Conservative party pulls attack ad of black man walking over Trudeau tweet

The Conservative party pulled an attack ad from its Twitter feed Tuesday that depicted a black man carrying a suitcase walking over a tweet from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The tweet is rolled out as a carpet entering a broken fence and the words “faith” and “diversity” are visible.

The Tories have argued that a Trudeau tweet from January 2017 is partly to blame for the influx of asylum seekers crossing into Canada from the United States.

Conservative party spokesman Cory Hann says the ad was axed because the situation at the border is not about any one group of people.

Hann says the image, which shows an actual person “illegally” crossing over the Canadian border, was originally used by a number of media outlets with stories about the surge in asylum seekers.

The full photo shows the man with a group of people carrying suitcases in Quebec, while the edited image used by the Conservative party singled out one man.

A quote from a story in the Financial Post is superimposed on the image which says, “Trudeau’s holier-than-thou tweet causes migrant crisis — now he needs to fix what he started.”

In an opinion piece published Tuesday, Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen accused the Tories of “peddling false information to stoke fear” and called it “ridiculous” that they blame the flow of asylum seekers on Trudeau’s tweet.

Source: Conservative party pulls attack ad of black man walking over Trudeau tweet

‘Morally repugnant’: Homeland Security advisory council members resign over immigration policies

Less impact given appointees under the Obama administration:

Four members of a Homeland Security advisory council have resigned in protest over the Trump administration’s immigration policies, citing the “morally repugnant” practice of separating immigrant families at the border.

Richard Danzig, former secretary of the Navy in the Clinton administration, and Elizabeth Holtzman, a former Democratic congresswoman, were among the group that announced their resignation Monday in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

The group noted that the Department of Homeland Security did not consult its advisory council before implementing the policy, which separated more than 2,500 children until President Trump reversed his endorsement of the practice amid an international outcry and signed an order instructing the agency to stop doing so.

“Were we consulted, we would have observed that routinely taking children from migrant parents was morally repugnant, counter-productive and ill-considered,” the group wrote. “We cannot tolerate association with the immigration policies of this administration, nor the illusion that we are consulted on these matters.”

Two former Obama administration officials — David Martin, a former DHS deputy general counsel, and Matthew Olsen, who served as director of the National Counterterrorism Center — also signed the letter.

Bill Bratton, a former New York City police commissioner who is vice chairman of the advisory council, thanked the group for their service in an email reply, but he did not respond directly to the criticism.

“Each of you was appointed owing to lifelong dedication to the nation and her people, and, indeed, I can appreciate that each of you sees this resignation as part of that dedication,” Bratton wrote.

Tyler Houlton, a DHS spokesman, said it was “disappointing, but not surprising, that appointees from the previous Administration would resign.”

He added: “It is unfortunate that instead of first bringing their concerns directly to the Secretary in the spirit of an Advisory Committee member, they chose to simply resign four weeks after the Administration ended the practice of concern.”

Advisory council members are appointed by the homeland security secretary to two-year terms. After the resignations, there are 24 members, according to the DHS website. The council meets infrequently, usually no more than twice a year, and includes subcommittees to conduct research and recommendations on DHS policies.

The Trump administration began routinely separating immigrant families who did not have authorization to enter the United States under a new policy that aimed to criminally prosecute all adults who entered the country illegally. To do so, DHS officials said, the administration was required to take away minor children because U.S. law prevents them from being held in adult jails. The agency is struggling to reunite the children with their parents, despite a court order to do so.

In separate letters also sent to Nielsen, Martin and Holtzman also cited objections more broadly to the administration’s immigration policies, including an entry ban on immigrants from several majority-Muslim countries, the pursuit of billions of dollars for a border wall and Trump’s attempts to end a deferred action program for younger immigrants who have lived in the country illegally since they were children.

“These actions have fueled polarization, alienated state and local governments, and moved us much further from a sustainable, effective, and strategically sensible immigration enforcement program,” Martin wrote.

