Multiculturalism: Getting the Balance Right – Reflections for a new government

With a federal election upon us and the possible change of government, what are the multiculturalism policy changes an incoming government may wish to consider, and which policies may it wish to keep?

The Conservative Government under Minister Kenney refashioned multiculturalism through greater emphasis on integration than accommodation. In many ways, this was reverting to the original recommendations of the 1969 Report of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism that stressed integration over assimilation, while recognizing the need for individuals and groups to maintain their cultural identities within the overall Canadian legal and values framework.

But Kenney made a number of important shifts. He emphasized that multiculturalism involved relations between all groups of Canadians, not just ‘mainstream’/visible minority relations. Prejudice and discrimination were issues between different visible minority groups. Religious diversity became a more explicit part of multiculturalism. Emphasis shifted from equality and employment equity to ensuring government services were more attuned to serving an increasingly diverse population.

The government also delivered on a series of historical recognition activities for groups that had either been subject to wartime internment (i.e., Ukrainian and Italian Canadians) and immigration restrictions (i.e., Chinese, Indo, and Jewish Canadians). He revised the grants and contribution program to include both project funding and event funding (food and folklore), but with an explicit focus on bringing communities together. He broadened racism and discrimination programming to include specific forms but disappointingly only focused on antisemitism, largely abandoning broader messaging.

The citizenship program reinforced this integration messaging, as well as warnings against ‘barbaric cultural practices’ such as forced marriage and importing ‘homeland’ conflicts into Canada. The Government also used niqabs at citizenship ceremonies as a wedge issue.

Many of the above policy shifts were needed and reflect the ongoing evolution of Canadian diversity. However, in its focus on social cohesion the Government neglected social inclusion.

Early symbolic changes could include language changes. Fully accept that multiculturalism is the Canadian brand of diversity and stop trying to shift to pluralism (which is less integrative). Retain the emphasis on integration — across all communities — but with more acknowledgement of accommodation. Stop using the niqab as a wedge issue but reinforce that accommodation cuts both ways. Reduce the emphasis on the monarchy, both for Canadian identity reasons as well as the mixed history British colonialism has for many groups. Re-assert the equality aspects of multiculturalism along with employment equity.

Beyond language, what other policy and program changes should be considered?

The Annual Report on the Operation of the Canadian Multiculturalism Act needs to become a more informative, evidence-based report on the state of multiculturalism in Canada. Ideally, submissions made by individual departments extolling their progress would be complemented by more independent perspectives.

A new government will certainly wish to revisit the program’s objectives. While the core of first objective, “promote intercultural understanding … and equal opportunity … core democratic values” should remain, more inclusive language on accommodation should replace the emphasis “civic memory and pride.” The second objective — improving the responsiveness to an increasingly diverse population — needs to be broadened to (re)include employment equity within government institutions, given the poor record of some departments and agencies. No change is required to the third objective which essentially enables international activity.

A new government needs to ensure that specific anti-racism initiatives (i.e., antisemitism) are complemented by broader anti-discrimination messaging, along with other targeted initiatives as appropriate (e.g., anti-Muslim activity).

This needs to be linked to a review of the current governance arrangements for the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, established as part of redress for Japanese Canadian World War II internment. The Foundation, arms-length but with board members appointed by the Government, has arguably not lived up to expectations. Consultations and evaluation, jointly with the National Association of Japanese Canadians, are needed to ensure its continued relevance and effectiveness.

Moreover, responsibility for the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) needs to be brought back to the multiculturalism program rather than being housed in the Office of Religious Freedom as IHRA’s focus is broader than religion.

A new government should examine the balance between grant and contribution funding for immigrants (almost $600 million for settlement services and the like) and funding for longer-term integration issues under multiculturalism (less than $9 million). Shifting $10 million to multiculturalism projects — more than doubling the budget — would allow for more effective programming to address second-generation issues such as racism and discrimination, radicalization and extremism, and equity and inclusion, with little or no detectable impact on settlement services. A new government will also need to consider whether it wishes to retain ministerial sign-off on projects (for greater political direction) or have this delegated as it does for settlement programming to improve program timeliness and efficiency.

