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?

Canada’s racist social norms — and how we can change them

Significant survey along with some suggestions, learning from previous shifts such as attitudes on smoking and LGBTQ2+:

In a Facebook group, a white woman responds to a post about new government funding for clean water at an Indigenous reserve, complaining that Indigenous people already get too much support and should do a better job of looking after themselves.

At a bar, a man of European descent joins a discussion about police treatment of Black people and insists that racism and racial profiling happens in other countries, but not in Canada.

Why is it that some people make these kinds of perceivably racist and offensive remarks publicly even as others who might share the views hold their tongue? Whether someone makes such comments out of ignorance, prejudice or insensitivity, people tend to conduct themselves in accordance with what’s socially acceptable.

“Thirty years ago, smoking in public was acceptable. It was cool. It was just part of the framework. And there was an actual long-term public health campaign, if you will, in essence, to de-normalize smoking in public. It’s a complex intervention that, over time, was quite successful,” says Keith Neuman of the Environics Institute, author of the Canadian Social Norms and Racism study.

“That’s where we’d like to go with racism. Anti-racism initiatives may benefit by focusing more on social norms, which are more easily changed than ingrained attitudes and prejudices.”

Researchers did a national online survey and asked 6,601 participants to respond to a range of vignettes of racist or anti-racist actions directed at Indigenous or Black people. The data was weighted to ensure national representation by province, gender, age and education.

Each respondent was presented with a randomized selection of six of the 12 scenarios — three involving each community — that include responding to a white person who was: 

  • Speaking up when someone tells an insensitive joke;
  • Appropriating Indigenous or Black attire; 
  • Asking where an Indigenous or Black person came from;
  • Claiming racism doesn’t exist in Canada;
  • Intervening when an Indigenous or Black person is hassled in public;
  • Making a derogatory comment on Facebook; or
  • Making a racial gesture at a hockey game.

The respondents were then asked if they had witnessed such events or knew someone else who had; if they believed what the person did was right or wrong; how many people in their social circle would say what that person did was right or wrong; and how likely they thought it that others would intervene.

Many of the respondents said they have either personally seen or know someone who has seen the racist actions directed at Indigenous Peoples, with the most common witnessing someone claiming racism doesn’t exist against Indigenous Peoples (49 per cent); followed by derogatory comments on Facebook (38 per cent); telling insensitive jokes (35 per cent); others hassling an Indigenous person (22 per cent); and making a racial gesture like “a vigorous tomahawk gesture with a loud whooping cry” at a sports event (21 per cent).

In their response to the vignettes directed at Black racism, 79 per cent of participants have witnessed or know someone who has seen a Black person being asked where they came from; claiming racism doesn’t exist against Blacks (45 per cent); telling an insensitive joke (38 per cent); hassling a Black person (31 per cent); appropriating Black attire (30 per cent); and making derogatory comments on Facebook (21 per cent).

Based on participants’ responses, researchers came up with an index that represents how acceptable the specific demeanour or behaviour was in the general population.

The indexes range on a scale from zero to 100 — from the most to least socially acceptable. That means the behaviour with the low score has the greater consensus of social approval or disapproval.

The study found that social norms are somewhat stronger in situations where people witness someone stepping up and intervening when a person acts in a racist manner toward an Indigenous or Black person, such as telling an insensitive joke or harassing someone in public. 

Expressing racism through social media posts and claiming racism doesn’t exist in Canada were both deemed socially unacceptable, under the index, while appropriating Indigenous or Black attire was believed to be uncommon and not a big social transgression.

Neuman, director of the research project, said the study showed most respondents were aware that the conduct in these vignettes were wrong but uncertain what others would think or respond to the situation.

“There are unspoken rules how people behave with others. People know whether certain things are OK or not OK to do. When people choose to say a racist thing, it matters whether they think it’s OK or not OK with the people they are with,” Neuman explained.

“This is an important part of racism in society. This is the first time we look racism in Canada from the perspective of what is acceptable or not acceptable in your social circles. So lots of people think these racist actions are wrong, but they’re really not certain what the people around them think. So these norms are not very strong and that helps explain why this kind of behaviour is still so prevalent.”

Neuman hopes the findings of the study will serve as the benchmark to measure how the social norms of racism evolve as what’s tolerated and accepted in society does change with time, as in the cases of antismoking and the recognition of the LGBTQ2+ community after the Supreme Court 2004 ruling over gay marriage.

Government policies and social norms should go hand in hand in encouraging or hindering the manifestation of unacceptable behaviour, he added.

“The likelihood of encountering people who are smoking in public spaces is very low today. It’s not because there are laws and enforcement, but it’s because people who smoke picked up on the fact that it’s not OK to do that. It’s the way social norms work and there’s very strong norms against something like smoking,” he said.

“If you go back 20 years, the attitudes, treatments and norms around LGBTQ people have changed tremendously. Canadian opinions about gay marriage and LGBTQ people changed because there’s something legitimate about it by the state. It caused people to subsume their personal prejudice and discomfort.”

Neuman said similar successes could be found in developing social norms about what’s acceptable and what’s not with racism through modelling and trendsetting.

Advertising and educational campaigns that reinforce positive norms and denounce negative norms could help develop a collective sense of what’s acceptable, he added.