Holtzman, who like Martin was appointed by former DHS secretary Jeh Johnson during the Obama administration, wrote to Nielsen that under Trump, “DHS has been transformed into an agency that is making war on immigrants and refugees.”

In an interview, Holtzman said she did not believe the resignations would have an impact on Trump’s decision-making on immigration. But she added, “I do think it’s important for the American people to see that not everybody connected with the government is a brute, is a lawbreaker and that actually some of us do have a measure of conscience.”

Source: ‘Morally repugnant’: Homeland Security advisory council members resign over immigration policies

Australia: State politicians not safe as dual citizenship crisis rolls on

Possible expansion of the Australian dual citizenship problems for elected state-level politicians, but narrower in its application:

It has been widely assumed that any dual citizenship problems are confined to the federal parliament. But that may need a rethink.

Over the past year, 15 federal parliamentarians have left the Australian parliament because of dual citizenship.

Under Section 44(i) of the Australian Constitution – which has been given a strict interpretation by the High Court of Australia in recent cases – a person is not eligible to nominate for, or be elected to, the federal parliament if they are a dual citizen. The removal of such a large number of parliamentarians in such a short space of time is unprecedented.

Throughout this controversy, it has been assumed that any dual citizenship problems are confined to the federal parliament. Certainly, it is widely acknowledged that state constitutions do not contain the same general prohibition of dual citizenship and that dual citizens are at least initially eligible to be elected to state parliaments.

Unfortunately, the analysis generally stops at this point. There has been little consideration given to the important follow-up question of whether there are any other disqualification provisions that might affect any dual citizens sitting in our state parliaments.

An examination of state constitutions (and relevant electoral laws) reveals that while a dual citizen is eligible to be elected, this citizenship status may subsequently put them at risk of disqualification if they engage with that foreign citizenship while serving in the parliament.

In particular, in New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania, the state constitutions, or relevant electoral laws, provide that a parliamentary seat will become vacant if a member commits any act that acknowledges allegiance to any foreign power.

This disqualification does not apply in Victoria, the ACT or the Northern Territory, and in South Australia it has been expressly limited to make it clear it doesn’t apply in particular circumstances.

Clearly, these state provisions are substantially different from the dual citizenship prohibition at the national level. A dual citizen is eligible to be elected as a state member of parliament, and will only be disqualified if there is a positive action taken by them that acknowledges a foreign allegiance.

And that’s the pertinent question: what exactly constitutes an “acknowledgement of allegiance”?

A plain reading of this phrase would seem to suggest that any positive act that seeks to exercise any right arising from citizenship would be disqualifying. In essence, a person who seeks to rely on their foreign citizenship in some way (however trivial) is making an acknowledgement of that foreign allegiance. Some obvious examples would be travelling on a foreign passport, or even renewing a foreign passport.

If a state MP from NSW, Queensland, WA or Tasmania did either of these things, they would appear to be in breach of the state constitutional requirements, resulting in their disqualification from parliament.

This issue has been flagged as a potential problem in the past. For example, leading constitutional expert Professor Gerard Carney suggested almost 20 years ago that if an elected state member subsequently acts to affirm the foreign citizenship, such as by renewing or applying for a foreign passport, disqualification will be incurred.

The question was also considered by the NSW Parliamentary Joint Committee on the ICAC, which recommended repealing this grounds for disqualification back in 1998.

This broad interpretation is further reinforced by the fact that South Australia saw a need back in 1994 to insert a qualifying provision into its state constitution to provide that members would not be disqualified simply because they acquired or used a foreign passport.

The fact that such a qualification was thought necessary highlights that acquiring or using a foreign passport will ordinarily fall into the category of being an “acknowledgement of allegiance”.

It is important to note these issues have never been tested before the state courts, and there is no particular evidence to suggest any current state parliamentarians are in breach.

It is also worth noting that some jurisdictions – notably Queensland – have provisions that allow parliament to resolve to disregard a “trivial” disqualifying event.

