Liberals to introduce new hate speech bill, possibly bringing back controversial Section 13

Virtue signalling, given likely election call?

Right before the House of Commons breaks for summer, the Liberal government will introduce a new bill tackling hate speech, which could bring back a controversial law under the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Justice Minister David Lametti has given notice the government will introduce a new bill, dealing with “hate propaganda, hate crimes and hate speech.” Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault has been working on a new online harms bill with Justice and other ministries, though government spokespeople declined to say Tuesday whether that bill is the legislation that will be tabled by Lametti.

One possibility is that Lametti’s bill could leave out online regulation and focus only on changes to hate speech law the government consulted on last year — though if that includes bringing back a civil remedy for hate speech, the bill still stands to garner much opposition.

Source: Liberals to introduce new hate speech bill, possibly bringing back controversial Section 13

US to review Native American boarding schools’ dark history

Of note as USA also confronts this sad part of its history:

The federal government will investigate its past oversight of Native American boarding schools and work to “uncover the truth about the loss of human life and the lasting consequences” of policies that over the decades forced hundreds of thousands of children from their families and communities, U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced Tuesday.

The unprecedented work will include compiling and reviewing records to identify past boarding schools, locate known and possible burial sites at or near those schools, and uncover the names and tribal affiliations of students, she said.

“To address the intergenerational impact of Indian boarding schools and to promote spiritual and emotional healing in our communities, we must shed light on the unspoken traumas of the past no matter how hard it will be,” Haaland said.

A member of New Mexico’s Laguna Pueblo and the first Native American to serve as a Cabinet secretary, Haaland outlined the initiative while addressing members of the National Congress of American Indians during the group’s midyear conference.

She said the process will be long, difficult and painful and will not undo the heartbreak and loss endured by many families.

Starting with the Indian Civilization Act of 1819, the U.S. enacted laws and policies to establish and support Indian boarding schools across the nation. For over 150 years, Indigenous children were taken from their communities and forced into boarding schools that focused on assimilation.

Haaland talked about the federal government’s attempt to wipe out tribal identity, language and culture and how that past has continued to manifest itself through long-standing trauma, cycles of violence and abuse, premature deaths, mental health issues and substance abuse.

The recent discovery of children’s remains buried at the site of what was once Canada’s largest Indigenous residential school has magnified interest in the troubling legacy both in Canada and the United States.

In Canada, more than 150,000 First Nations children were required to attend state-funded Christian schools as part of a program to assimilate them into society. They were forced to convert to Christianity and were not allowed to speak their languages. Many were beaten and verbally abused, and up to 6,000 are said to have died.

After reading about the unmarked graves in Canada, Haaland recounted her own family’s story in a recent opinion piece published by the Washington Post.

Haaland cited statistics from the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition, which reported that by 1926, more than 80% of Indigenous school-age children were attending boarding schools that were run either by the federal government or religious organizations. Besides providing resources and raising awareness, the coalition has been working to compile additional research on U.S. boarding schools and deaths that many say is sorely lacking.

Interior Department officials said aside from trying to shed more light on the loss of life at the boarding schools, they will be working to protect burial sites associated with the schools and will consult with tribes on how best to do that while respecting families and communities.

As part of the initiative, a final report from agency staff is due by April 1, 2022.

Chuck Hoskin Jr., principal chief of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma, which had about 80 boarding schools, called the announcement encouraging and said anything that can be done to address those “troubling chapters of history” is a positive thing.

“I hope we don’t discover gruesome incidents like were discovered in Canada. I just think it’s good in this country to have conversations about what happened to Native American children,” Hoskin said.

Navajo Nation President Nez also offered his support for the initiative, noting discrimination against Native Americans continues today on many fronts — from voter suppression to high numbers of missing and murdered people.

“Last week, Congress and President Biden established ‘Juneteenth’ as a national holiday, in observance of the end of slavery, which I fully support as a means to healing the African American community,” Nez said. “Now, from my perspective as a Navajo person, there are so many atrocities and injustices that have been inflicted upon Native Americans dating back hundreds of years to the present day that also require national attention, so that the American society in general is more knowledgeable and capable of understanding the challenges that we face today.”

This is not the first time the federal government has attempted to acknowledge what Haaland referred to as a “dark history.”

More than two decades ago, Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Kevin Gover issued an apology for the emotional, psychological, physical and spiritual violence committed against children at the off-reservation schools. Then in 2009, President Barack Obama quietly signed off on an apology of sorts that was buried deep in a multibillion-dollar defense spending bill; the language had been watered down from the original legislation introduced years earlier.

