The public service’s biggest disruption in decades : hybrid work

Happy I’m retired. That being said, I tried to work from home one day every week or two weeks to prepare presentations or thought pieces, away from the transactional files (but of course remaining available as need be).

In some cases, such as coordination with regions, being virtual placed NHQ on the same footing and improved engagement compared to the tedious phone conference calls, according to some colleagues and friends who worked during the pandemic.

But understand employee preference as well as political and management concerns regarding appearances, after all, those who can work from home are privileged compared to those in front-line service, whether public or private sector:

The return-to-work pushback of Canada’s public servants could lay the groundwork for the most radical change in the federal government’s relationship with its employees in a century.

The resistance reveals a grassroots shift taking place in the public service that’s all about power and control.

The public service is one of the most hierarchical employers in the country. It has operated the same way for decades. Management decides everything about staffing; how and where people work. Employees have little choice but to toe the line.

The pandemic that sent public servants home to work challenged that hierarchy by giving federal employees a taste of controlling their time and job location – factors that had been largely out of their hands.

After more than two years of working remotely, public servants like it and resent the idea of giving up the newfound control of time. They feel more productive, enjoy better work-life balance, have more child-care options. It’s also cheaper: no commuting, no parking, no restaurant or takeout lunches.

And for the first time, they had control of their space. No more cubicles. Hundreds took jobs without having to move to Ottawa and many others picked up and moved around the country.

But that flexibility has come with a price, and no city has felt the pinch like Ottawa, the nation’s capital and home to most departmental headquarters. The Ottawa Board of Trade estimates one-quarter of the city’s workforce worked downtown pre-pandemic and 55 per cent of those downtown workers were public servants sent home, leaving ghost offices behind. (A CBC radio broadcast on Aug. 25 talked about the topic.)

It also forced the biggest rethink of the future of work and the government’s relationship with employees as it officially shifted to a hybrid workforce this fall.

It will not be an easy ride.

Lori Turnbull, director of the school of public administration at Dalhousie University, called the shift to a hybrid workforce the most disruptive change in decades.

The public service has had its share of disruptions over the years – unionization and collective bargaining in the 1960s, massive downsizings and restructuring in the 1990s, the Y2K bug, 9/11, even the disastrous Phoenix pay system. This, however, could be as seismic a shift for the employer-employee relationship as when patronage was abolished a century ago and replaced with the merit system for the hiring and promotions of public servants.

“As far as disruptions go, this is the biggest one in decades, if not ever, because it’s a completely different ballgame when it comes to relationships, and how people manage their lives,” Turnbull said.

Turnbull said remote work gave workers flexibility and the value of that newfound freedom flowed more to their personal lives than their work lives. The government can’t expect to “put that genie back in the bottle,” without a fight, she said.

“Now, people, even the lowest rungs of the organization and seen as the least powerful, were given the sense of autonomy about their time and space and that is having fundamental repercussions on how the organization and management works,” said Turnbull.

The big question is whether the return-to-office will end this flexibility or will it spark worker rebellion? Before the pandemic, the thought of working only two days at the office was beyond the wildest of dreams. Today, it’s not flexible enough.

Public servants are openly voicing their displeasure about returning to the office. A growing number are mobilizing internally, speaking out on social media, signing petitions and writing letters to MPs. Some are resorting to access to information requests to get to the bottom of the decision to send them back.

Employees who want to work remotely feel the return-to-work guidelines are arbitrary and imposed top-down from management with no rationale. They feel unheard and that there is no evidence supporting why employees have to spend specified days in the office unless to satisfy political pressures, said one union official who is not authorized to speak publicly.

“If there’s a need to have public servants in the office, what is it?” the official said. “What we’re seeing right now is people being called back for the sake of being called back for political reasons.”

It will be a top issue at the bargaining table. Unions are hoping to enshrine remote work provisions into the collective agreement to give employees more say in determining where they work. Just as important is inflation, and unions, which are emboldened by a global talent shortage, are asking for big raises.

The unions’ long game is that employees will permanently have the option to work remotely. That’s a big and controversial change, however, which would mean rewriting rules, policies and collective agreements. Not to mention that Treasury Board President Mona Fortier has already said working at home is a privilege, not a right. She insists Treasury Board won’t give up its power to organize the workplace, including where employees work.

Unions hope to find some negotiating room around where public servants work. They also want less arbitrary decisions about who can work from home and what they can do remotely. That could mean explanations in writing beyond the blanket “operational requirements” that workers are hearing.

Turnbull warns a workforce feeling management exercises too much control over their time can breed mistrust and resentment that undermines productivity.

But flexibility is unknown territory for the government. More than any other employer, it has little experience with flexible work models. A study by Jeffrey Roy showed that the senior echelons are most comfortable with the traditional in-person office model – from ministers’ offices to deputy ministers and central agencies.

Flexibility on where people work opens a pandora’s box of issues. What happens to the value of work? How does it affect the 7.5-hour work day, overtime and pay? How are employees accountable when they no longer report to the office? How to track productivity, performance or deal with discipline when working from home.

Meredith Thatcher, cofounder and workplace strategist at Agile Work Evolutions, said the unfolding workplace evolution will depend on the “maturity and skills of the individual managers and whether they have the trust of their employees.”

“It is a societal earthquake that has happened, and the fallout will be years to come,” she said. “Assuming everyone will just fall in line and return to the office either full-time or mandated time is naive. The world of the office has shifted on its axis and many executives have not figured that out yet.”

But Donald Savoie, a leading public administration expert at University of Moncton, argues there is a lot more at stake than flexibility. Back in 2003, Savoie wrote Breaking the Bargain, about the unravelling of the traditional bargain underpinning the relationship between politicians and public servants.

He says public servants also have a bargain undergirding their relationship with Canadians. The public is losing confidence in the public service and its ability to deliver services – crystalized by a summer of chaotic delays at airports and passport offices.

He said Canadians are discontent with government, and populist leaders like Pierre Poilievre and anti-institution protest groups are tapping into that mistrust. He said a public service griping about going back to the office is ripe for attack.

Many see public servants asking for the freedom of an independent contractor or entrepreneur to work when and where they want while keeping the job security, pay and benefits few other Canadians enjoy.

“My advice to federal public servants: think about the institution. Think of the public service, not just your self-interest. There’s something bigger at play here. It’s called protecting the institution that you’re being asked to serve. I think too many federal public servants have lost sight of that.”