Source: State politicians not safe as dual citizenship crisis rolls on

Andrew Coyne: We have a problem with border crossers — but this is no crisis, John Ivison: The Liberals’ Band-Aid solutions won’t fix asylum seeker problem

Good and balanced analysis:

Bowing to the opposition parties’ demands, the Commons Citizenship and Immigration committee will hold special hearings this month on what Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel is calling the “border crisis.”

The notion that there is a crisis on the border — that Canada is being inundated by a tide of asylum claimants crossing the border in defiance of our laws — has been heard with increasing frequency in recent weeks, coinciding with the election of Doug Ford’s Conservatives in Ontario.

Last week’s meeting of federal and provincial immigration ministers broke up in acrimony over the issue, with the feds’ Ahmed Hussen decrying the Ford government’s use of the term “illegal border crossers” as “not Canadian” (Liberals prefer “asylum seekers”) while his counterpart Lisa MacLeod accused him of bullying her. Followed by the usual performative outrage online — he called her un-Canadian! she called them illegal! etc.

All of this mounting fury, while the number of people claiming asylum after crossing the border between regular ports of entry — the neutral and factual description — is in decline.

In June, the Immigration department recorded just 1,263 “RCMP interceptions” — for that is what happens to them after they cross — less than half what it was in April and barely a quarter of the rate last summer.

Still, the 10,744 such interceptions so far this year is two and a half times the number recorded by this point last year. Perhaps the rate will continue its recent decline. But even if the year-end total were the same as last year’s, it would still be considerably higher than has been the norm in recent years.

That’s a problem, no doubt. The monthly rate may be declining, but the accumulated total of more than 30,000 claims over the last 18 months is by all accounts putting a strain on refugee services in Toronto and Montreal. The growing backlog of unprocessed claims, moreover, now at about 43,000, leaves claimants waiting months or years to have their claims assessed: unpleasant for them, costly for taxpayers.

But a crisis? What distinguishes this from any of the many other pressing problems on the public agenda? What, in particular, justifies the kind of massive media coverage and opposition hyperventilating the issue has received?

It is, of course, entirely proper that the opposition should ask questions of ministers, and criticize the government’s response to the surge in claims as inadequate, botched or worse. It may even be fair to suggest the government shares the blame for precipitating it, notably via the prime minister’s notorious “Welcome to Canada” tweet.

But you can tell a lot about what a politician is up to by how much emphasis they put on an issue. It isn’t that what they are saying about it is necessarily untrue: it’s the lack of proportion, the fevered pitch, the exaggerated stakes.

It was perfectly legitimate, for example, for Dalton McGuinty to disagree with John Tory’s proposal to extend public funding to religious schools in the 2007 election, though the proposal would have affected roughly 50,000 of the province’s two million schoolchildren. But to elevate it to the central issue of the campaign, as if the province would dissolve into civil strife if it went through? That’s where the demagoguery lies.

So what is it about the prospect of roughly 60 asylum seekers a day crossing our border that is cause for such uproar? Yes, they are crossing “illegally,” even if the charge is stayed pending the hearing of their asylum claim: Liberal delicacy on this point is not helpful. That’s obviously not something we should wish to encourage.

But on the scale of illegal acts, doing an end run around a border post to get your asylum claim heard in Canada, rather than the United States — especially in its present state of mind — ranks somewhere between a traffic offence and listing a dubious expense on your income tax return. People shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it, and they aren’t: the first thing that happens after they cross the border is they are arrested.

They aren’t dodging any “queue,” because there isn’t a queue for refugees. You plant your feet on Canadian soil, you have a right to have your claim for asylum heard, period — not just under UN treaties to which we are a signatory, but under the Canadian Constitution. But that’s all you have a right to: a hearing. If your claim doesn’t stand up, you’re deported to your country of origin.

If that’s taking too long, that’s a good argument for spending more money on the process for assessing claims. It is not an argument for the kinds of wild, blunderbuss measures being tossed about, most of them illegal, unworkable or both: building a fence along one short stretch of road in Quebec, for instance, when claimants have 8,000 kilometres of border to choose from.

