Douglas Todd: Push on for ‘culturally appropriate’ seniors homes

Another good piece by Douglas Todd covering the different perspectives on ‘culturally appropriate’ seniors homes. From my perspective, I can understand this need given the importance of familiar food and that second-language fluency deteriorates with age:

Some critics say taxpayers should not be paying for such ethnically-specific seniors homes.

But Sood and Charan Gill, the dynamic founder of PICS, insist there is a third major reason, in addition to language and cuisine, to create residences specifically for South Asian and other visible-minority seniors: Widespread elder abuse in the immigrant population.

“It’s a huge problem,” says Gill, 80.

“We hear stories of financial and emotional abuse of elders every day here. But no one wants to talk about it,” he says, noting that members of immigrant communities are often ashamed their co-ethnics are not properly taking care of their elders.

Resident Saroj Sood peruses the day's lunch menu at the Guru Nanak Niwas senior home in Surrey. 'Food is most important' as a cultural consideration for the residents.
Resident Saroj Sood peruses the day’s lunch menu at the Guru Nanak Niwas senior home in Surrey. ‘Food is most important’ as a cultural consideration for the residents.RIC ERNST /  PNG

Even though Statistics Canada figures show South Asian grandparents in Canada are eight times more likely to live with their children and grandchildren than ethnic Japanese and Caucasian grandparents, many of Metro’s 250,000 South Asians still yearn to live separate from their offspring.

“Given a chance, these seniors would never leave their homes because of the strong sense of family and affinity towards their culture,” says PICS communications officer Shruti Prakash-Joshi.

“(But) PICS works very closely with seniors and we are witness to some horrific stories relating to financial and other abuse.”

PICS is lobbying the federal and provincial governments for more than $45 million to build a new “Diversity Village” on property it has bought in the Cloverdale area of Surrey. The 140-bed facility would have different sections for seniors of different ethnic backgrounds.

Meanwhile, leaders among Metro Vancouver’s 400,000-member ethnic Chinese population are also pushing for more of their own “culturally appropriate” seniors homes, which would employ Chinese-speaking staff.

As well, Muslim leaders in Burnaby and elsewhere are pressing the province for specialized seniors homes for immigrants from Muslim-majority countries.

With 45 per cent of the population of Metro Vancouver born outside the country, Canada’s National Household Survey reports one in six Metro residents do not speak English or French in their homes.

Are Canadians ready to support more ethnic-specific seniors homes?
South Asian seniors who end up in mainstream seniors homes in Canada feel ‘totally isolated,’ says Charan Gill, founder of Progressive Intercultural Community Services. ‘Nobody talks to them. And they don’t get the food they’ve eaten their whole lives. Many give up and die quickly.’

Gill acknowledges providing ethnic-specific food “is a little bit more expensive than giving everybody the same food.”

And he admits that B.C. government’s health authority officials are “resistant” to spend more money than is absolutely necessary on language-specific facilities. He rejects suggestions “culturally sensitive” seniors homes may promote ethnic enclaves.

Former Canadian diplomat Martin Collacott, a Surrey resident, says there is little wrong with ethnic communities creating seniors homes that offer ethnic-specific language and food — as long as the ethnic groups themselves pay for the facilities.

The author of a Fraser Institute report titled Canadian Family Class Immigration: The Parent and Grandparent Component argues it is the federal policy that allows many immigrants to sponsor their parents and grandparents to come to Canada that makes such ethnic-specific seniors homes necessary in the first place.

“The problem with such facilities being provided for sponsored parents and grandparents is that the rationale for bringing them in is that it is traditional for them to live with adult offspring, often to babysit. On this basis it becomes questionable why they would be placed in such care facilities.”

Collacott, who has frequently advised the House of Commons on immigration policy, wrote a paper for The Association of Canadian Studies that showed sponsored parents and grandparents who arrive in their 50s or older are the least likely to work in Canada, pay income taxes or learn French or English.

Despite some opposition, Gill staunchly advocates for governments moving beyond the “Eurocentric model” of seniors homes to the “multicultural model.”

