Andrew Coyne: Ex-Liberal candidate’s only crime was engaging in ethnic politics — out loud

More piling on with respect to former Liberal candidate Wang (the replacement candidate, Richard Lee, also a Chinese Canadian, has provincial political experience).

Coyne ends this column with the quasi-ideological twist that favouring greater representation of under-represented groups is somehow more undermining of social cohesion than not doing so, and that bias is not a factor in hiring and other practices:

You have to feel for the Liberal Party of Canada, who are surely the real victims in the Karen Wang affair.

The party had innocently selected the B.C. daycare operator to run in next month’s byelection in Burnaby South based solely on her obvious merits as a failed former candidate for the provincial Liberals in 2017, and without the slightest regard to her Chinese ethnicity, in a riding in which, according to the 2016 census, nearly 40 per cent of residents identify as ethnically Chinese.

Imagine their shock when they discovered that she was engaging in ethnic politics.

In a now-infamous post on WeChat, a Chinese-language social media site, Wang boasted of being “the only Chinese candidate” in the byelection, whereas her main opponent — NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh — is “of Indian descent.”

The party was instantly and publicly aghast. Pausing only to dictate an apology to be put out under her name (“I believe in the progress that Justin Trudeau and the Liberal team are making for British Columbians and all Canadians, and I do not wish for any of my comments to be a distraction,” etc etc), party officials issued a statement in which they “accepted her resignation.” Her online comments, the statement noted, “are not aligned with the values of the Liberal Party of Canada.”

Certainly not! How she got the idea that the Liberal Party of Canada was in any way a home for ethnic power-brokers prized for their ability to recruit members and raise funds from certain ethnic groups, or that it would even think of campaigning in ridings with heavy concentrations of voters from a given ethnic group by crude appeals to their ethnic identity — for example by nominating a candidate of the same ethnicity — must remain forever a mystery.

Unless, of course, her real crime was to have said out loud what everybody in politics knows to be the practice, not just of the Liberals but of every party, but prefers not to mention. But the thing having been said, the party had no alternative but to pretend to be appalled, just as the other parties had no alternative but to pretend to be outraged.

There is, after all, a script for these things. Usually it is performed at the expense of the Conservatives, as in the controversy a few years back over a leaked party memo proposing an advertising strategy for “very ethnic” ridings, or another that urged a candidate’s photo include voters of different ethnic backgrounds — as if every party did not do this, every day. Again, the crime was to have said what must be left unsaid, or rather to have been caught doing so.

The only difference in this case is that it involves the Liberals, usually the first to feign such outrage, now forced to yield the stage to the NDP. Thus the NDP’s Nathan Cullen was quoted saying Wang’s post was “the worst kind of politics there is,” while Singh himself observed how “politics that divide along racial lines hurt our communities… I want to focus in on politics that bring people together.”

It takes some effort, hearing such admirable sentiments, to recall NDP officials’ open speculation, after Singh was elected party leader, that this would improve their chances in cities such as Brampton, Ont., or Surrey, B.C., with large numbers of Sikh voters. It doesn’t necessarily follow, of course: voters of all ethnicities display a stubborn tendency to think and vote as individuals, frustrating parties’ efforts to sort them into little boxes. But that doesn’t mean the parties don’t think that way, or act accordingly.

For her part, the lesson Wang drew from the controversy was that she should have limited herself to stressing her own ethnicity, without mentioning Singh’s. “As a Canadian with a Chinese background, normally, obviously, you are trying to gain people’s support from the same cultural background,” she told her post-resignation news conference.

Which at least has the virtue of honesty. The hypocrisy of the universal outrage over Wang’s appeal to tribalism is not just that all the parties do it, as a matter of practical politics, but that much respectable opinion believes it to be right and proper as a matter of principle. Thus, for example, electoral boundaries are supposed to be drawn in conformity with what is delicately called “community of interest,” on the precise understanding to which Wang sought to appeal: that membership in an ethnic or other identity group trumps. At the limit, it emerges in calls for special dedicated ridings — even a separate Parliament — for Indigenous voters.

This is hardly confined to politics: across society, progressive ideology has lately taught us, not to emphasize our common humanity, but the opposite: that people of one group may not — cannot — be represented by those of another; that they are to be judged, not as individuals, but on the basis of their race, gender and so on. The current generation of federal Liberals, in particular, has made hiring quotas the defining principle of their government, to be institutionalized from top to bottom.

It is lovely to hear Liberal ministers proclaim, in response to the Wang affair, that “the value we stand for is representing all Canadians,” just as it is heartening to read an NDP commentator denounce the idea of reducing voters to “a passive, two-dimensional identity to be exploited for someone else’s elevation to the political class.” If only they meant it.

Source: Andrew Coyne: Ex-Liberal candidate’s only crime was engaging in ethnic politics — out loud

Douglas Todd: Jagmeet Singh’s byelection battle in super-diverse Burnaby

More on Burnaby South:

The Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha gurdwara in Burnaby was packed recently for a speech by Jagmeet Singh, the federal New Democratic Party leader.

About 800 people squeezed into the Sikh temple, in the heart of the ethnically super-diverse riding of Burnaby South, where Singh is fighting for the first time win a seat as a federal MP. The Punjabi-language Sach Di Awaaz newspaper ran 12 photos of the event featuring the Ontario-based politician.

At the gurdwara this week, Sikhs said they want Singh to win, hoping he’ll make moves to improve education and the job market. A variety of ethnic Chinese and Caucasians walking in the vicinity of the temple also said they intend to vote for Singh, with one man remarking he hoped it will “shake things up.”

Ethnicity has already been highlighted as a factor in the crucial Burnaby South byelection.

A member of the Burnaby gurdwara holds a copy of the free bi-weekly Sach Di Awaaz newspaper that shows NDP candidate Jagmeet Singh at to speak to hundreds of people.

This week, media reported on the way Liberal candidate Karen Wang said in a WeChat post that, as the only Chinese candidate, she could beat Singh, who she noted is of “Indian descent.” Wang said the post was written by a campaign volunteer, but she took responsibility for it and apologized to Singh. Under pressure from the Liberals for her remark, Wang dropped out of the race, although she hinted Thursday there is a slim chance she’ll run as an independent.

Burnaby is known as one the most diverse cities in Canada, if not the world. An earlier Vancouver Sun study found there’s a 73 per cent chance that two randomly chosen people from Burnaby will be of a different ethnicities. For comparison, the chance is just 34 per cent in Ottawa.

The riding of South Burnaby is almost 40 per cent ethnic Chinese, 30 per cent white, eight per cent South Asian (a category that includes most Sikhs), six per cent Filipino and three per cent Korean.

Given the riding’s eclectic ethnic makeup, the proportion of South Asians and Sikhs within it is not nearly as large as it is in other pockets. The modest Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha gurdwara is the only Sikh temple in South Burnaby, whereas there are many gurdwaras serving the large Sikh populations concentrated in places such as Surrey and the western suburbs of Toronto.

The successful campaign of Singh, a turban-wearing orthodox Sikh, for the 2017 NDP leadership relied significantly on him visiting gurdwaras and drumming up support from Sikhs, who almost all have roots in the Punjab region of India.

Such South Asians were tremendous financial supporters of Singh during the leadership race, which he surprisingly won with 54 per cent of the vote on the first ballot.

Elections Canada data shows Singh collected $603,000 in the year of the NDP leadership convention. More than nine out of 10 of his donors in that year had South Asian names, specifically Punjabi and Sikh (Sikhs often include “Singh” or “Kaur” as one of their names).

Donors to Singh’s leadership campaign — which boasted about signing up a dramatically high number of new NDP members — hailed heavily from the western Toronto suburbs of Brampton and Mississauga, and from Surrey. More than a third of Singh’s 2017 campaign funding came from those three municipalities alone.

The federal Liberals have also long been aware of the political power linked to the related issues of ethnicity and immigration status. They could be major factors in the riding of South Burnaby, since six in 10 residents of the riding are either immigrants or non-permanent residents. That’s triple the national average of two out of 10.