And Turnbull said Privy Council Clerk Janice Charette, a head of the public service, bears a big responsibility for the institution. She’s out in front urging departments to get employees back to the office.

“The clerk has to worry about the reputation of the public service and the sense that they have been given too much flexibility and now we see services crumbling. Even if there’s no truth to that the perception, it’s something she has to worry about,” said Turnbull.

Source: The public service’s biggest disruption in decades : hybrid work

BIPOC realtors find clients refuse to work with them because of their identity: OREA

Interesting and disturbing:

New research from the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) shows realtors and their clients are facing racism and discrimination during the home buying and selling process, but there are no efficient ways for consumers to report such incidents.

The Fighting for Fair Housing report released by the provincial real estate body Tuesday says more than one-third of realtors have experienced discrimination or racism and one in four BIPOC say a client has refused to work with them because of their identity.

Two in 10 consumers say they’ve been treated unfairly because of their identity, with those who are Black, Indigenous or of colour and LGBTQ2S+ individuals more likely to report such treatment.

The data has encouraged OREA to push for a process where complaints about racism and discrimination in the sector can easily be registered, investigated and result in stronger penalties.

It also wants the equal treatment of all individuals mandated in the Condominium Act because 43 per cent of realtors say they’ve seen a rental deal fall through because of discrimination.

They’d also like to make home ownership more accessible for all by reducing government-imposed costs on new rental projects and building 99,000 community housing units over the next 10 years.

Source: BIPOC realtors find clients refuse to work with them because of their identity: OREA

Seeking diversity, feds add inclusive language to application process for judges

Appears the main change is with respect to pronouns and some additional diversity indicators. Screen capture below (kind of interesting that “woman” is now last on the list, likely reflecting the progress that has been made):

Overall, the Liberal government has dramatically increased the diversity of judicial appointments compared to the previous Conservative government:

The Canadian government is making changes to the questionnaire prospective judges must fill out before applying for a federal judicial appointment.

The change is intended make the questionnaire more respectful by adding inclusive language for people to “self-identify diversity characteristics.”

Critics have argued Canada’s judiciary lacks diversity.

The questionnaires are a primary tool used by judicial advisory committees across the country to review candidates for the bench and submit recommendations to the minister of Justice.

Former Justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould announced a process to increase transparency, accountability and diversity in the courts in 2016, with an emphasis on selecting women and visible minorities.

The changes were made in consultation with the Canadian Bar Association, the Canadian Judicial Council and the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs.

Source: Seeking diversity, feds add inclusive language to application process for judges

Questionnaire link: https://www.fja-cmf.gc.ca/appointments-nominations/forms-formulaires/cq-qc/index-eng.html

Switzerland: Calls grow to ban Nazi symbols and salutes

Of note:

At a rally protesting against anti-Covid measures in September 2021, a demonstrator made a Nazi salute – right in the middle of Bern’s Old Town. The public prosecutor’s office consequently issued the demonstrator with a penalty order for improper behaviour. However, the man successfully contested the notice. There was no legal basis for a conviction, a local court ruled.

A neo-Nazi who made the same salute in 2010 on Rütli Meadow in the canton of Uri also ended up being acquitted. The Swiss Federal Court ruled in 2013 that the man had been expressing his own convictions among like-minded people, and that this was not a criminal offence. Had he been making the salute to spread Nazi ideology on the other hand, he would have been punished under Swiss anti-racism laws.

These examples show that Switzerland has a certain tolerance threshold when it comes to making Nazi symbols and gestures. Nazi salutes, swastikas, etc. are banned only when used for propaganda purposes. Political efforts to scrap this distinction have been ongoing since 2003. Majorities in the Federal Council [Swiss government] and parliament have so far judged freedom of expression to be more important, but the perception seems to be shifting now. Three motions on the issue have been submitted in parliament – one from the centre right and two from the left.

Spate of incidents during the pandemic

Parliamentarian for The Centre, Marianne Binder, set the ball rolling in winter. Binder wants a complete ban on Nazi gestures, flags and symbols, both in the real world and online. Explaining her motion, she said: “Anti-Semitic incidents have increased and took on a new dimension during the pandemic.”

The Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities (SIG) and the Foundation against Racism and Anti-Semitism (GRA) confirm this. According to their Report on Anti-Semitism, 2021 saw a proliferation of anti-Semitic incidents in Switzerland. There were 806 reports of online anti-Semitic content including anti-Semitic conspiracy theories – a more than 60% increase on the previous year.

There were 53 real-world anti-Semitic incidents, which included verbal abuse, public statements and offensive graffiti on synagogues. Anti-vaccine protesters wore Stars of David inscribed with the word “unvaccinated”. And in a Zurich suburb, they graffitied “Impfen [vaccination] macht frei” – a play on words on the infamous gate at Auschwitz – next to a swastika. People argue that the protesters need not have had anti-Semitic motives, says Binder. “You can plead stupidity, but how blind to history can you be?” she asks, adding that it constitutes an intolerable trivialisation of the Holocaust.

Binder deliberately restricted the motion to focusing on symbols and gestures related to Nazism and the Holocaust, whereas previous motions had targeted symbols and gestures encouraging racism and violence in general. Otherwise, it would have been difficult to list every single possible infraction. But Nazi symbols and salutes are unambiguous. “They certainly do not come under freedom of expression.”

Parliamentarians Gabriela Suter and Angelo Barrile, both from the Social Democratic Party, doubled down with similar parliamentary initiatives. The SIG endorsed the motions in January 2022, the first time it has explicitly put its weight behind initiatives of this type. Far-right extremists at protest rallies and concerts were specifically taking advantage of Switzerland’s legal loophole, it said. “This is particularly hurtful and bewildering for the minorities affected.”

The Council of the Swiss Abroad, which represents the interests of the “Fifth Switzerland” via-à-vis the authorities and the general public, also expressed support in March for criminalising all use of Nazi symbols and gestures in public. On behalf of the delegation from Israel, Ralph Steigrad noted that Switzerland had been debating the issue for almost 20 years: “It now needs to act and follow the examples of other countries.” This did not mean stopping symbols from being shown in teaching material for purely educational purposes, he stressed.

However, the Federal Council initially wanted to leave things as they were for the time being and rejected Marianne Binder’s motion. Even though Nazi symbols and salutes were “shocking”, they had to be tolerated as an exercise of freedom of expression, it wrote in reply. Educating people was better than enacting a ban.