A review of the effectiveness of the Government’s $30 million contribution in 2006 to the Global Centre for Pluralism would allow those board members appointed by the Government to play a more effective role.

A new government will also need to address the dilution of multiculturalism resources and expertise within CIC. Resources have been cut and dispersed, and beyond the Annual Report, and the small grant and contribution, there is little sign that longer-term integration issues are being given the attention that they deserve. Part of this reflects the natural consequences of the functional rather than business line model, which invariably results in resources and management attention devolving to CIC’s ‘centre of gravity’ — immigration.

One of the clearest examples is the loss of research capacity and focus on multiculturalism and longer-term second-generation issues. Given the importance of these to the ongoing success of integration, this capacity needs to be strengthened. A more ambitious agenda would include resuscitating the Ethnic Diversity Survey (not to mention the Census!), last conducted in 2002, but strengthened to reflect religious as well as ethnic diversity.

This dilution has been further exacerbated by the complex web of Ministerial responsibilities between Minister Kenney, as the political minister responsible, Minister Alexander as the departmental minister, and junior Minister Uppal, having largely a ceremonial role. Absent any major machinery change — disruptive at the best of times — any new Prime Minister  should consider only having two ministers, one being the senior minister for CIC, the other being the junior minister, ideally responsible for both citizenship and multiculturalism, to provide somewhat of a counter-weight to the immigration centre of gravity.

While in an ideal world, the 1988 Canadian Multiculturalism Act should be reviewed and updated, the current Act provides sufficient flexibility for governments to interpret and implement policies and programs, as demonstrated under the Conservative government. However, should a new government wish to be more ambitious, any review of the Act should also consider whether a parliamentary Multiculturalism Commissioner would be appropriate to provide a stronger political focus.

While compared to some of the other immigration and citizenship-related issues facing a new government, multiculturalism will be a secondary priority. However, more inclusive language into any messaging can set the tone and signal changes in direction, with more substantive changes to follow as priorities allow.

— Multiculturalism: Getting the Balance Right

What Kevin Page gets wrong in his new book: Tapp

Stephen Tapp, a former senior economist at the PBO, on the weaknesses in Page’s book:

Regrettably, Page’s repeated demands for transparency merely become slogans. Critical questions go unaddressed about the fully transparent government he so desires, such as:

  • What are the pros—and cons—of an open approach to government in a time of ubiquitous social media, 24/7 news and political commentary, when information (and any misinformation and missteps) can quickly go viral?
  • Should the media have open access to public servants, and if so, how would the civil service convey the facts as well as the context of complex, competing factors that cabinet weighs in its decision-making?
  • Should senior civil servants speak out publicly when they disagree with the political choices of a democratically elected government—which is at odds with the Westminster system?
  • Which countries should Canada be following to improve our public service?

Likely – and hopefully – this will prompt a reply from Page and thus continue an important conversation.

Source: What Kevin Page gets wrong in his new book –

Banishment is a poor tool in fight against terrorism: Roach and Forcese

Apart from the principled concern regarding revocation (two classes of citizenship), Roach and Forcese outline practical concerns:

Given all this, how should we evaluate revocation as anti-terrorism? Cancelling the citizenship of convicted terrorists may be politically popular because it appeals to our fear and anger at terrorists. However, there are both principled and practical concerns about revocation as an anti-terror tool.

The principled issue can be summarized simply: Whether a government can take away citizenship (for something other than fraud in acquiring it) is a totally novel constitutional issue. The question has never arisen, because revocation of this sort has never existed since the Charter came into existence. But if Canadian courts follow the path of their U.S. counterparts, they will guard sternly against revocations.

Add to that the discriminatory nature of the citizenship-stripping law – confined to dual nationals – and the due process minimalism that afflicts the system and you have the makings for a serious constitutional dust-up.

But focus also on the practical issues. In the best-case scenario, the government actually banishes a truly dangerous individual, but only by displacing risk to a foreign country, even assuming that foreign state co-operates in their removal.