South Asian seniors who end up in mainstream seniors homes in Canada feel “totally isolated,” Gill says. “Nobody talks to them. And they don’t get the food they’ve eaten their whole lives. Many give up and die quickly.”

Remaining confident of his vision, Gill tells stories about South Asian seniors in Metro Vancouver who had to move to “Eurocentric” care homes and who die within months.

Source: Douglas Todd: Push on for ‘culturally appropriate’ seniors homes | Vancouver Sun

In a class of 300, they were the only two black women. Now they’re top cops

Good long-read profile of some of the pioneering Black women in police forces:

Over breakfast, senior officers Ingrid Berkeley-Brown and Sonia Thomas are chatting about a Toronto movement that has taken on the police.

Black Lives Matter came into prominence here in the spring, and both officers saw the images of the group, led primarily by black women, camped outside Toronto police headquarters for two weeks. The group’s members were furious over the decision by the Special Investigations Unit not to charge the police officer who last year shot and killed Andrew Loku, 45, while he held a hammer.

Thomas and Berkeley-Brown are black women, friends who met at Ontario Police College in the mid-1980s. They’re straddling two realities.

“Black Lives Matter makes me a little bit uncomfortable,” Thomas admits.

“Not only am I a member of the black community (who) strives for justice, but I’m also a member of the police service they’re accusing of racism. So yeah, (I’m) a little bit uncomfortable.”

But Berkeley-Brown says she doesn’t share that discomfort.

“If they have areas of concern and get together to voice those concerns, I think that’s legitimate,” she says.

Berkeley-Brown, 55, and Thomas, 52, share a bond. In 1986, they were the only two black women in their largely white, male class of about 300 recruits at the police college in Aylmer, where they met.

Now a superintendent, Berkeley-Brown is the officer in charge at 21 Division for Peel Regional Police, and Insp. Thomas is second in command at 53 Division for Toronto police. They’re among the highest-ranking black female officers in Canada, and the friends climbed steep hills to get there.

….In an interview, James, 61, who retired as a detective, says she’s pleased with her own career. But there were low points.Particularly the time she served on an undercover unit four years into her career, when a fellow officer (senior in years of service but not rank) “went out of his way to make life difficult for me.”

While on duty together — sometimes alone on stakeouts — he would make comments like “‘I’d rather go out with a hooker than a black woman,’ or ‘if a black woman ever comes to my house it’s just to clean it,’” James recalls. She eventually switched units.

Thomas says it hasn’t happened often but she has always challenged inappropriate comments and behaviour by fellow Toronto officers.

Berkeley-Brown believes that given her own past work in the black community, and with the race and ethnic relations bureau for Peel police, her colleagues have known “what to say and not say in my presence.”

On the subject of racial profiling, Berkeley-Brown says she hasn’t ever witnessed her fellow officers in Peel engaging in it. Officers with that service patrol alone.

But when she hears over the Peel police radio that a member of the public has called in about black males seen at such-and-such address, Berkeley-Brown says her ears perk up and her first question is “So what? Are they doing anything wrong?”

She believes it’s important that the public — as well as the police — be informed about bias-free law enforcement.

Thomas no longer does frontline patrol work in a cruiser in Toronto, but when she did she questioned some of the instances black people were pulled over by her fellow officers.

“I mean challenging, ‘Well, why are we stopping this car? Give me a good reason why we’re stopping this car.’

“If there was a valid explanation, we would continue (investigating). If there wasn’t, we may have disengaged,” Thomas says.

Over the years numerous voices from legal circles, academia and visible minority groups have actively pushed to stamp out racial profiling, but Thomas believes it is not a common practice by police in the province.

“The reality is police services across Ontario hire from our communities, and like communities there is going to be some discrimination, there’s going to be some racism. We’re going to have officers who are racist, who racially profile. But I can tell you those numbers are so minimal,” Thomas says.

As for their lasting friendship, Berkeley-Brown and Thomas say part of it is based on respect for each other’s rise through the ranks.

They often meet up at police-related functions, including networking and professional development events put on by the Association of Black Law Enforcers.

Berkeley-Brown attended Thomas’s wedding in 1989, and Thomas was a guest at Berkeley-Brown’s wedding in 1994.