Experts are divided

Legal and extremism experts are divided over the issue. Some say that far-right extremists might even feel vindicated if criminal proceedings were brought against them, and that a sweeping ban potentially moves us to a kind of penal law focused on punishing offenders’ attitudes or belief systems instead of the act itself.

Others argue that Nazi symbols pose a threat to peaceful, democratic society and are unacceptable in any country governed by the rule of law. And lo and behold, the Federal Council appears to have overcome its initial hesitancy amid reports that Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter is looking into the matter after all. She said her ministry would now see what legal options are available.

Keller-Sutter also wrote a reply to the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) – via which the Council of the Swiss Abroad had expressed its concerns to the Federal Council –assuring it that the government was well aware of the increase in anti-Semitic incidents in Switzerland.

By all means you can prevent anti-Semitism and ban Nazi symbols at the same time, says Binder. It is necessary to do both. Building a Holocaust memorial (see box) while continuing to allow Nazi symbols and salutes defeats the object. Parliament is set to debate Binder’s motion in its summer session.

Source: Calls grow to ban Nazi symbols and salutes

Burton: Why are Chinese police operating in Canada, while our own government and security services apparently look the other way?

Good questions:

In China, the high-profile TV drama In The Name Of The People has become a smash hit. In that show, Chinese agents enter the U.S. posing as businessmen so they can repatriate a factory manager who had fled abroad with huge ill-gotten wealth.

But a new study by the European non-governmental agency Safeguard Defenders suggests that there might be some truth to the fiction. According to the NGO, the Fuzhou Public Security Bureau has established more than 50 “overseas police service centres” in cities around the world – including three publicly documented ones in Toronto, home to Canada’s largest Chinese diaspora.

This is an outrage. Chinese police setting up offices in Canada, then “persuading” alleged criminals to return to the motherland to face “justice” – while our own government and security services apparently choose to look the other way – represents a gross violation of Canada’s national sovereignty, international law and the norms of diplomacy. China is extending the grip of its Orwellian police state into this country, with seemingly no worry about being confronted by our own national security agencies.

The RCMP and politicians of all stripes routinely condemn Chinese state harassment of people in Canada, but what action has been taken? There have been no arrests or any expulsion of any Chinese diplomats who might be co-ordinating this kind of thuggery.

Beijing describes these global police outposts as administrative centres to help Chinese nationals renew driver’s licences and other domestic banalities back home. But the Safeguard Defenders study found that they also hunt down political dissidents, corrupt officials or rogue Chinese alleged criminals and urge them to return home.

The summary says some of these operatives are given cover by being formally attached to local Chinese Overseas Home Associations (which have themselves largely become co-opted by the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front Work operations and run out of China’s embassy and consulates).

This bold strategy is consistent with China’s propensity for routinely flouting international laws, including those that require any other country’s police wishing to gather evidence in Canada to work through the RCMP.

In the case of these “police service centres,” Safeguard Defenders reports that agents press their targets to return home, including by offering vague promises of leniency or even urging families back home to encourage them to do so. The officers have taken aim at these alleged (and unproven) criminals by seizing their families’ assets, denying children in China access to schools, and terminating family members’ employment, all in violation of due process.

In Canada, this has been a reality for years. In 2001, during refugee hearings in Vancouver for Lai Changxing – a businessman wanted by Beijing over accusations of corruption and smuggling – Chinese police admitted to entering Canada using fake documents, and even to spiriting in Mr. Lai’s brother in an attempt to convince him to return home. Canadian authorities effectively smiled benignly at this serious breach of criminal and immigration law; Mr. Lai was eventually deported back to China.

Canada is becoming China’s chew toy. Consider Beijing’s alleged disinformation campaign which helped “unfriendly” Conservative MPs of Chinese ethnicity, including Kenny Chiu, lose their seats in the 2021 federal election.

Ottawa wants Canadian businesses to be able to tap into the world’s largest market. But the price of this access appears to be ignoring Beijing’s Canadian agenda, from military and industrial espionage to harassing Canadian Uyghurs, Tibetans, Falun Gong practitioners and ethnic Chinese and Taiwanese people who reject Beijing’s hectoring that they should be loyal to China instead of to Canada.

Does Canada have no security capabilities on the issue? Our police and security agencies must surely know what is going on, but for some reason prefer to simply curate their information rather than act on it. When asked by The Globe and Mail about the police service centres, an RCMP spokesperson said the force would not comment on “uncorroborated media reports or statements.” And most of the information we receive about China’s illegal and “grey zone” activities in Canada typically comes from the U.S. government and well-funded security and intelligence-focused think tanks in Australia and Europe.

The more we ignore reports of China’s growing presence in Canada – including its interference in our electoral process, its potential espionage in our universities and research institutes, and so on – the more emboldened and manipulative Chinese agents become. With no sign that it will be held accountable, China will only increase the size and threat of its operations, because it can.

With its seeming indifference toward China’s blatant contempt for our laws and security, Ottawa is playing an extremely dangerous game with Canada’s sovereignty.

Source: Why are Chinese police operating in Canada, while our own government and security services apparently look the other way?

ICYMI: Here’s Canada’s new plan to help foreign students and workers become permanent residents. Some say it isn’t nearly new enough

Of note:

After much hype over a new strategy to help more migrants become permanent residents, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser has delivered a plan that largely reinstated the policy changes made during the pandemic.

A motion unanimously passed by Parliament in May gave Fraser 120 days to come up with a comprehensive strategy that would allow international students and temporary foreign workers of all skill levels pathways to permanent residence to address Canada’s persistent labour shortages.

On Tuesday, the minister tabled the 39-page “Strategy to Expand Transitions to Permanent Residency” in the House of Commons, after the release was delayed by the death of Queen Elizabeth II earlier this month.

“Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has a number of measures, both already in place and upcoming, that will continue to find ways to support the transition of temporary foreign workers and international student graduates to permanent residents,” Fraser’s press secretary, Aidan Strickland, told the Star.

“We look forward to building on this work to meet Canada’s economic needs and fuel our growth.”

