Chris Selley: Evidence of a nationwide immigrant backlash is flimsy at best

Good piece by Selley on the narrative.

I tend to place more weight on the Focus Canada long-term polling on attitudes towards immigration (key findings above), given their methodological soundness (not just because I am a fellow of the Environics Institute):

When Canadian media get hold of a bone, it can be awfully difficult to pry our jaws loose. The ongoing narrative that Canada is in the midst of a historic turn of public opinion against immigration, driven by malign political forces both at home and abroad, is a perfect example.

Readers likely caught wind of an Ekos poll released in April, which featured one genuinely remarkable finding: that 69 per cent of Conservative-supporting respondents felt too many visible minorities were immigrating to Canada. That was up from 47 per cent in 2013, whereas among Liberal supporters the number had fallen from 34 to 15 per cent.

Most reports included at least some of the important caveats: The total sample size of this poll was 507; the 2013 sample was six times larger. The number of Conservative supporters polled was just 180, with an attached margin of error of 7.3 per cent. But it certainly suggested public opinion may be polarizing on a specific immigration-related question.

Many reports went further, though. Huffington Post noted that as many respondents felt there were too many visible minority immigrants as felt there were too many immigrants overall. “That is something new,” it reported — “a pretty clear measure of racial discrimination,” Ekos pollster Frank Graves suggested, and perhaps evidence of “some contagion effect from the Trump show.”

Except it’s not new at all. The gap between “too many immigrants” and “too many visible-minority immigrants” in 2013 was all of three per cent, with a margin of error of 1.8 per cent; six years later it was one percent, with a margin of error of 4.2 per cent.

The Canadian Press, meanwhile, reported that “the share of people who think there are too many visible minorities in Canada is up ‘significantly.’” The poll showed nothing of the kind. The percentage expressing that opinion was actually down a point from a 2015 survey, long before Donald Trump threw American politics into chaos. Moreover, according to the Ekos data, the number of people who think there are too many immigrants, and the number who think there are too many visible-minority immigrants specifically, have plummeted in tandem since the pollster began reporting in the mid-90s.

In short, to the extent there’s anything historically new and negative here when it comes to tolerance for visible minorities, it seems to be confined within Conservative supporters and based on a single poll with a small sample size. And it’s certainly not unprecedented in recent times: An Angus Reid analysis released last year notes that the current public opinion environment looks much like it did in 1995, “the year that Jean Chrétien announced a ‘landing fee’ for new immigrants and a plan from the federal government to reduce in immigration overall.” No federal party leader save Maxime Bernier is promising anything of the sort.

There was nothing wrong with Graves’ poll; people were just overenthusiastic in interpreting it. Over the weekend, though, Léger Marketing and Canadian Press teamed up for a master class in how not to report public opinion. The headline finding, per CP: “63 per cent of respondents … said the government should prioritize limiting immigration levels because the country might be reaching a limit in its ability to integrate them. Just 37 per cent said the priority should be on growing immigration to meet the demands of Canada’s expanding economy.”

Bernier and other anti-immigration types turned cartwheels on social media. Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen blamed Conservative leader Andrew Scheer for “taking a stance that is rooted in misinformation and conspiracy theories” — one that risked “a corrosive effect on our social fabric.”

A few problems, though: Léger’s respondents weren’t offered a chance to say they think immigration levels are just about right, which is always the most or second-most popular option. Nor were they allowed to support hiking immigration for reasons other than economic, or to support lowering it for reasons other than integration concerns. And anyway, it’s hardly controversial to “limit immigration” lest it exceed Canadian communities’ capacities. There’s a housing crisis on, in case you hadn’t noticed. Indeed, presumably that’s one of the reasons Hussen himself is “limiting immigration,” just like every other immigration minister does.

None of this is meant to rubbish the idea that an immigrant backlash could take hold in Canada. It certainly could. In recent years the Conservatives have pushed some new rhetorical boundaries, notably on “barbaric cultural practices” and the UN Global Migration Compact — and Bernier is miles further out there than that. Canadians have stayed remarkably calm while watching tens of thousands of people stream unchallenged across the U.S. border, and being called racist for expressing misgivings, but that mightn’t last forever. Anti-immigrant sentiment often correlates with economic downturns, and Alberta is in the midst of a whopper. Quebec has been on a nativist bender for more than a decade.

As yet, though, there simply isn’t the data to back up the claim of a backlash. And the last thing Canada needs, as Hussen and his fellow Liberal Cabinet ministers will ever-so-earnestly tell you, is a fact-free discussion about immigration.

Source: Chris Selley: Evidence of a nationwide immigrant backlash is flimsy at best

There’s a gaping hole in our democracy

Former Conservative Senator Oliver on the under-representation of Black Canadians.

His solutions are not as easy as he states, and certainly the current government has a good overall record in its appointments in terms of increased numbers of women, visible minorities and Indigenous peoples:

Canada was once the envy of the world with our legislation on multiculturalism, tolerance, and ethnic fairness. But our democracy, indeed all our democratic institutions, have failed us because, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said,” our House of Commons, the heart of our democracy, should look more like the composition of Canadian society”— including more Black MPs, but, sadly it doesn’t. However, the good news is that we are capable of reaching that pinnacle of democratic excellence once again if we could just learn how to accept diversity.

Some things never seem to change. In nature, virtually all plant and animal life change and adapt with time. But attitudinal change is difficult, particularly as it relates to our Canadian democratic demographics. They seem strangled by decades, indeed centuries, of insidious, often painful, and subtle racism that prevents minorities, specifically African Canadians, from participating, in a meaningful way, in the framework of Canadian society. And that includes being elected or appointed to Canada’s parliamentary institutions. In February, during Black History Month, Prime Minister Trudeau stated that he wants to do more to “recruit and elect Black Members of Parliament.”

