Glavin: Neil Young vs Spotify, and the gathering storm

Good column:

The fight the legendary hippie singer-songwriter Neil Young brought to the music-streaming giant Spotify on Monday over the privileged place it provides a wildly popular podcast by the contrarian comedian and former wrestling colour-commentator Joe Rogan appears to have ended as quickly as it began. But the wider war is gathering steam.

“I am doing this because Spotify is spreading fake information about vaccines,” Young said. Either Rogan goes or I go, he told the Stockholm-based audio-streaming giant. On Wednesday, Spotify responded: Off you go, then. By Thursday, Young had decamped with his entire 45-album backlist and all his bread to Apple Music, while Rogan’s big-tent circuses, with their sideshow freaks and thrill rides, will carry on, as before, with Spotify.

It all sounds so frivolous, but it isn’t, because the public-policy hostilities arising from our common captivity in the grip of COVID-19, now in the first days of the third year of SARS-CoV-2, are only becoming more pronounced with every passing day. Millions are dead, the stricken keep on dying, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to discern what the basic facts are and the uproars are unfolding in the midst of what has been called a “crisis of epistemology.”

That’s the philosophical way of describing the erosion of common understandings about not just what the truth is, but about how we’re all supposed to go about the work of figuring out what the truth is in the first place. Facts used to matter. Now, not so much.

Rogan stands accused of engaging in dezinformatsiya, as the Russians elegantly describe the traffic in dangerous half-truths and lies deployed as offensive weaponry in propaganda warfare. Specifically, Rogan’s offside notions about vaccines and masks are widely understood to make him a dangerous menace to public health. While he’s helpfully referred to himself as a “moron” for suggesting young people shouldn’t bother themselves with COVID vaccinations, the former “Fear Factor” game show host’s Spotify broadcast, the Joe Rogan Experience, still draws roughly 11 million listeners per episode.

I should straight away confess my own loyalties this week were to the cause of Team Neil. One must take sides, after all. Sorry, but that’s how these proxy wars work. There’s little room for conscientious objection, and the alliances that form up can draw the most disparate and ordinarily unfriendly parties to one another in the same blocs, rallying behind banners that wouldn’t otherwise summon them.

In all the epistemic chaos abroad in the Anglosphere—it churns and roils its way through the culture only most noticeably in the undying allegiance of millions of Americans to the disgraced former president Donald Trump—we’ve reached the point where the pandemic’s early public consensus and trust in government experts, in Canada at least, appears to be collapsing.

Canadians almost invariably end up adopting the culture-war habits Americans torture themselves with, so there’s now a “small fringe minority of people who are on their way to Ottawa who are holding unacceptable views that they are expressing.” This is how Prime Minister Justin Trudeau inelegantly described the convoys of truckers and their camp followers rumbling along Canada’s highways in their Peterbilts and Kenworths, and Freightliners and Macks, intent upon converging in Ottawa this weekend.

The On-to-Ottawa organizers insist they are against vaccine mandates imposed upon anyone, not just cross-border truckers, but many protesters appear to share more seething anger and frustration than any clear and coherent objective. Parliament Hill police were planning on about 10,000 people showing up. It’s been a bit unsettling to consider how all this might end up playing out, because there are some genuinely nasty characters who have insinuated themselves into the anti-mandate protests. The Parliamentary Protective Service insists that everything would proceed according to routine this weekend, but it still seems unlikely that events will go on to resolve themselves quite as efficiently as they appeared to in the Young-Rogan conflict.

It wasn’t just a quarrel about Spotify’s royalty rates or shuffle features. The Spotify rumpus was at least partly about whether a musician like Young could use his enormous star power to force an audio-streaming company with roughly 380 million monthly users to ditch what could be described, in the most charitable terms, as the world’s most popular streaming public-affairs talk show. But it’s also about money. A lot of money.

Rogan signed an exclusive contract with Spotify two years ago, reportedly worth more than $100 million, and Spotify is discovering that there’s more profit to be had in podcasts than in archiving digital versions of yesteryear’s hit singles. Young, who had six million monthly listeners on Spotify last week, sold his music catalogue to publisher Hipgnosis last year for $150 million. While Young says losing his him-or-me ultimatum would cost him 60 per cent of his streaming-service revenue, it’s not like his abdication from Spotify will cause him any pain.

Young’s net worth is estimated at $200 million. Now that Apple Music has declared itself Young’s new streaming home, Young’s earnings shouldn’t be disrupted all that dramatically. So as tidy as some of us might want it, this story is not so simple as a moral tale about a shaggy and lanky iconic veteran protest singer, in his 76th year, gallantly impoverishing himself by bravely sticking it to the man.

In normal times, there’s hardly anything even newsworthy about celebrities throwing themselves into causes. They do it all the time and they’re often pretty weird. There are celebrities against circumcision, celebrities against Oprah Winfrey and celebrities against meat. There have always been celebrities against vaccines. Now there are celebrities against COVID lockdowns.

“No more taking of our freedom And our God-given rights, Pretending its for our safety When it’s really to enslave . . .” That’s a lyric line from a one of several anti-mandate songs recently released by Van Morrison, the usually mild-mannered Northern Irish musical icon whose lyrics are sometimes so ethereal as to be comparable to the poetry of the English mystic William Blake.

Early on in the pandemic, Noel Gallagher, the force behind the chart-topping band Oasis, vowed that he would not wear a mask when he was out at the shops. Only last weekend, the Marvel star Evangeline Lilly joined prominent vaccine skeptic Robert F. Kennedy at an anti-mandate rally in Washington D.C.

Last September’s celebrity COVID eruption was perhaps the most amusing. That’s when pop star Nicki Minaj drew unwanted attention to herself by claiming that a cousin’s friend in Trinidad had been abandoned at the altar by a bride who was displeased by the way a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine had made the groom’s testicles swell.

Nicki Minaj has 22 million Twitter followers. Joe Rogan’s Twitter crew, incidentally, numbers eight million. And now there’s a #DeleteSpotify thing on Twitter that’s taking off.

In this bizarre new world where celebrities are taken to be epidemiologists and the toxins of antisemitism are as prevalent on the “left” as they’ve conventionally been situated on the “right,” it’s not especially helpful to dismiss all those angry truckers as a pack of howling white supremacists. Something’s happening here, to borrow a Buffalo Springfield lyric from Young’s late 60s heyday, and what it is ain’t exactly clear.

Jonathan Rauch, the journalist, author, Atlantic magazine fixture and senior fellow in governance studies with the Brookings Institution, proposes a helpful way of comprehending the perplexing phenomena of the times. It goes like this.

Just as the formalized political rules that derive from the American constitution are necessary to make American democracy work, the ways that knowledge itself is constituted are necessary for politics in liberal democracies to work. And the system is close to broken.

In his just-published book, the Constitution of Knowledge: A Defence of Truth, Rauch describes how the space occupied by what he calls the “reality-based community” is shrinking. Its customs and conventions are falling away. The intellectual strata that has conventionally distilled truth from facts and data and goes about the work of constituting knowledge—historians, social scientists, journalists, policy-makers, jurists—is succumbing to cultures of enforced conformity that stagnate in their own hived-off echo chambers.

Ideological rigidity, speech codes, Twitter-induced outrage spasms and a strict emphasis on consistency with “narrative” are supplanting the social mechanisms that have long served to transform disagreement into knowledge. We are counselled to assess truth claims by sizing up the people “who are holding unacceptable views that they are expressing,” as Trudeau put it. The norms and institutions forged over decades by peer review, humility, fact-checking, good-faith debate and the evaluation of truth claims against objective evidence, verification and replication—it’s all up for grabs.

