By Ajibola Abayomi,
On February 25, 2021, the former Canada minister of Immigration and Citizenship, Hon Gerry Weiner addressed an international audience at the maiden African Migration Summit held in Accra, Ghana.
The summit was organized by the Journalists international Forum For Migration, JIFORM, headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria comprising over 300 journalists spread across the globe covering migration matters in partnership with the Nekotech Center of Excellence, Ghana
Bother about the challenges faced by the migrants and others, the ex-minister in his presentation titled ‘A World Without Borders, Health. Wealth, and Education: The Covid-19 Reality, the ex-minster x-rayed variables that are necessary for human existence at this special season of pandemic and offer solutions to how technology and others tools can be used to better the loots of humanity.
Below is the full speech of Honorable Gerry Weiner at the summit.
I am honored to be given this opportunity to speak to you, at this important summit, on issues affecting migrants, especially those of African origin.
I was pleased to have been introduced to Ajibola, and JIFORM-The Journalists International Forum for Migration by my friend Zacheaus Somorin and was delighted to have been invited to speak to the Conference last October.
In fact, I had met Zacheaus some 10 years earlier, on my first journey to Nigeria, when he interviewed me, in his role as journalist, for his business newspaper.
I am equally pleased to be joined at this conference by Susan Gong, the president of Altec Global, a firm I have been associated with for the last 3 years. Susan, with the assistance of Zacchaeus, and the encouragement of both myself, and our colleague James Metcalfe, have developed the Altec for Africa program. A program specially focused to meet the needs of migrants.
I fully appreciate the commitment of JIFORM to promote the urgent need for advocacy against irregular migration and to view migrants as economic developers.
Migrants are an instrument of economic development and change. May I also applaud the partnership with the Nekotech Center of Excellence led by His Excellency Dr. Princess Ocansey and others that have made this event a reality.
Migrants are crucial to the advancement of the global economy.
As of 2019, according to the United Nations, in a report captured by the international organization for Migration (IOM), there are 272 million international migrants across the globe, however the latest report suggests that the figure is now over one billion.
Humankind is now facing a global crisis. the biggest crisis of our generation. We are about to enter the second year of this Pandemic and the decisions people and governments take in the next few weeks, and months, will shape the world for years to come.
They will shape not just our healthcare systems, but also our economy, politics and culture. We have been witness to our very existence being placed at risk, as the death and destruction of the Virus has devastated the entire world. We seem powerless to act, as we waited with bated breath for the development of Vaccines, and innovative therapies.
Our very existence was now being placed in doubt.
There was some light at the end of the tunnel, vaccines, and innovative therapies, were brought forward, with new dynamic technologies, in months instead of years. An entire world seemed to be working together, for one of the first times in recent memory, sharing technology and discovery.
It looked like we might have bitten the bullet and found a way forward, notwithstanding the horrendous price we have paid in death and devastation.
It looked like there was a genuine willingness to mobilize all our talents to the benefit of humankind, all pulling in the same direction. It looked like we are being given a second chance, a chance at a restart. A chance to examine where we are, how we arrived at this point, and what must be done to start the process of reconstruction and renewal.
However, we must act quickly and decisively. We should also consider the long-term consequences of our actions. When choosing between alternatives, we should ask ourselves not only how to overcome the immediate threat, but also what kind of world we will inhabit once the storm passes. Yes, the storm will pass, humankind will survive, most of us will still be alive — but we will inhabit a different world.
May I begin by thanking JIFORM for giving me the opportunity to spend some time reflecting on what has happened to us, and where must we go from here.
I am highly honored to be invited back to speak to you at this important summit on issues affecting migrants especially those of African origin and want to recognize your commitment to increasing advocacy against irregular migration, and migrants as economic development.
Why Me… Why Us…
What is Gerry Weiner…. Once upon a time…. a long time ago…
I was a young man growing up in the inner city of Montreal, living in a one-bedroom cold water flat. The kitchen table was my study. I can well understand the plight of young students in Africa, for example.
