Case of Mohamed Fahmy shows failing of new citizenship rules | Macklin and Waldman

More from Macklin and Waldman on C-24 Citizenship Act revocation provisions and the possible implications for cases like Mohammed Fahmy’s, and the discretion it gives the Minister (Government has indicated they will not revoke Fahmy’s citizenship):

These cases are simply three examples that show why the new citizenship law has been condemned as fundamentally flawed and why several organizations have indicated they will challenge it under the Charter. The law will create two classes of citizens: dual citizens who are vulnerable to revocation and those who are not. But the bill is also problematic in other ways. Naturalized citizens unlike citizens by birth will not be able travel and live abroad for extended periods without fear of jeopardizing their citizenship. Other provisions will make citizenship more inaccessible to those who need it most — refugees.

Instead of listening to the legitimate concerns of those who criticized the legislation, the government attacked the messengers and impugned their motives. Undoubtedly the government thinks that this new law will be well received by its conservative base. We think that when most Canadians come to realize the implications of this new legislation they will reject it. Canada is a big country, but there is no room for second-class citizenship.

Case of Mohamed Fahmy shows failing of new citizenship rules | Toronto Star.

Have Canada’s changing demographics made it time to retire the concept of ‘visible minority’?

This issue comes up periodically. However, it would require legislative changes to the Employment Equity Act, among others, and thus would be controversial.

More substantively, the advocates are correct in noting that lumping all communities together under visible minorities does not account for the differences in outcomes of groups and that relations between different groups are as important to integration as the old mainstream/visible minority dichotomy presented.

One of Kenney’s most substantial changes to multiculturalism was to recognize this and ensure that integration meant between all communities.

Some of the traditional equity challenges remain, but given the difference in communities, more targeted initiatives are part of the mix.

See the 2011 comparative analysis by CIC: Table 5: Ethnic Community Specific Challenges.

In 2011, the percentage of visible minorities was 19.1%, according to Statistics Canada. By 2031, that number is expected to grow to 30.6%, with South Asian and Chinese immigrants driving much that growth. Vancouver and Toronto are expected to become “majority-minority” cities with three out of five people — 60% — belonging to a visible minority group by then.

Compare that to 50 years ago, when the visible minority population was just 2%, and the majority of immigrants were from Europe.

“Personally, I have never liked the term ‘visible minority,’” says Frank Trovato, a sociology professor at the University of Alberta. “I doubt that most people belonging to these groups actually think of themselves as such. It may be that in the future Canadians will simply do away with this concept.”

The official use of the term can be traced back at least as far as the 1980s when federal lawmakers established the Employment Equity Act, which set out to remove barriers in the labour market for four “disadvantaged” groups: women, aboriginals, people with disabilities and visible minorities.

The act was a response to the recommendations of the 1984 Royal Commission on Equality in Employment, led by Justice Rosalie Abella, who wrote, “Ignoring differences and refusing to accommodate them is a denial of equal access and opportunity. It is discrimination. To reduce discrimination, we must create and maintain barrier-free environments so that individuals can have genuine access free from arbitrary obstructions to demonstrate and exercise fully their potential.”

On visible minorities, Judge Abella wrote of the need to attack racism, which she described as “pervasive,” to provide language training for immigrants, to accommodate religious and cultural differences, and to find a better way to assess qualifications of those who did not attend school in Canada or who have no work experience in Canada.

Three decades later, many of the gaps in workforce representation have narrowed and there are some visible minority groups that are doing just as well as their white counterparts, says Frances Woolley, an economics professor at Carleton University, who favours retiring the term “visible minority.”

“[The Act] was written for another time … when the workforce was majority male, when the population was overwhelmingly white,” Ms. Woolley said.

There are still some groups that are disadvantaged — such as African-Canadian men — but the legislation “lumps everybody together in this visible minority category when some people are doing just fine and other people aren’t,” she said.

Have Canada’s changing demographics made it time to retire the concept of ‘visible minority’?

UK: British Muslims right to fight in Syria backed by ex-adviser on radicalisation

A very different view from a former regional manager of the Prevent strategy (former anti-radicalization and extremism strategy):

A former senior government adviser on tackling radicalisation and extremism has defended the right of British Muslims to travel to Syria and fight.

Farooq Siddiqui, a former regional manager for the governments controversial Prevent strategy, said it was acceptable for Britons to “walk the walk” and travel to Syria to fight the forces of President Bashar al-Assad.

As part of a Facebook conversation Siddiqui, 45, defended the right of an individual to be called a martyr if he took up arms against Assad, and questioned whether those who fought against the Syrian president should face arrest upon return to the UK.

