UPDATE: Both notcanada.com and notcanada.net have been shut down.
This website bills itself as “providing the truth about immigration to Canada.” But who are they really?
Their “About” page describes them as follows [typos and all, but with emphasis removed]:
NotCanada.com is run by a team of former Canadian citizens, who have now permanently left Canada and are happily living and working abroad.
The goals of NotCanada.com are:
1. Inform the world about the TRUTH about Canada.
2. Expose the lies and deceit of the Canadian Embassies around the world.
3. Expose the money hungry tactics of the Canadian Immigration lawyers.
4. Explain the true motives behind the Canadian Governments immigration policies.
5. Help you – the potential immigrant to Canada – make a complete and accurate informed decision about wether or not you should immigrate to Canada.
It is, of course, entirely possible that this is a legitimate site, created as it says by former immigrants to Canada who want to help – warn off, really – others who might be considering migrating there. But the fact that this site is linked to by a number of conservative Canadian anti-immigration bloggers and websites raises questions about its true nature and purpose: could it be a bit of disinformation, covertly operated by right-wing Canadians to scare off potential immigrants?
As much as this might seem like a bit of paranoid conspiracy-mongering, it is a possibility that has clearly occurred to others – including the creators of the site, as they refute this idea in their FAQ, as well as addressing any charge of racism that might be leveled against them. But while they explicitly encourage readers of their FAQ to research their credentials, they don’t provide any contact information of any kind to facilitate such inquiries. If they are genuine – and sincere in their suggestion that we look into their bona fides – why do they provide no identifying information or even direct contact info?
The FAQ page contains a number of statements that raise doubts about the legitimacy of the site. In one place, the people behind NotCanada.com state that they “have lived in Canada for well over twenty years,” but a bit later say they say they have permanently left Canada. Also peculiar and suspicious is the fact that in rejecting any charge of racism, the people responsible for NotCanada.com don’t say anything about their own identities, though elsewhere there are suggestions that they are originally from Asia. And they write “We certainly don’t want to ‘keep foreigners out of Canada'” – which again does not seem to be a statement that would be made by former immigrants no longer living in Canada.
It’s possible – particularly given the numerous errors and generally poor writing of the site – that these suspicious statements are all just the result of bad writing. Without the site creators coming clean about who they are, it is impossible to know.
There are other oddities to the site, as well. For instance, despite its complaints about immigration lawyers taking advantage of people wanting to move to Canada, it lists prominently at the top of its main page links to two different commercial immigration firms. One of these firms assists people migrating to the USA. The other – “Global Visas” – provides services for people wishing to migrate to any of a number of countries – mostly former British possessions, like the USA, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and… Canada. One possible explanation is that they want to encourage people to emigrate somewhere other than Canada, but this seems a bit flimsy compared to their supposed anger over the misleading practices of immigration lawyers helping people come to Canada. Well, actually, I think that explanation is correct in one respect – they do want to encourage people to go somewhere other than Canada.
The main content of the site mostly seems to be whatever was written back when it was created, apparently in 2005, without any attempts being made to fix bad links or clear up the numerous typos and other errors. But the site is not moribund; it is being regularly updated with links to recent news articles and so on. And the “OFFICIAL NotCanada.com FORUM” appears to be quite active – the main discussion forum shows almost 3000 posts, right up to the present, on over 200 topics.
A check of the registration (WHOIS) information for the domain name notcanada.com shows it to be registered to a dummy/front company, Domains By Proxy, Inc. of Scottsdale, Arizona; their numerical IP address (184.108.40.206) likewise traces back to there. This is by no means proof of shadiness, but the use of this company – whose marketing emphasizes its ability to shield the true identity of domain owners – certainly raises questions. Indeed, so many shady operations try to fly under the radar using their services that Domains By Proxy provides special links on its home page for law enforcement and people with subpoenas.
When you look at the overall picture – the murky and contradictory statements in the FAQ, the shonkiness of the website with its errors and bad links, the propagandist graphics of workers with advanced degrees being forced to take McJobs, the lack of any information on the identities of the people behind the site, its popularity with right-wing foes of immigration, the intentional hiding of their identities in the domain registration – one really has to wonder.
If any of you are mad skilled in things internet and have some time on your hands, perhaps you might considered trying to track down more info. In particular, there are a bunch of posts on other sites – even positive sites on Canadian immigration like Loon Lounge – telling people to check out NotCanada.com. Tracing the identities or IP addresses of people making these posts (perhaps with the help of administrators on those sites), and also those posting to the NotCanada.com forum, might be revealing. If the site is bogus, and being run by some naughty right wing anti-immigration (and racist) Canadians, I suspect that the same IP addresses but bearing different names will show up repeatedly – in NotCanada.com forum posts and in posts about NotCanada.com elsewhere – and that posts by persons apparently affiliated with NotCanada will trace back to IP addresses located not overseas, where the NotCanada people claim to be, but in Canada.
UPDATE: This is what you get for hammering something out in a hurry. NotCanada.com has a “partner site” at NotCanada.net, which consists mostly of the same material, but it’s somewhat slicker and more professionally put together. Like the original site, NotCanada.net is devoid of any genuine identifying information, and the domain name is again registered through an organisation specializing in hiding the identities of domain owners, in this case Domain Privacy Group, Inc. This company is located in the Toronto area, which raises further doubts about the legitimacy of the NotCanada sites – if they are really the product of people no longer living in Canada, why are they using a Toronto area company to hide their identities?
FURTHER UPDATE: I have written a follow-up to this post.