It’s not just that facts don’t seem to matter anymore. It’s that it doesn’t seem to matter that facts don’t matter.

Source: Neil Young vs Spotify, and the gathering storm

Mallick: Ban ‘Lord of the Flies’? In the age of Donald Trump, it’s required reading

Legitimate critique of excessive wokism, woke bullying and craven public administration. :

“Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!”

It’s a shame that many Ottawa high school students will no longer be able to read murderous quotes like that from the very instructive “Lord of the Flies” in class.

The trouble began when an Ottawa student wrote in her school paper that William Golding’s 1954 novel about white boys stranded on an island turning savage and killing their own, did not reflect what she as “a Black, Jewish, feminist and social justice activist” wished to read.

“I do not need to learn about … how these boys cannot act in a civilized manner to protect one another without desiring power, hierarchy and having a thirst for blood.” And the Ottawa-Carleton school board listened, as have others, banning Golding’s novel and other novels too. 

Breathes there a high school student that doesn’t feel that the world should reflect her personally? It’s part of the maddening sweetness of the teenagers we all were once.

The student didn’t like memorizing Orwell either. But memorization is a gift. As climate change advances, it will give people something to do as they wait in cooling centres or sinkholes or planes stuck in melted tarmac.

I recite F. Scott Fitzgerald (“I left my capacity for hoping on the little roads that led to Zelda’s sanitarium”). She of course may only have “Do it to Julia! Not me!” or a description of George Orwell eating boiled cod with turnips and enjoying it out of socialist idealism.

I fear for students like her. The novel is at base about bullying. A plane full of children crashes on a tropical island. Their means of survival is a plot that will be re-enacted in every workplace, social justice enclave, airplane flight and Green party meeting she will ever encounter. 

What she seeks, she wrote, is “to learn about why it is important to protect one another and to be allies to those who are less privileged.” But this was precisely what “Lord of the Flies” revealed.

If she wants to read about groups cohering peacefully, in other words novels without plots, the Peppa Pig stories are a go-to. Or those terrific Sally Rooneys about smart women dating inert men. Or Nigel Slater’s “Real Fast Puddings.” Then there’s Margaret Atwood’s “Cat’s Eye” about girl-on-girl terror.

So it’s back to Peppa, really.

I can’t see how she missed the novel’s slide into group madness led by frat-boy Jack and the killing of Simon and his fat, asthmatic, bullied friend Piggy. But then I frequently finish murder mysteries and have no idea who the killer was.

As she wrote, Golding’s boys were all white so perhaps they seemed much of a muchness, fair enough, but blood is blood and by the end Simon and Piggy were simply covered in it, so there’s a plot flag right there.

Every class has such students; what troubles me are the adults who don’t worry about them. Rather they cater to them, a mistake because we’re all living a Lord of the Flies moment.

The Trump years ended with the portly post-president gleefully presiding over the Capitol assault on Jan. 6, a truly rancid Lord of the Flies gang crawling and battering their way into the building.

Think back to Sep. 11, 2001 and the 40 passengers and crew of Fight 93 who realized their hijacked plane was likely aimed at Washington’s Capitol. A random group of people — various Todds, Jeremys, Sandras and Marks — decided to protect the Capitol, seat of the very chambers that 20 years later, a different kind of American would casually invade, hijack and terrorize.

On Flight 93, passengers teamed up and attacked the cockpit, knowing they would all die in minutes. The terrorists, unable to shake them off, flew the plane into the ground, vaporizing everyone.

In today’s Lord of the Flies, which gang would make the better novel, the Saudi terrorists, the American terrorists, or the American passengers? Does modernity make any difference?

We are at this impasse now too. Think of the loud, violent gangs at Trudeau rallies this fall, the shaggy marches of the unmasked and unvaccinated in Toronto, and the hollowing of the Toronto transit system left unsupervised and a magnet for angry unmasked people.

Look at Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, bullied by his doctrinaire MPs and afraid to tell them to get vaccinated. O’Toole resembles Piggy. I wonder if he knows this.

The Ottawa student wants to study different tales in school, chosen not for their brilliance but for their newness and the diversity of their characters but it puzzles me that she hasn’t suggested anything. 

It has been said that there are only seven basic plots: Overcoming the Monster; Rags to Riches; The Quest; Voyage and Return; Rebirth; Comedy; and Tragedy. Lord of the Flies is the first, its plot eternal. We have many lords, many flies, in our future.

Source: https://www.thestar.com/politics/political-opinion/2021/10/30/ban-lord-of-the-flies-in-the-age-of-donald-trump-its-required-reading.html

Wave of Black studies programs at Canadian universities a long time coming, scholars say

Of note. Unclear, however, whether this will increase the overall rate of Black Canadians with a university degree. An equally important issue is of course the relative under-representation of second generation Black Canadians in STEM fields compared to the humanities.

A further challenge is the degree to which these programs will include diverse perspectives within faculty and students (e.g., people like John McWhorter):

A new Black studies minor will be offered to students of Ryerson University in the Fall 2022 semester — and other similar programs are in the works across the country, filling what scholars are calling a longtime curriculum gap at Canadian universities.

A successful program at Dalhousie University, launched in 2016, marked the beginning of a new era in academic institutions. But Black studies scholars and academics say that this new wave has been in the works for a long time.

By all accounts, students are leading the charge for Black studies curriculums at Canadian universities, and have been for years, with the support of faculty.

“I’m happy, but I’m not grateful. Let me put it that way,” said Afua Cooper, a Black studies professor at Dalhousie University.

“Because if it took white society and academia so long to recognize that, you know, the Black experience is … worthy of scholarly inquiry, then I’m kind of like, ‘Hmm.'”

Students wanted new curriculum, prof says

The push is “coming from Black students who are having an increased access to post-secondary education, something which many people take for granted as a result of systemic barriers and racism,” said Melanie Knight, an associate professor in the Department of Sociology at Ryerson University.

“Our classrooms were not made up largely of Black students.”

The university’s new Black studies minor is interdisciplinary, huddling courses from different departments and schools together into one program — with more to come as the curriculum expands. These efforts took time as the school focused on hiring Black faculty to administer relevant courses.

“It would be odd to have it housed in one department,” said Knight, who was part of a working group that included professors Cheryl Thompson and Anne-Marie Lee-Loy. “That wouldn’t actually speak to the history and the lived realities [of Black people].”

In her 2010 book Ebony Roots, Northern Soil: Perspectives on Blackness in Canada, Canadian scholar Charmaine Nelson wrote that the field of Black studies in this country was absent compared to its American counterpart. Historically, much of Black studies in Canada has taken the form of research centres and other “under-funded structures,” Nelson wrote.

With that in mind, it’s significant that in the last few years a number of Canadian universities — led by Black scholars, students and faculty — have successfully implemented formal programs in Black studies, Black Canadian studies and Black diaspora studies.

Mir Asoh, a fifth-year student at Ryerson University — which he calls X University, given Egerton Ryerson’s involvement with residential schools — said that he would like to see courses taught by a diverse group of Black faculty members.

“If the Black studies minor is only taught by Black cis-gender, neuro-typical and/or non-disabled folks, then it is incomplete and lacking much needed perspectives,” Asoh said.

Knight noted that the pursuit of Black studies is a new opportunity for this generation of students.

“Many students have gone through these educational systems not having had this. Most, including myself,” Knight said. “And I think you get discouraged coming out of it.”