The plan builds on many of the ad-hoc changes that the immigration department has made to accommodate the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic that greatly hampered global travel and processing capacity of the immigration system due to lockdowns. It includes:

  • Raising annual targets of permanent residents admitted to Canada to 431,645 in 2022; 447,055 in 2023; and 451,000 in 2024 (the levels were announced in February);
  • Tweaking the selection system of skilled immigration including more power for the minister to hand-pick permanent residents — authority embedded in the federal budget bill passed in summer;
  • Enhancing current economic immigration programs such as the skill type of the national occupational classification system used to assess immigration eligibility; improving foreign credential recognition; and supporting the transition of international students and migrants in health professions to permanent residence; and
  • Continuing the transformation to a modernized and digitalized immigration system to expedite processing.

The report said a two-step immigration system transitioning workers and students to permanent residence improves job-skills matches driven by labour demand, but acknowledged these temporary residents can be exposed to exploitation and poor working conditions.

“This strategy is just a rehash of existing announcements. While the government yet again accepted that temporary migrants are exploited, there is no real strategy here to end the abuse,” said Syed Hussan, executive director of the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change.

“Everyone knows what needs to change: we need full and permanent immigration status for all, without exclusions or delay.”

NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan also expressed disappointment with the minister’s response to the parliamentary motion.

“What the government provided is nothing more than the recycling of what is already in place. The minister is not proposing anything new to support the goals set out in Motion 44. This so-called strategy lacks any real information or details of what a true comprehensive plan would entail,” Kwan said in a statement.

“One would expect the government to incorporate any data gathered on labour market needs and skill shortages to align with immigration policies. Canadians should expect nothing less.”

Fraser’s plan did mention the department’s current review of the international student program, including rules and authorities in their transition to permanent residence, as well as the option to issue open work permits to family members of all foreign workers, a privilege currently enjoyed mainly by those in high-skilled, high-waged jobs.

“The Department is assessing the trade-offs between reducing administrative requirements on co-op and work-integrated learning with any potential integrity risks that could arise as a result,” said the report, referring to ideas to help international students participate in the labour market.

“IRCC must balance facilitative measures with program integrity checks to ensure that international students benefit from a positive and quality academic experience while in Canada.”

Officials are still weighing different options to add to the pathways for international students to stay here permanently, particularly if their education, training or work experience is relevant in addressing Canada’s emerging economic priorities.

Source: Here’s Canada’s new plan to help foreign students and workers become permanent residents. Some say it isn’t nearly new enough

Immigration ‘very difficult’ for applicants once they turn 40

By design for economic immigrants, given aging demographics:

Canada is credited for having one of the world’s most immigrant-friendly policies, ranking fourth internationally in the Migrant Integration Policy Index. But the criteria used to prioritize applicants based on age leaves many at a disadvantage, even though they might have the qualifications Canada is looking for.

With immigration backlogs and several technical glitches on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) online portal during the pandemic, many have become ineligible for certain programs that consider age as a criterion.

When Pedro Carvalho arrived with his wife in 2017 from Brazil, the couple was in their 30s.

But after missing the Express Entry (EE) draw this year because of a technical glitch, Carvalho was skeptical about meeting the CRS cut-off score due to his age.

After the resumption of EE draws in July 2022, the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score has been on the higher end (above 500 points) in comparison to pre-pandemic levels, touching 557 on July 6th.

With high cut-off scores at the time, many like Carvalho were pessimistic and switched to another program called temporary resident to permanent resident program (TR to PR) to ensure they can stay in Canada as permanent residents.

“Now I turned 40, so I lost points. To be honest I don’t know what else I can say,” Carvalho said in an email to CTVNews.ca in August.

Rick Lamanna, director at Fragomen Canada, an immigration services provider, told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview that it can be frustrating for certain applicants waiting in the pool.

“They see themselves losing points every year because of these delays. They may have fewer points than they did a couple of years ago or even a year ago,” he said.

At first glance, age is not highlighted as a major criterion by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

But for certain programs—such as the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) or Canadian Experience Class (CEC)— the importance of being young becomes quite explicit, especially for applicants touching the 40s threshold.

A DEEPER LOOK AT THE POINT-BASED SYSTEM

Programs under EE include the FSWP, Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP), CEC, and a portion of the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). An applicant needs to be eligible for one of the above to enter the EE pool of candidates.

Canadian employers typically rely on EE designed to attract highly skilled foreign workers through its programs that lead to permanent residency (PR) and among these, FSWP, and the CEC are popular—both of which consider age as one of the core/human capital factors.

Lamanna says, while age can drop the score of a CEC or FSWP candidate, other factors can help raise CRS scores.

“However,” he said, “It is very difficult. Because applicants in their 40s lose a lot of points on age relative to people in their 20s or 30s.”

CRS is a points-based system that scores a profile to rank applicants in the Express Entry pool. To get an invitation to apply (ITA), the candidate should meet a score above the CRS score.

The maximum score in CRS is 1200 and this evaluation is based on several characteristics such as level of education, English/French skills, and work experience. If an applicant doesn’t meet the CRS score in a specific draw, he/she has to upload their profile again to be considered for the next pool.

By design for economic immigrants given aging demographics:

Canada is credited for having one of the world’s most immigrant-friendly policies, ranking fourth internationally in the Migrant Integration Policy Index. But the criteria used to prioritize applicants based on age leaves many at a disadvantage, even though they might have the qualifications Canada is looking for.

With immigration backlogs and several technical glitches on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) online portal during the pandemic, many have become ineligible for certain programs that consider age as a criterion.

When Pedro Carvalho arrived with his wife in 2017 from Brazil, the couple was in their 30s.

But after missing the Express Entry (EE) draw this year because of a technical glitch, Carvalho was skeptical about meeting the CRS cut-off score due to his age.

After the resumption of EE draws in July 2022, the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score has been on the higher end (above 500 points) in comparison to pre-pandemic levels, touching 557 on July 6th.

With high cut-off scores at the time, many like Carvalho were pessimistic and switched to another program called temporary resident to permanent resident program (TR to PR) to ensure they can stay in Canada as permanent residents.

“Now I turned 40, so I lost points. To be honest I don’t know what else I can say,” Carvalho said in an email to CTVNews.ca in August.

Rick Lamanna, director at Fragomen Canada, an immigration services provider, told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview that it can be frustrating for certain applicants waiting in the pool.

“They see themselves losing points every year because of these delays. They may have fewer points than they did a couple of years ago or even a year ago,” he said.

At first glance, age is not highlighted as a major criterion by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

But for certain programs—such as the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) or Canadian Experience Class (CEC)— the importance of being young becomes quite explicit, especially for applicants touching the 40s threshold.