“What you’re trying to do is to communicate that some kinds of behaviours are OK and others aren’t. But you need to understand what the norms are to begin with, You have to do diagnosis to figure out what they are and how strong they are,” he said.

“It may be a situation where everybody has the same personal belief that something is wrong. By making everybody aware of how everybody thinks, it strengthens that norm.”

Source: Canada’s racist social norms — and how we can change them

MPI: Rise in Remote Work, Including by Digital Nomads, Requires Adjustments to Immigration Systems

Canadian examples include not requiring a work visa when working remotely in another country and stopping the clock on residency tests:

The COVID-19 pandemic has vastly accelerated a shift toward remote work that has been ongoing for decades. As countless workers worldwide stopped coming into the office, many began working from home, with some “digital nomads” moving to work remotely in another country. But most immigration systems are poorly equipped to deal with remote work arrangements, whether admitting foreign workers who may end up working partly or fully remotely for a local employer or permitting digital nomads to visit and work remotely for an employer in another country. Similarly, unclear rules around taxation, benefits and employment law pose hurdles for digital nomads and employers alike.

Failing to address remote work in immigration policies is a missed opportunity, a new Migration Policy Institute report finds. Repositioning immigration systems to introduce greater flexibility for non-traditional working arrangements could bring sizable benefits, including economic development, permitting employers to tap new pools of talent and even allowing people displaced by conflict or environmental disaster to earn incomes.

There have been some policy innovations already. More than 25 countries and territories have launched digital nomad visas that admit foreign nationals who work for an employer outside the country, or in some cases are self-employed. These digital nomad visas differ from most work visas, which assume a person will be working in-person, full-time for an employer in the same country. Digital nomad visas have seen considerable appeal among countries whose economies are heavily reliant on tourism and that are looking to make up for the pandemic-induced loss of tourism revenue, with some encouraging international remote workers to stay in smaller towns and rural communities to contribute to their economic development.

The creation of a new standalone visa is not the only way countries are adapting their immigration systems to remote work trends. Some have adjusted existing employer-sponsored visa pathways, including by expanding flexibility on residency tests. Others allow a degree of remote work while holding a visitor visa, which can benefit business travelers and tourists alike.

The report examines the implications of remote work for immigration systems, workers and employers alike, and explores how governments can develop robust remote work strategies. The analysis benefitted from information on digital nomad visas and remote work trends shared by Fragomen, a firm that provides immigration services worldwide.

“Remote work, at scale, could change the terms of the global race for talent, which would require governments to develop a more expansive understanding of labor migration policy—one that looks beyond addressing domestic skills and labor shortages to think about how best to capture the benefits of cross-border movement,” write MPI analysts Kate Hooper and Meghan Benton. “To truly reap the benefits of remote work, governments need to understand that this is about more than generating revenue from digital nomad visa programs, but also making a country an attractive environment for temporary visitors, business activity and job creation (even for jobs overseas).”

As workplaces reopen, with many retaining more flexible remote work policies, the question of how to adapt is one with which countries must reckon. As policymakers rethink immigration systems for this new era of work, the analysis suggests they should consider:

• Creating flexible immigration policies that can allow a greater degree of remote work and/or attract digital nomads, in line with national economic priorities.
• Coordinating across portfolios to develop a remote work strategy that integrates immigration priorities with economic development and inclusive growth objectives.
• Working with other countries to streamline immigration, employment, social security and tax requirements so that it is easier for workers and employers to understand the rules and their obligations.
• Exploring how regions outside of major metro areas can capture the benefits of remote work.
• Creating temporary-to-permanent pathways so that some remote workers on visitor and nomad visas can transition to permanent residence.

You can read the report, The Future of Remote Work: Digital Nomads and the Implications for Immigration Systems, here: www.migrationpolicy.org/research/remote-work-immigration.

Khan: I thought the Charter protected Canadians’ fundamental rights, but I was wrong

Another good column by Sheema Khan:

Like you, there have been many times I have felt proud to be Canadian. For example, our government’s principled refusal to join the immoral invasion of Iraq. Attending citizenship ceremonies, where new Canadians remind us of the deeper meaning of citizenship. Being told by one of my Harvard professors that Canadian students were the best prepared – a testament to our excellent public education system. And of course, the 1995 Unity Rally in Montreal, on the eve of the Quebec referendum, where Canadians joined hands peacefully to express our heartfelt love for Canada and Quebec.

The contentment has been punctuated by instances of profound doubt, when I wonder what we really stand for. For example, the longstanding Canadian project to inflict cultural genocide on Indigenous communities. Just read the summary of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report to get a shocking glimpse into the depravity of our country’s official policy: Last year’s gut-wrenching announcements about the unmarked graves of Indigenous children on the grounds of former residential schools. And let’s not forget the complicity on the part of government agencies in the rendition of Maher Arar to torture in Syria.

Post 9/11, our courts served as a check on government overreach on basic civil liberties. I grew to love our Constitution, which replaced hockey as a central feature of my Canadian identity.

I am not a historian. Nor am I a lawyer. I am, simply, a Canadian citizen who cherishes our Charter of Rights and Freedoms as a safeguard for fundamental rights and freedoms.

Imagine, then, the gut-punch upon discovering that the highest law of the land – to which new citizens pledge allegiance – makes no such guarantees of fundamental rights and freedoms whatsoever. All owing to the notwithstanding clause, which is enshrined in the Charter.