Dalhousie, York led the way

In the last five years, four Canadian universities have announced Black studies programs with at least two more in discussion.

York University offers a Black Canadian studies certificate, which can be pursued independently or as a companion to an undergraduate degree. Since the program was announced in October 2018, it has graduated 7 students and 46 students are currently enrolled, according to the program coordinator.

Two years earlier in 2016, Dalhousie University put forward its Black African Diaspora minor, allowing students to concentrate on history, culture and sociology courses about Black people in Canada as well as the African diaspora.

That program was the first of its kind, according to Cooper, who is also director of the Black People’s History of Canada project, a government-funded initiative that aims to close gaps in the study of African Canadian history.

Cooper noted that many Canadian universities have been teaching individual courses on aspects of the Black experience for decades.

“But there was nothing that was called Black studies,” she said. “Nothing that was put together in a comprehensive way.”

“What’s unique here is that for the first time, there’s an umbrella. It’s called Black studies. You can come, you can do a minor, you will be able to do a major, you will be able to do a degree program in Black studies. That is the difference.”

Cooper herself is one of the country’s leaders in the field of Black studies, having taught courses about Black Ontario and African Canadian history at the University of Toronto in the mid-90s.

She said that in the past 30 years, there have been concerted efforts to centralize Black studies knowledge within the Canadian academic system. But political and cultural movements of the last five years, particularly George Floyd’s murder in the context of the broader Black Lives Matter movement, pushed academic institutions into a new direction.

“We have more Black students coming on campus, people are saying, ‘Hey, I’m not reflected in the curriculum.’ People have a voice now.”

In March, Dalhousie announced that it would expand the curriculum into a major.

Other curriculums in the works — and it’s a long time coming

A Black studies program at Concordia University in Montreal is a matter of when, not if, said Angélique Willkie, a special advisor and chair of the school’s task force on anti-Black racism.

A dedicated group of students and faculty began meeting in 2016 to discuss a new Black studies minor. In 2018, the group drafted a written proposal for the program, but they could not move forward without a commitment from the school to hire more Black faculty.

As of this writing, a subcommittee is developing the program and plans to announce recommendations in the weeks ahead.

Next door in Ontario, two Black studies diplomas are in the works at the University of Waterloo, which has offered Black studies courses since the 1960s. And, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Queen’s University announced a Black studies minor in 2020, alongside the appointment of two chairs in Black studies and a series of faculty hires.

Originally targeted for fall 2021 and now slated for next year, the Queen’s program has been in development since 2014-15, according to Katherine McKittrick, a professor in the Department of Gender Studies and key player in the initiative.

“This is a global Black studies program, which means that we are attentive to different Black communities on the continent of Africa and the diaspora,” McKittrick wrote in an email to CBC News, adding that the minor was modelled after the Indigenous studies program.

“When we started to envision the program, we noticed a lot of existing courses in Black studies and many — Black feminist thought, technologies of hip hop, Black sound studies — are a hit with students.”

The program curriculum is “amazingly diverse,” McKittrick noted, pointing to courses on Black histories, Black and Caribbean literatures, and ecologies in Southern Africa as just a few of the minor’s offerings. Some courses focus on Black and Indigenous collaborations, and another set of courses are centred on anti-racism.

Though the formal plans span the last few years, McKittrick said that these efforts are urgent, but not new.

“I think of this as long work rather than recent work,” McKittrick said. “What Black scholars and activists have taught us, over time, is that the Black Canadian experience provides a meaningful window into how we understand liberation, belonging, scholarship, activism and more.”

Source: Wave of Black studies programs at Canadian universities a long time coming, scholars say

Will hate crimes make Canada a less attractive destination for immigrants?

Not convinced. Unlikely that among the various factors that influence destinations of immigrants that this will dominate the others. More important, even as a factor, this will be in relation to other countries, most of which have higher degrees of polarization on immigration and diversity issues:

Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a reported intensification in racially motivated hate crimes against immigrants from East and Southeast Asia in many Western countries, including Canada. But do such xenophobic crimes affect migration to the countries in which they take place?

To answer this question, we first need to understand that, to many immigrants, the decision to migrate depends on a set of factors; some that push them to leave their home country, while others pull them to the host country.

The fact is that Canada has not always been a welcoming country – rather it has a well-documented history of racial discrimination against immigrants. In fact, most Asian immigrants in Canada are aware of racism, both covert and overt. With the popularization of information and communication technology, it is imaginable that many seeking to move to the country have been prepared by their families and friends already in Canada for discrimination, particularly in the job market, which is notorious for its systemic discrimination against professional credentials, work experience, language, culture and race of ethno-racial minority immigrants.

Of the top ten countries of birth of recent immigrants to Canada, seven are in Asia

Yet given these challenges, why do tens of thousands of immigrants from East and Southeast Asian countries still decide to immigrate to Canada every year?

Before 1967, when Canada introduced its points-based immigration system, immigrants to Canada were overwhelmingly from Europe. The point system welcomed young, educated and skilled immigrants, andshifted the major sources of immigrants to Canada from Europe to Asia. According to the 2016 census, among the top ten countries of birth of recent immigrants, seven are in Asia, namely the Philippines, India, China, Iran, Pakistan, Syria and South Korea. With a long history of migration to Canada, immigrants from these countries have also established a strong transnational social network that facilitates the migration of fellow friends and families and their settlement and integration in Canada.

A better future

Seeking a better economic future is believed to be a key force behind transnational migration, particularly from the Global South to the Global North. Political instability and oppression are other major factors driving people voluntarily and involuntarily to leave their countries, such as the case of Syria and Iran. Recently, the military suppression of democracy movements in Myanmar, the civil unrest in Thailand, China’s military pressure on Taiwan and the imposition of National Security Law on Hong Kong have caused many people to consider leaving their home countries.

Immigrants to Canada have long cited seeking better futures for their families as the number one reason why they decided to emigrate. Some were even willing to trade off economic loss for political stability. One example is the 380,000 Hong Kong immigrants who travelled to Canada in the 1980s and 1990s, amid the uncertainties surrounding the transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong from Britain to China.

For many immigrants, Canada and other Western countries are attractive not only because of better economic opportunities but because of political stability, safety, lifestyle, education, as well as social and health protection, to name just a few reasons.

Canada has repeatedly claimed to be a global defender of human rights. Recently, the Canadian government apologized and compensated for racially motivated wrongdoings in the past, such as the head tax on Chinese immigrants and the internment of Japanese-Canadians. Hate crimes against Asians and any other ethno-racial groups simply jeopardize Canada’s global reputation and moral credibility.

Related story

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Canada’s immigration planning is increasingly divorced from the real impacts of COVID-19 – and undervalues ‘essential workers’

Meanwhile, as a country that relies on immigrants to replace the shrinking domestic supply of talents to our labour market, Canada is competing for high-skilled talents in demand globally. If it is to become an appealing destination, we must create a welcoming and inclusive environment for immigrants in Canada. Racism will certainly weaken this, and also make it more difficult to retain immigrants, particularly those who are highly skilled, and can choose to leave. In 2006, there were already 2.8 million Canadians living abroad, many of whom had originally been immigrants to Canada, including 300,000 who returned to, and still reside in, Hong Kong.

The intensification of anti-Asian hate crimes since the start of the pandemic may not reduce the number of immigrants who choose to move to Canada or to other Western democracies. But a socially unwelcoming society will have difficulties competing for and retaining global talents.

To make Canada a welcoming place, where immigrants can secure a better future for their families and contribute to society, all levels of government and the general public need to step up to combat all forms of racism against all minorities.

