Canadian-born visible minority youth facing an unfair job future

Diversity by City

Some good analysis of income gaps between visible minorities and the “mainstream” by Andrew Jackson of the Broadbent Institute:

… while members of visible minority groups are more likely to be recent immigrants than other Canadians, a high and rising proportion of non-whites were born in Canada.

Forty per cent of visible minority youth age 20 to 24 were born in Canada and thus have the same educational experience as other Canadians. Many others came to Canada as young children and were mainly educated in Canada. But they still encounter greater problems in the job market than whites.

2011 was a year of partial recovery from the Great Recession of 2008-09, and the overall unemployment rate averaged 7.8 per cent.

The NHS data show that the unemployment rate in 2011 was 9.9 per cent for visible minority workers compared to 7.3 per cent for white workers, a difference of 2.6 percentage points. The difference in unemployment rates between visible minorities and white workers was significantly greater for women 10.6 per cent vs. 6.7 per cent than for men 9.3 per cent vs. 7.8 per cent.

The unemployment rate in 2011 was especially high for Arabs 14.2 per cent, blacks 12.9 per cent and South Asians 10.2 per cent.

A high level of education did not narrow the unemployment rate gap between visible minority and white workers. In fact, the gap 7.9 per cent vs. 4.1 per cent was greater for workers with a university degree.

Strikingly, there was a big difference in unemployment rates in 2011 between visible minority workers who were born in Canada and white non-immigrants – 11.8 per cent compared to 7.4 per cent.

The gap was a bit smaller but still significant for young visible minority workers age 20 to 24 born and educated in Canada and white workers in the same age group, also born and educated in Canada – 17.2 per cent compared to 14.1 per cent.

Canadian-born visible minority youth facing an unfair job future – The Globe and Mail.

“Keeping the price of latte low” – Why the Conservatives need to make changes to the foreign worker program fast

Good piece by Campbell Clark in the Globe on Temporary Foreign Workers. Latte line is priceless:

Temporary foreign workers really shouldn’t be part of any company’s basic business model, especially if it’s their strategy to fill jobs that don’t require training. Governments should be expecting wages to rise, not stepping in to provide thousands of visas for low-paid workers.

But the government has watched that grow into a common practice over several years. Freezing it has just added unpredictability.

The moratorium won’t kill Canada’s economy. Most consumers will spend their dollars elsewhere in Canada if a restaurant with a labour shortage has a long wait. But the tourism industry does have some reason to worry that the sudden freeze just as their busy season starts will cause problems for some businesses, and perhaps hurt the sector….

But whatever the government decided to do, it should have provided a transition program so the sector wasn’t hit suddenly, he [Garth White, Restaurants Canada] said. And the government should stop moving its deadline and announce its plans to reform the program, he said….

The president of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, David Goldstein, said most in the industry don’t like the current program, but they do need the workers. There are some jobs it’s just hard to fill with Canadian workers, he said.

“The inconvenient truth is that in a Richard Florida society, somebody still has to make him his latte,” he said.

It’s not clear that Canadians should make it a policy priority to keep the price of the latte low, by making it easy to recruit lower-paid workers from abroad.

Why the Conservatives need to make changes to the foreign worker program fast – The Globe and Mail.

Hatred of women, not Islam, fuels Pakistan’s honour killings

Two takes on the horrific stoning in Pakistan of  Farzana Parveen, another example of all too frequent “honour killings,” or as CCMW names them, “femicide.” Starting with Omar Aziz in the Globe:

What are we afraid of? Can we, for one second, acknowledge that there is a cultural problem here, or will we continue to sanctimoniously blame all of this on ‘those other men over there?’ Within five kilometers of my home, I can think of at least two cases of such extreme, impenitent misogyny. In one case, a Pakistani father beat his daughter after he discovered her long-distance relationship. In another, the case of Aqsa Parvez, her brother strangled her to death with the father’s consent because she objected to wearing the hijab. Everywhere there is an honour killing – a human sacrifice – there is a woman breaking off the chains of tradition. There is a woman demanding the right to live as she wishes, and in her way is a man demanding she get in line.