Or — the Conservatives’ favourite — declaring the entire border an official port of entry under the Safe Third Country agreement, as if we could impose our definition on the Americans, under an agreement we begged them to sign. Or “just sending them back” — as if, again, we could force the Americans to take them. To say nothing of the legal and moral implications of doing so.

To say nothing, again, of the logistical impossibility of patrolling an 8,000-km border. Right now, claimants willingly surrender at the border, even having crossed it illegally, because they know they’ll get a hearing. Were we somehow to deny them that — by invoking the notwithstanding clause, say — you’d have a lot more people arriving surreptitiously: not just crossing illegally, but living here illegally.

Sometimes, it is true, you have to do desperate things in a crisis. But this isn’t a crisis and, if it were, these wouldn’t solve it.

Source: Andrew Coyne: We have a problem with border crossers — but this is no crisis

John Ivison focuses on the IRB, the lengthy and almost indefinite processes and delays in removals for those found ineligible , and the recommendations of the Yeates report on possible solutions:

The Liberal government didn’t create the problem of floods of asylum seekers crossing the border illegally. Donald Trump did that when he signalled the U.S. would allow temporary protected status on significant migrant populations from countries like Haiti to expire.

But the Liberals can be fairly blamed for making decisions that have exacerbated the problem — and for fomenting the issue for political ends.

Gerald Butts, the prime minister’s principal secretary, tweeted on the weekend: “Enough is enough. It’s time to stand up to this divisive fear-mongering about asylum seekers. Let’s not allow the alt-right to do here what they’re doing elsewhere.”

But pointing out failures in the system is not an act of partisanship – it’s certainly not an invocation to bash people already on the bones of their arse. The numbers don’t lie and, by every metric, the system is under more pressure now than when the Liberals came to power.

The government is touting the fact that there were just 1,263 border crossings in June — “the lowest since June, 2017.” But 10,744 migrants arrived in the first six months of the year – more than enough to outpace the budgeted processing capacity.

The Commons Citizenship and Immigration Committee met Monday and agreed to produce a report on “irregular” (more correctly “illegal”) border crossings by Aug. 3, and to invite the ministers of immigration (Ahmed Hussen), public safety (Ralph Goodale) and families, children and social development (Jean-Yves Duclos) to appear.

Hussen boasted Monday the government “has a clear plan for managing asylum seeker pressures,” as the city of Ottawa suggested it will support Toronto and other municipalities facing temporary housing pressures (many migrants are housed in two college dormitories that they have to vacate before classes start). Toronto said it needs around $90 million; the federal government has, to this point, offered $11 million.

But whatever is offered is a Band-Aid – and a Band-Aid does not constitute a plan.

Before all sides engage in more pointless partisan point-scoring, they should sit down and read a report on the refugee system already made public.

Neil Yeates, a former deputy minister of citizenship and immigration, produced an independent review of the system that was released in April. It makes stark reading. The refugee determination system, he said, is “at a crossroads,” dealing with a surge of claimants that it is ill-equipped to manage. If not tackled promptly, a large backlog will build that will take years to clear.

The nearly 50,000 claims made in 2017 were mostly from people avoiding the Safe Third Country Agreement with the U.S. that would likely have rendered them ineligible. By the simple act of crossing between ports of entry, they have been able to access Canada and its generous welfare provisions.

But sudden surges in migrant numbers is not a new problem.

The government made significant reforms between 2010 and 2012 to address a similar increase. The Balanced Refugee Reform legislation was aimed at making sure bona fide claimants would be approved more quickly and failed claimants removed just as judiciously.

The goal was a system that was “fast, fair and final.”

Alongside the imposition of visas on Mexicans and Czechs because of concerns over bogus claims, there were structural changes that allowed public servants, rather than political appointees, to be the first level decision makers at the Immigration and Refugee Board’s Refugee Protection Division. There was also an increase in operating funds that allowed for the elimination of the backlog within two years. Stable funding was put in place to facilitate a system that handled 22,500 claims annually.