The Trudeau Liberals frequently highlight how they are increasing Canada’s annual immigration levels to 340,000, from 250,000 in 2015 under the Conservatives. And Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen has recently been goading the Conservatives on Twitter for not being as supportive of family-reunification programs, which are especially important to many extended South Asian families.

At the gurdwara in South Burnaby this week, some visitors supported the Liberals’ moves to increase the number of sponsored spouses, parents, and grandparents permitted into Canada under the family-reunification program. People interviewed at the gurdwara, who did not want their names used, said they had relatives in the Punjab they would like to bring to Canada.

How much is ethnicity, culture, immigration status and religion a factor in Canadian politics? Some people on social media found it controversial in 2018 that Caucasian candidates for city councils in Metro Vancouver appeared to be relatively more successful than candidates from other ethnic groups, leading to the derogatory Twitter hashtag #councilsowhite.

Data have not been made publicly available in Canada, however, on the extent that people of any particular ethno-cultural group vote for candidates of their own ethnicity. Privately, though, Canadian political party strategists often target voters based on which group they belong to. The federal Conservatives, for instance, have over the years won many votes from evangelical Christians.

But since the NDP candidate for Burnaby South won the riding in 2015 with only 500 more votes than the Liberal candidate, Singh will need to work hard to appeal to voters outside his own ethno-cultural-religious group if he is to hold onto the seat for the party he now leads.

Source: Douglas Todd: Jagmeet Singh’s byelection battle in super-diverse Burnaby

USA: New Immigrants Are More Culturally Different than They Used to Be

Some interesting analysis using World Values Survey data. Largely reflects country of origin:

Native-born American concerns about immigration are primarily about how immigration will affect the culture of the country as a whole and, to a lesser extent, how the newcomers will affect the economy.  One’s personal economic situation is not a major factor.  It’s reasonable to assume that the degree of cultural difference between native-born Americans and new immigrants affects the degree of cultural concern.  Thus, Americans would likely be less concerned over immigrants from Canada or Singapore than they would be over immigrants from Egypt or Azerbaijan.

A large team of psychologists recently created an index of the cultural distance of people from numerous countries around the world relative to the United States.  The index is constructed from responses to the World Values Survey as well as linguistic and geographical distances.  Their index includes numerous different psychological facts such as individualism, power distance, masculinity, uncertainty avoidance, long term orientation, indulgence, harmony, mastery, embeddedness, hierarchy, egalitarian, autonomy, tolerance for deviant behavior, norm enforcement, openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, neuroticism, creativity, altruism, and obedience.  These are all explained in more detail in the paper.

Their paper has an index where lower numbers indicate a culture more similar to that of the United States while a higher number indicates a culture more distant from that of the United States.  As some extreme examples, Canada’s cultural distance score is 0.025 and Egypt’s is 0.24.

Using the cultural distance index, I calculated the cultural distance of the stock of immigrants in the United States in 2015 from native-born Americans.  I then compared the cultural distance of the stock to the cultural distance of the flow of immigrants who arrived in 2012-2015.  The immigration figures come from the Annual Social and Economic Supplement of the U.S. Census Bureau.  If the stock of immigrants in 2015 was more culturally similar to native-born Americans than the flow, then the recent flow is more culturally distinct.  If the stock of immigrants in 2015 was more culturally different from native-born Americans than the flow, then the recent flow is less culturally distinct.

Table 1 shows the results.  The immigrant flow in 2012-2015 is more culturally different from native-born Americans than the stock of immigrants was in 2015.  In other words, today’s newest immigrants are more different than those from the relatively recent past.  Relative to the stock, the cultural distinctiveness of the flow in 2012-2015 was greater by about one-fourth of a standard deviation.  In other words, the stock of American immigrants in 2015 was very culturally similar to people from Trinidad and Tobago (0.099) while the flow of new immigrants who arrived from 2012-2015 more similar to Romanians (0.11).

Table 1

Cultural Distance of Immigrants Relative to Native-Born Americans

Cultural Distance
Immigrant Stock 0.10
Immigrant Flow 0.11

Sources: WEIRD Index, ASEC, and author’s calculations.

There are a few problems with my above calculations.  First, those who choose to move here are likely more similar to Americans than those who do not.  There is obviously some difference in cultural values inside of a country as the average person does not choose to emigrate to the United States.  Second, American immigration laws likely select immigrants with similar cultural values through various means such as favoring the family members of Americans and those hired by American firms.  It’s reasonable to assume that foreigners who marry Americans and who are hired by American firms are more culturally similar than the average person from those countries.  Third, the cultural distance index only covers about two-thirds of the immigrant population in the United States.  It is possible that countries not on the list could shift the score significantly in either direction.

New immigrants to the United States are more culturally different than those of the past, but not by much.  This increase in the cultural difference of new immigrants could have had an outsized impact on Trump voters in 2016, but immigration overall is more popular with Americans than it used to be.

Source: New Immigrants Are More Culturally Different than They Used to Be

HASSAN: Polygamy harms Muslim women and Canada should not tolerate it

More on polygamy following the CBC investigation (A man ‘cannot do that to a woman’: Why polygamy in Canadian Muslim community could be another #MeToo moment):

Will Canadian Muslim women soon have their own #MeToo movement?

A headline for a CBC Fifth Estate online story reads: “A man cannot do that to a woman: why polygamy in Canadian Muslim community could be another #MeToo moment.” The story involved a woman called Zaib, whose last name was withheld for her own safety.

Many of the left-wing activists within #MeToo who point to alleged harassment from years ago now display little interest in the woes of Muslim women marginalized in their own communities. But the soul-destroying practice of polygamy must nonetheless be brought into the open in the hopes that someone of influence cares enough to do something about it.

Zaib said she “went into shock mode” when her husband broke the news that he had taken a second wife.

“I started getting the symptoms of anxiety, depression and crying spells” she told the CBC’s Fifth Estate. Her husband offered the pathetic consolation that he had no intention of abandoning her or their three children and would continue to provide for her.

She was so depressed she had to take time off work. She believes that other Muslim women face similar predicaments, but stay quiet, and that if they also spoke out, something might be done to help eliminate polygamy in Canada. She believes the law should insist that a man can never do such a thing to a woman.

Polygamy is a sensitive topic in Islam, an issue on which the sacred word most clearly conflicts with modernity.

The Islamic provision is to treat all wives with respect and equality and if a husband can’t ensure that, then only take one wife. However, conditions for equality, respect and dignity all become meaningless in an institution that is inherently unjust, disrespects women and creates unfair dominance by males.

The very fact that a man seeks another wife shows disrespect from the outset. It tells her she alone is not good enough for him. Any suggestion that such a system can ever deliver marital equality is clearly absurd.

That is why some scholars of the Quran suggest polygamy is in effect not allowed. Others see such interpretations as convenient modern manipulations of ancient mores and practices. Who can deny the written word of the Quran? Hence the continuation of the practice of polygamy.

Some Muslim men have contracted polygamous unions outside Canada. In 2011, the B.C. Supreme Court ruled that polygamy is unconstitutional and reasonably decided that the damage polygamy does to both women and children is more important than maintaining religious and cultural freedom. An enlightened judgment.

Even Imam Hamid Slimi of Toronto, who by all standards would be considered mainstream Muslim, told CBC that “the way polygamy is practiced today is unfair to women.”

That is progress, but it’s still too conciliatory, because polygamy must never be deemed an acceptable practice. The social circumstances that occasioned the Islamic provision for polygamy in the seventh century have been irrelevant for a millennium.

Canada needs to do more to monitor cases of polygamous unions that occur even here under the immigration guise of “other relationships.”

Remember the Shafia family? The first of the two wives was brought in as an aunt of the children.

Of course, Canadian law cannot stop men from remarrying abroad, but on home soil it must treat such unions as illegal, profoundly hurtful and utterly disrespectful to women.

Canada cannot tolerate this.