Source: Will hate crimes make Canada a less attractive destination for immigrants?

Canadian politician wants to improve Super Visa for parents and grandparents: Bill C-242

Will likely be well received by visible minority communities. Will be interesting to see whether Liberal members support or propose amendments for the bill as super visas reduce some of the pressures on parents and grandparents immigration:

Canadian Member of Parliament Kyle Seeback is proposing a new bill to support parents and grandparents coming to Canada.

The proposed changes would affect the Super Visa for parents and grandparents. Currently, the Super Visa allows parents and grandparents of Canadians to visit for two consecutive years without having to renew their status. The visas themselves permit multiple entries to Canada over the course of 10 years. Much like the Parents and Grandparents Program, it requires the Canadian child or grandchild to meet a minimum income requirement set by the government. It also requires parents and grandparents to have medical insurance coverage with a Canadian company.

Seeback is a member of the Conservative Party and sits on the Standing Committee for Citizenship and Immigration. He proposed Bill C-242 calls for three major changes to the Super Visa.

Firstly, Seeback wants parents and grandparents to be allowed to stay for five consecutive years without having to renew their visa.

Second, the bill proposes that Super Visa applicants be allowed to purchase medical insurance from countries other than Canada. Seeback says this could save families thousands of dollars in insurance costs per year.

Finally, it also proposes that the government reduce the low-income cut-off for Canadians wishing to host their parents and grandparents. Although Seeback said he thinks the income test for this category should be eliminated entirely, he does not think it is the right time for it.

“The view of bringing a parent or a grandparent to stay with you is an economic burden is wrong,” Seeback said, “What I actually found… is that when a parent or grandparent comes it enhances the economic well-being of that family… It can be that they’re providing some reduction of daycare costs because the parent or grandparent is there to help with the family.”

So far, the bill has passed its first and second readings and is now being studied by the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. The standing committee is comprised of elected federal government officials. Their mandate is to monitor federal policy relating to immigration and multiculturalism, as well as oversee the immigration department and refugee board. They conduct studies and make recommendations to guide immigration policy.

The bill will need to pass the committee before the third reading. It will only become law after it passes the third reading and consideration of the Senate. The Governor General will then have to grant the bill royal assent, only then will it come into force.

Ashti Waissi, a spokesperson from Seeback’s office, told CIC News the NDP and Bloc parties will support the bill upon its third reading, but it is uncertain whether C-242 will get Liberal support.

Committee members questioned Seeback’s bill, specifically relating to the item on insurance. Seeback introduced the idea of allowing parents and grandparents to purchase insurance internationally while pointing out it can cost between $1,700 CAD and $4,600 CAD per year for someone in their early seventies with no pre-existing medical condition.

“This doesn’t mean you can go to any insurance company anywhere in the world,” Seeback told the committee, “I’m encouraging the minister to set up a framework for the ground rules for when an insurance company would qualify so that people can purchase insurance outside of the country.”

Concerns over allowing Super Visa holders to come to Canada with their own insurance arise from the fact that should a foreign insurance company be unable to cover a medical bill, the onus could fall onto a Canadian taxpayer.

In responses to questions posed by committee members, Seeback said he has confidence the government can set up a framework to ensure foreign insurance companies can cover medical costs in case Super Visa holders get sick. He noted that Canada currently has a framework for determining which international doctors can give medical clearance certificates, he says something similar should also be possible for insurance companies.

Although he said he did not know how quickly the framework could be set up, he said it would be “worth the wait.”

“It will be so great for Canadian families,” Seeback said.

Source: Canadian politician wants to improve Super Visa for parents and grandparents

Australia election: Why is Australia’s parliament so white?

More on the lack of diversity among Australian politiciants:

Australia is one of the most multicultural nations in the world, but it’s a different story in the country’s politics, where 96% of federal lawmakers are white.

With this year’s election, political parties did have a window to slightly improve this. But they chose not to in most cases, critics say.

Tu Le grew up the child of Vietnamese refugees in Fowler, a south-west Sydney electorate far from the city’s beaches, and one of the poorest urban areas in the country.

The 30-year-old works as a community lawyer for refugees and migrants newly arrived to the area.

Last year, she was pre-selected by the Labor Party to run in the nation’s most multicultural seat. But then party bosses side-lined her for a white woman.

It would take Kristina Kenneally four hours on public transport – ferry, train, bus, and another bus – to get to Fowler from her home in Sydney’s Northern Beaches, where she lived on an island.

Furious locals questioned what ties she had to the area, but as one of Labor’s most prominent politicians, she was granted the traditionally Labor-voting seat.

Ms Le only learned she’d been replaced on the night newspapers went to print with the story.

“I was conveniently left off the invitation to the party meeting the next day,” she told the BBC.

Despite backlash – including a Facebook group where locals campaigned to stop Ms Kenneally’s appointment – Labor pushed through the deal.

“If this scenario had played out in Britain or the United States, it would not be acceptable,” says Dr Tim Soutphomassane, director of the Sydney Policy Lab and Australia’s former Race Discrimination Commissioner.

“But in Australia, there is a sense that you can still maintain the status quo with very limited social and political consequences.”

An insiders’ game

At least one in five Australians have a non-European background and speak a language at home other than English, according to the last census in 2016.

Some 49% of the population was born or has a parent who was born overseas. In the past 20 years, migrants from Australia’s Asian neighbours have eclipsed those from the UK.

But the parliament looks almost as white as it did in the days of the “White Australia” policy – when from 1901 to the 1970s, the nation banned non-white immigrants.

“We simply do not see our multicultural character represented in anything remotely close to proportionate form in our political institutions,” says Dr Soutphomassane.

Compared to other Western multicultural democracies, Australia also lags far behind.

The numbers below include Indigenous Australians, who did not gain suffrage until the 1960s, and only saw their first lower house MP elected in 2010. Non-white candidates often acknowledge that any progress was first made by Aboriginal Australians.

Racial representation: parliament v population. .  .

Two decades ago, Australia and the UK had comparably low representation. But UK political parties – responding to campaigns from diverse members – pledged to act on the problem.

“The British Conservative Party is currently light years ahead of either of the major Australian political parties when it comes to race and representation,” says Dr Soutphomassane.

Progress in diverse political representation. .  .

So why hasn’t Australia changed?

Observers say Australia’s political system is more closed-door than other democracies. Nearly all candidates chosen by the major parties tend to be members who’ve risen through the ranks. Often they’ve worked as staffers to existing MPs.

Ms Le said she’d have no way into the political class if she hadn’t been sponsored by Fowler’s retiring MP – a white, older male.

Labor has taken small structural steps recently – passing commitments in a state caucus last year, and selecting two Chinese-Australian candidates for winnable seats in Sydney.

But it was “one step forward and two steps back”, says party member and activist Osmond Chiu, when just weeks after the backlash to Ms Le’s case, Labor “parachuted in” another white candidate to a multicultural heartland.

Andrew Charlton, a former adviser to ex-PM Kevin Rudd, lived in a harbour mansion in Sydney’s east where he ran a consultancy.

His selection scuppered the anticipated races of at least three diverse candidates from the area which has large Indian and Chinese diasporas.

Source: Australia election: Why is Australia’s parliament so white?

McWhorter: ‘Racism’ Has Too Many Definitions. We Need Another Term.

