What a Muslim American Learned from Zionists

An interesting and challenging initiative by the Shalom Hartman Institute that brought American Muslim thought leader to a year-long fellowship in Jerusalem that helped both sides understand each other’s narrative:

Despite living on the front lives of this conflict, many Jewish friends at Hartman said it took the relationships built through the program for our Jewish friends to fully absorb the Palestinian narrative.

After a year we built the trust necessary for a needed exchange of admissions. The Muslim fellows understood Jewish fear and the Jews’ deep desire for a homeland after thousands of years of being a mistrusted minority. And Israeli Jews affirmed to us the daily devastation of the occupation and the shattering of Palestinians through which Israel was born. These exchanges between Zionists and pro-Palestinians were monumental.

They are also an affirmation that there is still hope for dialogue and relationships that can actually make a difference. Until now, both parties have been speaking inside their own bubbles, safe in dialogue with people that agree with them. The walls have been built so high that breaching them to reach out to the other side is tantamount to treason. Hartman and the participants both took huge risks in being part of this program with hopes to forge a new way forward. This fellowship proves that building relationships between people who fundamentally disagree can uncover empathy and mutual recognition that despite differences, everyone deserves dignity, security, prosperity and self-determination.

What a Muslim American Learned from Zionists | TIME.

Happy Multiculturalism Day!

A few charts summarizing Canadian diversity, along with provincial and municipal comparisons (ICYMI, my take on multiculturalism Canada Today: Less Hotel, More Live-in Condo):

National Visible Minority and Religious Diversity

National Visible Minority and Religious Diversity

Diversity by Province

Diversity by Province


Diversity by City

Diversity by City

Denying dual citizenship is a double-edged sword | The Australian

The Australian debate on citizenship revocation. Similar to that on C-24 revocation provisions. Commentary by Ben Saul, an international law professor at University of Sydney:

Finally, stripping citizenship is unnecessary because Australia has enough laws to deal with the threats. Since 9/11, the Australian parliament has been among the most hyperactive counter-terrorism lawmakers on the planet.

Australians who fight overseas can be prosecuted for innumerable offences, including terrorism, war crimes, crimes against hum­anity and foreign incursion. Prosecution takes terrorists off the streets altogether, and does not ­irresponsibly shunt them on to other countries. It also ensures ­decisions are made based on evidence with judicial safeguards. Stripping citizenship based on untested intelligence about what a person is doing overseas risks miscarriages of justice.

Instead of prosecution, federal police can apply for control orders to prevent terrorism by restricting a person’s freedoms. In emergencies, preventive police detention is available, and ASIO has questioning and detention powers. Other powers range from surveillance to passport cancellation.

Governments are often tempted to reach for new laws when ­security is threatened. Intelligence agencies never say they have enough power or stop asking for more. Giving more power to the government, and making citizenship more provisional, is not the answer.

The answer lies in ­better intelligence and action to prevent people leaving, and in bringing them home to prosecute them.

Denying dual citizenship is a double-edged sword | The Australian.

Christie Blatchford: What if Toronto man’s not a terrorist, but the middle-of-the-road Muslim his family says he is?

More quotes from the wiretaps of Mohammed Hersi and Blatchford insinuating that these are normal part of Muslim Canadian discourse:

But in the excerpts of wiretap recordings that were played for the jurors, though the focus was on Hersi’s interest in Al-Shabab, he also talked at length about his unhappiness with Canada and his longing to live as a real Muslim.

“But you know I … long term I wanna live in the Muslim land and never come back, right?” he told the UC once. “I wanna live in a Muslim country where I can be … practise my religion and be a good person right?”

His scorn for non-Muslims was evident.

“But talking to a non-Muslim about morality and shit, they don’t even know what morality is, Christians. You know what I mean?,” he said. “Talk to a Christian about morality and they believe Jesus died for all their sins, oh man. That’s [lunacy] right there,” he said.

In that same conversation, he said flatly, “I realize this country has no future for me in it.” In another, he recalled warmly the month he spent in Saudi Arabia, and how, “the life is very peaceful, I felt very at home my heart was content, you know?”

On one occasion, he told the agent, “Living in Somalia today is much better than living in Toronto ‘cause when you live in a place where there’s Islamic law, there’s harmony, there’s no more raping or murder.

“In Toronto, there is rape and murder happening right now every day every minute…”

She lost her religion altogether, right. Very tyrannical

Once, he talked to the agent about a Tunisian girl he’d read about online who was critical of the hijab.