These women are the real freedom fighters in the Pakistani and wider South Asian and Middle Eastern community, not the cowardly males who use their physical advantage to assault women in the name of some illusory honour, or their supporters in the West and throughout South Asia who rationalize their decisions. One crime too many has been committed against women by the insecure, ignorant, hate-filled mob that is their own family. It is time that we be honest about the causes of such barbarity and begin seriously combatting it, or Farzana Parveen’s name may soon be forgotten like the many women who were sacrificed before her.

Hatred of women, not Islam, fuels Pakistan’s honour killings – The Globe and Mail.

And, via Farzana Hassan, this piece by Matthew Syed in The National Secular Society:

Turn your mind away from the brutality of honour killings and focus, for a moment, on the psychology. Consider the corrupting power of a religious ideology that can animate a father to perpetrate the most intimate and barbaric of assaults on his own daughter, a brother on his own sister, an uncle on his own niece.

“I killed my daughter as she had insulted all of our family by marrying a man without our consent, and I have no regret over it,” the police investigator quoted the father of the murdered woman in Lahore as saying. Her crime, in case you were wondering, was to fall in love with the wrong man.

You cannot win against this kind of barbarism by being nice. You can’t win by beating a strategic retreat, as Sotheby’s plans to do by withdrawing nudes from arts sales because they are terrified of offending Middle Eastern clients. Fundamentalism is too fierce, too implacable, it takes too deep a hold on those who are infected by it, to reach any kind of compromise. Trying to find an accommodation with fanaticism is like trying to cuddle a virus.

A woman is stoned. We politely look away

Faking Cultural Literacy – ICYMI

A fun piece, unfortunately all too true, about how conversation and commentary, and the need to present oneself as well-informed, is exacerbated by the sheer volume of information. How many us have the time to deep dive anymore given this pressure? We scan more than read, and tweet more than reflect:

What we all feel now is the constant pressure to know enough, at all times, lest we be revealed as culturally illiterate. So that we can survive an elevator pitch, a business meeting, a visit to the office kitchenette, a cocktail party, so that we can post, tweet, chat, comment, text as if we have seen, read, watched, listened. What matters to us, awash in petabytes of data, is not necessarily having actually consumed this content firsthand but simply knowing that it exists — and having a position on it, being able to engage in the chatter about it. We come perilously close to performing a pastiche of knowledgeability that is really a new model of know-nothingness.

NPR’s April Fools’ Day web story “Why Doesn’t America Read Anymore?” went viral on Facebook, where pranksters in on the joke linked to the piece and others then argued that they do too read and indignantly shared the link with exhortations to “read the story!” without actually clicking on it themselves to see that the only content was the revelation that the whole thing was a prank: “We sometimes get the sense that some people are commenting on NPR stories that they haven’t actually read. If you are reading this, please like this post and do not comment on it. Then let’s see what people have to say about this ‘story.’ ”

Faking Cultural Literacy –

Google diversity report highlights white male workforce

google-diversity-dataInteresting piece on Google’s efforts to increase diversity. The problem applies to much of the tech industry:

Gender and ethnic disparities are reflected throughout the tech industry. About seven per cent of tech workers are black or Latino in Silicon Valley and nationally. Blacks and Hispanics make up 13.1 and 16.9 per cent of the U.S. population, respectively, according to the most recent Census data.

In the coming months, Google said, it will work with the Kapor Center for Social Impact, a group that uses information technology to close gender and ethnic gaps in the Silicon Valley workforce. The centre will be organizing a Google-backed conference in California focusing on issues of technology and diversity.

Co-founder Freada Kapor Klein, who started the Level Playing Field Institute 13 years ago to teach and mentor black and Latino students in science and math, said Google is showing leadership “which has been sorely needed for a long time.”

“Google is the company known for the moonshot, and applying that part of Google DNA to this problem is a breath of fresh air,” she said.

Google diversity report highlights white male workforce – World – CBC News.