Interesting distinction, between the individual and the systemic, and questions regarding the nexus between the two:

Since Saturday, the mass shooting in Buffalo has rarely left my mind. Ten innocent people killed at a supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood. Out of 13 people shot, 11 were Black. According to law enforcement, the man accused of shooting them, Payton Gendron, was motivated by racist hate. Erie County Sheriff John Garcia didn’t equivocate when he said, within hours, that it was a “straight up racially motivated hate crime.” Nor did Mayor Byron Brown when he said on Sunday that “this individual came here with the expressed purpose of taking as many Black lives as he possibly could.” It’s impossible not to be reminded of the 2015 massacre at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, S.C., and, sorrowfully, we have no reason to think something like that won’t happen again.

Clearly, racism is not over in the United States.

I have reason to suppose, however, that there are more than a few who think that I am not aware of this. A heterodox thinker on race, as I and others are sometimes called, is often accused of thinking, “There’s no racism.” Or as more temperately inclined folks sometimes say to me, we underplay racism and seem not to understand that it’s still out there. As such, I as well as similarly minded Black thinkers such as Glenn Loury, Coleman Hughes, Wilfred Reilly, Orlando Patterson and Thomas Chatterton Williams are dealing in an alternate reality.

Much of this kind of impression is due to our questioning of how sweeping the use of the word “racism” has become, and I’d like to clarify, at a juncture like this, why I take issue with most strains of what is today called antiracism, despite the reality of racist violence.

The key difference is between outright bigotry and the more abstract operations of what we call “systemic racism.” Yes, there is a synergy between the two. But as the difficulty in our conversations about racism attests, there is a wide gulf between personal prejudice (Racism 1.0) and the societal and sociohistorical operations that render Black physicists, for example, rare relative to Black people’s proportion of the population — Racism 2.0, sometimes even termed “white supremacy.” In an alternate universe, those two things might not go under the same name.

On Racism 1.0, the lamentable thing is that I see no reason it will ever completely vanish, at least not in our lifetimes. Studies haverevealed that a degree of fear and distrust of “the other” exists in our species, for better or worse. Call it conservative of me, but I see little point in hoping that human nature will entirely change. Educated Westerners, especially, have already acquired a more robust habit of self-monitoring for racism than perhaps any humans in history. In our country, this habit noticeably gained traction in the 1960s. Some argue that white Americans need to go further, plumbing more deeply for subtle racist assumptions in their hearts. I understand the desire for it but wonder just how realistic that expectation is at this point.

I assume, with regret, that there will always be racists among us. As long as our gun laws make it easy to obtain assault-style weapons, there will be people, some mentally imbalanced and some just plain evil, who decide to commit mass shootings. There is no reason the hatred in people like this will mysteriously step around racism; the question would be why such people would not often be motivated by it. We live with this horror.

However, there isn’t enough of a nexus between this grim reality and disparities between Black people and white people — in, for example, wealth and educational opportunity — to gracefully put both under the general heading of “racism.” That is, we increasingly apply the term in reference both to violent hate crimes and to the fact that, for example, in the aggregate, Black students don’t perform as well on standardized tests as some of their counterparts. But while we tend to use the term “racism” for both things, it isn’t readily obvious to most how both prejudice and a differential in performance are versions of the same thing, referred to with one word. One of the thorniest aspects of today’s race debate is that we have come to apply that word to a spread of phenomena so vast as to potentially confuse even the best-intended of people.

As such, to be aware of a case like the Buffalo tragedy cannot be taken as making inevitable one’s support for antiracist initiatives such as reparations for slavery or taking funds away from the police in a given city. There may be arguments for such proposals, but the existence of outright bigotry and racist violence is not one of them.

Thus, I am chilled to my socks by what happened in Buffalo while also opposed to the ideology that challenges mainstream standards as “white,” sanctions the censure and dismissal of those who fail to adhere to fashionable tenets of antiracist doctrine, and condescends to Black people by encouraging exaggerated claims of injury. My position comes in full awareness that there remain people in our society who deeply despise Black people and Blackness.

There will always be those who see cases like this one, shake their heads and dismiss someone who sees things as I do with the thought: “And he thinks racism is over — yeah, right.” I can’t fix that, but I suspect I can get a little further with those who think heterodox Black thinkers are reasonable but still underplay the effects of racism. I don’t think we do. I am respectful toward, but skeptical of, potential arguments holding, for example, that acknowledging Racism 1.0 requires accepting the precepts of Racism 2.0. But I hope this newsletter shows, in line with the theme of a recent one I wrote, that my leeriness about how well that kind of argument could hold up is based on neither ignorance nor malevolence, but opinion.

Source: ‘Racism’ Has Too Many Definitions. We Need Another Term.

Koop: Foreign-worker changes could spell trouble

Yet another warning note and reminder of how the Conservatives had to backtrack in 2013-14 given the abuses of the program by employers preferring temporary foreign workers than Canadian residents:

CANADA has been welcoming temporary foreign workers since 1973, but the programs that facilitate this have often been criticized for abuse and mismanagement. Recent changes introduced by the federal government that will expand the number of foreign workers could lead to even more such criticism, as every indication is low-income Canadians will suffer because of the government’s reforms.

Programs that welcome low-skill foreign workers can be of great assistance to employers in very tight labour markets where employees are hard to come by. But the danger of unchecked growth is that these workers typically are willing to accept lower wages and worse working conditions than Canadian workers, which can lead to wage suppression for Canadians or even displacement.

In 2013 and 2014, as the number of foreign workers swelled, abuses of these workers were covered widely in the Canadian media. In some cases, foreign workers were underpaid, or their working conditions were odious; in others, corporations recruited them despite high local unemployment rates. The result of this media coverage was several restrictions introduced by prime minister Stephen Harper’s government designed to slow growth in the number of low-skill foreign workers.

Since then, Ottawa has been besieged by fancy corporate lobbyists intent on loosening these restrictions. In April, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government finally caved, agreeing to reverse the 2014 restrictions. These changes, which have already taken effect, will likely lead to a spike in the number of low-skill foreign workers in Canada.

In particular: the cap on the total number of foreign workers in several sectors was boosted from 10 to 30 per cent. There is no limit on the number of foreign workers that can be employed in the agriculture, caregiving, and fish and seafood processing sectors. Crucially and inexplicably, employers will now be able to hire foreign workers in regions where the unemployment rate exceeds six per cent.

The problem with expanding access to low-skill foreign workers is that doing so short-circuits market forces that should benefit Canadian workers. When labour markets are tight, employers must compete for the applicants available. The result is higher wages, better benefits and more attractive working conditions.

Employers also have to expand their searches and be more open to applicants they may previously have passed over; for example, disabled Canadians, recent immigrants and refugees, apprentices and young Canadians.

Canadian workers should be benefiting from these market forces. But, to the contrary, post-pandemic wage growth is very low. Indeed, inflation has meant that real Canadian wages may in fact be declining. Low-wage workers — including working class-families, single mothers, and immigrants and refugees just starting out in Canada — are hit hardest by inflation since any marginal increase in costs is felt most acutely by these vulnerable Canadians.

Opening access to foreign workers will present an opportunity to business, but it will likely prolong the pain already faced by working-class Canadian families as wage growth continues to stagnate. Economists Fabian Lange, Mikal Skuterud and Christopher Worswick argue convincingly that the government’s recent reforms will further undermine wage growth despite the tight labour market. They ask, “Does relying on foreign guest workers to fill low-wage job vacancies make sense in this environment?”

Well, it makes perfect sense for corporations.