“See how secular her mind is,” he said. “She’s against the hijab, this is something that’s from Islam, right?

“She’s against it, you know. Allah tells the believing woman to cover up, right? And she’s against it ‘cause she does … she lost her religion altogether, right. Very tyrannical.”

In other excerpts, Hersi talked admiringly about some of the sermons he’d heard at his mosque and how the imam there liked to slip in things he believed might pique the attention of the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service.

As he put it once, though Canadians want mosques to talk faith and faith only, “politics is a part of Islam, right?”

Hersi came to Canada as a refugee when his mother fled the civil war there. Though raised in public housing, he managed to get a degree from the University of Toronto.

As prosecutor Jim Clark said, arguing that Hersi should receive the maximum five-year sentence for both offences for a total of 10 years, and that he should serve half before being eligible for parole, “What we have in Mr. Hersi is a smart, educated guy who knew full well what Al-Shabab was all about…”

Even if Mohamed Hersi is that rarest of birds, the man who really did want to join a bowling league precisely so he could not bowl, it’s a shattering prospect that he might also be what those who love him claim — a typical, middle-of-the-road Muslim.

Christie Blatchford: What if Toronto man’s not a terrorist, but the middle-of-the-road Muslim his family says he is?

CBC story on prosecution asking for maximum penalty of 10 years:

Federal prosecutor James Clark urged an Ontario Superior Court judge to condemn Hersi to 10 years in prison to set an example.

“Canada has an international obligation to prevent the exportation of terror,” Clark said in court in Brampton, Ont.

Hersi’s defence counsel Paul Slansky, who has already pledged to appeal, said his client should get three to four years, calling him “youthful and immature.”

Throw book at Ontario terrorism convict, Crown urges

Hersi is a likely candidate for revocation under the new Citizenship Act, given that he was convicted in a Canadian Court. But of course, his radicalization occurred in Canada (he came as a child) and he would be treated differently than a Canadian without dual nationality (or the right to same), raising Charter and related issues.

Of course, if the Government decides to revoke his citizenship, it would essentially be enabling the “exportation of terror.”

Racial Diversity Gap in the Courtroom

Judicial DiversityFurther to recent news articles on the lack of diversity among federal judicial appointments, largely focused on Minister MacKay’s comments regarding women, good commentary by Tana Turner:

Without the data on how racial minorities and women fare in the hiring process, the argument often is that there is no evidence that there is a problem. Some also argue that low representation reflects the lack of qualified people or the lack of interest in the position.  Without an examination of the diversity gap, it is easy to hide behind the argument that “the problem is them, not us.”

When we look at the data we do have, as reported in the Toronto Star, the analysis does show that there is a racial diversity gap when we compare the representation of racial minorities among judges to their representation among lawyers, at least in Ontario.

Using the federal governments own method for analyzing whether this is an equity-related problem, this gives us a Racial Diversity Gap or severity ratio of .15 for federally appointed judges and .73 for provincially appointed judges. The governments own documents suggest that anything less than .80 is significant and requires that further analysis be conducted to investigate where the problem exists and goals be established to address the underlying issues and close the gap in representation.

Sometimes this investigation does find that applications from certain groups of people are low. But the Canadian Human Rights Commission says that this doesn’t let the employer off the hook. The perception that the workplace is hostile or unwelcoming, or that the process is unfair, are issues that the employer needs to address.

But to get to the point of collecting and analyzing diversity data among federally appointed judges, the Government of Canada, specifically the Minister of Justice, Peter McKay – needs to answer one fundamental question: does diversity among the country’s judiciary matter?

If Peter MacKay doesn’t think that having the best and brightest judges or having a judiciary that reflects and understands the diversity of the Canadian population are important, he should say so. If he thinks either of these are important, he should collect and release the data.

Racial Diversity Gap in the Courtroom – TURNER CONSULTING GROUP INC..

Anti-Semitism in Britain: My swastika | The Economist

On antisemitism in London:

Within Britain, the data on anti-Semitic attacks also turn out to be quietly encouraging, albeit with the proviso that much hate crime goes unreported. The Community Security Trust CST, which monitors anti-Semitic incidents in Britain, counted fewer of them in 2013 than in any year since 2005. The CST notes that spikes in aggressive anti-Semitism here tend to be triggered by external events such as war in the Middle East. Compared with the Jews of France and Belgium, who have suffered fatal shootings in the recent past—and compared with other minorities in Britain itself—British Jews seem to have little reason to fear.