In the worst case, the government tries to remove the individual to the tender embraces of a torturing state. Under international law, no one can be removed to face torture and maltreatment. And whatever it might have said in earlier cases, the Supreme Court would have to ignore a lot of its recent Charter pronouncements to permit deportations to torture.

And so, since the men the government wishes to banish would be removed to countries with poor records on torture, we should expect citizenship revocation proceedings to spill over to endless disputes over deportation.

The last time we tried this – with “security certificates” – the government was budgeting more than $5-million a year, a person, by 2009 in its decade-long effort (so far 100-per-cent unsuccessful) to use a procedurally doubtful process to remove people to maltreatment.

To put that in context: The entire national annual budget for the RCMP’s much-delayed front-line “terrorism prevention program” has been $1.1-million (slated to rise to a very modest $3.1-million under the 2015 budget).

There is every reason to believe, therefore, that Canada is now repeating its prioritization of expensive, noisy, controversial, often-fruitless efforts to chase problems out of the country, rather than focus on fixing them before they become problems.

Moreover, despite intelligence warnings about prison radicalization, Canada has no developed policy countering prison radicalization.

Inattention to what experts call terrorist “disengagement” is a mistake. If the Islamic State’s call to violence resonates among the disaffected, there should be more prosecutions and convictions. Some convicts, such as the VIA train plotters, will be sentenced to life imprisonment, but others will not. They will eventually be released. It is in all our interests to attempt to rehabilitate them.

Citizenship-stripping of those terrorists who have dual nationality reduces pressure to take this matter seriously by fostering the illusion that we can simply prosecute and deport our way out of the problem of IS-inspired terrorism.

Source: Banishment is a poor tool in fight against terrorism – The Globe and Mail

Temporary foreign workers get first dibs under express entry

More teething pains or more substantive problems? Early results or signalling a trend?

Jason Kenney, who was responsible for the Harper government’s transformation of Canada’s immigration system during his time as immigration minister, on Friday touted express entry as “a system that’s fast, that connects people to the labour market so they can realize their dreams and fulfil their potential upon arrival in Canada.”

“New economic immigrants are arriving in Canada in months rather than years,” Kenney said during a news conference in Vancouver.

“A growing percentage have jobs lined up before they get to Canada rather than being stuck in survival jobs for years following their arrival.”

While that may be the goal, express entry has opened the door to very few new economic immigrants. To date, it has favoured a large number of temporary foreign workers and other foreign nationals already in the country.

Over 85 per cent of the foreign nationals who were selected for admission under express entry in the first six months of the year — 11,047 out of 12,304 — were already in Canada, according to a report published by the Department of Citizenship and Immigration in July.

The report shows that three per cent were living in India, followed by two per cent in the U.S. and one per cent in the Philippines. Even smaller percentages resided in other countries.

As of July 6, Canada had issued 844 visas to foreign nationals and their dependents resulting in only 411 admissions being fast tracked for permanency residency.

“Implementing the express entry system was a significant undertaking and we continue to monitor it closely,” the government report said, cautioning it is only “a snapshot” intended to capture “one moment in time.”

While immigration officials are working tirelessly to iron the kinks out of the system, the report said Canada will meet its immigration quota not through express entry but by drawing from a backlog of applications submitted under the old system.

The majority of new economic immigrants to Canada will not be drawn using the new system until it’s in full flight in 2017.

‘Unusable’ for businesses

Businesses say the system’s biggest flaw is a new requirement borrowed from the newly reformed temporary foreign worker program, which Kenney and Chris Alexander announced last year following a series of stories published by CBC’s Go Public team alleging abuse of the program.

Under express entry, it isn’t enough that economic immigrants have to line up a job before applying to come to Canada — that offer must also be backed by a positive labour market impact assessment. That assessment, or LMIA, is a document all employers now need to hire a foreign worker over a Canadian one.

This is a new requirement under an economic stream that sees upwards of 250,000 new permanent residents admitted each year.

“It’s made it unusable for many employers that we hear from and for small and medium businesses,” said Sarah Anson-Cartwright, the director of skills policy at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the largest business association in the country representing some 200,000 employers

Members of the Chamber, she said, are disillusioned with a process that has become too “onerous.” Employers are complaining that their assessment forms are being rejected due to inadvertent omissions or typos.