Last year, our prime minister also announced that Canada officially recognized the UN International Decade for People of African Descent. But so far, that recognition, like the recruitment promise, has not made its way into the heart of our parliamentary institutions. It seems that everything, from gerrymandering, certain racially biased laws and regulations, to some blatant mainstream political party racial insensitivity, have kept our political and bureaucratic institutions virtually white. Of 338 members of the House of Commons, there are fewer than 10 African Canadians. Is that representative of the Canadian mosaic? Hardly. Where are they? Why aren’t more nominated and elected?

As the United Nations puts it, for far too many Canadians, anti-Black racism, discrimination and inequality are part of their daily lives. It reaches into our democratic institutions. It’s unacceptable and, frankly, it’s time our government took some concrete, positive steps to change and correct it.

What, you may ask, is so wrong if people in the seats of power in our democratic institutions do not reflect the face of Canada? What if they are all from the white majority? So, what? Well, for one thing, anti-Black racism is a fact and a reality in Canada today. It exists. Equality of opportunity for all is non-existent. So if African Canadians are not represented, their issues, concerns, aspirations, and needs can easily be unconsciously overlooked and ignored. That constitutes a fundamental failure of our democracy.

There are answers and there are solutions. But it will not be cured with one token appointment of a lone Black person delegated to the back corner. It requires critical mass to ensure a viable result.

All of this can be easily and quickly rectified starting with executive action in Ottawa. For instance, the next 10 appointments to the Senate of Canada could be African Canadians. More eminently qualified Black lawyers and judges could be immediately appointed by cabinet to our Supreme and Superior Courts throughout the land. The next three deputy ministers appointed in the public service could easily be African Canadians. There is a huge pool of bilingual, highly skilled senior EX managers awaiting a call. The prime minister could also act on another UN recommendation because we desperately need a new Department of Diversity headed by a seasoned and qualified Black Canadian deputy minister. The next 15 order-in-council executive appointments to our largest and most powerful Crown corporations could easily be African Canadians, and all of that can be done with the stroke of a pen. It simply takes executive will. Prime Minister Trudeau could implement all of the above before the next federal election.

That’s how easy it would be to implement, throughout Canada, the directives and wishes of the United Nations for this International Decade for People of African Descent. Once implemented, Canadians could observe these talented and qualified Black men and women perform with competence and integrity in these senior positions. At the same time, the remnants of this latent anti-Black racism would slowly dissipate and disappear. These exceptional Black leaders would be part of our cultural mosaic, which makes Canada so great. And Canada would once again return to its position of envy around the globe because of the strength of our democratic institutions.

Let’s fill that gaping hole in our democracy. Now is the time for all Canadians to call on their parliamentary representatives to force the executive to carry out these changes. What a better place Canada would then be for all of us.

Source: There’s a gaping hole in our democracy

UK accused of profiteering on Syrians’ child citizenship fees

Not quite a weekly event, yet another example of hard to justify UK citizenship and immigration policies and practices (when Canada raised its adult fees in 2014-15, it maintained the low fee for children):

The UK government could profit by more than £5m by charging children who have fled war-torn Syria to apply for British citizenship, according to research.

The revelation, based on the Home Office’s own data, has sparked accusations that the government is profiteering from vulnerable children and making a windfall profit by driving vulnerable families into debt.

Campaigners point out that the government will profit whether the Syrian children’s applications are successful or not: if they are refused, applicants are not refunded. If children reapply for citizenship, the fee must be paid again.

Valerie Peay, the director of the International Observatory of Human Rights, has called on the next prime minister to end the “practice of profiteering from vulnerable children”.

The UK charges 10 times more than any other European country for child citizenship fees, at £1,012 per child, plus £19.20 to provide biometric information. They are charged an extra £80 if they turn 18 during the application process. The cost of processing the application is £372.

The charges have increased 51% in the last five years, during the period when Theresa May’s Home Office instigated a “hostile environment” policy to reduce immigration numbers.

Source: UK accused of profiteering on Syrians’ child citizenship fees

Want more diversity in politics? Start by looking at political parties: Tolley

Good piece by Tolley. The only other point I would add is that visible minority candidates tend to run in ridings with significant numbers of visible minorities and immigrants, where likely the local riding party memberships reflect that diversity:

The 2015 federal election saw a record number of women, Indigenous peoples, and racialized Canadians elected to the House of Commons. When he selected his ministry, Justin Trudeau lauded it as “a cabinet that looks like Canada.” These gains are notable, but they should not be taken for granted. There are still representational gaps: women, Indigenous peoples, and racialized Canadians all occupy proportionately fewer seats in the House of Commons than their share of the Canadian population.

To get at the root of electoral under-representation, forget the electoral system. You need to look no further than Canada’s political parties. Parties control access to the House of Commons because they select nearly all of the candidates who appear on the ballot. Even so, the processes that parties use to recruit and select candidates are so opaque that the nomination stage has been referred to as the “black box” of Canadian politics. One thing is clear: if there is a representational deficit in the House of Commons, it’s because when parties nominate candidates, the ones they choose are still disproportionately white and male.

The problem isn’t voter bias. Of course voters harbour prejudice, but on election day, their preference for a particular party or leader tends to override whatever reservations they might have about a candidate’s race, gender, or demographic background. As a result, researchers have largely concluded that when women and minorities run, they win. What this means is that if parties nominated more diverse candidate slates, there would be more diversity in Parliament. The representational gap begins with parties, and the demographic mismatch between Parliament and the population only widens as prospective candidates move through each stage of recruitment, beginning with the decision to run for office and continuing until the ballots are counted.

Parties are not obligated to release data on the diversity of their candidate slates, so researchers and journalists are left to tally the statistics. They do this by consulting candidate biographies and other publicly available information, but even then, it’s hard to compile a full picture beyond the three main parties. In 2015, our best estimates suggest that at least 80 per cent of candidates were white, and 70 per cent were men.

Data compiled by the author, using candidate biographies and other publicly available sources. Women of colour includes both Indigenous and racialized women.

So, why don’t parties nominate more women and minorities? In some cases, political parties underestimate the electoral prospects of candidates who don’t fit the profile of the prototypical politician. There is also evidence that they filter women into unwinnable ridings and pigeonhole racialized candidates into only the most diverse districts. Gatekeeping matters.