For years, I saw the “notwithstanding clause” as a polysyllabic legal term, bandied about by constitutional experts. I didn’t know what it meant. Mainstream media clarified it as a right, given to provincial and federal governments, to suspend Sections 2 and 7 to 15 of the Charter. All of this still seemed abstract. Until it wasn’t, after reading those sections.

In a nutshell, the Charter grants governments the right to suspend basic individual freedoms that we all take for granted. Namely, freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief, opinion and expression, as well as freedom of the press, peaceful assembly and freedom of association. We aren’t talking about emergency measures, nor reasonable limits that are justified in a democracy. No, we are talking about a constitution that makes it perfectly legal to suspend basic human rights, as a matter of governance.

It does not stop there.

A number of basic legal rights can be suspended. These include the right to life, liberty and security (barring some exceptions, such as the prison system); requirement of warrants for search and seizure; the right to be informed why one is being detained; the right to a lawyer upon arrest; the right against unlawful imprisonment; presumption of innocence until proven guilty; and the right not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment. The clause allows suspension of the right of every individual to be equal before, and under the law; and suspends the right to equal protection of the law without discrimination based on race, ethnicity, colour, religion, sex, age or disability.

This needs to be spelled out: our Charter makes it perfectly legal to gut basic rights. There is no need for a coup, no need to politicize selection of judges, no need to gerrymander, no need to use a loophole. The potential for abuse is encoded into law. There is no other constitutional democracy that allows for the gutting of basic rights as a matter of governance.

Much has been written about the history of how the notwithstanding clause came to be: a compromise between federal and provincial powers; a balance between elected representatives and unelected judges. Yet, this does not explain how basic human rights were used as a bargaining chip, rendering our Charter of Rights and Freedoms hollow.

When it was introduced, the thought was that it would be rarely used. Some termed it the “nuclear button.” For decades, that was the case. However, within the past three years, it has been used twice by Quebec and once by Ontario. Quebec Bills 21 and 96 unequivocally suspend individual and legal rights of minorities. Conservative Party leadership candidates Jean Charest, Pierre Poilievre and Patrick Brown have promised to strike down the recent Supreme Court decision on sentencing, using the clause.

It’s time for each Canadian to engage in a conversation about who we are as a country, given that our Charter allows for cancellation of basic civil liberties.

Source: I thought the Charter protected Canadians’ fundamental rights, but I was wrong

Trudeau says passport delays are ‘unacceptable,’ promises the government will ‘step up’

Unacceptable that government did not act in advance on its knowledge that demand would surge post-pandemic. Undermines overall government credibility when it cannot deliver on its core responsibilities (passport, alas, not the only example):

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is promising to do more to fix what he calls an “unacceptable” state of affairs at the country’s passport offices that have been overwhelmed in recent days as thousands of Canadians scramble to get their hands on the necessary documents before travelling abroad.

Speaking to CBC Radio’s The House in an interview that will air Saturday, Trudeau said he understands there’s a lot of anxiety among would-be travellers right now.

“This situation is unacceptable,” he said. “There’s a real concern among families facing these things and we have to step up.”

Source: Trudeau says passport delays are ‘unacceptable,’ promises the government will ‘step up’

Unions urged Ottawa to boost staffing before passport backlog

More on the passport mess. As noted earlier, surge was anticipated by IRCC and ESDC/Service Canada:

Unions that represent workers at Passport Canada and Service Canada centres across the country say they asked the federal government to beef up staffing in anticipation of a summer surge in passport applications and renewals that has now materialized, causing passport offices to become overwhelmed.

“It is a disaster. Our workers are getting verbally harassed and psychologically abused by angry crowds. I believe this surge was totally predictable,” said Kevin King, national president of the Union of National Employees, which represents about 800 passport officers and is part of the Public Service Alliance of Canada.

“We knew that there would be significant pressure on resources that we did not have. So even over a year ago, we started demanding that the employer hire more passport officers.”

Canadians are now finding that the rush of applications has greatly extended wait times for passport service at the precise moment when many of them are preparing to embark on travel they had postponed earlier in the pandemic. Across the country, frustration is reaching a boiling point as would-be travellers camp out at passport offices overnight, hoping to be first in line to check on their applications. In Montreal this week, police were called in as tempers flared over lengthy waits and queue-cutters at one passport location.

The passport fiasco is a result of systemic and behavioural factors.

In the first year of the pandemic, between April 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021, there were just 363,000 passport applications, according to data provided by Employment and Social Development Canada. The following year, the number climbed to 1,273,000.

But, in April, 2022, with pandemic restrictions on the wane, the number of passport applications started surging. In the weeks since April 1 of this year, the government has already received a little under half the past year’s total: 542,000 applications, according to the EDSC data.

“Only 20 per cent of normal passport volume was received in the first two years of the pandemic,” according to a briefing note provided by ESDC.

The number of Canadians travelling abroad has increased significantly since last spring. The most recent data from Statistics Canada show that the number of return air trips by Canadians rose to 549,300 in March. 2022, from just 18,900 in the same month last year, when most of the country was still under stringent pandemic restrictions.

And that March, 2022, number doesn’t even reflect the latest easing of travel restrictions. The United States only dropped testing requirements for international visitors two weeks ago, while Canada eased testing requirements for inbound and returning travellers in late April.