Nearly 30 years after that meeting in police college, they’re still bound by their love for the badge.

Source: In a class of 300, they were the only two black women. Now they’re top cops | Toronto Star

Michael Den Tandt on the Brexit and Canada: Two crucial lessons for Liberals

Good commentary by Den Tandt on some of the lessons for the Liberal government, not to mention the Conservative opposition and the observations regarding Jason Kenney and Tony Clement’s support for Brexit:

Dear Prime Minister David Cameron, Jeremy Corbyn, Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and the rest: Thank you, so very much. You’ve done the twin causes of stability and unity in your former Dominion of Canada ever so much good.

For what Canadian provincial or federal leader now, witnessing the catastrophic cock-up of your Brexit referendum, will do other than duck for cover next time there’s talk of a plebiscite here to dramatically restructure anything more important than a yard sale?

It was curious, bizarre even, to see senior federal Conservatives emerge on social media early Friday, as the “victory” for the Leave side in the Brexit vote became clear, to beat the drum for St. George. “Congratulations to the British people for choosing hope over fear,” enthused former minister-of-everything Jason Kenney, “by embracing a confident, sovereign future, open to the world!” Tony Clement, erstwhile Treasury Board president, called it a “magnificent exercise in democracy,” before slipping in a renewed call for a referendum on Canadian electoral reform.

Or, here’s another thought: The Liberals could shelve electoral reform and focus on more important stuff, this term, such as jobs.

Democracy is, indeed, magnificent. That’s why the Scots are now ramping up at breakneck speed for a do-over of their own 2014 referendum on independence from Britain, which post-Brexit surveys suggest will now swing in favour, because the Scots wish overwhelmingly to remain European.

Ireland, only recently at peace, now faces renewed turmoil at the prospect of a hard border separating Northern Ireland, still part of the United Kingdom, from the Republic of Ireland, soon to be Europe’s Westernmost outpost. Irish union, as the United Kingdom comes apart at the seams, is not out of the question. Hope over fear, indeed.

This is assuming, of course, that the UK leaves the European Union at all. Though it seems wildly improbable to imagine the referendum, 51.9 per cent for Leave, 48.1 per cent for Remain, being set aside, it is in theory possible, as long as Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which governs an EU member state’s withdrawal, is not invoked.

…All of which brings us back to Canada. Brexit is xenophobic; Brexit is anti-immigrant; Brexit is nostalgic, insular, anti-international and anti-globalization; Brexit is, most of all, an expression of English ethnic nationalism.The federal Conservatives under Stephen Harper, with Kenney himself in the lead, founded their 2011 majority on openness to ethnic pluralism. They undid much of that good work in 2015 with their niqab debate and “barbaric cultural practices” tip line. That any Conservative, Kenney most of all, should have failed to connect these dots is astonishing. Perhaps that’s why Canadian Conservative Brexit cheerleaders have also gone eerily quiet since those initial outpourings of joy.

But it’s not just the Tories who can watch and learn. There are now two threads connecting populist, anti-internationalist, xenophobic movements worldwide. The first is income inequality and poverty among the rural working class, which in England voted as a block for Brexit. The second is the fear of Islamism, manifested in suspicion of immigrants and refugees, which fueled the Leave campaign.

Fixing inequality, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals say, is their job one. But they face a looming economic catastrophe in the resource sector, which can only be addressed through pipeline development and freer trade. Working people need decent-paying jobs. From where will these come in Canada, if ideological and mostly urban anti-pipeline advocates, together with anti-globalization tub thumpers, are left to own the debate, as they do now? The Liberals need to build the case for pipelines and for liberalized trade, while they still have an audience for such.

As for Islamism, the Syrian civil war and ISIL continue to threaten Southern Europe and by extension the West. Until ISIL is destroyed and its territory taken away, there will be no end to the northward flow of refugees, and no political stability in Europe. Canada can do more and should do more to help Europe in this fight — while there remains a Europe to help.

Source: Michael Den Tandt on the Brexit and Canada: Two crucial lessons for Liberals | National Post

Federal government prepares biggest refresh of its web offerings ever

From my time at Service Canada 10 years ago, I am a firm believer in organizing information and services around citizen needs, rather than departmental and bureaucratic structures.