Source: HASSAN: Polygamy harms Muslim women and Canada should not tolerate it

John Ivison: A most convenient misstep for the Liberals in Burnaby South – and other related articles

A good example of ethnic politics going wrong.

First, an interesting political analysis by Ivison:

Occam’s razor, the problem-solving principle dating back to the 13th century friar William of Ockham, states that, other things being equal, simple explanations are generally better than more complex ones.

A medical equivalent, Zebra, guides doctors to reject exotic medical diagnoses in favour of more commonplace explanations.

“When you hear hoofbeats, think of horses, not zebras,” runs the logic.

It’s a good guiding principle for analyzing politics too. It is more often incompetence, rather than scruples, that makes the simplest explanation most likely. The relationships underlying political events are so complex that predicting outcomes from any action is a dubious business.

Yet sometimes, a case comes along where the more complex theory cannot be ruled out.

Take events in the riding of Burnaby South in British Columbia. The Liberals hemmed and hawed about running a candidate in the Feb. 25 byelection there, conscious that if they did so, they might inadvertently win and put paid to the political career of Jagmeet Singh, the federal NDP leader who is seeking a seat in Parliament.

Singh has found the learning curve in federal politics particularly steep, making numerous missteps in the full glare of the national media.

This past weekend, he failed to answer a question on a topic that had been all over the news. He claimed he hadn’t heard the question, but he left the impression that it is only the hard questions that he mis-hears.

Singh remains Justin Trudeau’s preferred opponent in October’s federal election and there was the very real prospect that, if defeated, he might be replaced by someone more seasoned.

The Liberals had the option of not running a candidate in Burnaby South — Elizabeth May’s Green Party decided to respect the old tradition of “leader’s courtesy,” not running against a federal leader trying to win a seat in the House of Commons.

Yet there were local pressures to run a Liberal candidate in the byelection, and it was decided it would be bad form for the ruling party to be so brazen about its preferences.

Step forward Karen Wang, a local daycare operator, who edged biotech scientist Cyrus Eduljee in a contested nomination.

Wang’s candidacy put Singh’s political future very much in doubt, given the seat was won by NDP MP Kennedy Stewart by just 600 votes over his Liberal rival in 2015.

It went unsaid by everyone that a Chinese-Canadian candidate might have extra cachet in a riding where nearly 40 per cent of voters are of Chinese descent.

At least, it went unsaid until Wang said it. Not only did she point out on a Chinese social media platform that she was “the only Chinese candidate,” she identified Singh as being “of Indian descent.”

It was a pretty blatant case of racism from the party that claimed so often in the last election that “a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian.”

Since Trudeau’s main line of attack in the next election will be to accuse the Conservatives of fomenting the “politics of division,” it was clear that he would not support a candidate emphasizing differences and playing on intolerance to get elected.

Wang said the “phrasing should have been different” and removed her Chinese language post but it was too late.

Early Wednesday Pacific time, the party issued a statement saying that Wang’s comments “are not aligned with the values of the Liberal Party of Canada” and said it had accepted her resignation. “The Liberal party has a clear commitment to positive politics and support for Canadian diversity and the same is always expected of our candidates,” it said.

Wang issued her own statement, apologizing to Singh, and saying her choice of words about his cultural background “was not well-considered and did not reflect my intent.”

Her resignation has left Singh alone on the left of the political spectrum in Burnaby South, facing Conservative Jay Shin and People’s Party candidate Laura Lynn Tyler Thompson. His victory would seem assured, if the Liberals don’t replace Wang. And yet they seem in no hurry to do so. When asked if there would be another Liberal candidate, Liberal communications director Braeden Caley said: “We’ll have more to discuss on that in due course.”

The most recent opinion poll in Burnaby South by Mainstreet Research suggested the byelection was turning into a two-horse race between Singh, with 39 per cent support, and Wang, with 26 per cent. The Conservatives will be more alarmed by the pollsters’ estimate of People’s Party support, at nine per cent, than the failure of their candidate to win the seat (Shin had the support of 22 per cent of the 740 people polled.)

Even with a margin of error of nearly four per cent, it’s clear that Burnaby South will stay orange if there is no Liberal in the race.

So back to Occam’s razor. Was this just a case of a reckless candidate gambling that if she played dog-whistle politics, it wouldn’t be heard beyond the Chinese community?

Or was the plan all along to throw the fight?

Nine times out of 10, it would be the former but the outcome of this electoral rumpus is extremely convenient for Trudeau. He has polished his own halo as the great unifier who will forge consensus and bridge divides.

And he has all but insured that an NDP leader yet to find his feet on the national stage staggers on to fight the general election.

This may be the rare occasion when the hoofbeats are made by zebras.

Source: John Ivison: A most convenient misstep for the Liberals in Burnaby South

Secondly, revelations by Michelle Rempel, not substantiated but believable, that Wang wanted to run as a Conservative but was rejected:

The Conservative Party of Canada rejected Karen Wang as a potential candidate before her short-lived Liberal Party candidacy in the Burnaby South byelection, according to MP Michelle Rempel.

Rempel said Wang approached her party, wanting to run in the 2019 federal election.

“The Conservative Party of Canada said no to this candidate over a year ago,” she said. “There was a reason for that.”

Rempel would not specify what that reason was.

“My understanding is that there were some discussions with this particular individual and the party decided for reasons regarding her judgment, that became clear today, to not allow her to run for us,” she said.

Rempel made the comments at a press conference in Burnaby Wednesday afternoon. She was joined by Conservative candidate Jay Shin, who is running in the Feb. 25 Burnaby South byelection. The Calgary-based Parliamentarian called the press conference to call on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to initiate a review of Canada’s immigration screening process.

Rempel’s comments came just hours after Wang dropped out of the race. She came under fire for a WeChat post in which she identified herself as the “only Chinese candidate” in the byelection and pointed out that her opponent, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, is of Indian heritage. The post was translated from Chinese and reported by StarMetro Vancouver.

“My choice of words wasn’t well-considered and didn’t reflect my intent, and for that, I sincerely apologize to Mr. Singh,” Wang said in a statement. “I have deep respect for him as the leader of his party and for his public service – and I would never want to diminish that in any way.”

Rempel condemned the WeChat post, calling it “racism plain and simple.”

Shin said he was shocked by Wang’s comments.

“I’m offended as a Korean person, as a Korean-Canadian,” he said. “There’s no place for that.”

The NOW has reached out to the Liberal Party and a representative of Wang’s for comment.

Wang ran for the B.C. Liberal Party in the 2017 provincial election, losing to New Democrat Anne Kang. When the NOW asked her earlier this month why she had chosen to run with the federal Liberals after running for a party often aligned with the federal Conservatives, she said she had always been a supporter of the Liberal Party of Canada due to its core values, including diversity, liberty, multiculturalism and national unity.

Source: Conservatives rejected Karen Wang before her short-lived Liberal candidacy, MP says

Third, two different columns in the Toronto Sun, the first by Candice Malcolm, not acknowledging similar practices by the Conservatives, the second by Brian Lilley basically a plague on all their houses with respect to courting ethnic votes:

This is what a postnational multicultural state looks like.

On Wednesday, the Liberal candidate in the Burnaby South by-election resigned after sending a controversial message through the Chinese social media platform WeChat.

In a Chinese-language post, Karen Wang told her supporters to vote for her because she is “the only Chinese candidate” in the race, and to vote against NDP candidate and party leader Jagmeet Singh, noting that he is “of Indian descent.”

This sort of crass appeal based solely on race and identity is off-putting and unwelcome to most Canadians. But it should come as no surprise that race-based ethnic politics takes place across Canada.

And while the Liberal Party can try to back away from Wang’s message, her appeal to identity politics is straight out of the Liberal playbook and echoes the politics and policies promoted by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

In late 2015, Trudeau was interviewed by The New York Times magazine about his vision for Canada.

The American publication fawned that “Trudeau’s most radical argument is that Canada is becoming a new kind of state, defined not by its European history but by the multiplicity of its identities from all over the world.”