“It appears that people let their passports expire during the pandemic, and then you had the southern border suddenly reopening, testing requirements lifted, and all these people wanting to travel,” Mr. King said.

Compounding the backlog is the fact that many Canadians who applied for 10-year passports when the documents were first introduced in 2013 are facing impending expiry dates. (Before then, the passport validity period was five years.) Most countries require at least six months validity on a passport for international travel.

“We were having meetings with the employer last year asking them what the plan would be with the 10-year passport renewal surge. We asked them if they were going to increase the number of sites, or extend hours. And there really wasn’t a plan presented to us,” said Crystal Warner, national executive vice-president at the Canada Employment and Immigration Union, which represents Service Canada workers.

The process of renewing passports or applying for new passports involves two departments: Service Canada and Passport Canada. Workers at both departments are employees of ESDC Canada, a federal ministry. There are only 36 Passport Canada offices across the country, but Service Canada has passport service counters at more than 300 centres.

Service Canada officers, according to Ms. Warner, can handle passport application intake, but the actual vetting, production and printing of passports is done by designated passport officers at Passport Canada. Part of the issue right now, according to both union leaders, is that there are not enough passport officers. Mr. King said his union is asking for 400 of them to be hired.

In a statement, ESDC said there were 1,500 staff members across Service Canada and Passport Canada locations before the pandemic, and that the government hired 600 additional workers in the beginning of 2022 specifically for passport processing. The ministry said it plans to begin hiring an additional 600 staff in the coming weeks, also for passport processing. The statement did not specify whether “passport processing” means intake, or whether it refers to vetting and production.

Both union leaders said they do not know where the 600 new staff members ESDC said it hired in early 2022 are now working. “Are they just additional front-line staff to assist with intake? If so, which specific offices?” Mr. King asked. “We need national passport officers with at least 12 weeks of training to deal with these very secure travel documents.”

The government has implemented an estimated-wait-time system on ESDC’s website. Now, before arriving at a passport office, an applicant can see how long they will have to wait to speak with a passport officer. As of Wednesday morning, at a number of passport locations in Toronto and Ottawa, wait times were roughly six to seven hours.

The fact that many Canadians opted to mail in their passport renewal documents during the pandemic has also contributed to long wait times, according to Ms. Warner. “Because people have not gotten a response, they’ve opted to go to locations in-person,” she said.

As to whether remote work and vaccine mandates have contributed to inefficiency in the system, both the unions and the government say those factors have been negligible. According to ESDC, just 299 employees – or about 1 per cent of the ministry’s workforce – were put on unpaid leave because they were unvaccinated.

The Union of National Employees estimates that these backlogs will continue over the next six months, as new staff begin training and the volume of passport renewals continues to pile up ahead of the first 10-year passport renewal period.

“This is not just the story of the week. It’s going to continue getting worse,” Mr. King said.

Source: Unions urged Ottawa to boost staffing before passport backlog

Boulet promet de la francisation pour les Ukrainiens dès cet été

Catching up:

Les Ukrainiens et autres immigrants en attente pourront commencer la francisation à temps complet dès cet été, moins d’un mois après en avoir fait la demande. Le ministre de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration, Jean Boulet, s’y est personnellement engagé lors d’une entrevue accordée au Devoir mercredi.

« Il y aura peut-être des cas qui vont [nous] échapper, mais notre objectif, c’est de faire le plus rapidement possible. Cet été, oui, il y a des possibilités de commencer des sessions [de francisation] à temps complet. » En date du 17 juin, 981 personnes, dont 137 nées en Ukraine, étaient sur une liste d’attente pour s’inscrire à des cours, et le délai moyen d’attente cumulé était de 22 jours, un délai dont Jean Boulet se dit « particulièrement fier ».

Vendredi dernier, Le Devoir avait révélé les difficultés de certains Ukrainiens à avoir accès cet été à la francisation à temps complet, et même à temps partiel, alors que dans certaines régions, plusieurs organismes mandataires du ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (MIFI) n’ouvraient pas de cours, faute d’enseignants ou d’un nombre suffisant d’inscriptions. Certains organismes faisaient même relâche pendant l’été.

« Moi, je n’accepterais pas [ça]. Si je le sais, je vais m’assurer de remédier à la situation. S’ils sont quatre et qu’ils veulent débuter, je vais m’assurer qu’ils débutent, peu importe le moyen, que ce soit en ligne avec accompagnement, que ce soit avec des personnes d’autres régions », a insisté Jean Boulet. Les cours en ligne ne sont toutefois pas offerts pour les débutants, a-t-il convenu.

Commencer à temps partiel

Au calendrier du MIFI, une seule session à temps complet est prévue l’été, soit du 25 mai au 3 août. Si les groupes n’ont plus de place, les personnes immigrantes peuvent toutefois commencer la francisation à temps partiel — la prochaine session débute le 11 juillet — avant d’intégrer un cours à temps complet plus tard. « Les mandataires du MIFI doivent orienter la clientèle vers d’autres organismes et vers les centres de services scolaires si leurs groupes sont complets afin de ne pas créer de liste d’attente et des délais pour la clientèle », lit-on dans un document d’information transmis au Devoir.