The numbers between 2010 and 2017 are instructive.

In 2010, before the changes, there were 52,023 pending cases; the intake was 25,783; and the output was 34,260.

In 2013, the corresponding numbers were 22,544; 10,227; and 21,091.

By 2017, those numbers were 47,209; 47,425; and 23,102.

A more streamlined system saw the backlog cut in half and bogus claimants dissuaded from trying to enter Canada – only 10,227 people claimed asylum here in 2013.

Since then, the backlog has more than doubled and claimants quadrupled, as visas were waived for Mexicans and Romanians, and floods of Haitians and Nigerians were attracted by word that the Canadian system is a push-over.

Part of the reason the backlog went down was that failed claimants were actually removed. In 2012/13, 14,490 failed claimants were returned to their country of origin. In 2016/17, that number was just 3,892.

The result is a refugee population that “significantly exceeds the funding capacity,” in Yeates’ words. “Resourcing and prioritization of refugee removals are not fully at the level envisaged under the reforms,” he said.

Hussen is right to say that providing asylum claimants due process is not a choice, “it’s the law” under the UN Convention on Refugees and the Charter of Rights.

But due process should not be indefinite. Yeates talks about a “failure of finality” that creates a “pull” factor for asylum seekers, increasing the likelihood they will find a pathway to stay in Canada.

He is critical of the Refugee Appeal Division, which was never intended to provide a new hearing for failed claimants. If they are refused at the appeal division, would-be refugees can then proceed to the Federal Court, meaning “final is a distant goal,” according to Yeates.

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen says the government “has a clear plan for managing asylum seeker pressures.”

If the system is not reformed to make it faster and more final, there clearly needs to be a significant increase in a budget that has averaged around $216 million in the past five years.

Hussen said there is a plan, but Yeates points out “there is no contingency framework to increase capacity.”

Any report by the immigration committee should lean heavily on the Yeates report, which suggests dozens of technical reforms that might improve the situation, such as creating a new agency to recommend an annual plan, establish operational performance targets and confirm forecasts. The plan should be tabled in Parliament, Yeates suggested.

But no amount of bureaucratic tinkering will compensate for lack of political will.

The government must get serious about removing claimants, particularly from countries that don’t normally produce refugees.

Alternatively, it must admit that it accepts the idea of the refugee system being used by people seeking a better economic life and allocate hundreds of millions of dollars to increase the capacity of a system creaking under the challenge of dealing with twice as many people as it was designed for.

Source: John Ivison: The Liberals’ Band-Aid solutions won’t fix asylum seeker problem

South Koreans Learn to Love the Other

A bit more of a positive take compared to other articles I have seen but clearly government is making efforts:

From Japan to the United Kingdom, developed countries face a two-pronged problem: aging populations and a deepening hostility toward the immigrants who could keep their aging economies growing. One country may have found the answer to both. In South Korea, a top-down campaign begun in 2005 to remake the nation’s ethnic self-image has had remarkable results. In less than a generation, most South Koreans have gone from holding a narrow, racial concept of nationality to embracing the idea that immigrants of Chinese, Nigerian, Vietnamese, or North American descent can be as Korean as anyone else.

Part of what makes South Korea’s story so striking is its speed. Until the early 2000s, the country’s textbooks, immigration policies, and national imagery had placed a heavy value on the purity and unity of what was known as the Korean bloodline. The fixation with national uniqueness stemmed in part from the 20th-century trauma of Japan’s 35-year occupation, during which Koreans were portrayed as a subordinate part of a wider Asian empire. After Japanese rule was lifted in 1945, educators in the newly created South Korea drew on the works of independence activists such as Shin Chae-ho, who claimed that the Korean race-nation (minjok) had existed for millenniums, in writing the country’s new textbooks. Ethnonationalist rhetoric became commonplace among both teachers and politicians.