A DEEPER LOOK AT THE POINT-BASED SYSTEM

Programs under EE include the FSWP, Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP), CEC, and a portion of the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). An applicant needs to be eligible for one of the above to enter the EE pool of candidates.

Canadian employers typically rely on EE designed to attract highly skilled foreign workers through its programs that lead to permanent residency (PR) and among these, FSWP, and the CEC are popular—both of which consider age as one of the core/human capital factors.

Lamanna says, while age can drop the score of a CEC or FSWP candidate, other factors can help raise CRS scores.

“However,” he said, “It is very difficult. Because applicants in their 40s lose a lot of points on age relative to people in their 20s or 30s.”

CRS is a points-based system that scores a profile to rank applicants in the Express Entry pool. To get an invitation to apply (ITA), the candidate should meet a score above the CRS score.

The maximum score in CRS is 1200 and this evaluation is based on several characteristics such as level of education, English/French skills, and work experience. If an applicant doesn’t meet the CRS score in a specific draw, he/she has to upload their profile again to be considered for the next pool.

POINT DROP FOR OLDER APPLICANTS

Under the CRS score, candidates can get a higher score if they are single and fall under the Express Entry category. However, the score falls dramatically for those above the age of 44. Canada’s comprehensive ranking system gives no points to those above 45 years of age.
Not only that, starting from the age of 40, the points reduce by 10 versus 5 before the age of 40. While a 29-year-old can get a maximum of 110 CRS points for age, an applicant of a similar caliber approaching their 30th birthday may see a sharp decline. By the time they reach 39, just 55 points are available, and by the time they reach 45, there are no points.

Under FSWP, the applicant’s age is worth 12 per cent of the overall selection criteria on the selection grid. The FAQ section makes it clear that someone over the age of 47 will not get any points under the Age factor of the CRS, but may get points on other factors such as job offer, skills, and language abilities.

DOES CANADA NEED YOUNG WORKERS?

Immigration has played a critical role in Canada’s economy, providing a relatively young stream of workers. More than 80% of the immigrants admitted in recent years have been under 45 years old.

According to a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), young immigrants are generally much more educated than immigrants nearing retirement and this is true for those entering the labour force.

With an aging native-born labour force and low fertility rates (roughly 1.4 births per woman in 2020), an inflow of immigrants has become increasingly important for Canada. The country suffers a shortage of skilled workers despite attempts to attract immigrants. According to the data from Statistics Canada, immigrants account for a little over one-quarter of Canadian workers.

Recent census data from 2021 shows that people nearing retirement outnumber those who are too old to enter the labour market in Canada. Additionally, rural populations are also aging faster than those in urban areas – partially due to the lower influx of immigrants.

The Canadian population is seeing a big shift, with baby boomers getting older, according to a report by Statistics Canada. The shift will have significant consequences on the labour market, services to seniors, and the consumption of goods and services.

A recent Census report by Statistics Canada shows that young immigrants are helping boost numbers in Canada’s population growth. Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) were between 25 and 40 years old in 2021, and are already the fastest-growing generation. In Canada, their numbers rose 8.6 per cent between 2016 and 2021 due to immigration, according to the StatsCan report.

But when it comes to the age factor in economic immigration, Canada is not alone.

Australia has age as one of the selection criteria for permanent residency and the age of the applicant should be below 45 years to apply for a PR visa. Germany recently introduced its version of the “green card” (known as Chancenkarte) to meet the country’s growing labour shortage. Three of the four criteria to be considered for the program include that applicant is below the age of 35.

BUT TARGETED DRAWS IN 2023 COULD BE A GAMECHANGER

Lamanna says as 2023 approaches, applicants need to brace themselves for specified targeted draws, which are designed to address the labour shortage that Canada currently faces in certain sectors.

The recently passed Bill C-19 allows invitations to those applicants under Express Entry that support the regional economic needs. The training, education, experience, and responsibilities (TEER) system would allow IRCC to invite applicants based on occupation, language or education rather than the traditional CRS score.

“While the issue of age is currently important, a bigger issue will be what happens when targeted draws occur,” he said. If someone is not in the pool of that specific occupation type, then applicants may be left in limbo and these could include those with higher CRS scores.

Lamanna said provinces have more autonomy in selecting people in certain occupations to help employers in certain jurisdictions. There is a risk-reward to targeted draws. It helps meet the labour shortage in specific industries such as health care, manufacturing and construction.

“The risk is there are people in the queue who know that at some point, they will be selected as long as they meet the CRS score. But if a minister shifts to occupation-based selective selection process, then people may be left wondering when their turn will come next,” Lamanna said.

Source: Immigration ‘very difficult’ for applicants once they turn 40

Liz Truss plans more immigration in effort to fill vacancies and drive growth

Of note. More post-Brexit policy incoherence:

Liz Truss is preparing to increase immigration to fill job vacancies and boost economic growth in a move that will anger some of her ministers and MPs.

The prime minister plans to raise the number of workers allowed to enter the UK, government sources have confirmed.

Reports claim the government will lift the cap on seasonal agricultural workers and broadband engineers, and make other changes to the shortage occupations list, which will allow key sectors to recruit more overseas staff.

Truss is said to be keen to recruit broadband engineers to complete a pledge to make full-fibre broadband available to 85% of UK homes by 2025. It has also been suggested that she could ease the English-language requirement in some sectors to enable more foreign workers to qualify for visas.

The proposals faces resistance from cabinet Brexiters including the home secretary, Suella Braverman, and the trade secretary, Kemi Badenoch, according to the Sunday Times.

One Conservative MP said that many new Conservative voters in “red wall” seats will be baffled by any softening of immigration rules.

“The government is going to have to explain to those people who thought we were a pro-Brexit government and want to curb immigration why we seem to be changing tack,” the MP said.

Ministers are also discussing whether to allow in more highly educated workers from across the globe. This includes proposals for a new visa for workers who have graduated from one of the top 50 or top 100 global universities.

Two million UK job vacancies were advertised last month, with the social care sector trying to fill 105,000 posts. There is also a shortfall of 40,000 nurses and 100,000 HGV drivers, and the farming industry has called for an extra 30,000 visas for seasonal workers.