A few months ago, it was revealed that Tim Hortons, the ubiquitous coffee chain, was facing a staffing crisis that was directly related to low wages. Emails obtained by BNN Bloomberg show that managers at 22 high-traffic suburban chains, mostly surrounding Toronto, were panicked by a lack of workers to handle the post-pandemic return of motorists picking up coffee on the way to work.

As these franchises’ profits have increased, the solution to their staffing problem was obvious: increased wages and enhanced benefits to draw potential workers back from other sectors. But Tim Hortons was among the corporations that protested the most loudly when the government restricted the use of temporary foreign workers in 2014. Should anyone wonder how the coffee chain and other corporations will address staffing shortages now that the Harper-era reforms have been reversed?

When provided with an opportunity from the federal government to suppress labour costs, why wouldn’t employers take it? Workers hoping for relief in this sector may be out of luck.

This raises the question: who is looking out for these Canadian workers? New Democrats fancy themselves the party of workers, but Jagmeet Singh recently dragged his party into a confidence-and-supply agreement with the Liberal government that scrapped the old restrictions. Should voters hold him as well as the Liberals accountable in the next election?

Royce Koop is a professor of political studies at the University of Manitoba and academic director of the Centre for Social Science Research and Policy.

Source: Foreign-worker changes could spell trouble

ICYMI – Nicolas: Des langues et des choix

Reality intrudes. Harder to dismiss Indigenous concerns:

Tout le monde en parlait, cet hiver. Fin février, le rappeur anichinabé Samian s’est retrouvé exclu du Festival international de la chanson de Granby, parce que sa performance se serait déroulée majoritairement en anichinabémowin. Le festival, qui promeut la chanson francophone depuis plus de 50 ans, a refusé de faire une exception et de permettre un spectacle en langue autochtone.

Le festival avait indiqué être « sincèrement désolé de la tournure des événements », mais le mal était fait. À Tout le monde en parle, Samian avait dénoncé une mentalité « colonialiste », qui considère les langues autochtones comme une menace pour le français. Les messages de soutien avaient alors fusé d’un peu partout au Québec. Oui, il faut protéger le français, disait-on. Mais pas en nuisant aux langues autochtones ni à l’autodétermination des peuples. En matière de relations publiques, le Festival de Granby avait de toute évidence perdu la manche.

En me rappelant comment le message de Samian avait été entendu, il y a à peine quelques mois, je me dis qu’une bonne partie de la population serait aussi prête à écouter les critiques que de nombreux leaders autochtones font du projet de loi 96 depuis son dépôt par le gouvernement du Québec.

Mardi, à l’Assemblée nationale, plusieurs chefs ont réitéré leur inquiétude face à cette nouvelle politique linguistique, qui aurait de nombreuses implications pour les Premières Nations et les Inuits au Québec. Ghislain Picard, chef de l’Assemblée des Premières Nations Québec-Labrador (APNQL), a dit craindre que l’adoption du projet loi 96 force « l’exode de nos étudiants vers d’autres avenues, d’autres écoles à l’extérieur du Québec ». Il a ajouté qu’il trouvait « d’une ironie renversante que, finalement, les premiers occupants du territoire au Québec soient forcés d’aller étudier à l’extérieur de leur territoire ».

M. Picard fait ici référence aux nouvelles exigences de cours de français au niveau collégial incluses dans le projet de loi. Ses mots sont forts, donc il est important d’expliquer leur contexte. Avec le travail des missionnaires, puis avec les pensionnats, et enfin avec le système scolaire contemporain, cela fait déjà plusieurs générations que les peuples autochtones au Québec et ailleurs au Canada se font imposer une éducation dans une ou deux langues coloniales. Les premières langues du territoire en sont donc aujourd’hui fortement menacées — certaines plus que d’autres —, et la transmission culturelle et l’existence même des peuples autochtones en tant que groupes distincts sont menacées avec elles.

Les Inuits et certaines Premières Nations, comme les Micmacs et les Mohawks, se sont surtout fait imposer l’anglais, historiquement. Le gouvernement québécois, dans sa volonté d’affirmation nationale, travaille pour asseoir le français comme langue officielle et langue commune sur son territoire. Avec le projet de loi 96, on vient donc exiger de certains étudiants autochtones la maîtrise d’une deuxième langue « étrangère » dans un système d’éducation qui refuse de faire une place sérieuse à leurs langues et à leurs cultures.

Nos écoles sont déjà perçues comme des milieux de vie aliénants par une partie de la jeunesse autochtone, ce qui contribue aux taux de réussite scolaire plus faibles de plusieurs communautés. Par conséquent, on craint d’aggraver les risques de décrochage ou d’encourager le départ de certains élèves vers les provinces limitrophes si les étudiants autochtones étaient soumis à la loi 96.

J’utilise le verbe « soumis » avec une conscience aiguë du poids de ce mot. Car c’est bien de cela qu’il est question ici : de soumission. Plusieurs journalistes et élus se demandent pourquoi on ferait tout un plat pour trois cours de français supplémentaires au collégial — ou encore pourquoi on semble vouloir défendre l’éducation en anglais, une autre langue coloniale et certainement pas autochtone. La réponse formulée par plusieurs des intervenants lors de la conférence de presse de mardi se situe ailleurs.

On refuse simplement que le gouvernement du Québec dicte la langue d’apprentissage des jeunes autochtones. On ne veut pas se faire imposer le français, ni l’anglais d’ailleurs ; on veut être libre de choisir pour soi-même. Un principe élémentaire qui va de pair avec la Déclaration des Nations unies sur les droits des peuples autochtones que le Canada s’est engagé à respecter dans toutes ses lois. Un principe qu’avait aussi défendu Samian, à sa manière, quand il avait dénoncé la « mentalité colonialiste » d’un festival qui cherchait à lui imposer une langue. Principe que bien des Québécois avaient alors compris.

Il est toutefois important de dire une chose : l’autodétermination des peuples autochtones et la liberté de choisir sa langue demeurent théoriques à moins que de véritables options soient offertes. Si les programmes d’étude de niveau postsecondaires en langues autochtones n’existent à peu près pas au Québec, est-ce que le jeune micmac ou mohawk fait vraiment le « choix » de l’anglais au cégep ou à l’université ? Est-ce qu’une ado huronne ou abénaquise, dont la langue ancestrale est particulièrement menacée, fait le « choix » d’une éducation en français dès le primaire ?

Bien sûr que non. Pour que les jeunes autochtones soient véritablement libres d’apprendre leur propre langue, en plus du français, de l’anglais ou de toute autre langue, il faut une revitalisation des langues autochtones, dont les défis et les avancées varient largement d’une communauté à l’autre. Et cette revitalisation ne peut pas non plus être imposée par un gouvernement qui voudrait unilatéralement « sauver » les premières langues du territoire. L’autonomie et le respect mutuel sont ici les clés du succès.

Pour avancer et se comprendre, le dialogue et l’écoute sont nécessaires. Si le projet de loi 96 est adopté comme tel, alors que les amendements de l’APNQL ont été balayés du revers de la main par le gouvernement, il sera désormais encore plus difficile de s’entendre, malheureusement.

Source: Des langues et des choix

Israel: Shaked withdraws bill to revoke Israeli citizenship from terrorists

Of note:

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked (Yamina) on Sunday backtracked on her plan to pass a bill that would revoke the citizenship of Israeli citizens who commit terrorist acts. The bill Shaked has promoted is based on a bill once put forth by MKs Avi Dichter and Orit Strock.

Shaked retracted the legislation after discussions between her representatives and Justice Ministry officials, who said the bill would not hold up in the High Court of Justice.