But in 2005, the national mood began to shift. Korean society was aging, with the fertility rate dropping to just 1.08 births per woman, a historic low. South Korean men were responding to the demographic decline by increasingly seeking foreign brides from poorer neighbors — first from China and then, as China got richer, from Vietnam and Cambodia.

That year, the total percent of marriages to foreigners was already 13.6. In some areas, such as North Jeolla, nearly 50 percent of Korean men were marrying Chinese women. At the same time, prejudices remained strong: Children regularly verbally abused their mixed-race classmates, sometimes with teachers’ approval. One Korean-American blogger, on his popular left-leaning English-language site Ask a Korean!, said gloomily that he feared the prospect of race riots if attitudes didn’t change.

Such fears prompted the formation of the Presidential Committee on Aging Society and Population Policy, which pushed a pro-natalist agenda, including increased child care and tax breaks for parents. But the South Korean media also began to host fervent discussions of multiculturalism. In 2005-2006, the number of articles on the topic tripled from previous years. The media shift was echoed by a change in policy from the top, initially driven by President Roh Moo-hyun. The campaign then crossed ministerial divisions and party lines, surviving the changeover from the liberal Roh administration of 2003-2008 to the more conservative administration of President Lee Myung-bak. Lee’s government sought both to persuade the public to embrace immigrants and to promote integration by educating new foreign-born brides in the intricacies of Korean culture. The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family simultaneously started a campaign to persuade the public to accept multiculturalism. Immigration commissioners and the presidential committee on aging set multiculturalism as a national priority to combat a maturing society. South Korea was to become a “first-class nation, with foreigners” — a phrase echoed throughout government documents and speeches.

The campaign rapidly picked up pace, especially after the passage of the 2008 Support for Multicultural Families Act. The bill increased the national budget for multicultural programs from just $96.9 million a year in 2009 to $197.5 million by 2012. South Korea also held in 2008 its first Together Day, a nationwide festival designed to make multicultural families feel more accepted, mixing ads of happy children and parents with talent shows and cultural displays. Not every move succeeded: Explicit anti-discrimination legislation was blocked repeatedly in the National Assembly.

Then, in 2009, the Ministry of Justice established the Korea Immigration and Integration Program to smooth the route to citizenship for foreign residents — one previously accessible only to a few professional elites — by introducing a clear points system. Official materials began to promote the term damunhwa (multicultural) to describe mixed families, since honhyol (mixed blood) had taken on derogatory connotations. Politicians spoke of multiculturalism in glowing terms; in a 2010 speech to the nation, then-President Lee described all foreign brides as his own daughters-in-law. Public school teachers received training in how to address the bullying of mixed-race children, and images of multicultural families started to appear on posters in government offices.

Public school teachers received training in how to address the bullying of mixed-race children, and images of multicultural families started to appear on posters in government offices.

The language introduced in 2005-2006, and backed up by later legislative action, produced a striking change in attitudes. By 2010, the Korean Identity Survey, a national poll run by two research institutes and a South Korean newspaper, found that more than 60 percent of Koreans supported the idea of a multicultural society. As of July 2016, more than 2 million foreigners lived in South Korea, up from just 536,627 in 2006. The country elected its first lawmaker of foreign birth, the Philippine-born Jasmine Lee, in 2012. By 2020, an estimated one-third of all children born in South Korea will be of mixed South Korean and other Asian descent.

Local efforts across the country have matched the government’s top-down publicity campaign. “South Korea’s system to dispatch counselors to help multicultural families has helped a lot of people,” said Shin Suk-ja, the head of the Multicultural Family Support Center group, a network of 218 offices across the country that provides aid to immigrant families. Popular culture has also embraced the idea of a multicultural society. Some of the country’s most popular young stars are Koreans of African descent, such as Han Hyun-min, a Nigerian-Korean teenage model who shared his story on the TV series My English Puberty of being sacked from a modeling job because he only spoke Korean, not the English that his appearance suggested. In 2016, Jeon So-mi, then a 15-year-old Canadian-Korean, won the popular talent competition show Produce 101 — probably in part because the voting audience at home saw her foreignness as cool.