Dans sa déclaration de services à la clientèle, le MIFI s’engage à offrir un cours à « temps complet » dans un délai de 50 jours pour plus de 80 % des personnes en faisant la demande. Cette cible est respectée, assure le ministre, puisque 83,2 % des élèves ayant commencé un cours entre le 1er avril et 13 juin l’ont fait dans un délai de 50 jours. Toutefois, cette information sur les listes d’attente et les délais n’est pas disponible pour les cours à temps partiel, les inscriptions étant gérées directement par les organismes communautaires.

Le ministre Boulet ne nie pas non plus « le défi » que représente le recrutement du personnel enseignant, notamment pour les cours à temps partiel, où une hausse de la clientèle a été remarquée. « Mais je me suis assuré qu’on fasse de la formation continue pour répondre à la demande, qui est croissante. C’est pour ça qu’on est capable de respecter le délai moyen de 22 jours. »

Un manque d’information

Plusieurs Ukrainiens et les Québécois qui les hébergent ou leur donnent un coup de main ont dit avoir du mal à obtenir de l’information sur l’offre de cours. Le ministre dit comprendre la situation. « C’est souvent un manque d’information. C’est sûr que c’est important pour nous de faire une nouvelle offensive publicitaire et de dire quels sont nos services en francisation », a reconnu M. Boulet.

Il invite d’ailleurs les immigrants à s’informer auprès d’Accompagnement Québec, un service d’orientation gratuit et personnalisé présent en région. La semaine dernière, le ministre Boulet a également annoncé le début des travaux menant à la création dans un an de Francisation Québec, un guichet unique dont les premières tentatives d’implantation remontent à 2005 et qu’aucun gouvernement n’a réussi à livrer jusqu’ici, faute d’entente entre les divers ministères offrant de la francisation.

Pour pouvoir s’inscrire à un cours, le MIFI exige, entre autres, une pièce qui prouve le statut d’immigration, comme le visa de séjour temporaire (AVUCU) ou le permis de travail. Seul ce dernier peut donner accès à l’allocation de participation de 200 $ et au remboursement des frais de transport et de garde des enfants. Le visa de visiteur, sans le permis de travail, ne le permet pas.

Le ministre dit cependant avoir agi en permettant, dans l’intervalle, l’accès à des cours gratuits à temps complet ou à temps partiel aux Ukrainiens qui n’auraient pas encore de permis de travail. « Dès que les Ukrainiens arrivent, ils bénéficient de l’ensemble des services, notamment de francisation », a-t-il assuré. Si un immigrant bénéficie d’une aide financière de dernier recours (aide sociale) comme c’est souvent le cas quand on est demandeur d’asile, il peut aussi avoir accès à la francisation et au remboursement des frais de garde et de transport.

« J’ai des directions régionales et près de 200 personnes réparties dans tout le territoire du Québec, et le message est le même. […] C’est sûr qu’il y [en] a qui ne sont peut-être pas totalement informés, mais les droits sont là, il faut qu’ils soient respectés, qu’il y ait une saine communication et qu’on ne soit pas éparpillés », a dit le ministre.

Jean Boulet a dit « vouloir tout faire » pour soutenir les nouveaux arrivants ukrainiens. « C’est sûr qu’il y aura peut-être un cas isolé où tu vas tomber sur des personnes dans une ville X, Y ou Z au Québec, qui n’auront pas eu totalement satisfaction à leur demande. Et si ce n’est pas du caprice, moi, je vais m’assurer qu’il y ait un retour d’ascenseur. »

Source: Boulet promet de la francisation pour les Ukrainiens dès cet été

Expats Frustrated With Taxes Consider Renouncing US Citizenship

Another survey by a tax company. Some interesting demographics (by and large, more “middle class” than very affluent):

Around 9 million U.S. citizens are currently living abroad, according to estimates by the U.S. State Department. Many of these “expats” have cultivated more permanent lives overseas, with established careers, relationships, and community ties. A new studyfrom Greenback Expat Tax Services sheds more light on some of the key aspects of life abroad and why many expats are now considering renouncing their U.S. citizenship.

Greenback, a tax services provider for Americans living abroad, releases a survey on expat life each year. For 2022, the company surveyed 3,200 U.S. citizens living in 121 different countries on various aspects of their professional, financial, and social lives. A majority of those surveyed were over the age of 65, and 34% had spent more than 20 years living outside of the U.S..

In addition to these demographic details, the survey also included questions on employment and income. 31% of surveyed respondents were employed by a large organization (of 250 or more people), and half reported an annual income below $100,000. When asked how the COVID-19 pandemic had impacted their careers, the majority expressed plans to work remotely at least part time moving forward.

Overall, the biggest point of contention for those surveyed was navigating U.S. taxes while living abroad. While most countries tax based on resident status, the U.S. government follows a citizenship-based taxation process. Under a citizenship-based system, all citizens are taxed under the same personal income tax system, regardless of where they live. American expats therefore must pay U.S. income taxes on any worldwide income, including salaries, investment earnings, and more. With this system in place, many U.S. citizens living abroad are required to pay U.S. taxes and taxes in their host country each year.

In addition to tax filings, some U.S. citizens may be required to report foreign accounts to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, depending on the total value of their accounts. Reporting foreign accounts is a lesser-known requirement often overlooked by expats as they navigate life abroad, and failure to do so can result in serious financial penalties.