My research shows that racialized candidates are more likely to emerge when the party’s riding association president is also racialized; otherstudies confirm that women riding association presidents are positively related to the selection of women candidates. Perhaps it’s because women and racialized gatekeepers have more diverse networks and can draw on these resources when identifying potential candidates, but it also appears that under-represented groups respond more positively to recruitment from gatekeepers with backgrounds like their own. Diverse local party leadership might also signal the party’s openness to a variety of candidates.

Despite this, my own research suggests that at least three-quarters of riding association presidents—the most prominent local party gatekeepers—are white and male. Candidate search committees typically assist riding association presidents, but the face of local recruitment efforts is still relatively homogenous. Parties might have more success in their efforts to recruit candidates with a wider range of characteristics and life experiences if the executives of their local riding associations were themselves more diverse.

The NDP has tried to tackle the challenge through an equity policy that commits to running women candidates in at least 50 per cent of all districts, and members of other equity groups in a further 30 per cent; “equity groups” is a catch-all for racialized minorities, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, individuals who are LGBTQ, and youth. Although in 2015, the party nominated more women candidates than either the Liberals or the Conservatives, they nominated the fewest racialized minorities. This suggests that even an explicit commitment to more diversity is not enough. In 2017, the Liberals and Conservatives defeated a private member’s bill that would financially penalize parties for not running more women candidates

Other less formal means have also been tried. For example, prior to the last election, the federal Liberals launched an initiative called #AskHer. The idea was simple and grounded in research that shows women candidates need far more encouragement to run for office than men do. The Liberal Party asked Canadians to identify qualified women candidates whom they thought the party should approach to run. From these submitted names, just one woman—Celina Caesar-Chavannes— was ultimately elected as a Member of Parliament.

Parties have long been the gatekeepers to elected office, but apart from requiring them to disclose the names of their donors and abide by some basic electoral rules, there is little—aside from public pressure—to hold them to account. The 2019 election is an opportunity to do so. How many candidates from equity-seeking groups did parties approach and encourage to run for office? What measures are they putting in place to recruit diverse candidates to office? And how are parties supporting new candidates, whether that’s through training, a financial contribution, or volunteers? Last election, parties told voters to #AskHer. This time, we need to ask more of parties.

Source: Want more diversity in politics? Start by looking at political parties

Journalists inherit ‘institutional blindspots’ that cloud coverage of race in politics, says media expert

From the Hill Times, Erin Tolley on blindspots, myself on diversityvotes.ca and others:

Increasing the diversity of newsrooms isn’t a cure-all for improving political coverage of racialized people, says a media expert, who argues that journalists often end up inheriting the institutional blindspots of the outlets they work for. 

“Even journalists of colour sometimes will produce coverage that differentiates and treats white and racialized subjects differently,” said Erin Tolley, political science professor at University of Toronto, in a phone interview. “Journalists are a product of the institutions that see whiteness as a norm. It’s not a problem of individual journalists.” 

Prof. Tolley spent four years surveying the mainstream media’s coverage of race in politics with data from the 2008 federal election, including how its depiction of non-incumbent, visible-minority candidates’ viability compared to non-incumbent, white candidates. 

“White, straight men are still seen as people who deserve to be in institutions of power, who naturally fit into those roles. … [Journalists] come at stories about racialized subjects with a different standard,” she said. “They present the white, non-incumbent candidates as more politically viable, more qualified to win, than racialized non-incumbents.” 

These unconscious biases towards visible-minority candidates tend to disappear from coverage, she said, when they occupy political office. 

Andrew Griffith, former director general at Citizenship and Immigration Canada during the Harper era, echoed Prof. Tolley’s assertion that improving diversity within one’s ranks doesn’t necessarily translate into a diversity of thought, particularly when the culture of the institution in question might promote conformity. “You had management teams that had a degree of diversity, but the corporate culture is about conforming. Did those diverse people bring a diverse perspective? You didn’t necessarily see that,” Mr. Griffith said of his own experience in government. 

Since retiring from public service, Mr. Griffith has now developed a tool with Mirems—a company that monitors and translates coverage from ethnic media sources—aimed at providing context about how issues are being covered in diaspora communities. The online tool is at Diversityvotes.ca. For journalists, he said, it can serve as a resource to deepen their understanding of the complexity of ethnic communities and to demystify perceptions that there’s a monolithic ethnic vote. “There’s a diversity with the diversity, and simply labelling or assuming people within a community are representative of an entire community is dangerous,” Mr. Griffith said. 

When confronted with their biases, Prof. Tolley said, journalists she interviewed—who spoke on the condition of confidentiality—tried to explain away differences in their framing of a candidate’s electability. For example, she observed that non-white candidates were more seen as long-shot candidates compared to their white counterparts. They insisted that any differences stemmed from a candidate’s level of experience, not stereotypes, even as she pointed out that those factors had been controlled for in the research. (The findings were published in her book, Framed: Media and the Coverage of Race in Canadian Politics.)

The Canadian Press style guide’s—the definitive handbook that many reporters have copies of handy—section on race illustrates how journalists are instructed to think about the subject of racial stereotypes, Prof. Tolley said. In both the previous and latest editions of the guide, one measure for determining whether it’s “pertinent” to mention a person’s race is if one is reporting on an “accomplishment unusual in a particular race.” Thinking of issues of race in those terms, she said, shows “some outdated thinking about race and racial characteristics. In defending CP’s standards, the guide’s editor, James McCarten, told her in an interview for the book that the word “unusual” may not be the right word, but he stood by the guideline, saying, “journalism oftentimes is all about firsts” and “historically relevant” events. 

Efforts to deepen coverage of race, politics 

Ryan McMahon, the host of Canadaland’s Thunder Bay podcast series, said that his Anishinaabe identity, coupled with the privilege of not immediately being seen as Indigenous because of his skin colour, informs his approach to reporting on issues of race. 

