Catching up

The main story over the past few weeks has of course been the US presidential election and Trump winning the presidency. Far too much commentary both before and after to follow, with the full consequences to be seen once Trump selects his Cabinet and other senior appointments, and his initial acts in office (the appointment of Steve Bannon of Breitbart as chief strategist is hardly encouraging).

As chance would have it, we were visiting the Dachau concentration camp near Munich on voting day. While my knowledge of the Holocaust is generally quite good from books, film and Holocaust centres, along with my time as Canadian head of delegation to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, nothing can bring the horror and scale of horror than visiting an actual site.

In the film Denial (well worth seeing), about Deborah Lipstadt’s legal battle against Holocaust denier David Irving, her lawyer takes time during his visit to Auschwitz to pace the  the camp, as he needs to come to grips with its scale  as part of his preparation of his strategy for the case.

But one of the more interesting moments in the current context was our guide’s discussion of the rise of Hitler and how both the political leadership and institutions failed to prevent his rise. While always aware of the perils of Godwin’s Law, there are some uncomfortable parallels with the rise of Trump, reinforced with Republican control of both houses of congress, and the related authoritarian and undemocratic tendencies among some.

Of course, one of the stories making the rounds is the degree to which Americans vowing to move to Canada will actually do so. Some articles that provide a good selection of immigration experts and lawyers essentially say unlikely (Don’t expect to just pack up and move to Canada, Americans told, Americans eye move to Canada, but immigration not so easy, and in the New York Times, As Americans Look North to Flee Donald Trump, Canada Peers Back in Worry, where I am quoted).

Other news items that I have been following include:

Immigration levels for 2017: Interesting, in contrast to the expectations of much higher immigration levels based on comments by the Minister and the recommendations of the Barton committee of 450,000 per year, the end result was more modest: a new baseline of 300,000, and increase of about 15 percent compared to the previous government. Moreover, there is some rebalancing towards the economic stream (58 percent compared to 54 percent in 2016, but still lower than the 63 percent under the Conservatives).

citizenship-data-slides-033There have been a number of articles pro or against a “big Canada” of 100 million by 2100. I am more convinced by the critical pieces, particularly those by Munir Sheikh, How can immigration improve our standard of living? and Tony Keller A supersized Canada is so 20th century.

Diversity of appointments: With the 41 judicial appointments and 28 Senate appointments in 2016, we can see that the government is largely living up to its commitment to improve diversity (56.1 percent women, 4.9 percent visibility minorities, 7.3 percent Indigenous with respect to judges; 57.1 percent women, 21.4 percent visibility minorities, 7.1 Indigenous with respect to Senators), with the government committing to diversity reporting.

Citizenship judge appointments: It appears that, along with other GiC appointments, there have been delays in appointing citizenship judges, with the result that the number of judges available has dropped to 13 from 26 in place September 2015. As C-24 largely reduced the role of judges to presiding over citizenship ceremonies, this likely has less impact than stated in the article, Waiting to become Canadian: Citizenship ceremonies delayed by judge shortage,
compared to the fee increase and other changes  I have flagged (The impact of citizenship fees on naturalization – Policy Options).

Support for immigration and multiculturalism: A series of somewhat contradictory polls and interpretations, starting with Angus Reid, CBC-Angus Reid Institute poll: Canadians want minorities to do more to ‘fit in’, where roughly two-thirds of Canadians believe immigrants should adopt Canadian values while a similar two-thirds believe immigration levels are just about right. Environics Institute’s Focus Canada – Fall 2016 Canadian public opinion about immigration and citizenship 20 year tracking of support for immigration shows little recent change:

Environics Focus Canada 2016

Environics Focus Canada 2016

Nick Nanos’s survey of What makes Canadians proud of their country? has the following results:

“Asked an open-ended question about what made them proud to be Canadians, the top unprompted response was our commitment to equality/equity/social justice (25.2 per cent), followed by our reputation as peacekeepers (19.4 per cent), multiculturalism (12.0 per cent) and respect for others (11.3 per cent).”

All of which helps explain the divergence of positions among Conservative leadership candidates, ranging from those openly playing identity politics (Blaney, Leitch) to those with inclusive approaches (Chong, Obrai, Raitt).

Candice Malcolm continued her obsessive coverage of Minister Monsef (see Jason Ling’s Some Folks Really Want to Deport Maryam Monsef) and the question of birthplace and possible misrepresentation by her mother in her immigration and citizenship applications. Malcolm legitimately asks whether the government is treating her case differently than other such cases, given a number of revocations in what appear to be comparable cases (Lawyers lose battle for moratorium on contentious part of citizenship law).

However, unless I have missed it, Malcolm has remained silent on whether she supports the C-24 changes that removed the previous right to recourse to the Federal Court, without providing any right to a hearing, unlike Farzana Hassan, who objects to the “unfairness of the law” while still questioning Monsef’s story (Monsef shouldn’t be above the law).

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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