But IT alone is not the solution, as policy makers need to reflect on how they can make programs and services easier to access and more seamless across citizen needs.

One of the ironies of this move is that in my current role as a researcher, I am finding information harder to and more time-consuming to locate:

More than 1,500 disparate, and often completely different looking websites, with strange and long Internet addresses, are in the process of being combined under the easy to remember umbrella.

Everything from the way Canadians access information about the weather to how they apply for government jobs, access benefits and even inquire about financial matters such as taxes is about to change.

“I’m really excited about this project. is such a great way to improve our service delivery to Canadians,” said Michel Laviolette, director general, digital service directorate of the federal Citizen Service Branch. “We are working with 90 partner institutions to migrate their content from their old environment to If you go on, you will notice it’s organized differently by themes and tasks, such as ‘find a job’ or ‘get a passport’. We are organizing the content that way.”

While some may already know about the government’s internal push to a unified email system using for all government email addresses, this is the first update that the government has given on its efforts to completely overhaul the websites of its departments and agencies.

The rollout of is being undertaken by Services Canada with the help of Adobe Corp., which won an open competition to help with the transformation in 2015. Adobe will provide cloud-based web hosting services for the federal government. The company will manage, support and operate the new website. It is being handled at arm’s length from the federal government’s email address initiative, which has faced numerous delays and aims to replace more than 350,000 federal government email addresses. The email address initiative is being handled by Shared Services Canada.

The website initiative will also see Vancouver-based Hootsuite manage all of the government’s social media accounts, allowing for quicker dissemination of information across platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

The idea of consolidating thousands of pages of various government websites under one unified address began in 2013. The website was launched in December, and the first departments to dump their old websites and start using the new web address were added in April. Laviolette said all the federal government’s departments and agencies will be under the banner by December 2017 if all goes according to plan.

“Canadians expect their government to adapt to new technologies and to provide up-to-date and reliable information about their services and programs,” said Jean-Yves Duclos, minister of Families, Children and Social Development. “As we continue to develop and improve the website, is becoming a central hub for Government of Canada information. I am proud of the innovative work the Public Service is doing to bring the public the information they deserve using the very best in modern technology. ”

The initiative isn’t just aimed at streamlining information and services to a single web portal. Adobe analytic software will analyze which information and services are being accessed by Canadians the most and present that more prominently, making it easier to find. The site will also feature sections for each of the government’s 90 partners and departments, which will offer information specific to their area of responsibility. All content on those sections will be provided by the departments, but the sites themselves will be administered by Adobe on behalf of the government.

The biggest change that will allow is for better functionality with mobile devices and applications, allowing Canadians on the go to better access information and services on their cellphone or tablet.

The move toward an umbrella web portal, a one-stop shop for Canadians, is being done in concert with a series of other initiatives aimed at reducing redundancy in the federal government’s technology departments. One initiative by Shared Services Canada aims to reduce the number of federal government data centres from 300 to fewer than 20. Another by that department aims to combine more than 100 email systems into one and a third is underway to reduce the 3,000 overlapping computer networks that now exist to serve the 377,000  federal government employees working in more than 3,500 buildings across the country.

The hodgepodge approach to technology integration in the past has led to patchwork evolution of technological solutions that offer no uniformity and haven’t been able to keep up with Canadians’ demand for new online services and faster information delivery. It’s also led to security breaches, including a cyber attack that crippled the Finance Department and Treasury Board in 2011, which was linked with attempts to gather data about the potential takeover of Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan. It took officials more than a week to alert the department responsible for national cyber-security about the attack due to the difficulty in tracking down information on various government networks.

Source: Federal government prepares biggest refresh of its web offerings ever | Ottawa Citizen

Racist incidents spark worry Brexit vote emboldening extremists

Anecdotal but not surprising after such an ugly, divisive campaign:

A spate of racist incidents in the U.K. in the wake of Thursday’s vote to leave the European Union have Britons concerned the result is emboldening extremist elements in society.

