Toronto Star 24 March 2015

Canada faces dramatic drop in citizenship, prompting concerns about disengaged immigrants

Radio interviews:

Rick Barnes CFRA
Matt Galloway, CBC Toronto, Metro Morning Citizenship Rates
Larry Fedorak CKTB St Catherines
Ryan Doyle, Newstalk 1010
Rick Gibbons, CFRA
Book reviews:

Griffith has the credentials for writing a comprehensive book of this nature. The author of Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias: Resetting Citizenship and Multiculturalism, he is the former director general for citizenship and multiculturalism at Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

As someone leading an organization that is active in integration issues, I encourage anyone involved in citizenship, multiculturalism, immigration and integration issues to read this book to keep current with the latest available information, and perhaps alter some perceptions.

The evidence Griffith uses in the book is irrefutable, combining the best currently available data from Statistics Canada, employment equity, Citizenship and Immigration Canada operational statistics, and more to draw his conclusions.

As Griffith says, “My hope is that the evidence highlighted in this book will contribute to creating a more informed discourse as Canada – by most measures a remarkably successful, diverse and multicultural society – prepares for its 150th anniversary.”

Multiculturalism in Canada is an e-book modestly priced to reach a wide audience – and it deserves one.

Don Curry, Executive Director of the North Bay & District Multicultural Centre

      A Current Snapshot of Canadian Multiculturalism    

New Canadian Media 11 August 2015

Surveys show that members of ethnocultural and religious minority groups do not fall into a single ideological camp. They include religious conservatives who embrace father-knows-best patriarchy; socially liberal pluralists; those who expect strong, activist government; and the politically disengaged. They reflect the values that occur in society at large. Of course, as with other Canadians, members of the same family may hold sharply different beliefs – and may or may not report at the dinner table what they did in the voting booth.

It’s not unlikely that on Oct. 19, there will be 50 or more foreign-born legislators of all parties in our newly elected House of Commons. And there’s every reason to expect that one day soon a person of non-European origin will be our prime minister – but it’s anybody’s guess which party he or she will lead.

Michael Adams and Andrew Griffith

 Why Canada’s politicians fixate on the ethnic vote

Globe and Mail 17 August 2015

A revised version of this article included US comparisons:

With respect to visible minorities (defined in the U.S. as non-white races and Hispanic), the U.S. has worse representation than Canada: 20 per cent in the House of Representatives compared to their population share of 37 per cent, only six per cent in the Senate), the vast majority of these are American-born visible minorities, mainly African Americans and Hispanic/Latinos, not immigrants.

Only 16 foreign-born members sit in either of the two houses. But many of these were born abroad to American parents, the most famous being John McCain and Canada’s Ted Cruz.

But even if we include all of these legislators as foreign born, they are still less than three per cent of Congress, where demographic parity would suggest that almost 70 foreign-born “should be” in both houses (to match the 13 per cent of “legal” Americans who are foreign-born).

The “Ethnic Vote”: All Over the Map – New Canadian Media

21 August 2015

A short summary (condensed version of the Executive Summary):

What are the implications of these trends?

Increased diversity means that more communities will have to come to terms with change. It also means more accommodation challenges, likely religion-based.

The persistence of economic differences, particularly for second-generation non-university educated adults, risks social inclusion and cohesion. More initiatives are needed to address implicit bias in hiring and promotion decisions and communities also need to reflect on their role in helping members succeed.

Declining naturalization, the result of conscious policy changes, means greater risk of marginalization and exclusion, particularly with respect to some visible minority groups.

Political parties need to take care in finding the balance between targeted “shopping for votes” through diaspora politics and pan-Canadian engagement.

Overall, the data suggests that while the Canadian model of an inclusive, welcoming society continues to be successful compared to most countries, there are some emerging fault lines, seen most clearly in economic differences between groups, declining naturalization, and excessive diaspora politics.

Future governments will have to review, on an ongoing basis, whether Canada has the right mix and balance in its various policies to strengthen social inclusion and participation and make any necessary adjustments to reduce any emerging fault lines.

Multiculturalism in Canada: what the data says

The Hill Times, 14 September 2015

Panel with Richard Kurland and Rob Vineberg on policy advice to a new minister of citizenship and immigration (excerpt questions 1 and 4):

1. What advice would you give an incoming minister of immigration and multiculturalism?

Griffith: Don’t neglect citizenship.

If a change in government, maintain increased integrity measures but reduce fees, drop knowledge and language testing for 14-17 year olds (and restore discretion for all), stop revocation for dual citizens for treason or terror, implement oral hearings for misrepresentation, prepare a new and more inclusive citizenship study guide (Discover Canada), set in place an all-party or broad consultative group to recommend changes to the 2014 Citizenship Act.