Greenback’s survey reported that many expats find it difficult to navigate the U.S. government’s tax and financial requirements, and nearly 80% don’t believe they should have to pay U.S. taxes while living overseas. As a result of these frustrations, about one in four have “seriously considered” renouncing their U.S. citizenship. For those considering citizenship renunciation, the burden of U.S. taxes and a host of other political and personal motivations were cited.

Giving up one’s U.S. citizenship can be a complicated process and it does come with a price tag. Any individual officially renouncing their citizenship must pay a $2,350 fee to the State Department, and some with higher net worths may be required to pay an “exit fee” based on their worldwide assets. The State Department also warns against renouncing strictly for tax purposes, stating “persons who wish to renounce U.S. citizenship should be aware of the fact that renunciation of U.S. citizenship may have no effect on their U.S. tax or military service obligations.”

Source: Expats Frustrated With Taxes Consider Renouncing US Citizenship

Heartbreak for mothers waiting years for children’s Malaysian citizenship

Ongoing story of hardship:

Malaysian mothers have waited years to see if the Malaysian government would recognise their children born overseas as citizens.

Unlike Malaysian fathers who can pass on their citizenship almost automatically to their children born overseas to foreigner mothers, Malaysian mothers may only pass on their citizenship automatically to their children if they are born in Malaysia, based on the Federal Constitution.

Could this problem be solved by having the Malaysian mothers fly back to Malaysia just to give birth here?

It is not that easy as some pregnant mothers may not be able to fly for health reasons, or may not even know that their children born abroad would face rejection for their citizenship applications made under Article 15(2) of the Federal Constitution.

The High Court in September 2021 decided in a lawsuit that the Federal Constitution should be interpreted to enable Malaysian mothers to pass on their citizenship to their children born overseas. They would be able to use the same Article 14 provisions that Malaysian men have been using to automatically pass on citizenship to their overseas-born children.

The government has appealed to the Court of Appeal, which decided in December that the High Court’s decision remains effective even while waiting for the appeal to be decided. This allowed Malaysian mothers to start applying under Article 14.

The Court of Appeal was initially due to decide today on the government’s appeal, but it is understood that it will be for further hearing of constitutional issues instead.

There are at least 70 Malaysian mothers who have applied under Article 14, but only the six Malaysian mothers in the lawsuit received a positive response from the National Registration Department (NRD) which recorded their overseas-born children as citizens.

Here’s the experience of some of the Malaysian mothers who spoke to the Malay Mail, when met recently after they went to the NRD in Putrajaya to check on the latest status of their child’s citizenship applications. They were generally told that their latest citizenship application under Article 14 would take six months to process.

….

Source: Heartbreak for mothers waiting years for children’s Malaysian citizenship

Parkin, Triandafyllidou, Aytac: Newcomers to Canada are supportive of Indigenous Peoples and reconciliation

Particularly relevant on National Indigenous Peoples Day and current high levels of immigration:

Public education about Canada’s treatment of Indigenous Peoples is an important component of the process of reconciliation.

Knowing the history can better help citizens understand current challenges and equip them with the tools to work respectfully with Indigenous Peoples to build a better future, in keeping with the section on “education for reconciliation” in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report

Much of this public education occurs in schools, through the media and even via discussions among friends and within families. But new immigrants to Canada might miss some of this socialization (depending on their age of arrival) because they’ll have less exposure to Canadian schools and media in their formative years. 

This could affect their attitudes to Indigenous Peoples and support for the process of reconciliation itself. Given that one in five Canadians was born abroad, this would pose a significant political risk. 

Alternatively, it’s possible that, despite less exposure to Canadian schools and media, immigrants might be more supportive of Indigenous Peoples because they could be more aware of the legacies of colonialism worldwide, more open to learn about their new country or more conscious of their responsibility as newcomers to learn Canadian history.

Supportive of Indigenous Peoples

The question of how immigrants perceive Indigenous Peoples in Canada, and vice versa, is therefore relevant but rarely explored. 

But data from the Confederation of Tomorrow 2021 survey, conducted by the Environics Institute and including sufficiently large samples of both immigrants and Indigenous Peoples, allows us to examine these issues.

Specifically, we can explore perceptions of immigrants towards Indigenous Peoples and reconciliation, and look at responses to three questions: 

  1. How familiar do you feel you are with the history of Indian Residential Schools in Canada?
  2. In your opinion, have governments in Canada gone too far or have they not gone far enough in trying to advance reconciliation with Indigenous peoples?
  3. Do you believe that individual Canadians do, or do not, have a role to play in efforts to bring about reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people? 

The survey results generally show that, despite less familiarity or certainty about these issues among new immigrants compared to those born in Canada, they are more likely to support Indigenous Peoples.

Gap in knowledge

The survey shows a big gap between how familiar Indigenous Peoples and non-Indigenous people — both immigrants to Canada and non-immigrants — are with the history of Indian Residential schools.

The findings suggest first-generation immigrants are less likely than non-Indigenous Canadians to say they’re “very familiar” with this history, and are more likely to express no opinion.

These results indicate that first-generation immigrants don’t know as much as other Canadians about the history of Indian Schools in Canada. It is notable, however, that second-generation Canadians are more likely than third-generation Canadians to feel “very familiar” with the history of Indian Residential Schools.