The bill stipulated that any Israeli citizen who participates in hostile terrorist activity and receives monetary support from the Palestinian Authority will be stripped of his or her Israeli citizenship. The purpose of the proposed legislation is to prevent the PA from paying Israeli citizens who perpetrate attacks.

Shaked has vowed on several occasions over the course of her tenure as head of the Interior Ministry to pass the bill into law. Officials in her circle, however, as stated, said the Justice Ministry made it clear in recent preliminary discussions that the High Court of Justice would reject the bill as it is currently worded, and that the State Attorney has no intention of defending it once an appeal against it is submitted to the Supreme Court.

Instead of revoking citizenship, Shaked now intends to promote legislation that would revoke pension payments to Israelis who have been convicted of terrorist acts. This, even though a similar law exists and is already partially implemented. Shaked is also exploring the possibility of downgrading the citizenship status of convicted Israeli terrorists, although at this point the legislative process is awaiting a High Court ruling on the matter, which is expected within the next two months.

Strock, who is a member of the Religious Zionism Party, slammed Shaked for withdrawing the legislation, saying the “excuse of oppositionist jurists doesn’t hold water. The person who twice torpedoed the bill in the Knesset without once mentioning oppositionist jurists – can’t now hide behind the ‘jurists.’ The reason this life-saving law isn’t being brought forth is the fact that this government is only surviving right now because of the mouth-to-mouth resuscitation it is receiving from the Ra’am party and [Joint Arab List MK] Ahmad Tibi. Everyone realizes this, even the terrorists, as well as their victims. It’s sad, concerning, and disgraceful.”

Source: Shaked withdraws bill to revoke Israeli citizenship from terrorists

Le Québec «bashing» ou la tolérance à deux vitesses

Sigh. Not to mention the inverse, Canada bashing on the part of some intellectuals…

Le Canada se drape de tolérance envers les minorités — tout en assumant des épisodes de Québec bashing, devenus chroniques dans l’histoire des deux solitudes. Ce paradoxe, commun au monde anglo-saxon, remonte à l’origine même du libéralisme britannique, estime Patrick Moreau, professeur au collège Ahuntsic qui participait, mercredi, à un colloque consacré à « la condescendance francophobe en contexte canadien ».

« Les sociétés anglo-saxonnes en général — et la société canadienne en particulier — se présentent toujours comme très libérales, très à cheval sur les droits individuels et la tolérance, explique M. Moreau, qui collabore par ailleurs à la section Idées du Devoir. En même temps, elles ont souvent, à travers l’histoire, connu des accès d’intolérance. »

Pour le professeur, invité à prendre la parole au congrès de l’Acfas mercredi, « le ver est dans le fruit » depuis la naissance de la tolérance religieuse proclamée au XVIIe siècle par le pouvoir anglican. « L’Angleterre autorisait toutes les sectes protestantes, ce qui était exceptionnel en Europe, à l’époque. En revanche, cette tolérance excluait les catholiques et les athées. Nous sommes tolérants, mais pas à l’égard de toutes et de tous. »

Ce même réflexe s’applique encore aujourd’hui envers le Québec, maintient le professeur Moreau. Le Canada anglais prétend accueillir et célébrer les différences. Sauf certaines, souvent québécoises.

« Dès qu’on nous montre la diversité canadienne, il faut qu’on nous montre une femme voilée, un turban, etc., poursuit le chercheur, en entrevue au Devoir. Comme si la seule différence admissible était en réalité superficielle. Si les Québécois se contentaient d’être une minorité parmi d’autres, arborant la ceinture fléchée lors de la Saint-Jean, le Canada s’en réjouirait et les tolérerait comme il tolère n’importe quel costume de n’importe quelle minorité ethnique ou religieuse. »

Or, le Québec dérange au point de devenir intolérable, soutient M. Moreau, parce que la différence qu’il revendique réfute la suprématie du modèle anglo-saxon.

« Ce qui est inacceptable aux yeux du Canada anglais, c’est cette volonté du Québec de faire société en français et selon des termes politiques qui ne sont pas ceux de la philosophie politique anglo-saxonne. Autrement dit, de revendiquer des droits linguistiques collectifs. […] La laïcité, c’est un peu la même chose, poursuit le professeur Moreau. On refuse, au Canada anglais, de voir la laïcité comme un modèle légitime de gestion de la diversité. On veut à tout prix y voir l’expression d’une intolérance ethnique à l’égard des autres minorités religieuses. »

Un Québec bashing progressiste

Cette discrimination à l’égard des francophones, M. Moreau note qu’elle a évolué au tournant du XXIe siècle. « La francophobie canadienne était, jusque dans les années 2000, plutôt conservatrice. C’était vraiment une francophobie coloniale issue d’un sentiment de supériorité très britannique et protestant à l’égard de Canadiens français, jugés arriérés, et catholiques, en plus. »

Plus récemment, avance le chercheur, « nous sommes passés à un Québec bashing progressiste, c’est-à-dire que nous allons reprocher au Québec d’être intolérant à l’égard des minorités, de créer une discrimination à l’égard des minorités, donc finalement de refuser les normes du multiculturalisme trudeauiste actuel. »

La saga entourant l’Université d’Ottawa et l’usage du mot en « n » dans une salle de cours a jeté une lumière crue sur le paradoxe de la tolérance canadienne envers ses minorités, insiste le professeur de littérature au collège Ahuntsic. « Il y a eu un glissement que je trouve personnellement assez épatant de la part de gens qui se prétendent fondamentalement antiracistes, mais qui vont insulter des professeurs en les traitant de fucking frogs. Bref, en utilisant un vocabulaire qui est très clairement raciste. »

À son avis, le Québec bashing a encore de beaux jours devant lui. Tant mieux, souligne-t-il, puisque sa disparition voudrait dire la fin d’un Québec qui revendique son droit à faire société autrement.

« Le jour où le Québec bashing va disparaître, ce ne sera pas vraiment une bonne nouvelle pour le Québec, avance M. Moreau. Ça voudra dire, je pense, que le Québec aura renoncé à faire société d’une façon différente du Canada. Autrement dit, il aura adopté le modèle dominant du libéralisme canadien. À ce moment-là, il sera devenu acceptable », conclut le professeur.

Source: Le Québec «bashing» ou la tolérance à deux vitesses

Citizenship applications full-year 2021 operational data

IRCC released the full 2021 data on the number of applications for citizenship. Given the delays in IRCC entering application data in GCMS (for both Permanent Residents and citizenship), this three-month old data reflects an accurate number.

The month-by-month overview:

With the full-year data, I can now update the overview chart of the impact of COVID-19 on the range of immigration-related programs 2021-18 (How the government used the pandemic to sharply increase immigration), showing that applications declined by 10.3 percent compared to new citizens, 37.6 percent.:

The average for applications in 2021 was about 19,000 monthly, with small variations.

Given current processing trends, an average of 31,000 for the first quarter, IRCC should be able to continue chipping away at the backlog of 400,000 (April 11-12) unless applications increase significantly.

Lastly, my standard chart, comparing applications, new citizens and new Permanent Residents:

‘Clearly there are stories we’re not telling’: Study seeks to improve diversity in news sources

Will be interesting to see the results, hopefully with some qualitative analysis of the differences in perspectives covered. One can see some of this shift occurring in the CBC:

For all the prodding, encouragement and reminders, progress to improve the diversity of voices in news stories seems frustratingly slow.

Now a project involving national news agency The Canadian Press and Carleton University’s School of Journalism is hoping to get a better understanding of who gets quoted, and provide a catalyst for change.