Source: US to review Native American boarding schools’ dark history

Why doctors want Canada to collect better data on Black maternal health

Need this for many groups:

A growing body of data about the heightened risks faced by Black women in the U.K. and U.S. during pregnancy has highlighted the failings of Canada’s colour-blind approach to health care, according to Black health professionals and patients.

Black women in the U.K. and U.S. are four times more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than white women, according to official data. A recent U.K. study published in The Lancet found that Black women’s risk of miscarriage is 40 per cent higher than white women’s. In Canada, that level of demographic tracking isn’t available.

“For our country, we don’t have that data. So it’s difficult to know exactly what we’re dealing with,” said Dr. Modupe Tunde-Byass, a Toronto obstetrician-gynecologist, and president of Black Physicians of Canada. “We can only extrapolate from other countries.”

Source: Why doctors want Canada to collect better data on Black maternal health

Joseph Heath: Woke tactics are as important as woke beliefs

Always interesting to read Heath and his uncomfortable observations and analysis:

After several years of creeping illiberalism under the guise of progressive politics, American liberals are finally getting their act together. They are pushing back, creating several organizations committed to combating the influence of “woke” politics and ideology. They have momentum, not just because many woke mantras like “defund the police” have proven spectacularly unpopular, but also because there is genuine growing alarm about the intolerant and authoritarian brand of politics that has become associated with the woke left.

Unfortunately, many of the woke genuinely do not understand why anyone finds their politics, or their political tactics, threatening. In particular, the accusation that they are being authoritarian, or that “cancel culture” is a threat to freedom of expression, is one that they are simply unable to process. 

There is a reason for this — and one that’s worth understanding. There are several key phrases that play an enormously important role in woke politics (e.g. “safety,” “mental health,” “microaggression,” “bullying” and even “human rights”) which they use to deflect the accusation of authoritarianism. If you adopt the right words, it’s easier to convince yourself that you’re the good guys even as you’re acting like the bad ones.

I want to take a shot at explaining how this works. 

The most important thing to understand about woke politics is that it is not a conventional form of illiberalism, it is better thought of as a type of “illiberal liberalism.” It involves making a set of political demands that are fundamentally illiberal, but then articulating them in a way that fits the conventional structure of liberal political discourse. Because of the way that their complaints are packaged, the woke are able to brush off criticism of their tactics.

Take an issue like freedom of speech. There are various versions of this traditionally liberal virtue; predominant among them, is that those who hold this belief are opposed to content-based restrictions on speech. In the old days, lots of politicians didn’t really believe in freedom of speech, as many among the ruling class maintained straightforwardly illiberal views. 

Consider, for example, the aftermath of the “police riot” that occurred during the 1968 Democratic Party Convention in Chicago. The Democratic nominee, Hubert Humphrey, put the blame for the violence squarely on the protesters. In those pre-feminist times, it was a common tactic for hippie protesters to provoke police by describing, in graphic detail, the various sex acts that they intended to perpetrate on the wives and daughters of the forces of order. Humphrey found this intolerable, and so defended police violence in the following terms:

The obscenity, the profanity, the filth that was uttered night after night in front of the hotels was an insult to every woman, every mother, every daughter, indeed, every human being, the kind of language that no one would tolerate at all. You’d put anybody in jail for that kind of talk. And yet it went on for day after day. Is it any wonder that the police had to take action?

This is good-old-fashioned illiberalism. Someone said something outrageous, something intolerable, and so needs to be punished for it. If you insult the police, you can’t complain if you get beat up. According to Humphrey, it was the content of what the protesters said that justified throwing them in jail.

What I find striking about this example is that people who want to censor speech don’t talk this way any more, because it is such an obvious violation of liberal principles. Modern enemies of free speech have found ways to formulate their demands for punishment in ways that violate the spirit, but still respect the letter, of those very principles. Most obviously, they take advantage of certain exceptions to the general prohibition on content-based restrictions.

Anyone who has studied free speech issues or read John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty will of course be familiar with these exceptions. The biggest one is that, while it may not be permissible to prohibit the expression of an idea, any particular episode of speech can be prohibited if the performance of the speech act is likely to bring serious harm to some other person. Mill, for example, famously suggested that while it was permissible to publish the opinion that “corn dealers rob the poor,” chanting that slogan in front of an agitated mob outside the corn dealer’s home is another matter entirely. The latter can be prohibited, because it is likely to cause harm to the corn dealer.