The Sunday Times said the Cabinet Office minister, Nadhim Zahawi, had chaired a meeting last week about the proposed changes. He is understood to be in favour of updating the shortage occupations list. The environment secretary, Ranil Jayawardena, is believed to be backing the plan to boost the number of seasonal farm workers.

Badenoch is opposing proposals for a “freedom of movement” agreement with the Indian government as part of a trade deal she is negotiating, it was reported.

The chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, announced on Friday that a new plan would be published in the coming weeks “to ensure the immigration system supports growth while maintaining control”.

Asked on Sunday if the government was prepared to relax immigration rules, he said Braverman would make an announcement soon.

“The home secretary would be making an update on immigration policy … she will be making that in the next few weeks,” he told BBC One’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg.

The government pledged that a new immigration system would be introduced after leaving the EU, with ministers saying it would bring down overall levels.

There are almost 1.8 million non-EU nationals working in Britain, 302,000 more than a year ago, according to the Office for National Statistics. Home Office figures show the number of visas given to all workers, students and their relatives, both EU and non-EU, has risen by more than 80% in a year to more than 1.1m, the largest number on record.

Meanwhile, more than 30,000 people seeking refuge in the UK have crossed the Channel in small boats, government figures show.

Source: Liz Truss plans more immigration in effort to fill vacancies and drive growth

Can new legislation help ‘Lost Canadians’ be found again?

Disappointing article on S-245 and “lost Canadians” that essentially uncritically take the position of Don Chapman and his assertion that “thousands” have lost their citizenship when the data does not support that and that the vast majority of cases were addressed in previous legislation.

S-245 addresses a gap: “Bill C-37 of 2008, which repealed the age-28 provision and grandfathered all those Canadians who had not yet turned 28 to be included in the policy change, left out a small group of Canadians who had already turned 28, specifically those born in the 50-month window between February 15, 1977, to April 16, 1981. This small cohort of lost Canadians is the group for whom this bill was brought forward in this Parliament once again.”

At a minimum, the CBC should have noted this rather than just taking Chapman’s statement at face value. CBC could also have asked CBC for data on the special procedures for persons caught in this situation (the data that I have seen on requests for proofs of citizenship indicates that the numbers of persons for which this is an issue has been consistently overstated).

There is, of course, the broader issue of the first generation cut-off where again, CBC should have provided more context for that decision (e.g., Lebanese Cdn evacuation of 2006 and the number of evacuees who had minimal to no connection to Canada).

Future stories on S-245 should address this imbalance by including outside experts, whether legal, academic or former citizenship officials, and ensure a diversity of views.

And articles need to be more data and evidence-driven, rather than relying on personal stories and advocates, a tendency that CBC appears to be increasingly relying upon (have provided these comments to CBC and will see if any substantive reaction):

When Pete Giesbrecht was summoned to his local police station on Halloween 2015, he had no idea he was 30 days away from being deported.

His crime? He had not reaffirmed his Canadian citizenship before the age of 28 under a complicated, confusing and not well publicized section of the Citizenship Act.

“They said, ‘No, actually, you have 30 days to leave the country. And if you do not leave willingly, we will fly you out with bracelets and all,’ ” Giesbrecht recalled recently from his home in southern Manitoba.

He’s one of thousands of so-called “Lost Canadians” — people who, because of where and when they were born, are caught up in confusing sections of the Citizenship Act. It can result in a loss of citizenship that forces them to leave Canada for countries they’ve never really known. Others become stateless.

The House of Commons will vote on new legislation this fall meant to solve the problem faced by Giesbrecht, although it doesn’t address a different issue affecting second-generation Canadians born abroad.

Cut off from Canada at age 28

Giesbrecht hopes the changes are passed — he and his family felt a mix of disbelief and anger over his impending deportation.

“I had carried a citizenship for 29 years. So now to find out that that was done didn’t mean anything. That was a bit of a shock,” he said.

At the time, Giesbrecht was a commercial truck driver living near Winkler, Man. He crossed the border more than 100 times a year for work.

He had a Canadian passport, which he received before turning 28, but let it lapse because he had a FAST card, which certified he’d been pre-cleared to cross the U.S.-Canada border.

His case was flagged when he re-applied for the card in August 2015.

Since 1977, second-generation Canadians born abroad had an automatic right to citizenship, but those children had to meet certain conditions and apply to retain their citizenship by the time they turned 28. If they didn’t, they automatically and unknowingly lost citizenship.

Legislative amendments in 2009 were supposed to fix that, but the changes didn’t apply to everyone and created new problems for others.

Bill C-37 introduced a rule limiting citizenship by descent to the first generation born abroad. People born abroad in subsequent generations now have to become immigrants, or in some cases they can apply for a grant of citizenship, which can take years, and there’s no guarantee they’ll be accepted.

The changes only affected people who had not yet turned 28 and didn’t help anyone who’d already lost citizenship.

That’s where Giesbrecht got caught — he was born on Aug. 11, 1979, in Mexico. His parents were Canadian, but they were born in Mexico to Mennonites who had moved there to have less government interference in their lives. However, when he was seven, his family moved back to Manitoba near where his Canadian grandparents were born.

Don Chapman, head of the Lost Canadians Society in B.C., says the problem was compounded because those affected weren’t told about the retention requirement.

“Here’s the problem: He got a citizenship certificate. There was no mention on that citizenship certificate that he had to reaffirm,” Chapman said.

New legislation aims to fix age-28 rule

New legislation coming before Parliament this fall is meant to reinstate those affected by the age-28 rule who weren’t covered by Bill C-37.

Bill S-245 has already passed in the Senate and passed first reading in the House of Commons before it recessed for the summer. If it becomes law, it will eliminate the requirement for people to reaffirm their citizenship by age 28. Those affected would be considered Canadian back to their dates of birth.

“These are individuals who were born to Canadian parents and who only know Canada as their country,” said Sen. Yonah Martin, who represents British Columbia and is currently the deputy leader of the opposition in the Senate. She introduced Bill S-245.

“They’re taxpayers. They had lived their lives as Canadians until this age-28 rule caught up to them because it wasn’t clearly communicated.”

Giesbrecht’s Canadian-born wife started the process to sponsor him for citizenship. As a permanent resident, he had to prove a long-time connection to Canada. He’d spent thousands on lawyers when he heard about Chapman and the Lost Canadians Society from other Mennonites going through the same process.

Chapman started advocating on his behalf and on Oct. 17, 2017, Giesbrecht received his Canadian citizenship — for a second time.