If no change in government, implement service standards with automatic publishing of results, provide reduced citizenship fees for low-income applicants (e.g., refugees), fully abide by any court decisions regarding citizenship admissibility and revocation and simplify the language in Discover Canada.

Vineberg: We need to return humanity to immigration. Building a nation is not simply bringing workers chosen by employers. Our immigration officers abroad need to be authorized to choose nation builders in addition to employees.

A pool of potential immigrants is a good idea but Express Entry is far too complicated.

Kurland: Get good advisors who know the facts and who don’t have an agenda.

4. Should multiculturalism be official policy? What needs to change?

Griffith: It already is (i.e., Multiculturalism Act, Charter s 27, employment equity and human rights legislation).

Consideration of whether a Multiculturalism Commissioner reporting to Parliament is needed to provide focus for reasonable accommodation discussions, equity and other related multiculturalism issues given lack of attention within CIC. Rebalance settlement funding to provide small additional program (G&C) resources for second generation integration issues. Maintain funding for police-reported hate crimes Statistics Canada annual report. Restore the mandatory Census and for the 2021 Census year, add a supplementary Ethnic Diversity Survey (last done in 2001).

Vineberg: The Multiculturalism policy is fine. The politically motivated multicultural grants undermine the program and ought to be eliminated.

Kurland: Don’t know.

Policy Advice for the Next Minister

New Canadian Media, 22 September 2015

Unions and other political party leaders were quick to condemn the Conservative leader’s remarks. However, it wasn’t clear if there were more than a few, if any, women who wear the niqab – a veil that conceals the face except for the eyes – in the federal public service.

A request to wear the Islamic garb would have to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis under the federal government’s “duty to accommodate” policy – which would set a precedent for all departments, said Andrew Griffith, a former senior public servant who writes extensively on citizenship and multiculturalism.

“Frankly, I don’t think the issue has ever come up and it’s unlikely it would have happened without consultations at the high levels,” he told the Citizen.

….Griffith argued the public service should get a better handle on religious and minority groups as part of its employment-equity strategy so managers are better prepared if and when a request to wear the niqab actually does arise.

The number of Muslims working in the public service is likely in line with the proportion who are Canadian citizens (the public service has a hiring preference for Canadian citizens). Muslims women represent about 1.8 per cent of the population.

… Griffith said the number of Muslims joining the public service will continue to increase and “sooner or later” a niqab-wearing employee will request or need an “accommodation.”

“We know religious minorities are on the increase and a certain proportion will be traditional and we should equip managers with tools to make those judgement calls. I can’t say it is a pressing issue but my policy mind tells there is a gap and we should fill that gap.”

He argued, however, that the “gap” should be filled with a revamped policy that gives more guidance on religious accommodation rather than a law that outright bans certain articles of clothing.

Bureaucracy baffled by Harper’s niqab stance | Ottawa Citizen

Ottawa Citizen

8 October 2015

Radio interview CBC’s Ottawa Morning 8 October 2015

Should public servants be allowed to wear the niqab?Andrew Griffith is a former director general at Citizenship and Immigration Canada. He’s also written about multiculturalism and government.Listen 7:10 

The election campaign research by Mr. Griffith might back up a statement to The Hill Timesfrom the head of the Canadian Council for Muslim women, Alia Hogben, that it is likely no Muslim women in the public service wear niqabs.

…Mr. Griffith prepared a brief paper on the topic based on data he obtained from Statistics Canada from an inquiry last April, when his curiosity was piqued after Mr. Clement’s comments after a change Citizenship Minister Jason Kenney ordered for a legal manual citizenship judges must abide by.

Ministers had no objection to niqabs in public service last March

The Hill Times

10 October 2015

The Liberal lead is unsurprising given that “multiculturalism is part of their DNA,” says Griffith.

Visible minority representation is even higher in the 33 ridings in which more than half of the residents are from visible minorities. In these areas, 68 of the 99 major party candidates, including 19 women, are from visible minorities. All of the major parties are represented by a minority candidate in 15 of these ridings.

“These are all battleground ridings where all three parties, at least at the beginning of the campaign, were reasonably competitive,” says Griffith.

Twenty-three of these 33 ridings are in the Greater Toronto Area, a key battleground for the major parties. In these ridings, the Conservatives are fielding the most visible minority candidates, with 25 in the race, but are closely followed by the Liberals, who are running 24 candidates. The NDP lag behind with 19 candidates.

“You really have to hand it to (Conservative) Jason Kenney and the people who have made that outreach in those communities,” says Griffith.

Study says Canada’s three major parties are fielding more visible minority candidates | National Post

19 October 2015

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