While this caveat may seem reasonable at first glance, it creates all sorts of problems, precisely because the concept of harm is not well-defined. Notice that in Mill’s example, the speaker does not directly harm the corn dealer. The speaker rather incites the mob, and it is members of the mob who then pose a threat to the corn dealer (and that threat may never materialize). 

This loophole is the one that has been taken advantage of most aggressively by the woke left to push for restrictions on speech. When they come across something they don’t like, rather than calling for censorship on the basis of content, they will instead attempt to restrict it on the grounds that it causes harm. Of course, they are smart enough to realize that the mere fact that it upsets them is not enough to qualify as a harm. So they posit a causal connection to a more serious physical or psychological harm. For example, students who are trying to censor the expression of ideas in the classroom will claim that the discussion makes them feel “unsafe,” or that it threatens their mental health. What is crucial about this move is that it allows them to call for illiberal actions (i.e. censorship or punishment of speech) on grounds that are, in principle at least, not illiberal.

Consider a concrete example of this. My own academic discipline was rocked by a cancel-culture scandal in 2017, involving an article published by the Canadian philosopher Rebecca Tuvel in the journal Hypatia. In the article, Tuvel upset a lot of people by asking the awkward question why, if it’s all just socially constructed, we accept the claims of people who want to switch genders, but not those who want to switch races. What ignited the real controversy, however, was not the article, but rather the attempt by hundreds of academics to cancel it, by signing an online petition demanding that the journal retract the piece. 

This recent trend of demanding the retraction of controversial academic work is a perfect example of illiberal liberalism. Traditionally, the way that philosophers have responded to journal articles they disagree with is to write their own articles criticizing the view. Demanding that the journal retract the paper is an entirely different tactic. On the surface, it is not illiberal, since academic journals are committed to publishing material that meets a certain standard, and are committed to retracting work that is subsequently shown to have fallen below that standard. And yet at the same time, it is clearly punitive. Having published a journal article that subsequently had to be retracted is a major stain on a scholar’s reputation, and could easily serve as an obstacle to being granted tenure.

In the case of Tuvel’s paper, the purpose of the online petition was obviously punitive, since the case for retraction was non-existent. It was clearly a demand for censorship (something illiberal), but it was presented under the guise of a demand for retraction (something consistent with liberalism). 

In the petition letter, the central argument for retraction was made in terms of the “harm” caused by the article, as well as the claim that its publication was “dangerous.” Many wondered how an article published in a feminist academic journal, dealing with an entirely abstract argument about identity and social construction, could possibly cause harm. In its defence, some of the signatories pointed to the high rate of suicide among transgendered individuals, claiming that anyone seeking to ask questions or to debate their claims was putting them at risk of self-harm.

This argument is obviously spurious. The suggestion that upsetting someone who belongs to a social group with an elevated suicide rate should count as a “harm,” sufficient to justify restrictions on speech, is not a defensible conception of harm. Young white American men who own guns also have an extremely high rate of suicide, and yet no one worries much about hurting their feelings. More generally, expanding the category of harm in this way makes it so broad that practically any action can be construed as harmful, and therefore completely undermines freedom of speech. This argument was obviously being gerrymandered to prohibit the expression of a specific view that certain people found offensive.

What is crucial though is the form of the argument. By pointing to these ephemeral harms, those who are trying to engage in censorship of speech that they disagree with are nevertheless able to convince themselves that this is not what they are doing. The appeal to harm is a “fig leaf” argument, in that it conceals their true motive from others, but also, one senses, from themselves.

This analysis allows us to better understand some of the strange “snowflake” behaviour that one sees among young people of a certain political persuasion. Explicitly or implicitly, they have internalized the idea that in order to get other people punished for doing things you don’t like, you have to claim that they have harmed you. This is why they are so quick to claim injury (e.g. damage to their mental health, fear for their safety, etc.), in circumstances that a normal person would shrug off. They are like soccer players trying to draw a penalty. It’s not a “culture of victimhood,” on the contrary, it is more often an act of social aggression, since these performances of injury are typically carried out, not to attract sympathy, but rather punish and control others.

This is also why HR departments have become an important vector for illiberalism. At my own university, for example, staff at the Office of Accessibility Services have attempted to censor the curriculum in certain philosophy courses. The logic of this is not difficult to see. Students realize that they are not going to get authors or texts banned by appealing to the faculty. So instead they go to their disability services counsellor and claim that they cannot attend class when certain authors are being discussed, because they feel unsafe. Staff have no particular commitment to academic freedom, and so are happy to take up the cause. 