Police are investigating a report of “racially-motivated” damage at the Polish Social and Cultural Association, a community centre in west London, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said on Sunday. Twitter users described graffiti that read “Go Home” daubed on walls and windows. In Cambridgeshire, police are investigating flyers left outside a primary school that said “Leave the EU, no more Polish vermin,” the Evening Standard reported.

After a bruising referendum campaign in which supporters of leaving the EU were accused of stoking xenophobia, these and other incidents will intensify worries about whether a generally tolerant country is becoming less so. While politicians on both sides of the vote have urged calm and said the result does not reflect prejudice toward migrants from Europe or elsewhere, some aren’t so sure.

“There is no question the U.K. is shifting to a more racist atmosphere and policies. This is a rhetoric that’s showing up in the lives of schoolchildren,” said Adam Posen, a former member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee who now leads the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

British politics are in chaos after the vote in favour of a so-called Brexit prompted the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron, spurred a rebellion against Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, and opened the door to a second referendum on Scottish independence. On Sunday several senior Labour Party members resigned from Corbyn’s shadow cabinet to protest what they said was his lacklustre advocacy for staying in the EU.

The Leave campaign’s message was centred on reducing immigration, including by raising the spectre of Turkish EU membership — a prospect diplomats say is remote at best. A week before the referendum, U.K. Independence Party leader Nigel Farage unveiled a billboard showing a column of hundreds of refugees walking on a road, under the heading “Breaking Point.” A day later, Labour member of parliament Jo Cox, an outspoken advocate for Syrian refugees, was murdered in her Yorkshire constituency.

Some incidents are occurring in the heart of the U.K.’s cosmopolitan capital. Sebastien, a 26-year-old Frenchman, was walking in the Kensington district on Friday with a friend and her mother, who was visiting from Paris. Hearing them speaking French, a man walking his dog began shouting at them to “Leave, Leave!” said Sebastien, who declined to provide his surname for fear of retaliation.

The tone of some campaign discourse has “legitimized racist rhetoric,” said Jasvir Singh, a London lawyer and Labour Party activist. “There is now a vocal minority who feel emboldened to use the result of the referendum as a reason to spout their hatred.”

Schoolchildren were racially abused in a west London district this week, Seema Malhotra, one of Labour’s team of Treasury spokespeople, said on Saturday. “Someone shouted: ‘Why are there only 10 white faces in this class? Why aren’t we educating the English?’” she said, citing a letter from a teacher in her constituency about an incident on Wednesday. “Another went close up to the children and said: ‘You lot are taking all our jobs. You’re the problem.’ ”

Speaking to the BBC on Sunday, former Prime Minister Tony Blair said political leaders “have a big responsibility to help our country get through what’s going to be an agonizing process.” After a vote that largely pitted London, Scotland and a few other enclaves in favour of staying in the EU against the bulk of England and Wales, “we have a divided country but there is the possibility of bringing people back together if we are sensible about it.”

Britons have taken to Facebook and Twitter to report other racist incidents. One user, Fiona Anderson, described “an older woman on the 134 bus gleefully telling a young Polish woman and her baby to get off and get packing.” A professor at Coventry University, Heaven Crawley, said on Twitter on Friday that “This evening my daughter left work in Birmingham and saw group of lads corner a Muslim girl shouting ‘Get out, we voted leave’.”

Source: Racist incidents spark worry Brexit vote emboldening extremists | Toronto Star

Artificial Intelligence’s White Guy Problem – The New York Times

Valid concerns regarding who designs the algorithms and how to eliminate or at least minimize bias.

Perhaps the algorithms and the people who write them should take the Implicit Association Test?

But this hand-wringing is a distraction from the very real problems with artificial intelligence today, which may already be exacerbating inequality in the workplace, at home and in our legal and judicial systems. Sexism, racism and other forms of discrimination are being built into the machine-learning algorithms that underlie the technology behind many “intelligent” systems that shape how we are categorized and advertised to.

Take a small example from last year: Users discovered that Google’s photo app, which applies automatic labels to pictures in digital photo albums, was classifying images of black people as gorillas. Google apologized; it was unintentional.