Former senior intelligence officials consider jihadists battling Assads government forces in Syria to be a potential threat. They estimate that up to 300 fighters have already returned to the UK from Syria. Scotland Yard has warned that Britain will live with the terror legacy of the Syrian conflict for years to come.

The foreign secretary, William Hague, believes as many as 400 British citizens may be fighting in Syria, recently confirming that security measures are in place such as the option of withdrawing leave to remain, cancelling passports and arresting UK jihadists who have been fighting in Syria or for terrorist group Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis), which has seized control of swaths of northern Iraq.

Siddiqui, who ran Prevent in the south-west until 2012, pointed out that Britons were free to join the Israeli Defence Force and return to the UK without censure, while those taking up arms against what they viewed as a tyrannical dictator, Assad, faced arrest. He says he knew “nothing about” Isis at the time of the online conversation in February. He does not support the group.

“One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter’ as the cliché goes, but one has to look at the nature, activities and goals of the organization and affiliation, not to mention potential longer-term implications (e.g., supporting the Mujahideen in Afghanistan which led to Taliban control and a base for Bin Laden).

But the worries regarding returning jihadists are legitimate. Their extreme views are incompatible with living in a diverse, open and democratic society.

British Muslims right to fight in Syria backed by ex-adviser on radicalisation | UK news | The Observer.

Shadeism: Filmmaker looks at discrimination among people of colour

Another term I had not heard of. Nayani Thiyagarajah’s personal experience and broader perspective in her documentary, Shadism:

“To this day, my family still reminisces about how light I was. But growing up, as I grew darker, I began questioning the notion of light skin being better. What did my family’s constant commentary on my skin colour really mean? I began to wonder. If I wasnt light anymore, did that mean I was no longer beautiful?”

This is an issue of beauty, of old ideas that determine what is still beautiful. Of how the colour of our skin has and continues to affect how we view ourselves. This is shadeism.”

Her documentary touches on the multi-billion dollar industry that’s cropped up around skin-lightening cosmetics, fuelled in part by recent revelations the Cameroon pop singer Dencia is an enthusiastic client of one marketed as “Whitenicious.”

Shadeism: Filmmaker looks at discrimination among people of colour – CBC News – Latest Canada, World, Entertainment and Business News.

Better data alone won’t fix Canada’s economy – The Globe and Mail

Good piece on the need for a broader and more thoughtful approach to the use of data in a “big data” environment:

The bottom line is that being data-dependent doesn’t mean responding to every wiggle in data. Nor does it mean basing our decisions solely on data or models and nothing else.Yes, we need better data.

But that’s only a start. We also need to ask precise and well-posed questions – of ourselves in our analysis and of our policy makers in their choices – particularly as “big data” increases the availability of non-conventional data sources. In addition, we need to bring new approaches to bare on data, and clearly explain the results to non-specialists.

After concerns about jobs estimates during the Ontario election, let’s hope that the lesson learned by our politicians is not to withhold economic analysis in future campaigns. Instead, let’s hope it causes them to raise their game by presenting more credible analyses.

At the same time, let’s be realistic about what better data can accomplish. This means acknowledging that data give us imprecise measurements of reality, but when used responsibly and creatively, they help us make better choices and hold governments to account for their policy decisions.

Better data alone won’t fix Canada’s economy – The Globe and Mail.

Contrasting Party Statements on Multiculturalism Day

Worth reading all three messages as they all have a different take. Conservative stress common values and standing on guard, NDP focus on tolerance, compassion and equality, Liberal emphasis on equality and inclusion:

Ministers Jason Kenney, Chris Alexander and Tim Uppal issued the following statement on Canadian Multiculturalism Day:

“Canadian Multiculturalism Day is an opportunity to appreciate our country’s longstanding tradition of peaceful pluralism, and the constitutional protection of our liberties.

“Since before Confederation, immigration has helped shape our country into one of the most culturally diverse in the world, and Canada continues to have the highest per-capita level of immigration among developed countries.

“Canada’s approach to multiculturalism encourages all Canadians to celebrate their cultural heritage, while actively integrating into Canadian society and committing to our common values of freedom, democracy and the rule of law.

“Let us continue to celebrate our unity in diversity, while standing on guard for the freedoms so many have fought to protect, both at home and abroad.”

Ministers Jason Kenney, Chris Alexander and Tim Uppal issue statement to celebrate Canadian Multiculturalism Day – Canada News Centre.

The Official Opposition:

“Multiculturalism is a fundamental Canadian value and on this Canadian Multiculturalism Day, the New Democratic Party is proud to celebrate our nation’s rich diversity.