Younger Canadians hold more negative views about religious groups – CRRF

Further to an earlier release of the CRRF and ACS Survey on Religion, Racism and Intergroup Relations in Canada Shows Differences in Attitudes Among Anglophones, Francophones and Other Groups, a further release pertaining to attitudes to religious diversity by age group. Remarkably consistent across religions, except for Muslims:

Table 1: Negative attitudes towards certain groups, according to age groups
 Negative Opinion







 Muslims 44% 43% 45% 40% 43% 40%
 Jews 19% 24% 25% 20% 15% 15%
 Protestants 15% 24% 23% 14% 15% 8%
 Catholics 19% 25% 25% 22% 18% 13%
 Atheists/Agnostics 21% 14% 18% 21% 21% 22%
 Religious 31% 36% 33% 31% 31% 27%
 Immigrants 24% 24% 27% 24% 30% 16%
 Aboriginals 26% 26% 26% 25% 29% 22%

Younger Canadians hold more negative views about religious groups

Whereas on diversity in general, young people are more supportive than older age groups, as another relatively recent study by ACS shows:

Do you have a very positive, somewhat positive, somewhat negative or very negative opinion of Canadian Multicultural Policy
Total 18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64 65 + French English Other
TOTAL positive 58% 74% 61% 61% 56% 54% 47% 48% 60% 67%
Very positive 15% 34% 18% 15% 10% 12% 8% 8% 14% 26%
Somewhat positive 43% 40% 43% 46% 46% 42% 39% 40% 46% 41%
TOTAL negative 35% 14% 29% 33% 35% 39% 50% 45% 32% 28%
Somewhat negative 23% 7% 19% 24% 25% 25% 33% 29% 22% 18%
Very negative 12% 8% 10% 9% 11% 14% 17% 16% 10% 11%
I prefer not answering 7% 11% 10% 6% 9% 7% 3% 7% 8% 5%

Younger Canadians Believe Multiculturalism Works; Older Canadians, Not So Sure 

I expect a further breakdown by region (urban vs rural, QC vs ROC), cross-referenced to more broad-based attitude polling, may cast more light, or it may simply reflect that younger people, in general, may be less religious.

No surprise, and consistent with other surveys, distrust of Muslims is higher than other religions (they did not ask about Sikhs which generally “rate” between Muslims and other religions). There may be a link between the categories “religious” and Muslims, given perceptions of more religious fundamentalism or conservatism.

Like all polling, one question leads to another …

U.S. investors begin to imagine a return to Iran – Washington Post

Not terribly surprising that US companies, like companies from other countries, are positioning themselves for a post-sanctions environment should the current nuclear talks lead to a deal:

“There will be phenomenal opportunities for American investors. I would definitely consider investing in Iran, and I think that’s the universal answer,” said Dick Simon, chief executive of RSI, a Boston-based real estate development and investment management company, who helped organize a recent trip to Iran composed of mostly U.S. entrepreneurs, as well as several who were Canadian or British.

In the absence of diplomatic relations, such contact can serve to de-escalate tensions between the two governments — which analysts say is a strategic goal for the administrations of President Obama and Rouhani — as negotiations over Iran’s controversial nuclear program are ongoing.“

An increasing number of Americans, both inside and outside government, understand the value of whetting the appetite of business people in Iran,” said Reza Marashi, research director at the National Iranian American Council NIAC.

According to Marashi, NIAC has been inundated this year by calls from Americans who want to travel to Iran. The organization, which favors greater contact between Americans and Iranians, is one of the few non-governmental entities in regular communication with officials in both governments.

As to Canada, still stuck in its standard “huff and puff” rhetoric, with no sign of change (see my earlier piece in the GlobeIf Iran opens for business, Canada will need a new approach – and fast).

U.S. investors begin to imagine a return to Iran – The Washington Post.

Australia: Multiculturalism faces uncertain future in more polarised nation

Results of a survey for Australia’s Special Broadcasting Service (somewhat equivalent to OMNI) by Andrew Jakubowicz, and some of the divisions within Australian society:

A more “traditionalist” group perhaps as high as 47% wants conservative certainties, rejecting or fearing social change. A large middle group around a third of Australians is “open-minded” about the future, but highly protective of its own lifestyles and interests. Only a “cosmopolitan” minority one in five is drawn towards new opportunities while welcoming an evolving and changing world.