In setting out to tell the story of why Thunder Bay has the highest hate-crime rates in Canada and why there’s deep distrust in the city’s institutions, Mr. McMahon said, the “one thing” the podcast got right was getting someone like him to report on the city. Having firsthand exposure to the subtle ways that racism manifests itself, he said, helps in identifying and effectively naming racism. In his hometown of Fort Frances, Ont., for example, it was “rare” to see a “brown face” behind the cash register. 

“The way I experience racism is very different than someone who is visibly native. I can walk down the street and not be identified as Indigenous, so my experience is very different,” Mr. McMahon said. “[Racism in Canada] is often quiet, but aggressive, unspoken. … The kind of racism we’re talking about isn’t necessarily a Nazi skinhead, KKK apologist. It can often be an unconscious ignorance, with deeply held misperceptions. People hold on really tightly to stereotypes.” 

The groundwork laid by journalists such as Mr. McMahon and Toronto Star’s Tanya Talaga in chronicling the systemic racism in Thunder Bay that underpins its public institutions—and the national conversation that followed—helped open up the space for The Globe and Mail to establish a temporary presence in the northwestern Ontario city earlier this year. The paper had also done extensive coverage of Adam Capay, the Lac Seul First Nation man who spent about four years in solitary confinement. 

David Walmsley, The Globe’s editor-in-chief, explained in a staff memo that temporarily setting up shop in Thunder Bay, in an election year, presents this country a “chance to look inward and to encourage improvement in areas where we all know improvement needs to be made.”

Having spent more than a decade reporting on Indigenous issues, veteran Hill reporter Gloria Galloway was among the first reporters assigned to live for a couple of months in Thunder Bay, as part of the paper’s effort to deepen its coverage of the systemic racism in the city. The Globe does not have an Indigenous reporter on its staff, so it had a “limited pool” to choose from for the first stint, Ms. Galloway said. 

That The Globe, the country’s national newspaper, still doesn’t have an Indigenous columnist or staff reporter is a reflection of how the “markers” for improving diversity don’t appear to have moved much in Canadian media, said Mr. McMahon, who added that there are a bunch of journalists who are closer to the story. He said he’s been disappointed by The Globe’s coverage of Thunder Bay, pointing to the first piece released that gave an extensive overview, in interactive form, of the issue, with interviews from a cast of characters in the city. “So far, we’ve seen a Thunder Bay 101 piece. I understand why they had to do that, but it was a surface-level piece, a collection of stories that other journalists have already told,” Mr. McMahon said.

Ms. Galloway acknowledged that there’s a “huge learning curve” that comes with reporting on Indigenous issues, as a white woman. But, over time, through her reporting, she said, she’s developed a “sensitivity” to covering issues of race and has developed friendships and earned the respect of Indigenous peoples: “Every year, I’ve learned how much more I don’t know.”

Ms. Galloway said The Globe’s decision to dedicate resources to cover Thunder Bay was not an “insignificant financial commitment” for the paper, particularly in an election year. “I was pulled out of the Ottawa bureau for months. Losing a body in Ottawa for us is very difficult,” she said.

But there was an acknowledgment that shining a light on the situation could help elevate the issue to become part of the election discussion. “We’re not activist journalists, but certainly, there’s a sense in The Globe culture that shining a light on things that are wrong and having corrective action is [important],” Ms. Galloway said. 

Though Ms. Galloway is retiring next week, having decided to take a voluntary buyout, she said, the paper is committed to having a presence in Thunder Bay through the summer and fall. 

Source: Journalists inherit ‘institutional blindspots’ that cloud coverage of race in politics, says media expert

Andrew Coyne: Will leaders tolerate religious segregation just because it’s Quebec?

Typical trenchant Coyne column:

According to the premier of Quebec, it’s all about pride. Quebecers, Francois Legault claims, are forever stopping him in the street to tell him “‘Mr. Legault we are happy.’ I say why and they say ‘it’s because we are proud.’… To feel this regained pride among our people, who are standing up, advancing, makes me the happiest man in the world to be their premier.”

And what is this miraculous thing that has restored Quebecers’ sense of pride to them? What has prompted ordinary Quebecers to buttonhole the premier to tell him how happy — and proud — they are? A bill that prohibits those in “positions of authority” in the civil service, including not only judges and police officers but teachers, from wearing religious symbols on the job.

Which is to say, that prohibits those whose faith obliges them to wear such symbols from working in those positions. Or if we are really being frank, that bars them to observant Muslims — also Sikhs and some Jews, but really Muslims.

That, according to the premier, is what has caused Quebecers to walk erect again: Bill 21, “An act respecting the laicity of the state,” passed in a special weekend sitting of the legislature, with the help of closure.

The bill will of course face a raft of court challenges, its prophylactic invocation of the notwithstanding clause, er, notwithstanding. The clause may save the law from judicial invalidation on the grounds of its manifest violations of Charter guarantees of equality or religious freedom, but it does not shield it from judicial scrutiny on other grounds: as a possible violation of the division of powers, say, or of women’s rights, or indeed as an improper use of the clause itself.

Whether the courts will be willing to go to such novel lengths remains in doubt. So we are faced with a question I raised some months ago: is this a state of affairs the country can tolerate? On the evidence, it would seem we can. The government of the second-largest province in the country has just passed a law forbidding the province’s religious minorities from working in much of the public service  — and when we say religious minorities, we are typically also talking of racial minorities — and the reaction elsewhere is … silence. No federal leader issued a statement in response. No other premier spoke up.

Oh, there was some perfunctory criticism from both quarters when the bill was introduced, though in curiously muted language. Justin Trudeau ventured, indirectly, that he didn’t think “that a lot of people feel that … we should be legitimizing discrimination of our citizens based on religion.” Andrew Scheer noted, vaguely, that “a society based on fundamental freedoms and openness must always protect fundamental individual rights and should not in any way impede people from expressing themselves.” Even Jagmeet Singh, whose turban would preclude his employment as a cop or teacher in Quebec, confined himself to observing that “this law that is being proposed is something that divides the population… instead of bringing people together.”