CP has teamed with the journalism school to “identify, track and analyze” the choice of interview subjects by its journalists. The goal is to track the diversity of individuals — or lack of, as a news release pointedly notes — based on gender, race and ethnicity and other equity-seeking groups.

Joanna Smith, CP’s Ottawa bureau chief, is the impetus behind the work. The goal, she emphasizes, is not simply to diversify sources. The goal is the better journalism that comes when news coverage is truly representative.

“Over and over again, we are returning to the same sources in TV and journalism, the same largely white, largely male, largely institution-based” people, Smith said. “The idea of broadening the diversity of our sources is really about telling bigger and better and different stories.” 

(Disclosure: Torstar, the parent company of the Toronto Star, is a part owner of The Canadian Press).

Nana aba Duncan, who holds the Carty Chair in Journalism, Diversity and Inclusion Studies at the journalism school, said a journalist’s first choice for an interview is often someone they’ve worked with or someone they know. It’s likely that source is not from an under-represented group.

“Our first thought is what is the easiest and what is the quickest?” Duncan said. “Anything that has to do with change has to be intentional.”

That’s why research is vital to track who is being quoted — and who is being left out. “We absolutely have to do it or else it just doesn’t get done,” said Duncan, a former CBC broadcaster who is part of the project research team.

Duncan says it’s also important how those voices are framed and treated in the story. Are we engaging people for their expertise, such as economics or politics, or only for their race or gender? Where are these voices appearing in the story? Are they making the news or reacting to it?

“You may have an experience in which you are undermined or … your value is just not recognized. That has an effect,” she said. 

Professor Allan Thompson, the head of the journalism school, says the lack of diversity in news articles speaks to the “embedded bias” that exist in newsrooms and journalism.

To him, diversity is about fact-checking and accuracy. “Unless the sourcing reflects society, then it’s not accurate, even if all the words are verbatim,” Thompson said.

“We’re knitting some cloth that is the narrative of our society. If we’re only using one cross-section of voices, then clearly there are stories we’re not telling, there are perspectives on stories that we’re not capturing, and we’re just self-perpetuating our own version of a narrative,” he said.

Shari Graydon, director of Informed Opinions, has been working for years to get more women’s voices into news coverage. (The organization provides a searchable database of more than 2,200 women experts, so there’s no excuse for journalists to exclude them.)

Its online “Gender Gap Tracker” shows the percentage of female sources in online news coverage by major news outlets. It measures all stories, such as those filed by news agencies, rather than those written solely by an outlet’s own journalists alone. Over the last 12 months, sources quoted in stories on the Star’s website have been overwhelmingly male (74 per cent) versus female (26 per cent). 

Graydon said that a diversity of sources in news coverage is a hallmark of good journalism. “I really think awareness is not remotely enough,” she said, urging record-keeping as a precaution against the self-delusion one is doing better than they really are. 

Lasting change requires deliberate action. Journalists have control over the sources they choose to interview. As a start, they should review their last 10 stories. Who was quoted? Going forward, the objective is to cultivate more representative sources and track that work. 

Duncan emphasizes that media outlets must support such efforts. “It’s on the institution saying, ‘We care about this. Here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to spend money on caring about diversity and being intentional about it,’” she said.

This project, due to unfold over the coming months, promises to improve the diversity of sources used in CP articles, which would benefit all news organizations that rely on its coverage. I’m hopeful it will offer lessons all newsrooms can draw on.

Source: ‘Clearly there are stories we’re not telling’: Study seeks to improve diversity in news sources

Greg Abbott Backs Immigrant School Policy That Helped Turn California Blue

Of note, political virtue signalling for the right, with risks of possible backlash. Proposal is intrinsically deplorable:

In 2001, then-Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, signed what was known as the Texas DREAM Act, providing in-state tuition rates to young undocumented students as long as they were state residents for three years, graduated from a Texas high school, and promised to apply for permanent residency.

Two decades later, immigration politics in Texas have been completely transformed. Governor Greg Abbott is now calling for the Supreme Courtto strike down the 1982 Plyler v. Doe ruling that forces states to pay for the education of undocumented children.

Speaking on a conservative radio show, Abbott said Texas already sued the federal government long ago over having to incur the costs of the education program.

“And the Supreme Court ruled against us on the issue,” Abbott said. “I think we will resurrect that case and challenge this issue again, because the expenses are extraordinary and the times are different than when Plyler v. Doe was issued many decades ago.”

In light of the report that the Supreme Court is set to strike down Roe v. Wade and reverse long-enshrined federal abortion protections, Democrats and activists privately worry that efforts like Abbott’s are not the fantasy they would have seemed just six months ago, but could actually become reality in the near future.

But they argue Abbott’s gambit could backfire, as a similar campaign did after the passage of California’s infamous Proposition 187 in 1994 signed by then-Governor Pete Wilson, a Republican, which denied public services to undocumented immigrants, including public education.

After all, “Prop 187,” which only survived five years, had unintended consequences. Not only did it fail in discouraging immigrants from seeking services, it also helped to create a mobilized Latino electorate that proved to be a major factor in turning California blue.

Mike Madrid, a longtime Republican strategist, worked in California GOP politics and considers Wilson a friend. But he says the fallout from Prop 187 could serve as a warning for Texas Republicans.

“The legacy of 187 was to create a generational voting bloc of Latinos against the Republican Party that would not normally happen,” Madrid said, adding that California was then experiencing the rightward shift Texas is experiencing now. “That changed substantially because of these attacks on the community. Once attacked, Latinos rally.”

In California, the Latino share of the electorate nearly doubled at the time and support for Republicans crumbled, a far cry from the 1980s, when Ronald Reagan garnered 48% of the Hispanic vote. When Bob Dole ran in 1996, he received a paltry 6% of the Latino vote.

Julissa Arce, an activist and author of the new book “You Sound Like a White Girl: The Case for Rejecting Assimilation,” told Newsweek she was once an undocumented student in Texas when she lived in the state from age 11 to 21.

“Thank God no one was questioning how I got there,” she said. But fear was always present. “I never wanted to go talk to my counselor, afraid they might look at my documents.”

Abbott’s rhetoric creates an environment of fear, Arce said, particularly in a state where nearly 53% of public school students are Hispanic.

The end of the state educating undocumented kids would likely include echoes of the chaos of Prop 187, with school administrators having to ask children about the immigration status of their parents, and parents who have both undocumented and U.S.-citizen children pulling their kids from school.

Abbott has tacked to the right during his reelection campaign in an effort to energize his primary voters, often around issues concerning immigration and education. He sent buses of migrants to Washington DC, a message to the Biden administration to deal with a problem he feels it has made worse.

Last week, Abbott slammed the Biden administration for providing baby formula to immigrants in holding facilities, “as American parents scramble amid a nationwide shortage of the product.”

John Wittman, Abbott’s former communications director, told Newsweekthe Texas governor widely publicized moves are an effort to draw attention to the federal government’s shortcomings.

“I think the governor’s point is the federal government continues to fail in its responsibility of dealing with immigration, and Congress has failed for decades, so as a result states have had to deal with the fiscal responsibility of the issue,” he said. “The border and illegal immigration is something Texas has picked up the tab on.”

Arce called Abbott’s announcements “anti-immigrant sentiment and rhetoric” for a reelection campaign, but acknowledged “it feels different because he could really turn this into action as we’ve seen with Roe v. Wade, and this relitigation of things we thought had been settled.”

Source: Greg Abbott Backs Immigrant School Policy That Helped Turn California Blue