But similar errors have emerged in Nikon’s camera software, which misread images of Asian people as blinking, and in Hewlett-Packard’s web camera software, which had difficulty recognizing people with dark skin tones.

This is fundamentally a data problem. Algorithms learn by being fed certain images, often chosen by engineers, and the system builds a model of the world based on those images. If a system is trained on photos of people who are overwhelmingly white, it will have a harder time recognizing nonwhite faces.

A very serious example was revealed in an investigation published last month by ProPublica. It found that widely used software that assessed the risk of recidivism in criminals was twice as likely to mistakenly flag black defendants as being at a higher risk of committing future crimes. It was also twice as likely to incorrectly flag white defendants as low risk.

The reason those predictions are so skewed is still unknown, because the company responsible for these algorithms keeps its formulas secret — it’s proprietary information. Judges do rely on machine-driven risk assessments in different ways — some may even discount them entirely — but there is little they can do to understand the logic behind them.

Police departments across the United States are also deploying data-driven risk-assessment tools in “predictive policing” crime prevention efforts. In many cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami, software analyses of large sets of historical crime data are used to forecast where crime hot spots are most likely to emerge; the police are then directed to those areas.

At the very least, this software risks perpetuating an already vicious cycle, in which the police increase their presence in the same places they are already policing (or overpolicing), thus ensuring that more arrests come from those areas. In the United States, this could result in more surveillance in traditionally poorer, nonwhite neighborhoods, while wealthy, whiter neighborhoods are scrutinized even less. Predictive programs are only as good as the data they are trained on, and that data has a complex history.

Histories of discrimination can live on in digital platforms, and if they go unquestioned, they become part of the logic of everyday algorithmic systems. Another scandal emerged recently when it was revealed that Amazon’s same-day delivery service was unavailable for ZIP codes in predominantly black neighborhoods. The areas overlooked were remarkably similar to those affected by mortgage redlining in the mid-20th century. Amazon promised to redress the gaps, but it reminds us how systemic inequality can haunt machine intelligence.

And then there’s gender discrimination. Last July, computer scientists at Carnegie Mellon University found that women were less likely than men to be shown ads on Google for highly paid jobs. The complexity of how search engines show ads to internet users makes it hard to say why this happened — whether the advertisers preferred showing the ads to men, or the outcome was an unintended consequence of the algorithms involved.

Regardless, algorithmic flaws aren’t easily discoverable: How would a woman know to apply for a job she never saw advertised? How might a black community learn that it were being overpoliced by software?

We need to be vigilant about how we design and train these machine-learning systems, or we will see ingrained forms of bias built into the artificial intelligence of the future.

Like all technologies before it, artificial intelligence will reflect the values of its creators. So inclusivity matters — from who designs it to who sits on the company boards and which ethical perspectives are included. Otherwise, we risk constructing machine intelligence that mirrors a narrow and privileged vision of society, with its old, familiar biases and stereotypes.

If we look at how systems can be discriminatory now, we will be much better placed to design fairer artificial intelligence. But that requires far more accountability from the tech community. Governments and public institutions can do their part as well: As they invest in predictive technologies, they need to commit to fairness and due process.

While machine-learning technology can offer unexpected insights and new forms of convenience, we must address the current implications for communities that have less power, for those who aren’t dominant in elite Silicon Valley circles.

Currently the loudest voices debating the potential dangers of superintelligence are affluent white men, and, perhaps for them, the biggest threat is the rise of an artificially intelligent apex predator.

But for those who already face marginalization or bias, the threats are here.

Source: Artificial Intelligence’s White Guy Problem – The New York Times

What psychology reveals about the Brexit vote

One of the more interesting analysis of some of the forces at play (disclosure: Harell, the researcher, is on the same External Advisory Committee for the Canadian Index on Immigrant Integration as I am):

There are a lot of ways to try to make sense of the Brexit referendum—even as the shock waves continue to rumble across the globe—on policy, economic and messaging grounds. But there’s also a more personal, psychology-driven way to try to sort out why people vote as they do.