But now even that is apparently too much. Whether or not one thinks some sort of federal action is required — I do not see why it is any less legitimate for the federal government to use its constitutional power to “disallow” provincial legislation than for the Supreme Court to do so, but neither is that the only means at the feds’ disposal — it is extraordinary that it should not even be considered worthy of comment.

If this had been tried in any other province — well, why proceed? It wouldn’t be tried in any other province. But if it were, the feds, the media and the rest of the great and the good would descend on the offending province like Moses from Mount Sinai, full of fiery denunciations of the bigotry that presumably inspired it. But because it is Quebec — and, one suspects, because there’s an election in the offing — we are invited, as ever, to understand, or at any rate to shut up.

We have to avoid the temptation to abstraction. This is not merely an “intrusion on religious freedom” or “incompatible with religious equality” or “a misunderstanding of religious neutrality.” It is a religious hiring bar. Its effect, if not its aim, is to enforce a kind of segregation over much of the public sector.

To be sure, it applies only to some jobs, and not the whole of the civil service, as the Parti Québécois had previously proposed in its “charter of values.” And the government has partially exempted existing employees: while they would not be fired from their current jobs — no tearful scenes for the networks — neither could they move to a new location, take a new job, or accept a promotion within the areas prohibited to them.

But this is small comfort to those Quebecers who might aspire to work as teachers, police officers, judges and so on, whose government has essentially told them: No Muslims (or Sikhs, or orthodox Jews) need apply. Even existing employees who profess these faiths must surely see how limited a future the government has in mind for them. Over time, they may be expected to take the hint, and leave.

We are surely past the stage now where some tenured idiot will attempt to justify this in the name of French concepts of secularism or Quebecers’ scarred memories of their Church-dominated past, but just in case: it is probably no coincidence that Bill 21 should have been passed on the same weekend as Bill 9, another law of dubious constitutionality that would impose a “values test” on immigrants to the province. This is about putting the province’s minorities — religious, racial and otherwise — in their place.

Which leaves the rest of us with a decision to make. Sixty-odd years ago the United States decided it was not prepared to tolerate racial segregation in its schools in the name of “states’ rights.” Will we tolerate religious segregation in the public service on the principle that “what happens in Quebec stays in Quebec”?

Fears of ‘secularism police’ in Quebec raised by last-minute changes to religious symbols bill

So much for social peace and “settling the issue:” Can expect an ongoing stream of stories regarding individuals affected, enforcement actions taken and legal challenges:

Quebec’s opposition is warning last-minute changes to the Coalition Avenir Québec’s religious symbols law open the door to the establishment of “secularism police.”

In the final hours before Bill 21 was passed late Sunday, the CAQ introduced several amendments, including provisions to ensure the law is being followed and to impose disciplinary measures if it is not.

Liberal MNA Marc Tanguay, who voted against the bill, said the changes would lead to what he described as “secularism police.”

“It was never discussed, it’s unacceptable,” Tanguay said on Twitter.

Sol Zanetti, an MNA for Québec Solidaire, the second opposition party, also expressed concern about the change.

“So now will there be police officers going after people to check if they have religious signs? We don’t know.”Q

The legislative session was originally scheduled to be suspended for the summer break last Friday.

However, members of the National Assembly sat through the weekend after the CAQ used its majority to invoke closure and put an end to debate over Bill 21, as well as its contentious immigration legislation, Bill 9.

The secularism law bars public school teachers, government lawyers, judges and police officers from wearing religious symbols while at work.

The bill passed 73 to 35, with the CAQ as well as the Parti Québécois, the third opposition party, voting in favour.

Not police, but ‘verification,’ CAQ says

Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette rejected the opposition’s characterization of the amendments to Bill 21, saying they are meant simply to ensure the law is followed.

He said the government needs the power to ensure institutions, such as school boards, comply with the new rules.

School teachers hired after March 28 will not be allowed to wear religious symbols. Those already on the job are to be exempted under a grandfather clause.

“If a school board doesn’t respect the bill, we have the power of verification to see why they don’t respect the bill,” Jolin-Barrette said.

The English Montreal School Board has already said it will not enforce the law.

Religious groups and legal experts have argued the law unfairly discriminates against minorities, particularly Muslim women who wear the hijab.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association announced they are challenging the law Monday.

A protest is also planned for Montreal.

Jolin-Barrette, who tabled the legislation, reiterated Monday the secularism law was long overdue, after years of debate over religious accommodation in the province.

Source: Fears of ‘secularism police’ in Quebec raised by last-minute changes to religious symbols bill

Senate adopts Indigenous Languages Act, with amendments

Will be interesting to follow implementation and impact:

The Senate Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples has adopted an amended version of Bill C-91, the Indigenous Languages Act, with changes largely prompted by Inuit groups.

The legislation, introduced this past winter, would see the government establish an Office of the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages, with a mandate to support and promote language revitalization efforts.

It would also give federal institutions the power to translate their own documents or offer interpretation.

“On the whole, the amendments passed strengthen the bill and better enable Indigenous peoples to reclaim, revitalize, maintain and strengthen their own languages,” said committee chair Senator Lillian Dyck on June 13.

“Of particular attention are a series of amendments that now include access to services and programs in Indigenous languages where there is sufficient demand and access.”

Dyck referred specifically to testimony by Inuit groups, who asked that the legislation ensure access to certain services, like education, health and justice, in Inuktut.

To that end, the committee passed an amendment that requires the minister of heritage and multiculturalism to review and report on the availability and quality of federal government services provided in Inuktut.

The committee also agreed to recognize the importance of Inuktut to Inuit Nunangat.

Though the legislation was touted as being co-developed alongside Indigenous groups, it received a cool reception from Inuit groups when it was tabled in February.

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami chided the government for the absence of any Inuit-specific content; its president, Natan Obed, accused the government of “yet another legislative initiative developed behind closed doors by a colonial system.”