HR departments aren’t full of cultural Marxists, they’re a liberal fig leaf used to cover up these fundamentally illiberal impulses. Most HR professionals have no particular ideology, they are just extremely averse to conflict, and think that the easiest way to make a conflict go away is for the person who is saying the thing that is upsetting other people to stop saying it.

As a member of Generation X dealing with young people, I sometimes feel like a hockey player watching a soccer game, trying to figure out whether the players are completely hamming it up, or whether they actually are that delicate. The answer is probably somewhere in between. I have no doubt that many young people truly are lacking in psychological resilience, but it is important to recognize that there are also important political motives at work that encourage them to act this fragile.

It is equally important to recognize the futility of calling them “left fascists” or authoritarian.  Not only do they brush off the accusation, but it encourages them to double down on the snowflake behaviour,because it’s precisely by claiming injury that they deflect the accusation of intolerance.


#COVID-19: Comparing provinces with other countries 23 June Update, China’s vaccine diplomacy

The latest charts, compiled 23 June as overall rates in Canada continue to decline along with increased vaccinations (still largely first dose, fully vaccinated 20.8 percent, most EU countries are between 25 to 35%).

Vaccinations: Minor relative changes with Ontario ahead of Quebec and British Columbia. China’s vaccination rate continues to grow dramatically (about 16% fully vaccinated. Article below charts describes lower efficacy of Chinese-made vaccines.

Trendline charts

Infections per million: No relative changes.

Deaths per million: No relative change.

Vaccinations per million: Canadian vaccination rates continue to exceed G7 less Canada. Vaccination rate increase in immigration source countries driven by China (up 16% from last week) with Indian vaccination rates up 12.5% compared to last week.


Infections per million: No relative change.

Deaths per million: No relative changes.

They Relied on Chinese Vaccines. Now They’re Battling Outbreaks

Interesting data on the relative weakness of Chinese vaccines, likely to undermine the Chinese government’s vaccine diplomacy:

Mongolia promised its people a “Covid-free summer.” Bahrain said there would be a “return to normal life.” The tiny island nation of the Seychelles aimed to jump-start its economy.

All three put their faith, at least in part, in easily accessibleChinese-made vaccines, which would allow them to roll out ambitious inoculation programs when much of the world was going without.

But instead of freedom from the coronavirus, all three countries are now battling a surge in infections.

China kicked off its vaccine diplomacy campaign last year by pledging to provide a shot that would be safe and effective at preventing severe cases of Covid-19. Less certain at the time was how successful it and other vaccines would be at curbing transmission.

Now, examples from several countries suggest that the Chinese vaccines may not be very effective at preventing the spread of the virus, particularly the new variants. The experiences of those countries lay bare a harsh reality facing a postpandemic world: The degree of recovery may depend on which vaccines governments give to their people.

In the Seychelles, Chile, Bahrain and Mongolia, 50 to 68 percent of the populations have been fully inoculated, outpacing the United States, according to Our World in Data, a data tracking project. All four ranked among the top 10 countries with the worst Covid outbreaks as recently as last week, according to data from The New York Times. And all four are mostly using shots made by two Chinese vaccine makers, Sinopharm and Sinovac Biotech.

“If the vaccines are sufficiently good, we should not see this pattern,” said Jin Dongyan, a virologist at the University of Hong Kong. “The Chinese have a responsibility to remedy this.”

Scientists don’t know for certain why some countries with relatively high inoculation rates are suffering new outbreaks. Variants, social controls that are eased too quickly and careless behavior after only the first of a two-shot regimen are possibilities. But the breakthrough infections could have lasting consequences.

In the United States, about 45 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, mostly with doses made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Cases have dropped 94 percent over six months.

Israel provided shots from Pfizer and has the second-highest vaccination rate in the world, after the Seychelles. The number of new daily confirmed Covid-19 cases per million in Israel is now around 4.95.

In the Seychelles, which relied mostly on Sinopharm, that number is more than 716 cases per million.

Disparities such as these could create a world in which three types of countries emerge from the pandemic — the wealthy nations that used their resources to secure Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna shots, the poorer countries that are far away from immunizing a majority of citizens, and then those that are fully inoculated but only partly protected.

China, as well as the more than 90 nations that have received the Chinese shots, may end up in the third group, contending with rolling lockdowns, testing and limits on day-to-day life for months or years to come. Economies could remain held back. And as more citizens question the efficacy of Chinese doses, persuading unvaccinated people to line up for shots may also become more difficult.