Forget about our traditions of ordered liberty that date back to the signing of the Magna Carta. And forget about our constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy — arguable the most successful form of government in human history — or our commitment to Western liberal ideals.

That type of “European history” is unimportant in Trudeau’s Canada.

Instead, Trudeau said “there is no core identity, no mainstream in Canada… those are the qualities that make us the first postnational state.”

The race-based message from the Liberal candidate mirrors this type of thinking. Wang’s appeal is the inevitable conclusion of Trudeau’s identity politics and his dream of a post-national Canada.

For instance, in her WeChat message, Wang does not call herself “Canadian” or even “Chinese-Canadian.” Instead, she identifies as “Chinese” and calls Singh “Indian.”

Just like Trudeau said, there’s no mainstream, no core identity in Canada. Newcomers don’t have to change anything about themselves when they move to Canada, so why would they bother to adopt a Canadian identity?

Likewise, Trudeau has downplayed the emphasis on language — eliminating the citizenship language test for many newcomers. It’s no surprise, then, to see politicians pandering in different languages to various ethnic communities.

Trudeau’s fixation on identity politics led him to appointing cabinet positions based solely on gender. While 26% of MPs are women, Trudeau promoted 50% to his cabinet.

But why stop at gender? The next logical step is to expand this thinking to other identities, like ethnic background and language groups. Why wouldn’t a postnational Canada have quotas to proportionately represent every ethnic group?

In November, Trudeau said he rejected Canadian nationalism, seemingly conflating it with ethnic nationalism found in Europe and throughout the world.

Canadian nationalism, however, is not based on race or ethnicity, since Canada has always been pluralistic and racially diverse. Instead, our nationalism is defined by patriotism — a love of country and commitment to our heritage and shared values.

Patriotism is the glue that holds our diverse country together, and without it, we devolve into tribalism — divided by bloodlines and ancient feuds from foreign lands.

Trudeau has engineered these changes and created a toxic brew in Canada: lax integration policies juxtaposed with a forced multiculturalism that downplays Canadian values and divisive identity politics that demonizes Canadian heritage and identity.

Source: MALCOLM: Raced-based politics natural outcome of Trudeau’s ‘postnational state’

Karen Wang’s career as a Liberal Party of Canada candidate came to disastrous end on Wednesday as the party dumped her over stupid, and quite frankly racist comments.

It was such a change for a woman whose Twitter profile bragged about being the Team Trudeau candidate in the Burnaby South byelection. The party itself had just the evening before tweeted its support of her.

The official Liberal Party account tweeted “Add Women Change Politics” and called Wang an incredible candidate just hours before this story broke.

Now she’s out, brought down by a crass attempt to use race and tribal politics to win the byelection.

In a posting on Chinese social media platform WeChat, Wang spoke of the size and importance of the Chinese community, then she made the stupid, racist comments.

“If we can increase the voting rate, as the only Chinese candidate in this riding, if I can garner 16,000 votes I will easily win the by-election, control the election race and make history! My opponent in this by-election is the NDP candidate Singh of Indian descent!”

I love the flourish with the exclamation point on Singh’s Indian heritage, she is screaming loud and clear that she means don’t vote for the brown guy.

Well that wouldn’t work for Justin “Diversity is our Strength” Trudeau and after about 15 hours of hand wringing, Wang was fired.

The official line is she resigned, I’m sure her resignation was what I call “voluntold.” Give us your resignation or else.

In her statement, Wang apologized to NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, kind of.

“My choice of words wasn’t well-considered and didn’t reflect my intent, and for that, I sincerely apologize to Mr. Singh,” Wang said in a statement.

In its own statement the party said Wang’s comments, “are not aligned with the values of the Liberal Party.”

No kidding, they shouldn’t be aligned with anyones values.

Yet in some ways Wang thrust into the open the kind of ethno-politics that all the parties have played for years.

Every party has pandered to ethnic, religious or linguistic communities for votes. They will make sure certain ridings have candidates from a specific group if that group is a large enough voting bloc.

I’ve always found it off-putting and wished the parties would stop.

Voters should be picking candidates to vote for with the best policies for their riding, not the same skin colour or ethnic background.

Parties should pick policies to run on that align with their values and are in the best interests of Canada, not so they can attract certain ethnic voting blocs.

Ms. Wang was in many ways playing the game that has been played too long in Canadian politics, albeit more crassly.

Her statement and apology are weak and she needs to say more.

If this were a white candidate, especially a white male candidate, the fury over these comments about not voting for Singh because he is of Indian descent would be deafening.

Wang cannot be allowed an easy escape, nor can the Liberal Party be let off the hook, simply because she is an Asian woman.

There is the idea that I have heard from anti-racism activists that racism only comes from white people. It’s a foolish claim. Anyone can be racist and Wang’s comments show that.

Saying, “My choice of words wasn’t well-considered” does not gloss over the fact that she told supporters vote for me, I’m Chinese and he’s not.

Wang’s initial reaction to the media stories on this also shows she doesn’t understand why it was wrong, she told the Toronto Star it was just bad communication.

“The phrasing should have been different,” she said.

It wasn’t the phrasing that was the problem Ms. Wang, it was the intent of your post.

This kind of politics has no place in Canada. I’d like to say I hope we never see it again, but that is wishful thinking.

The best we can do is call it out when we see it.

Source: LILLEY: Wang’s resignation shows dangers of playing ethno-politics 

Lastly, some good on the ground reporting on the reaction of the Chinese Canadian community in Burnaby South: ‘It makes us look bad’: Burnaby’s Chinese-Canadian community reacts to Karen Wang’s resignation over WeChat post

Wang’s effort to rescind her resignation was rightly rejected: Ousted candidate’s story takes another strange turn, this time into a parking lot

Denmark Is Ramping Up Anti-Immigrant Measures and Rhetoric

Good overview:

On a cold December night, Inger Stojberg stood in an overlit auditorium in Vordingborg, eastern Denmark, and explained why the Danish government had chosen nearby Lindholm Island for its new detention center for rejected asylum seekers. Although she made it clear from the outset that the government would not revoke the proposal (and sure enough, it was approved three days later) one citizen after the next tried to convince her it was a poor decision, drawing on everything from its impact on property values and tourism to what it would mean for locals’ safety. But many in the audience of more than 700 thought something even more important was at stake. “I came tonight because I don’t think this is a decent way to manage these people,” said Marianne Rasmussen, a teacher from the nearby town of Præsto. “It’s not who we Danes are.”

Immigration became a thorny political issue throughout Western Europe in the wake of a record influx of migrants from the Middle East and Africa in 2015, but the split over Lindholm Island suggests the question has taken on unusual dimensions in Denmark. The prosperous Nordic country of 5.8 million stands out among its neighbors for its reluctance to integrate even comparatively small numbers of foreigners. It granted protection to 2,365 people in 2017, compared with Sweden’s nearly 28,000.

Despite a reputation for progressive politics, humanitarianism and a generous welfare state, Denmark has some of the most aggressive anti-immigrant policies in Europe. That has included taking out foreign-newspaper adverts warning potential migrants that they are not welcome, and authorizing police to seize cash and valuables from arriving asylum seekers to offset the cost of their maintenance. By pitting some of Denmark’s long-held values against others, the subject of immigration has not merely divided Denmark, but turned a demographic crisis into an existential one. What, these days, does it mean to be Danish?

Denmark received waves of guest workers from Turkey in the 1960s and ’70s, as well as refugees from the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, and today immigrants and their descendants make up 8.5% of the population—projected to rise to 13.1% by 2060. Yet to an extent virtually unmatched in Europe, “Danes are quite polarized over immigration,” says Nils Holtug, director of the Centre for Advanced Migration Studies at the University of Copenhagen. “There’s a large part of the population that is welcoming and positive toward immigrants, and another large group that’s worried about them and wants very restrictive policies.”