A new study sheds light on how attitudes toward immigration—one of the key aspects of the debate over the U.K. leaving the EU—fit in with someone’s general sense of control over life. The researchers found that anti-immigrant views were most common in those whose disposition leads them to feel like life is something that just happens to them, while people who feel like they can control things are more likely to be amenable to newcomers.

The paper, to be published in an upcoming issue of Political Psychology, surveyed 4,200 people in Canada, the U.S. and U.K., examining a personal trait known as “locus of control”—basically, the degree to which you feel like you, your country and other people are in control of circumstances, rather than being buffeted by random winds.

To measure locus of control in a personal context, researchers asked people to respond to the statements, “Many times I feel that I have little influence over the things that happen to me” and “When I make plans, I am almost certain that I can make them work.” It was measured in a societal context by asking, “How much control do you think that [your country] has over the immigrants who are able to enter the country?” And to measure how people perceived locus of control in immigrants, respondents chose from four explanations for why newcomers may experience financial hardship: because they are unlucky, because of laziness and lack of willpower, because of injustice in our society or because it’s an inevitable part of modern progress.

Attitudes toward immigrants, in turn, were measured by people’s responses to four questions—two focused on economic concerns and two on cultural—including, “Immigrants take jobs away from other [Canadians]” and “[Canada’s] cultural life is enriched by immigrants to this country.”

The researchers found that people who feel like they run the show have more positive views of immigrants than those who have a weak sense of personal locus of control. But, conversely, people who assign locus of control to immigrants—that is, they believe immigrants are responsible for their lot in life—are more likely to hold anti-immigrant views. Allison Harell, associate professor of political science at Université du Québec à Montréal and lead author on the paper, believes that disconnect makes perfect sense. “When you feel like you can control things, it’s less threatening. Yes, things are changing, but I can help shape and react to what’s going on in the environment, so that makes it less scary,” she says. “Whereas when you’re attributing problems to the other person, if they’re responsible for it, then you can be harsher on them because it’s their fault.”

Harell and her co-authors conducted this research in 2012 and it will be published in the next few months, but she offers up a dark chuckle about how timely and relevant it is now. For months, the pro-Brexit campaign has been explicitly speaking to this anxiety with the refrain to “take back control” from the EU. Earlier this week, U.K. Independence Party leader Nigel Farage refused to apologize for a controversial poster depicting a long line of dark-skinned migrants emblazoned with the text “Breaking Point.”

Across the pond, Donald Trump has discovered the same psychological pressure point. The drumbeats he’s been pounding—that ordinary Americans are getting a raw deal, their leaders are clueless or negligent and their country is being overrun by freeloading or outright violent outsiders—all boil down to notions of control, too. “People may have felt that way already, but it may have solidified some of that fear of this external threat, or this lack of control over what’s going on,” Harell says. “That’s clearly going to have an impact on how people feel about immigration and immigrants more generally.”

She sees significant differences between the three countries, too. Anti-immigrant sentiment was considerably higher in the U.K. (.64 on a scale from 0 to 1, where .50 would be an essentially neutral position) than in the U.S. or Canada (.50 and .49, respectively). Brits—and, to a lesser extent, Americans—are also much less likely to feel like their country is in control of immigration than Canadians. The measure for societal locus of control in the U.K. is just .27 (on a scale from 0—meaning complete lack of control—to 1—total control), while in the U.S. it is .37 and in Canada, .52. Harell believes this relative calm reflects the fact that Canada only shares a border with the U.S., and the points-based immigration system alleviates a lot of anxiety and resentment around jobs and the economy.

For the past few decades, a lot of political science research on public opinion has been very neck-up, focusing on the ways in which we process information and how that shapes our attitudes and preferences. But, increasingly, research in this area is looking more at the emotional, psychological and personality-driven reasons why we like what we like, reject what we don’t, and vote as we do.

“The fact that we react viscerally to something is important,” Harell says. “That helps explain immediate reactions and shifts in public opinions and polls where you see a spike right after an event. That might not be a well thought-out policy position change on the part of citizens; it might just be a real reaction to what’s going on.”