“The values of tolerance, compassion and commitment to equality are shared by all Canadians and allow everyone to realize their full potential. The NDP has always been a staunch supporter of these values.

“We are proud to acknowledge the important contributions of our society’s many groups and multicultural communities, and the NDP will continue its efforts to promote our multicultural heritage, so that Canada may remain a land of possibility for all those who call it home.”

Statement by the Official Opposition on Canadian Multiculturalism Day

And from the Leader of the Liberal Party:

“Today we celebrate the ethnic, religious, and cultural diversity that has come to define Canada’s national fabric.

“Canadians can be proud of the progress we have made in promoting inclusion and equality in this country – from adopting an official policy of multiculturalism in 1971, to including it as a fundamental principle in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“Canadian multiculturalism embodies the freedom and democracy upon which our country was built. Today, the success of our diverse communities in fostering innovation and prosperity has proven that we are made strong not in spite of our differences, but because of them. We are reminded to neither take our diversity for granted nor become complacent. We must continue on a path where every citizen feels equal and embody a nation of citizens who respect one another.

“On behalf of the Liberal Party of Canada and our Parliamentary Caucus, I join with all Canadians in celebrating Multiculturalism Day.”

Statement by Liberal Party of Canada Leader Justin Trudeau on Multiculturalism Day

Five bills likely to stoke Harper’s conflict with Supreme Court

On the list:

C-24, the “Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act,” received royal assent and became law June 19.

The government billed C-24 as a once-in-a-generation overhaul of citizenship law, but some of its provisions proved deeply divisive. Foremost among those is a clause that allows the government to strip citizenship from Canadian-born citizens if they’ve been convicted of treason, espionage or terrorism and have citizenship in another country.

Toronto lawyer Rocco Galati launched a legal challenge against the provision on June 25, saying the government doesn’t have the constitutional authority to make the change. That was after several earlier warnings during committee consideration of the bill.

“It appears to be against the Charter, and I expect there will be significant litigation,” Barbara Jackman, a member of the Canadian Bar Association’s National Immigration Law Section, told a Senate committee considering the bill.

The CBA also took issue with a change in the bill that asks applicants to declare an intent to reside in Canada. Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander has brushed aside concerns, saying Canadians aren’t required to stay in the country, but critics have pointed to provisions in the bill that allow citizenship-stripping in cases of fraud, and asked whether the “intent” clause could be considered in a fraud case. The CBA said the provision is “likely unconstitutional.

”Mr. Alexander assured a committee studying the bill that it was constitutional, a point put to Ms. Jackman by the committee.“I would remind the committee that [government has] passed other legislation that, again and again, the Supreme Court of Canada has struck down just recently. So the fact that the Department of Justice and the minister say it is constitutional doesn’t mean it is,” she replied.

Audrey Macklin, a professor and Chair in Human Rights Law at the University of Toronto, echoed many of the warnings on Charter compliance but also said that under C-24, those about to be stripped of citizenship are given the onus to prove they do not hold citizenship elsewhere – which would stop the process, as Canada won’t leave someone stateless – rather than making the government prove that person does hold citizenship elsewhere. Prof. Macklin warned that such a “reverse-onus provision” also violates the Charter.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association also has raised warnings about the constitutionality of C-24.

“CCLA is seriously concerned that Bill C-24 has created a second tier of citizenship that is incompatible with equality principles,” General Counsel and Executive Director Sukanya Pillay said in an e-mail. “…We must remember that citizenship includes rights, and to strip individuals of citizenship is to re-introduce archaic punishments such as exile and banishment – the possibility of statelessness is also a serious concern. Any arbitrary loss of citizenship is incompatible with democratic values and fundamental rights.”

Five bills likely to stoke Harper’s conflict with Supreme Court – The Globe and Mail.

Commentary on Temporary Foreign Workers

A range of commentary on Temporary Foreign Workers, starting with Mathew Mendelsohn and Ratna Omidvar four recommendations:

Before a temporary foreign worker can be brought to Canada, make it a requirement for the federal government to consult with provincial employment agencies like Employment Ontario or WorkBC as part of the federally mandated Labour Market Opinions that must be conducted to ensure that there are no Canadians who can fill the job. Employers may be able to find the workers they need right here in Canada….

Second, provincial employment agencies could think of themselves more explicitly as fulfilling an HR function for small and medium-sized enterprises. These agencies often know exactly who is looking for work in their communities and which skills they possess, while many SMEs have no expertise or department to help them hire strategically….