One month after receiving his second dose of Sinopharm, Otgonjargal Baatar fell ill and tested positive for Covid-19. Mr. Otgonjargal, a 31-year-old miner, spent nine days in a hospital in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. He said he was now questioning the usefulness of the shot.

“People were convinced that if we were vaccinated, the summer will be free of Covid,” he said. “Now it turns out that it’s not true.”

Beijing saw its vaccine diplomacy as an opportunity to emerge from the pandemic as a more influential global power. China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, pledged to deliver a Chinese shot that could be easily stored and transported to millions of people around the world. He called it a “global public good.”

Mongolia was a beneficiary, jumping at the chance to score millions of Sinopharm shots. The small country quickly rolled out an inoculation program and eased restrictions. It has now vaccinated 52 percent of its population. But on Sunday, it recorded 2,400 new infections, a quadrupling from a month before.

In a statement, China’s Foreign Ministry said it did not see a link between the recent outbreaks and its vaccines. It cited the World Health Organization as saying that vaccination rates in certain countries had not reached sufficient levels to prevent outbreaks, and that countries needed to continue to maintain controls.

“Relevant reports and data also show that many countries that use Chinese-made vaccines have expressed that they are safe and reliable, and have played a good role in their epidemic prevention efforts,” the ministry said. China has also emphasized that its vaccines target severe disease rather than transmission.

No vaccine fully prevents transmission, and people can still fall ill after being inoculated, but the relatively low efficacy rates of Chinese shots have been identified as a possible cause of the recent outbreaks.

The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines have efficacy rates of more than 90 percent. A variety of other vaccines — including AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson — have efficacy rates of around 70 percent. The Sinopharm vaccine developed with the Beijing Institute of Biological Products has an efficacy rate of 78.1 percent; the Sinovac vaccine has an efficacy rate of 51 percent.

The Chinese companies have not released much clinical data to show how their vaccines work at preventing transmission. On Monday, Shao Yiming, an epidemiologist with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said China needed to fully vaccinate 80 to 85 percent of its population to achieve herd immunity, revising a previous official estimate of 70 percent.

Data on breakthrough infections has not been made available, either, though a Sinovac study out of Chile showed that the vaccine was less effective than those from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna at preventing infection among vaccinated individuals.

A representative from Sinopharm hung up the phone when reached for comment. Sinovac did not respond to a request for comment.

William Schaffner, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University, said the efficacy rates of Chinese shots could be low enough “to sustain some transmission, as well as create illness of a substantial amount in the highly vaccinated population, even though it keeps people largely out of the hospital.”

Despite the spike in cases, officials in both the Seychelles and Mongolia have defended Sinopharm, saying it is effective in preventing severe cases of the disease.

Batbayar Ochirbat, head researcher of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies at Mongolia’s Ministry of Health, said Mongolia had made the right decision to go with the Chinese-made shot, in part because it had helped keep the mortality rate low in the country. Data from Mongolia showed that the Sinopharm vaccine was actually more protective than the doses developed by AstraZeneca and Sputnik, a Russian vaccine, according to the Health Ministry.

The reason for the surge in Mongolia, Mr. Batbayar said, is that the country reopened too quickly, and many people believed they were protected after only one dose.

“I think you could say Mongolians celebrated too early,” he said. “My advice is the celebrations should start after the full vaccinations, so this is the lesson learned. There was too much confidence.”

Some health officials and scientists are less confident.

Nikolai Petrovsky, a professor at the College of Medicine and Public Health at Flinders University in Australia, said that with all of the evidence, it would be reasonable to assume the Sinopharm vaccine had minimal effect on curbing transmission. A major risk with the Chinese inoculation is that vaccinated people may have few or no symptoms and still spread the virus to others, he said.

“I think that this complexity has been lost on most decision makers around the world.”

In Indonesia, where a new variant is spreading, more than 350 doctors and health care workers recently came down with Covid-19 despite being fully vaccinated with Sinovac, according to the risk mitigation team of the Indonesian Medical Association. Across the country, 61 doctors died between February and June 7. Ten of them had taken the Chinese-made vaccine, the association said.

The numbers were enough to make Kenneth Mak, Singapore’s director of medical services, question the use of Sinovac. “It’s not a problem associated with Pfizer,” Mr. Mak said at a news conferenceon Friday. “This is actually a problem associated with the Sinovac vaccine.”

Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates were the first two countries to approve the Sinopharm shot, even before late-stage clinical trial data was released. Since then, there have been extensive reports of vaccinated people falling ill in both countries. In a statement, the Bahraini government’s media office said the kingdom’s vaccine rollout had been “efficient and successful to date.”

Still, last month officials from Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates announced that they would offer a third booster shot. The choices: Pfizer or more Sinopharm.


Canada does not have a Juneteenth celebration — and we don’t need one

Good reminder of the differences between Canada and the USA:

After the murder of George Floyd was captured and shared around the world last summer, many white communities found themselves thrust into what can best be defined as the Great White Awakening.

Prior to the killing of Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and many other Black victims also lost their lives to state-sponsored violence in 2020. But the eight-minute-and-46-second video of Floyd’s demise became the catalyst for a deluge of corporate and political anti-racism declarations.

The actual follow-through on those declarations has been largely inconsistent, but organizations and governments alike are still trying to find ways to appeal to the Black community. In North America, one publicized aspect of the outreach has been the institution of federal holidays to commemorate important dates in national (Black) history.

Source: Canada does not have a Juneteenth celebration — and we don’t need one

The dip in the US birthrate isn’t a crisis, but the fall in immigration may be

Similar argumentation to Canadian increased immigration advocates:

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in May 2021 that the nation’s total fertility rate had reached 1.64 children per woman in 2020, dropping 4% from 2019, a record low for the nation.

The news led to many stories about a “baby bustharming the country. The fear is that if the trend continues, the nation’s population may age and that will lead to difficulties in funding entitlements like Social Security and Medicaid for seniors in the future.

But as a statistician and sociologist who collaborates with the United Nations Population Division to develop new statistical population forecasting methods, I’m not yet calling this a crisis. In fact, America’s 2020 birth rate is in line with trends going back over 40 years. Similar trends have been observed in most of the U.S.‘s peer countries.

The other reason this is not a crisis, at least not yet, is that America’s historically high immigration rates have put the country in a demographic sweet spot relative to other developed countries like Germany and Japan.

But that could change. A recent dramatic decline in immigration is now putting the country’s demographic advantage at risk.

Falling immigration may be America’s real demographic crisis, not the dip in birth rates.

A predictable change

Most countries have experienced part or all of a fertility transition.

Fertility transitions occur when fertility falls from a high level – typical of agricultural societies – to a low level, more common in industrialized countries. This transition is due to falling mortality, more education for women, the increasing cost of raising children and other reasons.

In 1800, American women on average gave birth to seven children. The fertility rate decreased steadily, falling to just 1.74 children per woman in 1976, marking the end of America’s fertility transition. This is the point after which fertility no longer declined systematically, but instead began to fluctuate.

Birth rates have slightly fluctuated up and down in the 45 years since, rising to 2.11 in 2007. This was unusually high for a country that has made its fertility transition, and put the U.S. birth rate briefly at the top of developed countries.

A decline soon followed. The U.S. birth rate dropped incrementally from 2007 to 2020, at an average rate of about 2% per year. 2020’s decline was in line with this, and indeed was slower than some previous declines, such as the ones in 2009 and 2010. It put the U.S. on par with its peer nations, below the U.K. and France, but above Canada and Germany.

Using the methods I’ve helped develop, in 2019 the U.N. forecast a continuing drop in the global birth rate for the period from 2020 to 2025. This methodology also forecast that the overall world population will continue to rise over the 21st century.

The ideal situation for a country is steady, manageable population growth, which tends to go in tandem with a dynamic labor market and adequate provision for seniors, through entitlement programs or care by younger family members. In contrast, countries with declining populations face labor shortages and squeezes on provisions for seniors. At the other extreme, countries with very fast population growth can face massive youth unemployment and other problems.

Many countries that are peers with the U.S. now face brutally sharp declines in the number of working-age people for every senior within the next 20 years. For example, by 2040, Germany and Japan will have fewer than two working-age adults for every retired adult. In China, the ratio will go down from 5.4 workers per aged adult now to 1.7 in the next 50 years.

By comparison, the worker-to-senior ratio in the U.S. will also decrease, but more slowly, from 3.5 in 2020 to 2.1 by 2070. By 2055, the U.S. will have more workers per retiree than even Brazil and China.

Germany, Japan and other nations face population declines, with Japan’s population projected to go down by a massive 40% by the end of the century. In Nigeria, on the other hand, the population is projected to more than triple, to over 700 million, because of the currently high fertility rate and young population.

In contrast, the U.S. population is projected to increase by 31% over the next 50 years, which is both manageable and good for the economy. This is slower than the growth of recent decades, but much better than the declines faced by peer industrialized nations.