Many of the country’s recent immigration initiatives seem to operate from the same principle. In the past year, the center-right government has passed a so-called burqa ban, even though fewer than 0.1% of Muslim women in Denmark wear veils, and a law requiring parents in neighborhoods designated as “ghettos” to submit their children to extra schooling in “Danish values.” From January, new citizens are required to shake hands with the official conducting the naturalization ceremony, regardless of their beliefs about physical contact with members of the opposite sex—a law perceived as targeting conservative Muslims.

Danish journalist and historian Adam Holm describes the initiatives as “deliberately hostile.” In other areas, Danish legislators tend to speak in the measured language of jurisprudence. “But the intent here, and people will say it outright, is ‘yes, we are doing this to frighten people away from Denmark.’”

Stojberg, a member of the same Liberal Party as the Prime Minister (and which forms part of the conservative bloc in parliament), has adopted an almost gleeful attitude toward migration restrictions. She celebrated the passage of the 50th anti-immigration law with a cake, posting a photo on social media, and published an editorial in a national newspaper in which she suggested that Muslims bus drivers and hospital workers who fasted during Ramadan might pose a safety risk to Danish society.

Urging Støjberg to go even further is the anti-immigrant Danish People’s Party (DF), which is the second largest party in parliament but does not hold any ministerial positions out of its own choice. The DF proposed the Lindholm Island idea. “We want to reduce the number of all foreigners in Denmark, not just refugees and asylum seekers, but people who come to work or go to school,” says Martin Henriksen, DF’s spokesperson for immigration. “We also want to revoke more of the asylum permits already granted, and send more people home.”

Some see Lindholm Island and other measures as an attempt to appeal to voters ahead of elections in June. “The right-wing government now in power is behind in polls, and so they will want to do something to increase their support,” says Holtug. “And the Social Democrats are tired of losing because of immigration, so their response, increasingly, is to also adopt restrictive policies.”

That’s not the only way right and left are coming closer together. Unlike in the U.S., where anti-immigrant platforms tend to align with conservative opposition to a government-sponsored safety net, the populist DF, like the center-left Social Democrats, seeks to protect generous welfare benefits that include free education through university, universal health care and ample unemployment insurance. “There’s a growing part of the political spectrum that sees a welfare state and a multi-cultural society as directly incompatible, or at least difficult to have side by side,” Holtug says.

The DF’s Henriksen, who believes Trump’s policies on immigration are “too weak,” echoes Holtug’s point. “America is a country founded on migration, but Denmark is not. We’re a small country, and what binds us is a common language, and a common set of traditions and values. If we let in a large number of foreigners with their own cultures, ours will be overwhelmed.”

A degree of plain old xenophobia contributes to this sentiment. But so too does a growing sense, even among more progressive sectors, that the country’s efforts at integration have not worked. “We’ve been very lax in requiring foreigners to learn Danish,” says journalist Holm by way of example. “Ten years ago I would have never uttered those words. But now I say, yes, this is Denmark, so if you want to be part of this society, please learn Danish.”

Yet he is troubled by the harsh measures and rhetoric adopted by his government as well as the sometimes blatant xenophobia that has made its way into public discourse. Recently he published an opinion piece, titled “The Denmark I’ve Always Feared,” in which he lamented the country’s turn away from tolerance and openness. “Enough is enough,” he says of his reasons for writing it. “This is not the Denmark I was brought up to believe in.”

In reality, Denmark already is a multiethnic society, and will become only more so in the future. Younger generations of Danes seem more comfortable with this than their elders. At a Dec. 10 rally in front of Copenhagen’s city hall to protest the Lindholm plan, Selma Solkaer, a 15-year-old student from nearby Roskilde, expressed her dismay that Danes could support it. “It’s shocking, especially when Denmark has always been such a big supporter of human rights,” Solkaer said.

At the rally, Natasha al-Hariri, a legal consultant on immigration, recalled her parents—Palestinians who came to Denmark from Lebanon in 1989—-telling her how welcoming Danes were. “Back then, we took in refugees because we accepted that they needed help,” she said, noting that parts of Danish society now fear eventually being outnumbered by refugees. She finds the upcoming elections especially nerve-racking. “Lindholm Island may just be an electoral tactic so the government can show it’s tough on immigrants,” she says. “But that’s what scares me to death—the idea that that’s what Danish voters want.”

In Vordingborg, Mayor Mikael Smed doubts that’s the case. Less than 5% of the population of Vordingborg, with its broad shopping street and neat houses, is foreign-born—a mix of Turks, Iraqis, and Syrians, among others. But most residents of the town, he says, consider the Lindholm Island plan “madness,” especially because another facility for the same ‘tolerated stay’ population already exists. “ I keep asking but no one in the government can explain to me why we need it.”

Although like other members of the Social Democrat party Smed’s position has evolved so that he now supports limiting the number of asylum-seekers and refugees admitted to Denmark, he also sees plenty of examples of successful integration, from his son’s best friend, whose parents came from Iraq, to a local program that trains foreign-born women to teach new arrivals the ins and outs of Danish society. He also believes that the Danish economy—including the vaunted welfare state—needs an influx of workers if it is to continue to prosper in the future.

But in the end, he justifies his opposition to the Lindholm Island plan with his own appeal to national values. “I recognize the number is important when we have to work on integrating people, and making them as much a part of our society as possible,” Smed says. “But I don’t think that placing people on an island and making the conditions as bad as possible for them is a part of Danish nature.”

Source: Denmark Is Ramping Up Anti-Immigrant Measures and Rhetoric

Did Saudi teen Rahaf Mohammed jump the queue with her speedy resettlement to Canada?

Good overview on the process followed:

Did Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun jump the queue over other refugees when Canada quickly opened its doors to the Saudi teen who was fleeing an allegedly abusive family?

Not according to Canadian immigration officials and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

While Rahaf’s plea for help on social media got her international headlines and drew the attention of the UNHCR to her plight, the emergency rescue effort was by no means unique — though the warm embrace by a foreign minister at the airport may be.

According to immigration officials, some 200 people are processed under Canada’s Urgent Protection Program each year, with about 50 resettled within the rapid timelines seen in Rahaf’s case. The 18-year-old arrived in Toronto Saturday — accompanied by Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland — after a tumultuous week that began with Rahaf escaping from her family during a trip to Kuwait. Rahaf then flew to Bangkok, where she was detained by Thai authorities who prepared to deport her to Saudi Arabia, where she feared for her life.

“Canada has the flexibility to respond quickly to individual emergency situations for a small number of refugees,” said immigration department spokesperson Beatrice Fenelon. “These individuals are resettled on an expedited basis due to their particular circumstances.”

In a news conference in Toronto Tuesday, Rahaf, who has dropped her last name after she learned on social media that her family has disowned her, admitted she was “lucky.”

“I know that there are unlucky women who disappeared after trying to escape or who could not do anything to change their reality,” she told reporters.

People in need of protection cannot apply directly to the special Canadian program and requests must be made by referral organizations, such as the UNHCR.

Since Rahaf’s speedy resettlement to Canada — less than a week after she started a Twitter campaign while barricaded inside her hotel room — she has faced backlash not only from internet trolls criticizing her as a disgrace to her family and Islam but also from refugee supporters accusing her of being a queue jumper.

“A Syrian refugee from a war zone who lost everything is not welcome in the west. But a person from a golden palace in Saudi-Arabia who says ‘I am not a Muslim anymore’ is a hero and very welcome. Can someone explain this to me?” Arnoud van Doorn, a member of The Hague City Council in the Netherlands, asked on Twitter.

In Rahaf’s case, the UNHCR dispatched a team to her hotel room in Bangkok for an emergency resettlement assessment after learning from media reports that the teenager was going to be handed over to her family, who were en route to Thailand and planned to take her back to Saudi Arabia.

Among the 25.4 million refugees worldwide, less than 1 per cent end up being resettled, many of them after years in limbo.

“Emergency resettlement is extremely rare,” noted Jean-Nicolas Beuze, the UNHCR representative to Canada. “Based on agreed-upon criteria, we refer these cases to the 30 countries that offer resettlement programs. There are many situations. It could be for the lack of medical care or the fear of torture if someone is returned to the country of origin.”