“It means security. It means a future. It means hope for the children and a place that we are free,” he said.

Pete Giesbrecht was told he had 30 days to leave the country after he unknowingly lost his Canadian citizenship due to a problem with the Citizenship Act.

Giesbrecht knows of others he says are afraid to come forward, worried they’ll be deported and lose everything.

“They have a life. They also have families. They have work. They have to give that all up,” he said. “That’s a very risky, very difficult thing to do.”

Chapman says many Lost Canadians don’t find out about their status until they apply for a passport, move provinces and apply for health benefits or a driver’s licence, or are convicted of a crime.

“Pete, he’s one of the lucky ones,” Chapman said.

“There are thousands of people, actually many thousands of people in Canada, that are affected and might still not know it. And this [legislation] will make it so they are whole, as though they never lost their citizenship.”

New rule created new Lost Canadians

But, there’s another category of Lost Canadians the new legislation won’t address.

The “second-generation cut-off” is a rule under Bill C-37 that permanently denies the first generation born abroad the ability to automatically pass on citizenship to their children if they are also born outside Canada.

It also eliminated the ability to gain citizenship by showing a “substantial connection” to Canada. Now, those second-generation children have to be sponsored by their parents to come to Canada as permanent residents, then apply for citizenship like any other immigrant.

Critics say it has created two classes of Canadian citizenship — one for Canadians born in Canada and one for those born abroad.

“What’s discriminatory about the Citizenship Act is that there is no way that people can rid themselves of this second class status no matter how close and deep their ties to Canada are,” said Sujit Choudhry, a constitutional lawyer in Toronto representing seven families living in Canada, Dubai, Hong Kong, Japan and the United States, who are all affected by this rule.

Choudhry filed a constitutional challenge in December 2021, asking that his clients’ children be granted citizenship and that this section of the Citizenship Act be struck down. The case will be before court in April 2023.

‘I’m not Canadian enough’

Victoria Maruyama is angry about the way her family has been treated because of where she and her children were born.

“I grew up [in Canada] like everybody else. Why am I being treated this way? Why are you treating my children this way? And why can’t we just come home like everybody else?” Maruyama, one of Choudhary’s clients, asked in a recent interview from her home in Nagoya, Japan.

Maruyama was born in Hong Kong and received Canadian citizenship through her father, who had previously immigrated from Vietnam. When she was a toddler, the family returned to Edmonton, where she attended school. She later got a degree at the University of British Columbia.

When she was 22, she moved to Japan temporarily to teach English and met her husband, a Japanese national. They married in 2007.

She was seven months pregnant with their first child when Bill C-37 took away her right to pass on citizenship to her children unless they were born in Canada.

“The shock of it, like, ‘Oh my God, I’m not Canadian enough,’ ” Maruyama said.

Their second child was also born in Japan two years later. The family has moved back to Edmonton from Japan several times so she could apply for citizenship for her children and sponsor them as immigrants.

All of those applications have been denied.

“Their grandparents helped build the stupid railroad … It makes me angry. Really angry.– Victoria Maruyama, whose children aren’t considered Canadian because they, and Maruyama, were born abroad”

A 2018 letter from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said the children were rejected because “they are not stateless, will not face special and unusual hardship if you are not granted Canadian citizenship and you have not provided services of exceptional value to Canada.”

They returned to Japan in July 2019 because her husband had a job offer, but she says the family would like to live in a more multicultural and accepting society and be closer to her aging parents.

The children are “very aware that Canada is rejecting them,” Maruyama said. “[But] they feel Canadian. It’s just part of their identity.”

“Their grandparents helped build the stupid railroad … It makes me angry. Really angry.”

Stateless babies

In an even more extreme case, if a Canadian born abroad has a baby in a country that doesn’t provide citizenship at birth, that child is stateless.

This means no country is responsible for their legal protection and they can’t get a passport. They have no right to vote and they often lack access to education, employment, health care, registration of birth, marriage or death and property rights.

That’s the situation for Gregory Burgess, who was born in the U.S. to an American father and Canadian mother. He got citizenship through his mother, grew up and went to school in Alberta where his ancestors settled after fleeing what is now Ukraine many generations ago.

“It’s basically bureaucratic terrorism … I believe Canada is better than this.– Gregory Burgess, on the various applications needed to get his infant son Canadian citizenship”

He and his wife, a Russian citizen, are on work visas in Hong Kong. Their son was born there last October. Since neither parent is a citizen or permanent resident of Hong Kong, their son has no status.

“The children are the victims,” Burgess said recently.

Burgess says because he was born outside Canada — and can’t automatically give his child Canadian citizenship — he was told by an IRCC agent that his wife should apply for Russian citizenship for the baby. If that is rejected, he can then go through the process with Canada. However, there are no guarantees it would be successful.

However, Burgess doesn’t want his son to have Russian citizenship; he wants him to be Canadian.

“It’s basically bureaucratic terrorism. It’s horrible. It’s adversarial,” he said of the various applications he’s already made on behalf of both his son and his wife. “I believe Canada is better than this.”

Burgess is one of Choudhry’s clients and part of the constitutional challenge. The lawyer says Canada could fix the family’s situation if it would add back the ability for a second-generation child born abroad to prove a “substantial connection” to the country.

“This law creates hierarchies of Canadians based on where they were born,” Choudhry said.

In the meantime, he said Citizenship and Immigration Minister Sean Fraser could grant Burgess’s son citizenship by acknowledging the “special and unusual hardship” the family is facing.

CBC requested an interview with Fraser several times, but a spokesperson said he was unavailable.

However, in a statement, his department said there is a “discretionary mechanism” for anyone who doesn’t qualify for citizenship, including a special process if someone is stateless. The department said those cases are assessed individually.

Source: Can new legislation help ‘Lost Canadians’ be found again?

PEN Canada standing up for Salman Rushdie 30 years after ambitious plan to condemn Iran’s state-sanctioned act of terror against him

Good reminder of just how courageous Canadian political leaders, particularly Bob Rae then Premier of Ontario, were. British PM Thatcher was equally principle in providing Rushdie with protection despite his harsh criticism of her policies and reference to her as Mrs. Torture in Satanic Verses.

As noted before, I was posted to Tehran when the fatwa was issued and we were concerned that the Toronto event might impact our safety but fortunately it didn’t.