Third, employers, governments, and agencies should work together to develop locally based labour market information. Many groups, like the Toronto Financial Services Alliance, already do so for their own sector. If these existing efforts are combined, the quality of information could be improved. Such local efforts should not replace the need for the federal government to improve its national data collection and dissemination efforts.

Fourth, the way we describe the skills needed for particular positions should become simpler and more easily understood. We desperately need common language that employers, governments and agencies agree on to describe the skills required for particular jobs.

Four changes to the TFW program that would help Canadian businesses

Leslie Seidle’s reminder of the provincial role in reducing abuse:

To improve the situation of temporary foreign workers during their term of employment in Canada, provincial governments need to bolster the federal overhaul by more proactively enforcing health and labour standards. They have primary responsibility in these domains, not the federal government. Here the record is uneven, as demonstrated by a recent “report card” exercise carried out by the Canadian Council for Refugees CCR.

Provinces also need to combat foreign worker abuses.

And lastly, a left-wing perspective from David Macdonald of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives:

So as a progressive, what’s to be done? Cancel the program and deport every single temporary foreign worker?

I believe there is a middle ground. Let’s cancel the TFW program, but before we do that, let’s offer all temporary foreign workers an expedited process towards permanent residency, if they want it. In the meantime, TFWs should be given a choice to stay at their present employer or find a new one if they wish.

(Live-in caregivers, one of the TFW categories, already have the right to apply for permanent residency. Although, there is discussion that this right should be removed as it might back up the immigration system).

Interestingly, it is a union that spearheaded this approach on a small-scale. The Canadian government should expand it on a large-scale. If you were an employer who treated their foreign workers fairly, then good for you as those folks will likely stick with you.

However, if you’re an employer who used the threat of deportation to deny foreign workers basic rights and fair pay, then welcome to the Canadian labour market where if you treat people badly … they quit because they can…without deportation.

Temporary Foreign workers: a progressive solution


Canadian imam group warns Muslim youths that ‘no one should get involved in international wars’

Good strong statement from the Canadian Council of Imams:

Imam Nadvi said those drawn to extremist groups tended to be saddened by injustices in the Muslim world and angry at what they perceive as the lack of response by the West. But when they fight in other countries, they disregard the fact that they are not their conflicts and their involvement only makes life worse for most Muslims.

“Any Canadian individuals taking up arms and fighting foreign governments are actually breaking the laws of their own country,” the imams’ statement says. “We believe that any Canadian citizen who takes up arms should do so only in the legal context of the Canadian law and government.”

While Syrians have “resorted to self-defence” against the forces of President Bashar Al-Assad, the imams said those living outside the country could not claim the same justification according to Islamic “laws and principles.”

Denouncing the “narrow, bigoted, dogmatic distortions of the purveyors of violence and terror,” the statement also said imams were prepared to take part in “meaningful discussions, to engage in preventative strategies and to find meaningful solutions to this growing threat in our country.”

Canadian imam group warns Muslim youths that ‘no one should get involved in international wars’

Most modern Catholics reject church teachings on marriage, sex and contraception, Vatican admits

Not surprising but still interesting:

The Vatican conceded Thursday most Roman Catholics reject its teachings on sex and contraception as intrusive and irrelevant, and officials pledged not to “close our eyes to anything” when it opens a two-year debate in October on some of the thorniest issues.

Core church doctrine on the nature of marriage, sexuality, abortion and divorce is not expected to change. But Pope Francis is well aware the church has lost much of its relevance and credibility in today’s secular world and is seeking to redirect priests to offer families, and even gays in civil unions, a “new language” that is welcoming and responsive to their needs.

Already, the working document for the synod discussions marks a sharp change from past practice. It is the result of a 39-point questionnaire that asked Catholics around the world about their understanding of, and adherence to, the church’s teaching on sexuality, homosexuality, contraception, marriage and divorce.

Thousands of ordinary people, clergy and academics responded. Usually, such working papers are compiled by bishops alone.

The responses were brutally honest.

The moral evaluation of the different methods of birth control is commonly perceived today as an intrusion in the intimate life of the couple

“A vast majority [stressed] the moral evaluation of the different methods of birth control is commonly perceived today as an intrusion in the intimate life of the couple and an encroachment on the autonomy of conscience,” the document said.

“Many responses recommend that for many Catholics the concept of ‘responsible parenthood’ encompasses the shared responsibility in conscience to choose the most appropriate method of birth control.”

Asked if the church might change its position to align itself with the practice of most of its faithful, Monsignor Bruno Forte, a meeting organizer, said, “We will not close our eyes to anything. These problems will be considered.”

Most modern Catholics reject church teachings on marriage, sex and contraception, Vatican admits