As the United States continues to wrestle with the legal status of an entry ban on nationals from seven Middle Eastern and African countries, this week's Techopia Live looked to give guidance to Ottawa's tech community.
The ban sent shockwaves through the business community after it was announced. Moe Abbas, CEO of GenM and a recipient of the City of Ottawa's immigrant entrepreneur award, told Techopia Live that he wants to do business in the U.S., but is now unsure if trips south are in his best interest.
"I'm afraid. I don't know if I should go to the U.S.," he said.
Warren Creates, an immigration lawyer at Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall, also joined the show to clear up the current status of the ban: A U.S. District Judge blocked the ban on Friday, and over the weekend an appeals courtdeclined to immediately reimpose the ban. The ban is not currently in effect but the question is likely to head to the Supreme Court of the United States before it's settled.
What has unfolded is a conflict between the president and the judiciary in the U.S.
"It's a real constitutional crisis in the States," Creates told the live audience.
Creates says there are several human resources concerns that companies are now forced to weigh, such as considering employees' citizenships when dispatching them for sales calls.
However, he said there is also an unprecedented opportunity for Ottawa businesses.
Increasing interest in Canadian universities from foreign applicants is one example of how immigrant talent is shifting its gaze north. Creates says now is the time for well-thought out policy from the federal government to reaffirm Canada as a welcoming place to do business.
"This is our opportunity to express to the world our value system, to come up with concrete programs to respond to this," he said.
Abbas agrees, and says entrepreneurs should educate themselves on the fluctuating nature on the ban and keep focused on the how to take advantage on the chaotic political environment.
"Entrepreneurs, you need to ask yourself: 'What is the value that the U.S. is losing? And how can we capitalize on that value?'" He said. "The greatest opportunities for entrepreneurs are in times of conflict."