A graph shows how familiar immigrants to Canada feel they are with the history of Indian Residential Schools in Canada compared to Indigenous Peoples.
A graph shows how familiar newcomers to Canada feel they are with the history of Indian Residential Schools in Canada compared to Indigenous Peoples. Author provided, Author provided

This lesser familiarity among first-generation immigrants, however, does not translate into lower support for efforts to advance reconciliation. 

Government response

This support is evident when they were asked about whether governments have gone too far, or not far enough, to advance reconciliation. 

The most striking difference — not surprisingly — is that Indigenous Peoples are much more likely than non-Indigenous Canadians to say that governments have failed to go far enough to advance reconciliation. 

But first-generation immigrants are just as likely to hold this view than second- or third-generation Canadians. First-generation immigrants are also less likely to say that governments have gone too far in their efforts to promote reconciliation — a result that’s significant when controlling for education (which is an important step since first-generation immigrants are more likely to be university-educated than the rest of the population). 

First-generation immigrants are also less likely to take a definitive position either way, and are more likely to say “neither” or “cannot say.”

A graph shows whether Canadians believe governments have gone far enough in trying to advance reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.
A graph shows whether Canadians believe governments have gone far enough in trying to advance reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. Author provided, Author provided

The role of Canadians

Similarly, Indigenous Peoples are unsurprisingly the most likely to say that individual Canadians have a role to play in reconciliation. 

But first-generation immigrants are just as likely as second- or third-generation Canadians to hold this view (although first-generation immigrants are also more likely to have no opinion on this question). 

A graph shows whether individual Canadians have a role to play to bring about reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples.
A graph shows whether individual Canadians have a role to play to bring about reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples. Author provided, Author provided

These results are encouraging because they suggest that even if immigrants aren’t socialized in Canada at a young age, that’s not an obstacle to building understanding and support for reconciliation. 

Indigenous support for immigration

Interestingly, the survey also allows us to explore the other side of the relationship between immigrants and Indigenous Peoples in Canada, namely support among Indigenous Peoples for immigration. 

This is a potentially contentious issue. On the one hand, diverse sources of immigration in the post-Second World War period have already disrupted the narrative of Canada as a nation of two founding peoples (British and French). That in turn suggests a view of Canada that is not only multicultural but multi-national, and inclusive of Indigenous Peoples and nations. 

In this sense, the interests of immigrants and Indigenous Peoples could be aligned. But at the same time, the ongoing arrival of newcomers can be seen as a continuation of the settler/colonization process. 

Thoughts on immigration

We can explore this issue by referring to a question in the survey asking Canadians whether they agree or disagree that “overall, there is too much immigration to Canada.” 

The results show that there are significant differences in attitudes about immigration between the general population and Indigenous Peoples. Thirty per cent of Indigenous peoples “strongly agree” with the statement, the highest proportion among all groups. 

A graph shows whether Canadians and Indigenous people believe there is too much immigration to Canada.
A graph shows whether Canadians and Indigenous people believe there is too much immigration to Canada.Author provided, Author provided

However, this general difference about immigration levels is driven in large part by the difference in views between Indigenous Peoples and first-generation immigrants. While Indigenous Peoples, compared to first-generation immigrants, are more likely to strongly agree than strongly disagree that there is too much immigration to Canada, there are no statistically significant differences between Indigenous Peoples and second- or third-generation Canadians.

This suggests that the key factor influencing attitudes towards immigration might not be Indigenous identity, but being born in Canada.

Nonetheless, this finding is important because it’s a reminder to proponents of more immigration that they should be open to and engage with Indigenous Peoples’ perspectives on this issue. Immigration, as a policy objective, should be pursued with an eye on how it might be perceived by those who were displaced by the earlier arrival of settlers.

Source: Newcomers to Canada are supportive of Indigenous Peoples and reconciliation

Jussim: The Problem with Research on Microaggressions

Interesting discussion of microaggressions as racial insults or just being treated badly (equitably so):

If one were to read much of the psychological literature on microaggressionsuncritically, one would come away with the conclusion that they are a serious problem. If so, it is very hard to discern this from the vast literature on microaggressions.

A microaggression is often defined as some sort of subtle racial insult, often one that’s plausibly deniable as not racist. But this definition is complicated by the fact that people are treated badly all the time.

The day I wrote this, I had to wait for a ridiculous amount of time to pay $13 for a small, desiccated hamburger at an airport. Interestingly, this is exactly the type of incident that Sue et al (2007, p. 275) highlighted as a possible example of a microaggression: “When a Latino couple is given poor service at a restaurant…” Similarly, Nadal (2011) used this item to assess people’s experiences with microaggressions: “I received substandard service in stores compared to customers of other racial groups.”

As per Nadal (2011), if I believed customers of other races were given better service, I should consider this a microaggression. In this case, I am pretty sure my long wait for a bad burger was not a microaggression. And I am pretty sure it would not have been a microaggression if the burger shop provided the same overpriced, undersized, desiccated burger to a person of color (POC), notwithstanding Sue et al’s or Nadal’s analyses.

When Is Bad Treatment a Microaggression?

What makes some sort of bad treatment a microaggression versus just another form of people treating each other badly sometimes? Racism (or some other form of bigotry). The treatment needs to be motivated by, express, and reinforce racism or some other form of social bias. Long waits for bad burgers could be a microaggression—if, say, the burger joint made POC wait longer to order. But if everyone has a long wait for bad overpriced burgers, there is no racism involved, so no microaggression.