Proud of the Canadian leaders who stood up for free speech when many did not. Sharp contrast to some of the shallow and tendentious invocations of freedom and free speech that are all too common today:

Thirty years ago, PEN Canada, a non-partisan organization that supports freedom of expression in Canada and writers endangered around the world, staged an extraordinary coup in Toronto. Held in support of award-winning English novelist Salman Rushdie, it went on to have international ramifications – with this country at the root of it.

In 1992, Rushdie was in his fourth year of hiding, under constant police protection for fear of his life. Three years earlier, Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran had issued a fatwa calling for his murder, and the murder of those associated with his novel, The Satanic Verses. Khomeini claimed the novel insulted Islam, though his son admitted later that he never read it.

Internationally, political will to stand up to such an astonishing public threat against a private citizen of another country was sadly lacking. But no country was willing to act alone. Louise Dennys, then president of PEN Canada, told the head of the International Salman Rushdie Defence Committee that she believed Canada could break the impasse.

A handful of PEN members – Louise, with Ric Young, John Ralston Saul, Adrienne Clarkson, Marian Botsford-Fraser and Clayton Ruby – hatched an ambitious plan to persuade the Canadian government to condemn Iran’s state-sanctioned act of terrorism against Rushdie. The strategy: to use the annual PEN Canada Benefit to showcase public support for Rushdie in the country and galvanize the government in Ottawa to take the issue to the United Nations. They needed to bring Rushdie to Canada and draw intense media coverage.

This was no easy matter. It required absolute secrecy, the support of MI6 in Britain alongside CSIS and the RCMP in Canada, and a frantic last-minute search for means – ultimately, a private jet offered by an anonymous donor – to bring Rushdie across the Atlantic when the initial flight plan fell through.

Miraculously, they managed it. On Dec. 7, 1992, Rushdie appeared as a surprise guest on stage at the Winter Garden Theatre before an astonished audience of a thousand people. There was a collective gasp as the crowd rose to its feet in applause, even as they suddenly became aware of the 60-some security personnel present in the theatre, talking into their sleeves.

And then Bob Rae, premier of Ontario at the time, came on stage and embraced Rushdie, the first head of government anywhere to publicly stand with him. Rae called upon all governments to “do the right thing.”

It did not end there. The small delegation flew straight to Ottawa. Overnight, a morning press conference was convened. A few hours later, Barbara McDougall became the first secretary of state of any country to meet with Rushdie. Jean Chrétien, then the leader of the Official Opposition, walked him over to the House of Commons where he testified before the Parliamentary Sub-Committee on Development and Human Rights.

The result was electrifying. Within 48 hours, Canada became the first country in the world to pass a unanimous, all-party resolution condemning the Iranian government for its shameful record on human rights, demanding the withdrawal of the fatwa. Three months later, at the instigation of the Canadian government, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva passed a resolution condemning Iran’s actions and calling for sanctions.

Remarkably – and sadly, given the cause – a full generation after the epochal 1992 benefit, the organization is again holding an event to stand with Rushdie after the horrific attack on him in August at the Chautauqua Institute, in upper New York State. Together with the Toronto International Festival of Authors, Penguin Random House Canada and the Writers Trust, PEN Canada will hold a reading of Rushdie’s works on Sept. 27.

Thirty years ago, PEN Canada, a non-partisan organization that supports freedom of expression in Canada and writers endangered around the world, staged an extraordinary coup in Toronto. Held in support of award-winning English novelist Salman Rushdie, it went on to have international ramifications – with this country at the root of it.

In 1992, Rushdie was in his fourth year of hiding, under constant police protection for fear of his life. Three years earlier, Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran had issued a fatwa calling for his murder, and the murder of those associated with his novel, The Satanic Verses. Khomeini claimed the novel insulted Islam, though his son admitted later that he never read it.

Internationally, political will to stand up to such an astonishing public threat against a private citizen of another country was sadly lacking. But no country was willing to act alone. Louise Dennys, then president of PEN Canada, told the head of the International Salman Rushdie Defence Committee that she believed Canada could break the impasse.

A handful of PEN members – Louise, with Ric Young, John Ralston Saul, Adrienne Clarkson, Marian Botsford-Fraser and Clayton Ruby – hatched an ambitious plan to persuade the Canadian government to condemn Iran’s state-sanctioned act of terrorism against Rushdie. The strategy: to use the annual PEN Canada Benefit to showcase public support for Rushdie in the country and galvanize the government in Ottawa to take the issue to the United Nations. They needed to bring Rushdie to Canada and draw intense media coverage.

This was no easy matter. It required absolute secrecy, the support of MI6 in Britain alongside CSIS and the RCMP in Canada, and a frantic last-minute search for means – ultimately, a private jet offered by an anonymous donor – to bring Rushdie across the Atlantic when the initial flight plan fell through.

Miraculously, they managed it. On Dec. 7, 1992, Rushdie appeared as a surprise guest on stage at the Winter Garden Theatre before an astonished audience of a thousand people. There was a collective gasp as the crowd rose to its feet in applause, even as they suddenly became aware of the 60-some security personnel present in the theatre, talking into their sleeves.

And then Bob Rae, premier of Ontario at the time, came on stage and embraced Rushdie, the first head of government anywhere to publicly stand with him. Rae called upon all governments to “do the right thing.”

It did not end there. The small delegation flew straight to Ottawa. Overnight, a morning press conference was convened. A few hours later, Barbara McDougall became the first secretary of state of any country to meet with Rushdie. Jean Chrétien, then the leader of the Official Opposition, walked him over to the House of Commons where he testified before the Parliamentary Sub-Committee on Development and Human Rights.

The result was electrifying. Within 48 hours, Canada became the first country in the world to pass a unanimous, all-party resolution condemning the Iranian government for its shameful record on human rights, demanding the withdrawal of the fatwa. Three months later, at the instigation of the Canadian government, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva passed a resolution condemning Iran’s actions and calling for sanctions.

Remarkably – and sadly, given the cause – a full generation after the epochal 1992 benefit, the organization is again holding an event to stand with Rushdie after the horrific attack on him in August at the Chautauqua Institute, in upper New York State. Together with the Toronto International Festival of Authors, Penguin Random House Canada and the Writers Trust, PEN Canada will hold a reading of Rushdie’s works on Sept. 27.

Source: PEN Canada standing up for Salman Rushdie 30 years after ambitious plan to condemn Iran’s state-sanctioned act of terror against him