At her hotel in Bangkok, Rahaf was given a formal interview where she was asked to provide the details and evidence to substantiate her claims of mental and physical abuse by her family. After she got her UNHCR refugee designation, she underwent a thorough security and criminal check, as well as a medical exam, before being admitted to Canada.

“Rahaf met those criteria and we referred her case to several countries. Canada was the fastest to respond. Rahaf can’t choose her destination. She didn’t jump any queue. It’s a different process with different criteria,” said Beuze. “It’s not a unique case, but it’s only unique because of all the media and social media attention.”

While some critics fear Rahaf’s case may set a precedent and open the floodgates for other Middle Eastern women to claim gender oppression, experts say resettlement is only available to those who make it outside their country of origin.

“The assumption is your country can protect you. You become a refugee because you don’t get the protection and other countries need to step in,” said Janet Dench of the Canadian Council for Refugees. “Due to the notion of sovereignty, you can’t be a refugee in your own country.”

While praising Canada’s quick response to Rahaf’s situation, Dench said government officials must not politicize the refugee resettlement process by only prioritizing cases of those “who have the ears of the Prime Minister or Immigration Minister and are the favourite of the month of the media.”

According to the UNHCR, 1.4 million refugees have been identified for resettlement in 2019, but only 80,000 spots are available, including 11,000 in Canada.

Source: Did Saudi teen Rahaf Mohammed jump the queue with her speedy resettlement to Canada?

Christie Blatchford has a nice column on her strong character and independence, somewhat spoiled by her last editorial comments on grief and trauma counsellors:

She is a psychologically sturdy, resourceful and strong-willed young woman, this Rahaf Mohammed, recent “urgent protection” case freshly arrived in Toronto from Saudi Arabia via Kuwait and Thailand.

“I want to be independent, travel, make my own decisions on education, a career or who and when I should marry,” she said Tuesday at a big press appearance at COSTi Immigrant Services in the city’s west end.

“I had no say in any of this,” Rahaf said. “Today, I can proudly say that I am capable of making all of those decisions.”

She spoke in Arabic, her words translated and read in English by her COSTI settlement worker, Saba Abbas.

But there is no doubt she wrote it, said COSTI executive director Mario Calla with a grin, acknowledging he has seen evidence of the ferocious independent spirit himself.

For instance, he said, inundated with media requests from across the globe, Rahaf was crystal clear that she would do three interviews (with the ABC Australia network, the CBC and Toronto Star) and that was it, because “ ‘I want to get on with my life,’” Calla said.

“We suggested a press conference,” he said and she agreed to write a statement.

“That statement was all her,” Calla said. “She’s been very clear.”

As she said in it, “I understand that everyone here and around the world wishes me well and would like to continue to hear about how I am doing, but I will not be conducting any more media interviews for the time being.

“I ask everyone to respect my wishes.

“I would like to start living a normal private life, just like any other young woman living in Canada. This starts with me getting help in my settlement process and of course, learning English!”

As a government-sponsored refugee, Rahaf is entitled to 12 months of support (worth almost as much as social assistance, Calla said, lest the amount fuel local resentment), and COSTI will help with English classes, getting her settled into temporary accommodation (first with a family, later on her own) and has hired security guards as protection.

In defying her family and leaving behind the repressive guardianship system of Saudi Arabia, which infantilizes women from cradle to grave and makes them dependent on male relatives (father, husband, brother, etc.) for every decision, the 18-year-old has potentially put herself in danger.

Any country brazen enough to arrange to murder one of its own, as Saudi officials have acknowledged doing to journalist Jamal Khashoggi in its consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, has a long and lethal reach.

As well, Rahaf has been vilified in the Arab world, with the Kingdom insisting the entire business is a family matter blown out of proportion. Amid all the love she has received on social media, inevitably for this new media world, there comes a backlash, and she also has received some threats. She has left Islam.

And Rahaf’s family has apparently denounced her in a tweet of its own; even discussing this was painful for her in the interviews she did.

“She finds it very difficult,” Calla said after her brief appearance before the cameras. “She does not want to talk about those things.” So she decided, he said, fine, she’d pull the Band-Aid off in one fell swoop: “’I’ll get it out there’” (in the interviews) and be done with it.

She arrived in Canada last Saturday after sneaking out from under her family’s grasp on the last day of their holiday in Kuwait, hopping a plane to Bangkok, and then, with her father and brother apparently enroute to retrieve her, barricading herself in an airport hotel room and launching a desperate Twitter campaign begging for help.

She had the savvy of her age group, to harness social media. It’s new, but refugees have long been innovative. As Calla said, “It’s a complex world. People do everything and anything to try to save themselves.” Some sneak over borders; some jump into little boats and try to cross perilous oceans; a few, and probably soon a few more, use social media.

For all her determination and resourcefulness, she’s also just a teenager. The first order of business, Calla said, after she arrived was to go to the mall.

Rahaf had been expecting to end up in Australia, where she was also welcomed, but the bureaucracy there was slower moving, and on the advice of the UNHCR, she landed in Canada instead, wearing just a little skirt. She needed winter clothes.

“And a phone package,” Calla said, smiling. “We did that on Saturday.”

In her new country, press-gangs of grief counsellors and soothers are brought into high schools and colleges at the first hint of trauma, discomfort, even disrespect. The cultural assumption here is that we are fragile beings. So, Calla was asked if Rahaf is receiving psychological support.

“She is not, right now,” he said. “We do have services at COSTI … We have not seen any signs of distress in that sense.” In the longer term, he said, “for any refugee, the big challenge is the loss — family and friends and a culture that was familiar to them.”

In that sense, one of the country’s newest arrivals is like a delicious throwback to an older and more self-reliant Canada.

Stay tough, darling.

Source: Christie Blatchford: Stow the trauma counsellors, this tough runaway is doing fine on her own

Trump’s Attorney General Nominee William Barr Built a Border Wall the Last Time He Ran the Justice Department. It Failed Miserably

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Or learn from it:

In February 1992, less than three months into his first stint as the federal government’s top lawyer, Attorney General William Pelham Barr told a gathering of more than 100 law enforcement officials in San Diego that under his leadership, the U.S. Department of Justice would finally solve the looming immigration crisis at the border.

Barr’s proposed solution was, in its way, decades ahead of its time: the construction of a heavily armored steel fence along the U.S.-Mexico border immediately south of San Diego, complete with lighting, motion sensors, and the addition of hundreds of Border Patrol agents.

The fence was not “a silver bullet,” Barr admitted in his speech, but “a steady march in the right direction” to preventing undocumented immigrants from entering the country with impunity.

Unfortunately for Barr, the fence was an epic failure.

Though Barr saw the barrier as a novel way to stop undocumented immigrants from “crashing through the back door and the back window, violating our laws, flouting our sovereignty and ignoring our process,” as he told law enforcement in that speech, border-crossers took little notice of the latest hurdle.

“It doesn’t matter how many people, horses, bicycles, helicopters or planes they use,” one migrant told The Washington Post one week after Barr’s speech. “People will go. It doesn’t matter if the fence is electric—we’ll fry, but we’re still going.”

Migrants simply hopped it, dug under it, sprinted past Border Patrol when they weren’t looking, or walked its length to enter the United States through the rougher terrain of the San Ysidro Mountains. And they’ve been doing so ever since.

“The deterrent effect of tens of billions of dollars in investments in Barr’s approach to immigration control never materialized,” said Professor Wayne Cornelius, an expert on the mass politics of immigration at the University California, San Diego, who criticized Barr’s proposal at the time as a “Keystone Kops” approach to immigration enforcement, both inflammatory and ineffective.

The fence’s manifest failure remains a major indication that Barr, now nominated to serve as attorney general once again under President Donald Trump, will be an enthusiastic supporter of the centerpiece of Trump’s immigration policy—a proposed border wall that is 1,986 miles longer than Barr’s own unsuccessful iteration.

But a failure to learn from the mistakes of three decades ago, Cornelius said, could leave American taxpayers on the hook for repeating an expensive mistake.

