior before the House Judiciary Committee.

"As you know, Democrats want to call other witnesses for this impeachment investigation," said anchor Wolf Blitzer. "Do you worry, though, that Lewandowski set the precedent for not cooperating?"

"Well, Lewandowski portrayed himself as a tough guy," said Jeffries. "He's a likely candidate for a Senate seat in New Hampshire. And he was there probably to try to launch his senatorial campaign, not to take seriously his responsibility as a witness to participate in this hearing on behalf of the effort to find the truth for the American people. But that is okay. Because the American people can judge Lewandowski based on what they've seen from today and in terms of whether he was participating in a cover-up or participating in effort to reveal information to the American people."

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‘This is not a reality TV show’: Democrat shuts down Rep. Collins when he tries to stop her questions about obstruction

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Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) had a freakout when a Democratic member of Congress dared to call out the president's obstructions of justice during the hearing with Corey Lewandowski Tuesday. During her questioning, Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL) drew conclusions outlined in special counsel Robert Mueller's report, but Collins proclaimed it was against the rules.

"Point of order, Mr. Chairman," Collins interrupted her opening statement.

"The gentleman will state his point of order," Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) said.

"I would just ask, is the gentle lady accusing the president of a crime?" Collins asked.

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