The national Inuit organization filed this submission last February, calling for certain amendments to the bill, including the development of a separate annex for Inuktut; recognition of Inuktut as an “original language of Canada,” and the negotiation of a separate funding agreement.

Nunavut Senator Dennis Patterson credited the testimony of groups like ITK and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. over the last few months for re-shaping the legislation, though he said the process felt rushed.

“The government did pride itself on having worked hard to co-develop this legislation, but [for] the Inuit, was very clear to the committee that the process had fallen far short of fulfilling the government’s commitment to develop distinction-based legislation,” Patterson told the committee on June 13.

“I’m pleased that the committee agreed to recognize the importance of Inuktut to Inuit Nunangat, and appropriate funding levels based on a series of principles, including the use and vitality of a language and the objective of reclamation, revitalization, maintenance or strengthening of all Indigenous languages of Canada in an equitable manner.”

In a statement released June 14, ITK said it welcomed the Senate’s acknowledgement of some of its recommendations.

“It is regrettable that not all of the well-reasoned and thoughtful considerations put forward by Inuit were included by the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples,” ITK said in a statement, calling on MPs to include all its recommendations before the bill’s final passage.

Bill C-91 will now go back to the House of Commons, where MPs will vote on the committee’s amendments and pass it into law.

Source: Senate adopts Indigenous Languages Act, with amendments

The racial profiling of Masai Ujiri: Andray Domise

Good column by Domise:

A few years ago, after I wrote a column for Maclean’s on the police killing of Jordan Edwards, I informed my editor at the time that I would prefer to not cover the topic when it wasn’t relevant to Canada. Of course, it’s important for news media to document police killings, I said at the time, and it’s the responsibility of the columnist to analyze them. Otherwise, the narrative offered by police (which is too often passed on by a sympathetic media as objective reporting) becomes the lone authoritative voice in the discourse. This skewed reporting can leave readers with the impression that Black people suffer death—as well as brutal assaults, verbal abuse at gunpoint, and everyday racial profiling—as a result of our own careless actions, rather than state-sanctioned enforcement of racial hierarchies.

But there is a mental toll to writing about police violence, and that the source of that toll isn’t just the knowledge that a structurally white supremacist state sees Black life as disposable, if not inconvenient to its project. There’s also the fact that Black writers must revisit this conversation, ad infinitum, and be met with skeptical reactions ranging from feigned shock to outright denial when we provide rafts of evidence that police are not simply affected by “unconscious bias” (which is clever bureaucrat-speak for “everybody’s a little bit racist”), but are active participants in racial conflict.

Take, for example, the carding of Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri. After the final moments of game six, when nine milliseconds were stretched by procedural nonsense into infinity, Ujiri raced towards the court to celebrate victory along with the team he spent years building to perfection. As he approached the hardwood, he was stopped by a deputy of the Alameda County Sherriff’s Office. What happened next is unclear, but to hear spokesperson Sgt. Ray Kelly tell it, when asked to present his credentials, Ujiri allegedly shoved the officer and then shoved him again, striking him in the jaw the second time.

On the other hand, Greg Wiener, a Warriors season ticket holder standing nearby the altercation, refuted that version of events. He tweeted: “Ujiri was pulling out his NBA Pass, the cop did not see badge he put his hands on Ujiri to stop him from going forward. The cop pushed Ujiri, then Ujiri pushed back. Cop was wrong.” Wiener repeated this in a televised interview, again suggesting the officer physically restrained Ujiri. Videos from other Twitter users soon surfaced, including footage from backstage as the game concluded, which showed Ujiri holding a badge in his hand while heading out to the arena. In other words, he had what he needed to be where he had to be for his team.

I also spoke with Raptors game announcer Leo Rautins, who described the Alameda Sheriff’s Office version of events as complete nonsense. “There is no way this isn’t a racial profile at best. I did a fast walk by security and no one cared,” Rautins said. “Masai was with his security, and team personnel, who all have credentials. How many [Black] men in a suit, with security and credentials, are trying to get on the court for a trophy presentation?”

And how was the story reported in Canada?

When the news about the alleged assault emerged, just about every Canadian news service (including  Globe and Mail, CBC, and National Post blared headlines that Masai Ujiri was “accused of assaulting sheriff’s deputy.” All were based on wire news from Adam Burns of the Canadian Press (the Globe and Mail later softened the headline to “allegedly involved in altercation as he was blocked trying to join title celebration,” after it became apparent the original was not going to fly). In the original Canadian Press story, Sgt. Kelly was the lone voice quoted, with no counter-narrative whatsoever, leaving the impression that Ujiri attempted to buffalo his way through a police officer, an officer just trying to do his job, and in the interest of optics during the Sheriff’s office decided to let Ujiri get away with it.

Let’s put all of that aside for a moment. Let’s even put aside the fact that this is the same Sheriff’s office that hosted the Oath Keepers (a far-right paramilitary organization known for racial antagonism), that has a history of excessive force and racial profiling, and once re-tweeted prominent white supremacist Richard Spencer(supposedly by accident). To believe this version of events, one would have to believe that Masai Ujiri—a Black man who in his previous role as director for the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders program helped cultivate young global talent, who has met and spoken with Black youth from all over Canada, and is currently the most powerful executive in the NBA—that Masai Ujiri walks around so gassed-up during the most important moment of his professional life, that he responds to mild inconvenience by assaulting a sheriff’s deputy. That was the narrative that Canadian press were willing to promote, until a white witness stepped forward to vouch for Ujiri’s conduct.

This is exactly what police count on. When people see racial profiling as a benign accident at best, and bad actors tainting an otherwise good system at worst, its intended purpose is so obscured that we must discuss every offense, every case, every murder, every denial of our humanity as a one-off incident that forms no recognizable pattern of behaviour. Much less a structural tool of a system predicated on keeping Black people in a state of forced obsequiousness, no matter how high we rise within that system, or how powerful we may appear to be. What should have been the proudest moment of Ujiri’s life, and should have been a moment of unadulterated joy for Raptors fans, became yet another footnote in the body of evidence on racial profiling.