The reason for this is immigration. The U.S. has had the most net immigration in the world for decades, and the projections are based on the assumption that this will continue.

Migrants tend to be young, and to work. They contribute to the economy and bring dynamism to the society, along with supporting existing retirees, reducing the burden on current workers.

However, this source of demographic strength is at risk. Net migration into the U.S. declined by 40% from 2015 to 2019, likely at least in part because of unwelcoming government policies.

If this is not reversed, the country faces a demographic future more like that of Germany or even Japan, with a rapidly aging population and the economic and social problems that come with it. The jury is out on whether family-friendly social policies will have enough positive impact on fertility to compensate.

If U.S. net migration continues on its historical trend as forecast by the U.N., the U.S. population will continue to increase at a healthy pace for the rest of the century. In contrast, if U.S. net migration continues only at the much lower 2019 rate, population growth will grind almost to a halt by 2050, with about 60 million fewer people by 2100. The fall in migration would also accelerate the aging of the U.S. population, with 7% fewer workers per senior by 2060, leading to possible labor shortages and challenges in funding Social Security and Medicare.

While the biggest stream of immigrants is from Latin America, that is likely to decrease in the future given the declining fertility rates and aging populations there. In the longer term, more immigrants are likely to come from sub-Saharan Africa, and it will be important for America’s demographic future to attract, welcome and retain them.

Source: The dip in the US birthrate isn’t a crisis, but the fall in immigration may be

For many young Hong Kong graduates, Canada’s new routes to immigration have turned into a dead end

The impact of the five-year limit, designed to encourage younger immigrants:

When the Canadian government invited Hong Kongers to apply for a work permit that Ottawa designed solely for people from the territory, plumbing engineer Kay Pang applied as soon as he could.

The open work permit allows Pang to travel anywhere in Canada to look for a job, but he recently learned that the document — contrary to what the government had promised in February — won’t expedite permanent residency for everybody from Hong Kong. In truth, people who graduated in 2016 or earlier are not eligible.

His realization comes as authorities in Hong Kong, where freedoms have been increasingly restricted since last year, prepare to enforce a law that, according to the Hong Kong Bar Association, could allow them to block people from entering or leaving the territory as of Aug. 1.

However, the bar association’s interpretation of the new law is disputed by the city’s security bureau which says the change is aimed at stopping asylum seekers from coming to Hong Kong and is allowed under a global aviation agreement.

“It’s really sad for me,” said Pang, who graduated from City University of Hong Kong in 2016, about the new challenges on his road to permanent residency. He had planned to come to Vancouver next January to look for career opportunities in robotics engineering.

New paths to permanent residency

Hong Kongers were allowed to apply for the open work permit from February. The permit allows them to spend up to three years in Canada to gain enough work experience here in order to apply for permanent residency.

At the initial announcements in November and February, no details were given about how recently potential applicants for permanent residency would need to have graduated.

On June 8, Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino unveiled more details. There are two new paths to permanent residency exclusively for Hong Kong residents who recently graduated from a Canadian post-secondary institution (“Stream A”), or recently graduated from a Canadian or foreign institution who are working in Canada (“Stream B”).

Applicants via Stream B must hold a degree, diploma or graduate credential obtained in the past five years, on top of at least one year of full-time work experience or 1,560 hours of part-time work in Canada in the past three years.

Many graduates eyeing immigration to Canada with an open work permit prefer Stream B to Stream A, because they don’t want to spend money going back to school.

But if their degree was awarded in 2016 or before, they face not being able to meet the requirements for permanent residency via that stream.

‘Why would you just shut the door?’

Pang, among more than 28,000 people graduating from Hong Kong post-secondary institutions in 2016, applied for an open work permit in March. But even if he landed in B.C. and got a job now, it wouldn’t leave him enough time to get the necessary one year of full-time work experience before his degree becomes ineligible.

Hong Kong software developer Edward Wong is in a similar situation. He received an open work permit in May and booked a flight ticket to Toronto, with plans to settle there, in September.

But Wong, who graduated from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in 2016, also faces being ineligible for permanent residency.

He said he doesn’t understand why Immigration Canada has created this additional hurdle.

Source: For many young Hong Kong graduates, Canada’s new routes to immigration have turned into a dead end

Diversity and Racism in Canada: Competing views deeply divide country along gender, generational lines

Summary of latest Angus Reid survey, with the usual clever segmentation. Glass half full or half empty?:

These are times of deep reckoning over issues of race and identity, hatred, and violence in Canada.