But how can one tell whether any particular insult or mean-spirited act or statement is a microaggression or just a person acting badly that has nothing to do with race (or any other identity)? One definition of microaggressions (Sue et al., 2007) is “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color.” Did they literally mean “daily,” or is it just a figure of speech? Sue et al. (2008, p. 278) clarify: minorities don’t “just occasionally experience racial microaggressions.” Rather, “they are a constant, continuing, and cumulative experience” in their lives. They are, per this definition, disturbingly common racial slights.

Another more recent definition is that these are “deniable acts of racism that reinforce pathological stereotypes and inequitable social norms” (Williams, 2020). This is quite a scientific statement. They are racist but deniable as not racist. They have clear causal effects—reinforcing pathological stereotypes and inequitable social norms. This would seem to require researchers to do the following:

  1. Establish that an insult/slight is motivated by racism.
  2. Identify stereotypes that the insult/slight reinforces.
  3. Empirically establish the “pathology” of the stereotype.
  4. Show that the microaggression actually strengthens those particular pathological stereotypes.
  5. Identify relevant inequitable social norms.
  6. Show that the microaggression reinforces those norms.

Given that all of this is in Williams’s definition of microaggressions, to take this seriously scientifically, one would expect all of this to be empirically established for a particular slight before it would be labeled a microaggression.

Instead, I argue that the reverse occurs—some act is labeled a “microaggression” by one or more scholars, then all of the ills attributed to microaggressions are presumed rather than demonstrated. Then the act is heralded as scientific evidence of a microaggression.

The academic legerdemain by which the ills of microaggressions have been implicitly imported or declared by fiat rather than actually empirically demonstrated has been explored in each of the following articles (titles shown; all fully referenced at the end):

  • “Macrononsense in Multiculturalism”
  • “Microaggressions: Strong Claims and Inadequate Evidence”
  • “Microaggressions, Questionable Science, and Free Speech”

For example, Lilienfeld (2017) concluded that there is insufficient evidence to support any of these major claims by microaggression advocates:

  1. They are operationalized with sufficient clarity and consensus to afford rigorous scientific investigation.
  2. They are interpreted negatively by most or all minority group members.
  3. They reflect implicitly prejudicial and implicitly aggressive motives.
  4. They can be validly assessed using only respondents’ subjective reports.
  5. They exert an adverse impact on recipients’ mental health.

The “Best” Studies

Some of the “best” studies often held up by microaggression advocates as establishing the validity of these main claims fail to do so. For example, in defending the microaggression concept in light of Lilienfeld’s critique, Williams (2020, p. 12) invoked a study by Kanter et al. (2017): it provides “important empirical support for something that diversity researchers knew all along—microaggressive acts are rooted in racist beliefs…” This was a small-scale study, including only 33 Black and 118 white students, all from a single university. These numbers are so small and so unrepresentative of any population that the entire study should be viewed as little more than question-raising, regardless of other limitations, of which there are many, as we elucidated in Cantu and Jussim (2022).

Williams (2020, p. 13) also extolled “Another important measure of microaggression frequency—the Racial and Ethnic Microaggressions Scale (Nadal, 2011), which was validated with a large sample of African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, and multiracial participants.” Whether anyone should take Nadal’s scale seriously, given its numerous limitations, is, however, another issue. For example, consider the item “someone avoided walking near me on the street because of my race.” This would require mindreading. Even since Bem’s ESP article helped trigger the replication crisis, mindreading has been widely recognized as impossible.

However, I argue that one does not need to criticize the methods to understand how damaging Nadal’s study was for claims extolling the frequency with which POC experience microaggressions. Respondents were provided with supposed examples of microaggressions and were then asked how frequently they had experienced such discrimination in the prior six months. For a vast majority of the items, most respondents reported that they either had not experienced the microaggression in the past six months at all or, if they had, did so one to three times. In light of this result, I would argue that it’s difficult to characterize microaggressions as constituting a major social ailment. And that comes from taking his results at face value, which in itself may not be warranted.

Perhaps because we (Cantu and Jussim, 2022) highlighted the strange state of affairs whereby an article extolled as testifying to the importance of microaggressions actually found just the opposite, Williams recently highlighted a study (Anderson et al., 2022) as demonstrating that microaggressions are experienced very frequently by medical students. That is indeed what the authors claimed to have found: “Our first major finding was that medical students frequently experience microaggressions.” (p. 303).

Unfortunately, the authors’ claims notwithstanding, they did not assess “microaggressions.” They assessed variations on “How often do you think has someone been mean to you?” Here are just two items:

People trivialize my ideas in classroom discussions.

I am made to feel unwelcome in a group.

There is nothing about race or racism here (or in their other questions). These types of experiences have probably happened to everyone. To be sure, though, I have no doubt that people are subject to subtle insults, and that sometimes these are racially motivated. But if one wishes to know “how often?” one cannot possibly obtain much of an answer from even the supposedly best published psychological science on the topic.

Thus, it’s possible for peer-reviewed social science to create myths (much as I argue it has about stereotype threat and implicit bias) about the power of problems that it has not actually established to exist to any substantial degree.

Source: The Problem with Research on Microaggressions