Source: Temporary foreign workers get first dibs under express entry – Politics – CBC News

Multiculturalism in Canada: Evidence and Anecdote: Book Launch Toronto 13 October

For those of you in Toronto, Ryerson’s  Centre for Immigration and Settlement and the Global Diversity Exchange are hosting my book launch, Tuesday October 13th at 11 am. Poster below:

Griffith Ryerson GDX flyer

Griffith Ryerson GDX flyer

Yes, minister, no more: Today’s bureaucrats have a different attitude: Yakabuski quoting Paquet

Yakabuski presents one side of the debate on the political-bureaucratic relationship, that of Gilles Paquet and his followers, which emphasize ‘loyal implementation’ at the expense of  ‘fearless advice.’

Many others take the contrary view, flagging the rise of ideology and the decline of ‘fearless advice’ (e.g., among the former public servants fingered by Paquet and his acolytes, Mel Cappe on ideology over evidenceRalph Heintzman: Creeping politicization in the public serviceKevin Page delivers a warning to the public service, among academics, Boundary between politics, public service is ‘no man’s land’: Donald Savoie, David Zussman quoted in Ideology, minority rule, distrust shaped Harper government’s relationship with public service).

As I argued in my book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias: Resetting Citizenship and Multiculturalism, written from my perspective working to implement change by then Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and CIC Minister Kenney, the public service failed to provide impartial ‘fearless advice’ and recognize its own ideologies and biases, and was not quick enough to shift to ‘loyal implementation’ once the advice had been given. (Disclosure: I had worked with Paquet and his press on Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias but our divergence of views was too great).

Canadians need to understand better how the balance between the bureaucratic and political roles plays out in the related debates over evidence-based policy (and which evidence), the decline of government policy expertise and data and other issues.

While academics and some journalists can and do raise these issues, former public servants should also contribute to discussions on the role of the public service and the political-bureaucratic relationship given their on-the-ground experience.

While such contributions run the risk of having a partisan element in their critique of Conservative government actions (and certainly being perceived this way), it is also non-partisan in that such contributions also form advice to any future government on both framework and specific policy issues (which of course, it would be free to accept or refuse).

And of course, the sharper ideological edge of the Conservative government compared to the more centrist public servant perspective accentuates distrust on both sides:

This view is echoed in a March article in Optimum Online, a public-sector management journal that Prof. Paquet edits. The article, by a senior Ottawa-based policy analyst using a pseudonym, asserts that “many senior federal public servants [develop] a conviction that they are better guardians of basic values of our democracy than elected officials. While this attitude had to be somewhat tamed while they were on active duty, it has become fully unleashed in retirement.”

The author goes on: “This has naturally generated a flow of self-righteous condemnation of current government policies by many newly unencumbered retired senior officials, and has thereby provided immense moral support for those senior public servants still in active duty – former colleagues and friends – to heighten their own passive (or semi-active) opposition to the elected government from within. As a result, the corridor of what has come to be regarded as tolerable disloyalty from within would appear to have widened considerably.”

This trend is nearly certain to outlive the Harper government. Future governments will become even more suspicious of the bureaucracy they inherit. To some extent, such suspicion has always existed. But Canada has always resisted the American practice of administrations stuffing the top layers of the bureaucracy with political appointees. Prof. Paquet worries that will change unless the principles of bureaucratic loyalty and discretion are restored.

“Loyalty breeds loyalty,” he says. “It’s 50-50.”

For my take on the same article, see The Demonization of Stephen Harper.

A review I did on an earlier Paquet article, Super-Bureaucrats as Enfants du siècle, provides further material for this ongoing debate (‘Mental Prisons,’ the Public Service and Gilles Paquet).

Source: Yes, minister, no more: Today’s bureaucrats have a different attitude – The Globe and Mail

And my letter to the editor on this can be found here.