So the evidence suggests that modern Britain is indeed an almost uniquely benign place for Jews lapsed or otherwise to live. My swastika was upsetting, but it was also unusual. All the same, there is something residually demoralising about it, and in these relative judgments. They imply that some degree of anti-Semitism is inevitable—as, apparently, it is. Even in this enlightened age, and the most cosmopolitan city in the world, this primitive, irrational, amazingly tenacious prejudice is still with us, written into our culture and occasionally on our walls.

Anti-Semitism in Britain: My swastika | The Economist.

Rocco Galati launches lawsuit over Citizenship Act changes

No surprise:

Toronto lawyer Rocco Galati is suing Gov. Gen. David Johnston, Immigration Minister Chris Alexander and Justice Minister Peter MacKay over changes to Canada’s Citizenship Act.

In documents filed Wednesday morning in Federal Court, Galati asks the court to invalidate key provisions included in a new law that gives the government the power to revoke the citizenship of Canadian-born citizens convicted of “terrorism, high treason, or spying offences” if they hold dual citizenship.

Rocco Galati launches lawsuit over Citizenship Act changes – Politics – CBC News.

Should non-resident Canadians get the vote? – Globe Editorial

Globe has it basically right:

In a procedural decision in this case this week, Justice Robert Sharpe of the Ontario Court of Appeal, put the issue clearly: Is the five-year limit “necessary to sustain our geographically determined, constituency-based system of representation?” The highest court will eventually have to answer that question. We think it can reasonably answer “yes.”

Parliament, especially the Commons, since its beginnings in medieval England, has been a body that consents to – or rejects – taxes. But Canadian expatriates pay their taxes in the country where they live, and receive the benefits of government there, too. They do not pay taxes here, or receive most public services. It is reasonable for the law to say that, if you live outside Canada for a sufficiently long time, after some number of years you can no longer exercise the right to vote for members of the House of Commons. You do not lose Canadian citizenship – that can never be taken away. And no matter how long someone lives abroad, they have the absolute right to return to Canada whenever they wish.

The five-year limit is not strictly necessary. But there’s a compelling logic to placing some limit on how long one can live abroad and still vote in Canada. It makes it more likely that Canadian voters will have a strong, living connection to Canada.

Should non-resident Canadians get the vote? – The Globe and Mail.

Tim Harper in the Star takes the contrary view:

The numbers may not be huge, but the symbolism from this government is massive.

The Canadian diaspora numbers about 2.8 million and has been called the “missing province.”

About a million of them have been out of the country for more than five years; most of them live in the U.S.

About seven in 10 expats, according to a 2009 study by the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, said they intended to return home. Two out of three left the country for work reasons and one in three worked for a Canadian company, the government or a Canadian non-governmental agency.

Non-resident Canadians paid about $6 billion in taxes to the Canadian treasury in 2008-09, according to the APF study.

The five-year cutoff is a product of the 1993 Progressive Conservative majority government which for the first time provided a mechanism for Canadians living outside the country to vote.

In 2005, following a recommendation by then-Elections Canada chief John-Pierre Kingsley, a parliamentary committee recommended the five-year limit be removed. All four party leaders endorsed the committee decision. Nothing ever happened….

Suppressing vote of expats latest Conservative court battle: Tim Harper

In Justin Trudeau’s world, Christians need not apply

An odd post by Rex Murphy on religion and politics, prompted by Justin Trudeau’s decision that Liberal party candidates and MPs must toe the party line on abortion:

What kind of politics are they which require an MP to renounce his deepest moral commitments; indeed, to go beyond renunciation and declare himself positively in favour of ideas and actions that his faith condemns, his Church forbids, and his conscience cannot abide?

Religion, under these conditions, cannot survive political engagement. An understanding of politics based on an exclusion of thoughtful and engaged religious people — on the rejection of ideas and understandings offered by the great religious teachers and the massive legacy of thought our churches have to offer — is radically incomplete.

As things now are, a truly religious person must actually stay out of politics — must forgo an active role in democratic government — because in our brazen and new age, he or she will be faced with irreconcilable moral choices. If elected, he or she will be required to betray their faith and themselves, and on those very issues that matter most: issues of life, family, autonomy and the dignity of persons.

Whatever one’s views on abortion, the broader issue, as Rex points out, is the relationship between religion and politics. But his view breaks down when we look at other religions, where I suspect he would be less absolutist.