Virtual schools, using new technologies…Really. I can understand. I knew that education would be my pass to a better life, and we had the schools to support us. We did not always have money for books, but we made do. Fix the school system, should be an immediate goal…
Just do it…
My professional career, a Pharmacist, instrumental in the delivery of health care for almost half a century.
Chemist speaking…How may I help you. The Apothecary, with its coffee shop, which I co-founded, was the perfect setting to become involved in community activity. Education-Health Care, and Quality of Life issues always a concern.
Co-founder Pierrefonds-Dollard Des Ormeaux (DDO) Inter Municipal Library System
Co-founder of the Emergency Medical Services in DDO.
Beachwood School; The Lakeshore General Hospital.
Pharmacist, Maverick Mayor, Immigration Minister to Mr. Multiculturalism. I have been honored for my efforts in combating racism, defending equal rights for all and equality of opportunity. I have always been a defender of Human Rights. Always an activist for change.
Migrants are instruments of economic activity…I am The perfect example, presently working with 3 companies; Susan Gong, who originally came from Taiwan, and her Altec Global Capital team; Michael Shribman and the APS group , who came to Canada, from Europe and Israel, now having developed one of the best Startup Visa programs; and Rafik Salib, a developer from Egypt and Germany
If there is one thing we have learned in this year, of worldwide devastation. The Covid year, everyone must work together in the development of the vaccines, and the accompanying therapies, we must work together to save humankind. It did not matter, where the research was being carried out, information was shared instantly.
Why can we not put the same effort in bringing quality health care to all. If we have the will, we certainly have the technology, and the resources. If we value human life, we must! But does it really matter. Should it matter where we live. We must stop accepting unequal care, and demand better treatment for all.
You bring honor to what I have been able to accomplish in my lifetime, by inviting me to join you on this important journey. A journey that must demand an end to the status quo; an end to the lack of progress in bringing forward a better quality of life for all, in education, in health care, and in the widening differential in family income.
I have had a remarkable political career in high profile positions as an elected official, for which I am enormously grateful. Never forgetting my humble beginnings, I have used each of my positions, and all my energy to assure a Canada that continues to be strengthened and enriched by its diversity, and social harmony, without compromising equality of opportunity, and participation, regardless of race, gender or faith! I am enormously proud of what I have achieved.
I am here as part of an excellent team, the Altec for Africa team. A team that has more than two decades of experience in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. As a Minister I visited many countries in Africa and over the last decade in my Nigeria 2.0 effort where I have developed many lasting friendships, helped many in their understanding of Canada, and maintain those strong relationships to this day.
Susan Gong has put together a team that can respond to all your needs, in seeking residency or business opportunity.
Covid-19 and the increasing inequality. A disease that must be treated.
Covid-19 has exposed failures that preceded the virus; unequal or no access to health care; inhumane working conditions; public education systems that must be fixed, and many other conditions that must receive immediate treatment. If not treated can lead to social unrest, racial discrimination, warfare, revolution, and even state collapse.
When people are hungry, there is a danger of being forced to take matters in their own hands
“A recent survey of 37 countries indicates that 3 in 4 households suffered declining income since the start of the pandemic, with 82% of poorer households affected. The impacts on different communities depends entirely on their specific circumstances.
In the US, for example, over 2 million more households claim that they do not have enough to eat since the pandemic. In fact, one in five African American households says they are going hungry.”
Higher-paid workers are working from home while lower-paid blue-collar workers typically do not have this option, where working from home is impossible. Homes too small, do not have access to the technology and support services.
Lower paid workers have much more difficult task in home schooling. Low paid workers, in essential services, for example in Nursing, Policing and care giving are more likely to come in contact with infected people
The Honorable Gerry Weiner P.C.
Director Investor Relations, Corporate Strategy, and Business Facilitation.