“Nine out of ten migrants who weren’t discouraged from leaving home and coming to the U.S. border were not kept out of the country,” Cornelius told The Daily Beast. “[Barr’s] 1992 project is evidence that he has been a hard-liner on immigration enforcement for most of his government career—his policy preferences haven’t evolved.”

“Congress should know that if they vote to confirm,” Cornelius said.

So convinced was Barr that the 14-mile fence was all that was needed to slow the stream of undocumented immigrants entering the country into a trickle that, two weeks after its announcement, he told PBS NewsHour that presidential candidate Pat Buchanan’s proposal to erect a barrier along the entire U.S.-Mexico border amounted to a hat on a hat.

“I don’t think it’s necessary,” Barr told Jim Lehrer. “I think that’s overkill to put a barrier from one side of the border to the other… Illegal immigrants do not cross in the middle of the desert and walk hundreds of miles to the nearest city.”

Barr confidently pointed to his own barrier as having “reduced violence and made it easier to interdict the aliens crossing” within a matter of weeks, a belief he clung to even years after the fence failed to meaningfully reduce the number of undocumented immigrants who successfully entered California from Mexico.

“Good steps were taken, and the Bush administration was getting a lot more control over it, including putting up the fences,” Barr told the University of Virginia’s Miller Center in an expansive 2001 interview about his tenure at the Department of Justice, in which he defended the fences as having “cut down substantially on immigration.”

“I devoted a lot of effort and energy to doing our best to shut down the border in California,” Barr said of his time overseeing Immigration and Naturalization Services, the government agency later succeeded by Citizenship and Immigration Services, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Customs and Border Protection. “We kept on pushing them further west, and then eventually you get them going over long stretches of open ground, and once you get them out of the cities…”

But the assertion that Barr’s border fence succeeded in stemming migration into the United States from Mexico, Cornelius said, did not bear out in subsequent field studies of the region, which revealed that roughly 90 percent of undocumented migrants hoping to gain entry into the country succeeded in entering the United States on their most recent trip to the border.

If confirmed as the new attorney general, Cornelius said, “we can expect Mr. Barr to be one of the undaunted cheerleaders for Trump’s approach to immigration policy. If he and his colleagues are successful, taxpayers will once again be stiffed.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice declined to comment on whether Barr learned any lessons from the 1992 fence’s failure, but by all indications, the Trump administration views Barr’s supervision of the fence fiasco as a positive.

“He’s an outstanding man,” Trump told law enforcement officials in early December, hours after officially naming Barr as the nominee to succeed the beleaguered Jeff Sessions as attorney general. “During his tenure, he demonstrated an unwavering adherence to the rule of law… There is no one more capable or more qualified for this role.”

Source: Trump’s Attorney General Nominee William Barr Built a Border Wall the Last Time He Ran the Justice Department. It Failed Miserably

Sex abuse cases color immigration debate before Finnish election

Likely impact on upcoming April election:

The parliamentary heads of two of Finland’s largest parties have called for action after investigations against 19 foreign-born men on suspicion of sexual abuse of minors.

The issue has boosted the support of the anti-immigration, populist The Finns Party, whose popularity jumped two points to over 10 percent in the latest poll published by the national broadcaster YLE ahead of a parliamentary election on April 14.

Police have said there were foreign-born men among the 16 investigated for rape or other sexual abuses of adolescent girls in the town of Oulu over the last two months. On Sunday, police in Helsinki said they had arrested three foreign-born men on similar charges.

Antti Kaikkonen, parliamentary head of the coalition-leading Centre Party, called for a meeting of all the parliamentary party heads, tweeting: “Everyone who comes to Finland has to follow the local laws.”

Antti Lindtman, parliamentary head of the main opposition party, the Social Democrats, said: “The question is, are there measures we could take now – even during this term – to prevent cowardly crimes like these? Yes, there are.”

Prime Minister Juha Sipila tweeted that the government would discuss the “inhuman and reprehensible events” twice next week.

The topic is shocking for many in Finland, which sees itself as one of the safest and happiest countries on earth.

A citizens’ initiative to withdraw asylum from people convicted of a sex crime has doubled its signatures in just a few days and reached 25,000 on Sunday – half the total needed to force parliament to consider the issue.

The country of 5.5 million people has historically had very few immigrants. But the issue has become more fraught since the European refugee crisis of 2015, which caused the number of asylum seekers to almost quadruple to 28,208 in 2016.

Statistics Finland says around 1,200 cases of sexual abuse of minors are reported to the police each year, and that foreigners were involved in 18 percent of the cases that came to trial last year.

Lindtman proposed toughening the penalties for sex crimes against minors and withdrawing asylum from people convicted of serious violent or sexual crimes.

A man ‘cannot do that to a woman’: Why polygamy in Canadian Muslim community could be another #MeToo moment

Good investigative reporting and alarming that some Canadian imams will perform marriage ceremonies with second wives:

Zaib’s life began to unravel with an unexpected phone call from her husband in early 2018.

He told her he had married a second wife, an announcement that took the Toronto woman by surprise.

“I went into shock mode. I was in a state of denial, saying no, no, this can’t be happening. I started getting the symptoms of anxiety, depression and crying spells,” Zaib told CBC’s The Fifth Estate.

Zaib, whose last name CBC has agreed to withhold, said she got so sick her doctor recommended an extended leave of absence from work.

Zaib and other Canadian Muslim women in a similar predicament believe this could be their own #MeToo moment, an opportunity to speak out and demand an end to the practice of polygamy in Canada’s Muslim community.

“All the other women are quiet, not saying anything. Maybe if I say a thing or two, that will bring attention to this issue because this is the law and men are breaking it right, left and centre and nobody’s saying anything to them,” said Zaib.

She feels there should be accountability on the part of men.

“A man should know he cannot do that to a woman — you use her and then decide you’re going to have another fresh woman and you just leave her on the side like that.”

Determination to move on

Zaib’s husband tried to reassure her that he had no intention of abandoning her or their three adult children. Zaib said he told her: “I am going to still provide for you, take care of you and the kids. You can continue living the way you’re living and it’s just going to be one extended family.”

As the weeks went by, Zaib said she became increasingly convinced that her 26-year marriage was over. She was 19 when her parents arranged her marriage to her husband, who is 20 years her senior.

Looking back at her marriage, Zaib said she was happy. “Whatever was my destiny I got it.”

Zaib was born in Pakistan and her husband was born in India, but after their marriage in Saudi Arabia, they moved to Canada in the mid-1990s.

Zaib, who speaks multiple languages, found work as a translator in Toronto. But as employment opportunities for her husband dried up in Canada, he went to the United States in search of work and was away from the family for weeks at a time.

After she spent two months trying to figure out what to do with her life, Zaib’s husband returned to Toronto for a scheduled visit.

Realizing that Zaib was unwilling to accept his decision, he suggested they seek the counsel of their local imam. Zaib said the imam listened to both of them, but then told her husband that although Islamic law allowed polygamy, plural marriages are banned in Canada.

CBC reached out to Zaib’s husband, who is not being named to protect his wife’s identity, but did not receive a response.

In 2011, the B.C. Supreme Court upheld the section of the Criminal Code that prohibits polygamy as constitutional and ruled that the harm against women and children from polygamy far outweighs concerns over protecting religious freedom.

‘Unfair to women’

The Canadian Council of Imams, which represents the majority of imams in Canada, has declared that polygamous marriages, permitted according to the Qur’an, are nevertheless not valid because they are a violation of Canadian law.

The majority of Muslim jurists say a Muslim man is permitted to take up to four wives, but only if he can treat them all fairly and with justice.

In some Middle Eastern countries, polygamy is regulated and the second, third or fourth wife, has legal rights. But that’s not the case in Canada, says Imam Hamid Slimi of the Sayeda Khadija Centre in Mississauga, Ont.

“The way polygamy is practised today is unfair to women,” Slimi said.