And our news media, for all of the promises to be mindful of its own blind spots, gave the police every ounce of undeserved credibility they asked for.

I’m afraid I have no lofty conclusion for my thoughts here, because there is nothing to conclude. The profiling of Masai Ujiri is just the latest entry in that never-ending conversation. Once it fades, we’ll be forced to recapitulate the entire argument, for whatever ridiculous reason, and I don’t look forward to it.

Source: The racial profiling of Masai Ujiri

Silence on Tiananmen anniversary could be sign of China’s influence on Canadian community groups: critics

Important to note the contrast. While I agree, of course, that photos with local consular officials are normal, the silence appears to reflect an emerging pattern of Chinese involvement in Canadian institutions, as some of the incidents in universities indicate:

Three decades ago, days after the Chinese government’s brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protesters at Tiananmen Square, Vancouver-based immigrant-services organization SUCCESS issued a joint statement with other community groups condemning the violence. It called on China to follow the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and engage in peaceful negotiation.

Recently, on the 30th anniversary of the massacre, the non-profit — which has a $50 million budget and become one of the largest social-service agencies in Canada, providing help with settlement, language training, employment, seniors care and housing — did nothing to mark the occasion.

Its silence did not go unnoticed.

Kenneth Tung, a former chair of SUCCESS and member of the Vancouver Society in Support of Democratic Movement, said he would like to have seen the organization tap into its roots and put out a “simple” statement urging China to allow its citizens to enjoy the freedoms we enjoy in Canada.

“In the last few years, there’s been more (human rights) violations — going backwards,” he said. “I wish the board of SUCCESS sees that too.”

Some in the community wonder if the reluctance to speak out may, at least in part, be influenced by the region’s shifting demographics and insertion of Chinese government representatives in local affairs. More than 40 per cent of the organization’s 61,000 clients are from mainland China, as opposed to Hong Kong when SUCCESS was founded in the 1970s.

The organization opened a satellite office in Beijing a few years ago and its leaders are often photographed in the company of Chinese consular officials or members of community groups that are seen as friendly to Beijing. During the annual Chinese New Year parade this year, Queenie Choo, SUCCESS’s CEO, stood alongside Chinese consul-general Tong Xiaoling.

“It has been my observation that a lot of board members of SUCCESS may be reluctant to have the organization be involved in publicly controversial political issues, especially when it relates to China,” said Tommy Tao, a retired lawyer and activist who served on the SUCCESS board in the mid-1990s.

Tao added: “It is important to be aware and vigilant that the PRC (People’s Republic of China) consulate is very skilful exerting its influence — sometimes it’s not in the best interest of the local community and sometimes it’s not in the best interest of Canada.”

Choo told the National Post there’s no question more needs to be done to stand up for global democracy. But SUCCESS is not in the business of trying to antagonize other countries, she said. “We’re here to provide services and advocate for immigrants, new Canadians, seniors and affordable housing.” When it does take a stand on an issue, it is done in a “thoughtful” manner.

Just because she and other leaders at SUCCESS are seen in the company of certain people or groups doesn’t necessarily mean they endorse their views, she said. “Am I under undue influence of PRC? I don’t think so.”

At a time when countless stories about money laundering and skyrocketing real-estate prices have raised concerns about anti-Chinese sentiment, the National Post’s exploration of China’s so-called “soft-power” influence activities overseas similarly brought up fears of stoking xenophobia.

Peter Guo, another former SUCCESS board member, said the Post’s line of inquiry could end up demonizing one cultural group and perpetuate racial dog whistles.

“The subtext is very dangerous,” he said.

But China watchers say the Chinese government’s efforts to expand its foreign influence and suppress criticism, in part by cultivating relationships with community organizations serving the Chinese diaspora, is real and those organizations need to be vigilant.

“The Chinese Communist Party sees its overseas population of Chinese emigrants and foreign residents, generally reckoned to total about 50 million people, as an asset to be marshalled in the promotion of China’s political interests,” veteran Canadian journalist Jonathan Manthorpe wrote in his book Claws of the Panda: Beijing’s Campaign of Influence and Intimidation in Canada.

A report posted on the website of Canada’s spy agency, CSIS, in May 2018 stated that “[Chinese President] Xi Jinping has increased the reach of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) over the lives of citizens, and is targeting the Chinese diaspora as a means of increasing international influence.”

The report cited a paper released the year before by Anne-Marie Brady, a professor at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand and global fellow at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. She wrote that China’s foreign influence activities had accelerated under Xi Jinping and was being carried out by the Chinese government’s Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council and the CCP’s United Front Work Department.

The goal of successful overseas Chinese work, she wrote, is to get the overseas community to “proactively and even better, spontaneously, engage in activities which enhance China’s foreign policy agenda.”

Chinese consulates and embassies might relay instructions to Chinese community groups and the Chinese language media or bring in high-level CCP delegations to meet with them.

But the CCP prefers to be seen to be guiding the overseas Chinese community as opposed to leading them. “Overseas Chinese leaders who co-operate in this guidance are encouraged to see their participation as a form of service, serving the Chinese Motherland, the Chinese race, and the ethnic Chinese population within the countries where they live.”

How does this play out in real life? Some say: look to Australia.

In 2017, the Chinese Australian Services Society, a Sydney-based immigrant-service agency similar to SUCCESS, raised eyebrows when it released a foreign policy paper that said Australia should reconsider its “unquestioning strategic alignment with the U.S.” and “understand Australia is capable of many important and positive roles besides ‘America’s deputy sheriff.’”

It’s inevitable, the paper went on to say, that “every nation in the region needs to pursue an effective relationship with China for sustainable prosperity in the next couple of decades.”

After the media got wind of the policy paper, the society put out a statement rejecting the implication that it had fallen under China’s influence and said the paper was a summary of the views of its constituents. The statement went on to say that the organization had been transparent in its annual operations report about its dealings with the Chinese government.