Australia Could Make Everyone a Terrorist

Appears an initiative aimed at providing teachers with tools to identify potential radicalization went a bit too far with too broad a reach:

Last week the Australian government sparked public furor over a campaign to help teachers identify signs of the radicalization process in the classroom with a prepared pamphlet.

The 32-page document, known as the “radicalization awareness information kit,” provides warning signs to indicate whether a young person is on a path to violent extremism. The pamphlet paints outlandish examples of radicalized youth who range in character, including a student named Karen who was “involved in the alternative music scene, student politics and left-wing activism.” Local media lambasted the government for conflating activism with violent extremism, blurring the line between national security threats and political expression.

While the illustrations were exceptionally misguided, the greater concern lies with creating a simplified checklist to identify young people as potential terrorists. As the Guardian rightly pointed out, doling out a canned guideline of behaviors to identify extremism not only engenders intolerance, it creates a culture of profiling—akin to the one that led to the arrest in Texas of a 14-year-old Muslim student who wanted to impress his teachers with a homemade clock that was mistaken for a bomb. A similar program in the U.K. led to an at-risk radicalization list to include a three-year-old as a potential future extremist.

…Gary Bouma, a professor involved with the initiative, reportedly distanced himself from the report upon learning it was distributed to teachers. Bouma tells the Daily Beast he did not “distance himself” from the research, but was merely concerned that teachers would not be provided with training to complement the booklet. Bouma says he’s been assured that teachers will receive the proper training to use the manuals, but what type of training would that entail?

“There’s a difference between people who get involved in what you would call incidental violence as a result of a political protest,” Victoria University professor Michele Grossman told the Guardian, referring to the case study linking a student’s penchant for left-wing activism to extremism. “To me, that’s not what we mean when we talk about facing and tackling the very serious issues around violent extremism.”

Source: Australia Could Make Everyone a Terrorist – The Daily Beast

Asians will be largest immigrant group in U.S. in 50 years: Pew study

Pew_Immigration_ProjectionsInteresting demographic shift and may, over time, shift immigration debate in USA:

In a major shift in immigration patterns over the next 50 years, Asians will have surged past Hispanics to become the largest group of immigrants heading to the United States, according to estimates in a new immigration study.

The study looks in detail at what will happen by 2065, but the actual tipping point comes in 2055.

An increase in Asian and Hispanic immigration also will drive U.S. population growth, with foreign-born residents expected to make up 18 per cent of the country’s projected 441 million people in 50 years, the Pew Research Center said in a report being released Monday. This will be a record, higher than the nearly 15 per cent during the late 19th century and early 20th century wave of immigration from Europe.

Today, immigrants make up 14 per cent of the population, an increase from five per cent in 1965.

The actual change is expected to come in 2055, when Asians will become the largest immigrant group at 36 per cent, compared with Hispanics at 34 per cent. White immigrants to America, 80 per cent back in 1965, will hover somewhere between 18 and 20 per cent with black immigrants in the eight per cent to nine per cent range, the study said.

Without any post-1965 immigration, the U.S. would be 75 per cent white, 14 per cent black, eight per cent Hispanic and less than one per cent Asian, Pew said.

Currently, 47 per cent of immigrants living in the United States are Hispanic, but by 2065 that number will have dropped to 31 per cent. Asians currently make up 26 per cent of the immigrant population but in 50 years that percentage is expected to increase to 38 per cent.

Pew researchers analyzed a combination of Census Bureau information and its own data to develop its projections.

Part of the reason for the shift is that the fertility rate of women in Latin America and especially Mexico has decreased, said Mark Hugo Lopez, Pew’s director of Hispanic research. In Mexico, Lopez said, women are now having around two children, when back in the 1960s and 1970s, they were having about seven children per woman.

“There are relatively fewer people who would choose to migrate from Mexico so demographic changes in Mexico have led to a somewhat smaller pool of potential migrants,” he said. “At the same time we’ve seen a growing number of immigrants particularly from China or India who are coming for reasons such as pursuing a college degree or coming here to work temporarily in the high-tech sector.”