Imam Hamid Slimi of the Sayeda Khadija Centre in Mississauga, Ont., has preached openly against the practice of polygamy in Canada. (CBC)

In a recent sermon at his centre, Slimi told his congregation that polygamy “was permitted for a certain time and within a certain context in the past, hundreds of years ago, but here in Canada, it’s not allowed and 95 or 99 per cent of women don’t agree with this and I am talking about Muslim women.”

Although Slimi was head of the Canadian Council of Imams for more than a decade and has preached openly against the practice of polygamy in Canada, he admits that it continues.

It continues in part because an imam is not required to solemnize a marriage in the Islamic faith. Anyone with a basic requisite knowledge of the Qur’an and the prophetic traditions can officiate a nikah — or marriage — ceremony.

But Slimi insists that all nikahs or marriages, whether conducted by an imam or not, should be registered with the authorities to ensure that they comply with the law.

Zaib’s not alone

Over the last several months, a team at the The Fifth Estate talked to nearly a dozen women from the Greater Toronto Area, which has an extremely diverse population of more than half a million Muslims.

According to Statistics Canada, there are more than one million Muslims in Canada, but when it comes to polygamous marriages in the community, it is impossible to quantify because these marriages are most likely never registered.

The women The Fifth Estate spoke with are or were wives of Sunni imams and prominent community leaders and all share a common story to that of Zaib.

“I thought this doesn’t happen in Canada. It’s illegal and maybe there are some consequences, but to my surprise, when I went into the situation, I have a friend, I spoke with her and found out she’s getting a divorce because her husband [has] a second wife,” said Zaib.

The first wives who shared their story with CBC did so on condition that their identities not be revealed to protect themselves and their children from a potential backlash within the Muslim community.

When we were married, my husband told me his religious teacher said it was permissible for a man to lie to his wife about taking a second wife if the intention is to keep her happy and to keep the peace. – Alima

After 18 years of marriage and three children, Alima, not her real name, demanded her husband grant her a divorce after he confessed last summer that he had done a nikah to another woman. At the time, Alima found out the second wife was pregnant with her husband’s child.

“When we were married,” Alima said, “my husband told me his religious teacher said it was permissible for a man to lie to his wife about taking a second wife if the intention is to keep her happy and to keep the peace.”

After their divorce, Alima said, “I had to work on keeping my faith, otherwise, I may have lost it completely.”

Another woman, Kareema, a friend of Alima, is also struggling to keep her faith having experienced a similar ordeal. Kareema, not her real name, converted to Islam and got married to her husband in Toronto in 2000. After giving birth to the youngest of three children in 2016, Kareema said, her husband began having an affair.

“A prominent imam in Toronto advised him to marry (nikah) the woman to avoid commiting the sin of adultery,” said Kareema. “Instead of correcting the wrong that my husband was doing, the imam compounded it with another wrong.”

Kareema said she confronted the second wife and when her husband found out, he assaulted her. “It took two years for me to leave him.”

Kareema said the #MeToo movement has awakened her and Alima and although they wish to speak up, they remain afraid for their safety and the security of their children.

According to court records obtained by the The Fifth Estate, another prominent Toronto imam attacked his wife and sent her to hospital after she confronted him on his “secret nikah” to another woman. After years of marriage and two children, her marriage to him recently ended in a divorce.

‘I see nothing wrong with it’

Issa is a convert to Islam and a chef in Toronto who says he is open to the idea of taking a second wife, although he is well aware it is an offence punishable in Canada with up to a maximum of five years in prison.

“I see nothing wrong with it. It’s part of our religion. That’s why I am open to it and I accept it.”

Issa, who asked to be identified by his Muslim name, said when he married his wife in an Islamic ceremony, they agreed not to register their marriage, a legal requirement in Canada.

Issa mistakenly believes that when he eventually takes a second wife he cannot be accused of breaking the law since none of his marriages would be registered with the authorities.

When asked what his wife thinks of his decision, he said, “My wife’s a woman, so you know, most of the times women don’t like it, but she accepts it. She understands that this is our religion. This is what Allah has allowed for us, so she definitely accepts it.”

Finding second wives

It is not that difficult for men like Issa to find second wives. Several Muslim matrimonial websites have sprung up worldwide catering to men seeking polygamous relationships and to women who are open to such arrangements.

A producer with The Fifth Estate registered himself on two websites and was soon communicating with women who were interested in being a second wife.

One of the women who expressed an interest in a polygamous marriage was Haleemah, a Toronto-area resident and a convert to Islam.

Haleemah is single and divorced with two adult children. She said she would accept a polygamous marriage but with conditions.

“I have had Muslims ask me in the past, ‘Would you like to be a second wife?’ and I would say if I was in a polygamist marriage and the first wife was accepting of this, I would welcome her and help her in any way I can because I’ve been through raising a family,” she said.

Asked whether the illegality of polygamy was a concern for her, she said while she was aware it was illegal, “in some situations, I think some imams are willing to help.”

Some imans known to help men find second wives

Many of the women who told The Fifth Estate their husbands had taken second wives pointed out a number of imams in Ontario who are known to assist Muslim women like Haleemah in finding husbands who are already married, and who help match men like Issa to aspiring second wives.

The Fifth Estate wanted to put the rumours that were circulating in Toronto about some imams to the test and sent a married Muslim man undercover.

Of the six imams who were approached, two declined to perform a nikah ceremony for a married man. Two congratulated the undercover for his decision to take a second wife and recommended other Ontario imams whom they said would perform the nikah.

Two imams agreed to perform the nikah ceremony for the married undercover. One said it would cost $450 and suggested three locations in Toronto where the ceremony could take place.

The second imam, Aly Hindy, serves as the imam at the Salaheddin mosque in the east end of Toronto. He charges a standard fee of $200 for a nikah ceremony, regardless of whether it is a first, second or third marriage. He offered to supply the two male witnesses required by Islamic law.

After showing the undercover a copy of the marriage certificate he would receive, Hindy provided his own interpretation of Canadian law.

“We have no problem with the government because we are not going to register. If you register, then it is illegal, because you are already married.”

‘Let them sue me’

In an interview with The Fifth Estate, CBC’s Habiba Nosheen showed Hindy the undercover video of him agreeing to conduct a second marriage for a man who was already married and asked him for his reaction.

“So? Sue me. Let them sue me. We follow the law because we’re not registering a second marriage,” he said.

When asked to explain why he endorses the practice of polygamy in violation of Canadian law, he insisted the law should be changed.

When pressed for an explanation, Hindy described it as a “garbage law,” and said “eventually we’re going to recognize that there’s not enough men for each woman.”

“Many women will not be able to get married because there are not enough men because men die in wars, children die early and there are more boys than girls. Plus you also lose some number of men to homosexual marriages.”

Nosheen suggested the law will not change because people chose not to respect it, to which Hindy said, “OK, the law cannot be enforced.”

Enforcing the law

Toronto lawyer Sabha Hazai, who sits on the board of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women,  is spearheading a project aimed at educating Muslim women on their legal rights when getting married. She said the current law lacks teeth.

“It’s up to the lawmakers and it’s up to the courts now. How do they want to address polygamy? Are they going to start looking at enforcing the law? Are there going to be criminal prosecutions?

“Are there going to be convictions? Can you call the police and say: ‘My husband’s in a second marriage, please charge him for it?’ ”

The law has never been tested in respect to the practice of polygamy among Canadian Muslims.

When asked for his reaction to imams who perform polygamous marriages, Slimi was unequivocal.

“What upsets me is if we want to be part of Canada and call ourselves Canadian Muslims, we have to be part of this society.”

Polygamy, he said, “was permissible and it’s permissible in other countries, but it’s illegal here. The issue is not because I have a choice, I don’t have a choice.”

For women like Zaib, there is no compromise on the issue of polygamy in Canada.

“I’m going to be living the rest of my life with a burden and I know myself, I thought the best way, just let him go live his life and I’ll figure out my own life.”

Source: A man ‘cannot do that to a woman’: Why polygamy in Canadian Muslim community could be another #MeToo moment