However, China expert Nick Bisley told The Australian newspaper there was a “clear effort by forces in the PRC to shape opinion in Australia to promote a more positive view of the PRC and to distance Australia from the U.S.”

The Chinese Australian Services Society had received official designation a couple years earlier as an “Overseas Chinese Service Centre” by the Chinese government’s Overseas Chinese Affairs Office, according to the office’s website. Qiu Yuanping, the office’s director, announced in 2014 a goal of establishing 60 such centres around the world.

For the most part, it appears the Chinese government has chosen pre-existing immigrant-service organizations to designate in these roles, says Matt Schrader, a China expert based in Washington, D.C.

Doing so, he said, gives the “party-state visibility into what’s happening in overseas Chinese communities. Through that visibility, (it gives) them a way to monitor and — where they’re able and it’s appropriate — to control what’s happening in those communities in a way that serves their interests.”

In a column earlier this year, Schrader wrote that “the United Front’s cultivation of these organizations appears to have paid dividends, if judged by their leaders’ willingness to associate themselves with CCP political slogans.”

Schrader cited the establishment of the Hua Zhu Overseas Chinese Service Centre near Toronto in 2015. It shares the same address as The Cross-Cultural Community Services Association (TCCSA), an immigrant services agency that has been around since 1973.

“The Toronto center issued a Chinese New Year’s greeting this year on behalf of PRC Toronto consul-general He Wei that listed the CCP’s 19th Party Congress as one of the PRC’s greatest accomplishments of the past year, and echoed Xi Jinping’s declaration that ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era,’” he wrote.

Emily Fung, Hua Zhu’s board secretary, told the Post in an email that the centre posted the consul-general’s greeting on its website to accommodate clients who “wish to keep in touch with the Chinese community.”

“Hua Zhu does not have any political preference to anybody or countries,” she added.

Peter Chiu, acting executive director of the TCCSA, said his organization acts as a mentor to Hua Zhu, “assisting them to plan and deliver legal and apolitical social and recreational programs for the community,” but Hua Zhu is otherwise fully independent.

SUCCESS is another community organization that received an OCSC designation in 2015, according to a Chinese government website. Pictures show that in February 2014, Qiu Yuanping met with Choo and Liu Fei, China’s then-consul-general in Vancouver, for breakfast at the Shangri-La Hotel.

But Choo says SUCCESS was only ever a “token” recipient of the OCSC designation as she felt her organization couldn’t meet the expectations that came with it. “We needed to host a lot of functions when the government delegation comes,” she said.

In an email, the Chinese consulate in Vancouver did not specifically address its relationship with SUCCESS but did note that “Chinese expatriates and emigrants living overseas are an important bridge for local peoples to better understand China.”

In order to show the country’s care towards expatriates and to promote their economic and cultural ties with China, the Chinese government has “founded various organizations and offices to manage the affairs of expatriates,” the email said. It went on to praise the community organizations built by Chinese emigrants for “enriching the social power of Canada’s multicultural society.”

Top representatives of SUCCESS have attended many functions in the company of Tong, the current Chinese consul-general, and members of pro-Beijing organizations.

In February 2018, Tong met with the SUCCESS board. She and Choo then went to a seniors’ care home managed by SUCCESS to hand out red envelopes.

Tong and Choo crossed paths again that same month at a lunar new year event sponsored by the Canadian Alliance of Chinese Associations, an umbrella organization of dozens of community groups and whose website lists among its activities meetings with the Chinese government’s Overseas Chinese Affairs Office.

Also that month, Tong and Terry Yung, chair of the SUCCESS board, donned red scarves at the 18th anniversary celebration of the Canada-Wenzhou Friendship Society, one of the organizations under the alliance. The society was accused later in the fall of vote-tampering after it sent out social media messages to members encouraging them to vote for certain ethnic-Chinese candidates during municipal elections and offering a $20 transportation allowance. Police later said they found no evidence of wrongdoing.

In March 2018, Tong attended the annual fundraising gala organized by the SUCCESS Foundation, the society’s fundraising arm. She was the only foreign dignitary mentioned in a foundation press release.

In May 2018, Yung, who is a police officer, formed part of an honour guard at the conference of the World Guangdong Community Federation in Vancouver that was attended by Tong, as well as Su Bo, a senior official with the United Front Work Department. B.C. Premier John Horgan and other dignitaries from all levels of government, also attended.

In November 2017, shortly after exiting his role as chair of the SUCCESS Foundation, Sing Lim Yeo joined Chinese consular officials and others at a hotel conference room to discuss ways to resolve the issue of the reunification of mainland China and Taiwan. A video wall in the background was emblazoned with the words: “Overseas Chinese leaders work to unite the motherland in the new era.”

Choo and Yung told the Post that the events cited are a fraction of the countless functions they attend each year, which include events sponsored by Taiwanese, Filipino, Jewish and other cultural groups.

“It’s almost equal opportunity,” Yung said. “I don’t seek out a political group to go and celebrate a cause.”

“As a non-partisan organization, I do not want to exclude anyone in photo opportunities. That does not mean I support or reject their positions/views,” Choo said.

She later added: “If such endeavours create a perception problem, we will be very mindful of (it) in the future.”

Sing Lim Yeo did not respond to a phone message. But Yung said the society can’t prevent ex-board members from expressing their opinions, as long as it’s not on behalf of the society.

Tung Chan, a former SUCCESS CEO, cautioned that it is difficult to ascribe motives to individuals based on the people they are pictured with.

“Those of us who understand the Chinese cultural concept of ‘face’ will know it is almost impossible to turn down an invitation without causing some damage to a relationship,” he said.

On the question of the organization’s silence on Tiananmen, Chan said he didn’t see how that was relevant to the society’s core mission of helping Canadians integrate in a nonpartisan manner.

But Eleanor Yuen, past president of the Vancouver Hong Kong Forum Society who would like to have seen the organization mark the anniversary, says there’s nothing partisan about promoting Canadian values.

“Historical facts remain historical facts and it should not be compromised or dressed up or dressed down as a matter of convenience.”