Against the backdrop of the London, ON, attack that targeted and killed a Muslim family, the deep pain associated with revelations about the hundreds of children buried on the grounds of former residential schools, and ongoing reports of discrimination against Canadians of Asian origin, many are attempting to reconcile the realities of the nation’s attitudes towards diversity and equality with national mythologizing about multiculturalism.

The second report from a comprehensive research series from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute in partnership with the University of British Columbia dives deeply into the sentiments of those living in this country – to illuminate perceptions and attitudes towards diversity and racism.

For 85 per cent of the population, that Canada is home to people from different races and ethnicities betters the nation. Canadians of all regions of the country, age groups, political ideologies and ethnic backgrounds agree on this point.

But does everyone feel it? Contradictions abound. Fully one-in-three (34%) say “Canada is a racist country.” Among those who believe this most keenly: visible minorities (42 per cent of whom say so) and women, particularly those under the age of 35, who are much more likely than men to hold this view (54%).

On the other hand, however, fewer than one-in-eight (12%) say they believe some races are superior to others. Further, 41 per cent of Canadians say that people seeing discrimination where it does not exist is a bigger problem for the country than people not being able to see where it does.

These perspectives coalesce to form four mindsets with which Canadians view diversity. This report analyzes each – the Detractors, Guarded, Accepting and Advocates – to better understand the expectations of Canadians heading into the second half century of official multiculturalism.

More Key Findings:

  • Three-quarters of Canadians over the age of 55 disagree that Canada is a racist country, while 54 per cent of women between the ages of 18 and 34 say that it is
  • One-in-five Canadians (21%) say that they feel like they are treated as an outsider in Canada. This proportion is 17 per cent among Caucasians, 30 per cent among Indigenous respondents and 29 per cent among visible minorities.
  • The Advocates, one-quarter of Canadians, are very concerned about racism and discrimination, to the point that they are twice as likely as visible minorities themselves to say that police are prejudiced or racist toward the latter demographic (83% vs 42%)
  • The Detractors, made up of older and more conservative Canadians, are also one-quarter of the population. This group is distinct in that it is more likely than others to say that immigration levels are way too high, and that racism is not a problem in Canada
  • One-quarter of Canadians feel “cold” toward Muslims, more than any other group asked about in the survey. Men over the age of 55 (42%) and Quebecers (37%) are among the most likely to say that.
  • Most Albertans (54%) and Saskatchewanians (57%) believe exaggerating racism is a bigger problem in Canada than not seeing racism where it exists.
  • Yet residents of Saskatchewan (44%) were the most likely to agree that Canada is a racist country. Residents of Quebec (24%) were the least likely.

Source: Diversity and Racism in Canada: Competing views deeply divide country along gender, generational lines

Full survey: click here

Canada’s oath of citizenship now recognizes First Nations, Inuit and Métis rights

The formal announcement and messaging. But still no new citizenship study guide, five years later:

Canada’s Oath of Citizenship is more than words. It is a public declaration of belonging to our country and to our communities. That’s why the government has been hard at work over the past few years updating the Oath to include Indigenous peoples, through Bill C-8. This directly responds to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Call to Action 94.

The recent news of the findings in the area around the Kamloops Residential School is a stark reminder of the importance of this work and the reason why we need continue to deliver on the TRC’s Calls to Action.

The Honourable Marco E. L. Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, today announced that Bill C-8 has received Royal Assent and is now law. As of today, Canada’s Oath of Citizenship officially recognizes First Nations, Inuit and Métis, and the obligation that all citizens have to uphold the treaties between the Crown and Indigenous nations.

The new Oath of Citizenship recognizes that Indigenous rights are both enshrined in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, and that they derive from the historic use of this land by Indigenous peoples. As new Canadians recite the Oath, they will make a personal commitment to observe the Aboriginal and treaty rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.

Reconciliation is a national project that involves all of us, including our newest citizens. Over the past few years, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has been working to implement several of the TRC’s Calls to Action and educate newcomers about their unique role in reconciliation.

On June 14, we announced that Indigenous people can now reclaim their traditional names on passports and other documents, fulfilling Call to Action 17. In response to Call to Action 93, we have been working hard at updating Canada’s Citizenship Guide to ensure new citizens understand the role of Indigenous peoples in our past, present and future. We look forward to sharing the new guide with Canadians later this year.

New oath:

“I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada, including the Constitution, which recognizes and affirms the Aboriginal and treaty rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.”