Would Rex support a party allowing an Islamist candidate opposed to equality for women? Advocating for sharia?

What about traditional Sikh or Jewish candidates who disagree with equality for LGBT persons?

What is different about Catholic orthodoxy compared to other orthodoxies that makes it more unchallengeable?

In the public arena, one has to temper one’s personal religious beliefs with the reality of living in a diverse, multicultural and pluralistic society. Most leaders get this and it is no accident that PM Harper has kept his social conservatives in line on abortion and other issues.

This is not to diminish the moral, ethical and faith dilemmas that abortion and other social issues pose for politicians, but it’s part of the “job description.” And there are plenty of ways to live your faith on a wide variety of other economic and social policy issues.

Rex Murphy: In Justin Trudeau’s world, Christians need not apply




Scrapping TFW program for low-wage jobs will be on the table in 2016, Kenney says – The Globe and Mail

More public comment and foreshadowing by Jason Kenney on the Temporary Foreign Workers program and live-in caregivers:

But in a meeting with The Globe and Mail’s editorial board Tuesday, Mr. Kenney insists the warnings from business leaders are exaggerated. He also indicated the government could soon go much further.

Through a phase-in of new caps on low-wage foreign workers and the launch of more detailed labour market surveys, Mr. Kenney indicated that the government will be in a position by 2016 to assess whether it should take the next step.

“At that point [in 2016], I think the government can do a reassessment and look at whether it would be desirable to go to zero right across the country,” Mr. Kenney said. “So I’m saying quite publicly that we’re leaving our options open. There will be great resistance to that.

”The overhaul of the program has been called an “appalling overreaction” by business groups and has the Conservatives suddenly playing defence in the Western stronghold of Alberta, where the changes are expected to hit hard….

As far back as 2009 when he was immigration minister, Mr. Kenney said he recalls meeting in Manila with 70 women who were on their way to Canada via the program and every single one of them planned to work for a relative.

“The biggest problem I see in it is that … to a great deal, it has mutated into an extended family reunification program, which was not its intent,” Mr. Kenney said Tuesday. “As best we can tell, a majority of the entrants in that program were actually coming to work for relatives – for family members.”

The fact that the caregiver program allows workers to apply for permanent residency for themselves and their family has “clogged” up the immigration system, said Mr. Kenney. The minister would not speculate on whether the government is considering the elimination of this benefit.

Scrapping TFW program for low-wage jobs will be on the table in 2016, Kenney says – The Globe and Mail.

Tom Walkom’s commentary in the Star aims at Temporary Foreign Workers covered under free trade agreements like NAFTA and CETA, forgetting to mention that these agreements also provide equivalent access to Canadian workers in the  US and other countries we have these agreements with:

But regardless of the judge’s ultimate decision, the B.C. case points to a fatal flaw in Kenney’s much-publicized get-tough policy:

In the end, he and the rest of Stephen Harper’s government aren’t serious about protecting Canadian jobs and wages.

As one government program designed to undercut domestic wages ratchets down, another is already gearing up.

True, Ottawa understands the politics around jobs. In response to a scandal last year in which the ICT program was used to outsource highly paid information technology jobs from Canada, the government tightened its definition of “specialized knowledge.”

Yet tellingly, this tighter definition doesn’t apply to workers from countries that have free trade agreements with Canada — such as the U.S. and Mexico.

The temporary foreign workers program may have been hobbled. But the war against good wages continues.

How Canada lets employers avoid temporary foreign worker reforms: Walkom

On the other side, Dan DeVoretz tries to defend the Temporary Foreign Workers Program for the food and hospitality industries:

How are economic benefits generated by the unnecessarily maligned hospitality and restaurant TFWs? These benefits arrive in two forms. First, the vast majority 70 per cent circa early 2014 of these TFWs reside in Alberta, where the restaurant and accommodation sector have the largest and fastest growing job vacancy rate of any industry in Canada. The province’s labour market is characterized by high wages and low unemployment. Unless unemployed workers migrated from the rest of Canada to work for minimum wage in Alberta’s hospitality and restaurant sector, many of Alberta’s existing hotels and restaurants would not be in business. Since low-priced restaurants provide a benefit to Albertans the loss of these restaurants would deprive Albertans of an important economic benefit.

Does not pass the common sense test unlike for agricultural workers. And, surprising for an economist, increasing supply by increasing wages (classic theory) ignored.

New foreign-worker rules a solution in search of a problem – The Globe and Mail.