Source: What psychology reveals about the Brexit vote –

How Australia stripped an Australian of her citizenship |

An Australian equivalent to ‘Lost Canadians’ as someone who was caught between the rules and procedures. Would seem a case for humanitarian and compassionate grounds to extend citizenship:

Mullan was born in New Zealand in December 1963 and adopted in Australia several months later, in March 1964. As an adult, she has always struggled with the heartbreaking narrative surrounding those events.

She was part of the “white stolen generation”, so-called to distinguish it from the Indigenous stolen generations, although the associated suffering was shared. In the five decades before 1982, the newborn babies of young, unmarried women were forcibly removed for adoption.

Mullan’s birth mother, from Queensland, had kept her pregnancy secret by staying with nuns in Auckland.

But when she and the father returned to Brisbane and sought assistance from the state government, it separated her from the baby and made her sign adoption forms under duress.

Mullan has since learnt from numerous relatives of her late mother’s desperate attempts to retrieve her.

Of her current plight, she asked: “If I was born to two Australian citizens, removed from them by the Queensland government and adopted out to two other Australians citizens, how can I not be a citizen?”

In a letter last December, DFAT formally denied her a full validity replacement passport because she could not present proof of citizenship through a citizenship certificate.

When she sought answers from passport personnel and the office of Immigration and Border Protection minister Peter Dutton, officials would only divulge that she was an “unintended consequence” of law changes that had affected a number of adopted people.

After she applied for her citizenship certificate, the DIBP deemed her paperwork invalid, stating in a letter that citizenship needed to be “acquired” by “conferral”.

She has since been advised to apply for the required evidence by paying A$190 to attend an interview, sit a test, swear her allegiance to Australia and attend a ceremony, where she would receive her certificate.

In the past few days, New Zealand has accepted Mullan’s application for a passport – and recognised her as a citizen – even though she only spent a week there after her birth. While she described her relief as immense, questions still surround her status in Australia when she returns.

A spokesman for Dutton said the department understood it could be distressing for long-term residents of Australia to discover they were not citizens “when they believed this to be the case for many years”.

Source: How Australia stripped an Australian of her citizenship |

This Chart Shows the Future of America | TIME

White Non-White USAPretty compelling chart and analysis of the changing nature of the USA:

For the sixth straight year, babies born in 2015 belong to a mini-generation that is “minority-majority,” meaning fewer than half of them are white and non-Hispanic, according to new figures released this week by the Census Bureau.

The nation as a whole is not expected to reach this distinction until 2044. But we can see the future by looking at the youngest Americans, who are naturally ahead of the curve.

It’s important to note that this data shows the diversity of Americans by their current age, not the historical data about the diversity of their cohort when they were born. Since data clearly shows that minorities still have shorter life expectancies, we would expect the figures for older Americans to be slightly exaggerated in the form of higher percentages for white, non-Hispanics.

Source: This Chart Shows the Future of America | TIME

Douglas Todd: Ten ways to ease Metro Vancouver’s housing crisis

The two immigration-related suggestions by Todd. The first and second ones are easier than the third one, given mobility rights:

Press to end Quebec’s immigrant investor program

Even though the Conservatives stopped Canada’s egregious immigrant investor program in 2014, a form of it still exists in Quebec. But the vast majority of rich immigrants who buy their way into the country by modestly “investing” in Quebec never live in la Belle Province. Most move to Metro Vancouver.

 Combat money laundering, including the property transfer system

Canada’s naive honour system has failed to tax billions of dollars in trans-national property deals. Information sharing agreements between real estate officials, Revenue Canada and the immigration department are desperately needed to catch buyers and sellers who lie about whether they are residents of Canada for income tax purposes. UBC geographer David Ley says a host of money-laundering and tax-evasion schemes, including faking that a property is one’s primary residence, are  getting exposed in London and New York.

Reduce or redirect immigration patterns

In regards to the big picture, Britain and other countries are reducing immigration rates. Studies, like that of UBC geographer Dan Hiebert, show well-off immigrants are a key driver of increases in urban house prices. Nine out of 10 immigrants to B.C. choose Metro Vancouver. Some countries have found ways to encourage immigrants to move to less populated regions.

Source: Douglas Todd: Ten ways to ease Metro Vancouver’s housing crisis | Vancouver Sun