Source: Asians will be largest immigrant group in U.S. in 50 years: Pew study – World – CBC News

Link to study: Modern Immigration Wave Brings 59 Million to US, Driving Population Growth and Change Through 2065

The niqab debate, let’s not forget, is about individual rights: Neil MacDonald

A further reminder, no matter how much we may dislike the niqab and how much we feel that wearing it is inappropriate (at a citizenship ceremony or elsewhere):

In too many instances, the niqab is clearly an instrument of inequality; using it to indoctrinate young girls is, on the face of it, probably a human rights issue.

But then, indoctrinating children is how religions ensure their continuity. Society has accepted that religious parents have the right to impose religious practices on their children. The children have little say in the matter.

And the decision of a grown woman, like Zunera Ishaq, to cover her face at a public ceremony is, well, the decision of a grown woman.

Sure, Stephen Harper, and a lot of other people, think the niqab is rooted in an anti-woman culture, but where does that argument end once the heavy hand of government becomes involved?

Harper’s own immigration minister, Chris Alexander, has already conflated the niqab and the burqa, which cover a woman almost entirely, with the hijab, which can simply be a headscarf, and which millions of Muslim women wear.

And if a government can base public policy on a belief that one monotheistic religion has misogynistic doctrine, might not some future government turn its attention to the treatment of women by orthodox streams of the two other monotheistic religions?

A niqab can appear sinister to someone who hasn’t lived in the Middle East. It has clearly become a distillation of Canadians’ unease about fundamentalist Islam.

But there is no law against wearing it, and any eventual law will need to scale the impassive walls of the Supreme Court and the Charter of Rights.

Former Liberal prime minister Jean Chretien, in his awkward fashion, nailed it last week.

“It’s not am I comfortable or not” with women covering their faces, he said. “Makes no difference at all. It’s a question of rights and it will be for the court to decide.”

Makes no difference at all. Precisely.

Source: The niqab debate, let’s not forget, is about individual rights – Politics – CBC News

Harper says only bogus refugees are denied health care. He’s wrong.

Good piece in Macleans:

Prime Minister Harper was indignant: “We have not taken away health care from immigrants and refugees. On the contrary, the only time we’ve removed it is where we had clearly bogus refugees who have been refused and turned down. We do not offer them a better health care plan than the ordinary Canadian can receive. That is not something that new and existing and old-stock Canadians agree with.”

Harper’s reference to “old-stock Canadians” got lots of attention. But what’s far more shocking, say refugee experts, is his stony denial of the truth: that the Conservative government has diminished the medical insurance provided to most refugees in Canada—tens of thousands of them, in fact.

As Maclean’s recently reported, the Conservative government made cuts to the Interim Federal Health (IFH) program in 2012 that drastically reduced the medical insurance provided to refugees who are privately sponsored or who make a refugee claim upon arriving in Canada. The two groups represent 59,285 of the refugees who came to Canada between 2012 and 2014, show the latest data from Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The cuts also affect more than 7,000 “legacy claimants” who arrived before December 2012 and are awaiting their claim hearing, according to the Canadian Council for Refugees.

These groups of refugees no longer have health insurance for prescription medications, and “supplemental” coverage for services such as prosthetics, physiotherapy and counselling, as well as emergency dental and vision care. (Pregnant women and children have been granted temporary coverage for medications, until the federal Court of Appeal decides later this year whether the cuts should be reversed. Children also receive supplemental coverage.)

The only group not affected by the IFH cuts is government-assisted refugees, of which 18,646 were resettled in Canada between 2012 and 2014. They receive the same health insurance as the lowest-income Canadians.

“They’ve repeatedly tried to sell the cuts to the public by saying they are only taking away gold-plated health care from bogus refugees,” says Dr. Hasan Sheikh, an Ottawa physician and member of Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care, of the Conservative government. “That is absolutely not true.”
Harper’s reference to “bogus claimants” during the debate is particularly noteworthy—and cringe-worthy, say refugee advocates. It’s a term that’s been used by Harper, as well as Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Chris Alexander, and his predecessor Jason Kenney, many times since 2012, as well as by other Conservative MPs during debates in the House of Commons.

Source: Harper says only bogus refugees are denied health care. He’s wrong.