Evidence from the Census for the past two decades reveals some basic information. Australians are ageing; we are more culturally diverse; we live in smaller family units or alone; we are less religious; and we consume more stuff per head.

The divisions between us – the shape of the society we desire and the threats we fear – are deepening. The focus is on apprehension about, as against desire for, diversity and innovation. The multicultural future that all expect to increase lies at the heart of these tensions.

Multiculturalism faces uncertain future in our more polarised nation.

Alexander blasts critics of immigration bill as C-24 goes to second reading

On the eve of Second Reading of C-24 Citizenship Act revisions, a broadside by Minister Alexander against the critics of the Bill.

Not quite in the Pierre Polievre school of how to promote your Bill, but quite remarkable given Alexander’s previous career as a diplomat where language was more nuanced, to say the least (see Konrad Yakabuski’s earlier profile Chris Alexander balances his portfolio and power).

Always unfortunate when a Minister feels more comfortable attacking those opposed to legislation as hypocrites, rather than arguing the merits of the Bill.

But the opposition also has some responsibility. While active in Committee, there is by no means the same focussed attention on C-24 as there was for Bill C-23 (elections), C-13 (cyberbullying and surveillance) and the ongoing Temporary Foreign Workers controversy. Opposition parties also make choices on how hard to push issues on both policy and political grounds. Their calculation appears to favour more pro-forma opposition, albeit based upon legitimate concerns over some aspects of the Bill, rather than a more high profile effort. Unless I have missed it, have not heard either opposition leader say much on C-24:

Immigration Minister Chris Alexander is accusing the opposition of “folly and hypocrisy” as the government prepares to shepherd its controversial citizenship bill over its next legislative hurdle.

“Both the Liberals and the NDP remain offside with Canadians who recognize the immense value of Canadian citizenship and the importance of protecting its integrity,” Alexander said in a statement.

“It is shameful that activist immigration lawyers, who never miss an opportunity to criticize our governments citizenship and immigration reforms, are attempting to drum up business by promoting the interests of convicted terrorists and serious criminals over the safety and security of Canadians.”

As to the “drumming up business” line, all of those supporting or opposing the Bill do so from their perspective, values and interests. This does not necessarily diminish the value of their comments, for or against.

And while some elements of C-24 may “reduce the business” for immigration and refugee lawyers (i.e., revocation for fraud at Ministerial discretion, rather than the courts), other may “drum up business”  (i.e., revocation for terror and treason). Somewhat ironic to say the least.

Last night’s somewhat perfunctory Parliamentary debate at Second Reading allows C-24 to proceed to a vote today.

We will see how the next stages proceed and whether the Government will consider any changes to the Bill (some C-24 supporters recommended some process changes). In any case, the Bill will make it through by the summer recess.

Alexander blasts critics of immigration bill as C-24 goes to second reading.

Bias-Free Hiring: Interview questions not to ask

An interesting but somewhat frustrating checklist of what to ask and what not to ask in interviewing candidates, as bias-free as possible. All too familiar to those of us in government, where the guidelines below are followed religiously and yet are deeply unsatisfying given the over-scripting that occurs. Sometimes it works out fine, sometimes less so:

  • Use the job description to identify the essential skills and abilities needed for the job. Determine which of these skills and abilities are best assessed through a written or practical test, through an interview, and from reference checks. From there, interview questions should be developed and clearly linked to the skills and abilities needed to do the job.
  • Develop the responses which you will look for in the candidates’ responses.
  • Attach a score to each question.
  • Use an interview panel when interviewing. Require each interviewer to write down each candidates’ responses to each question.
  • Ask each candidate the same questions.
  • After each interview, have the interview panel discuss the candidate’s responses and come to an agreed score for each question.

Bias-Free Hiring: Interview questions not to ask.