Despite the success of the government’s multicultural campaign, there has been some backlash in recent years. Between 2011 and 2015, the Korean Identity Survey polling data revealed an increase in public concerns about multiculturalism, with support dropping to 49.7 percent. The data also showed that many Koreans associated foreigners with crime, job losses, or a greater tax burden. Academics and activists have criticized the government for reinforcing the sexist stereotype that multicultural families mean a Korean man and a foreign woman.

Source: South Koreans Learn to Love the Other

FATAH: Islamist groups eligible for share of $23M in federal funding? | Toronto Sun Corrrection

An example of fake news, where the original headline was “Islamic Relief and Other Groups to Receive $23M”, and the Sun was obliged to issue the following correction, not been picked up by the media and bloggers recirculating the story.

“Clarification

Tarek Fatah in a July 3, 2018 column incorrectly stated the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) is receiving funding from a federal multicultural program. Liberal MP Iqra Khalid suggested organizations such as NCCM would receive funding in a video referenced by Fatah however NCCM has not applied for funding.  The Toronto Sun regrets the error”

Slightly reworded article to reflect the correction:

On the afternoon of June 27 while most of Canada was at work or watching the World Cup matches, a major funding announcement was made with little fanfare and in front of no more than a couple of dozen, mostly Muslim audience of Pakistani Canadians.

Mississauga-Erindale MP Iqra Khalid who has been the mouthpiece of the divisive Motion M103 on ‘Islamophobia’ stood in her constituency office to announce that the Trudeau government was investing an additional $23 Million into its multiculturalism program.

With no mainstream media in attendance to ask any questions, Khalid boasted that her “hard work has resulted into tangible action.” She listed the following two groups as being potential recipients of the new funding:

The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), a former branch of the U.S. based Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) that was named in 2008 as an unindicted co-conspirator connected to the “largest terror-funding trial in U.S. history. NCCM has denied links to CAIR.

Islamic Relief, a worldwide charity accused of links to Islamist extremism by Middle East Forum, Israel and the United Arab Emirates among others.

There is no solid record that the Canadian arms of these two organizations have contributed to current problematic behaviour.  Nonetheless, for over a year many Muslim Canadians, including yours truly, my Sun colleague Farzana Hassan as well as other Muslim critics of Islamism had warned that the M103 initiative was much more than the victimhood culture of guilt being forced onto ordinary Canadians.

Khalid, in explaining during a press conference to announce the funding, suggested the $23 million is intended to “build bridges” between Canadians and to give new Canadians a “foundation” in this country by supporting community groups.

“NCCM that does a lot of data collecting on hate crimes and really pushing that advocacy needle forward within our country,” Khalid said. “Or like Islamic Relief, that does work not only within Canada, across Canada, across the world in really removing those stereotypes.”

So on Wednesday, we saw our fears come true. While Islamists are eligible to receive funds to conduct their Sharia agenda in Canada, Muslim critics of jihad, polygamy, FGM and Sharia have been left on their own to fight global Islamofascism.

In a message to MP Khalid, I asked her to clarify if any part of the $23M will be used to counter the daily denigration of Christians and Jews that takes place in mosques across Canada, from dawn to dusk.

I reminded her that “most Friday sermons at mosque congregations end with a call to Allah to grant Muslims victory over non-Muslims, referred to as ‘Qawm al Kafiroon’.”

“Will the $23M be used to de-radicalize mosque clerics and educate them to end hateful sermons from the pulpits,” I asked.

Despite reaching out to her office twice, I did not get a response, nor any press release or statement issued by any ministry of the Trudeau cabinet.

In making the announcement, the Pakistan-born Liberal MP told her scant audience, her M103 initiative was about “systemic racism and religious discrimination” and that “my goal was to study it and understand why does it happen and to find solutions.”

Most Canadians would have told her, ‘physician, heal thyself,’ but of course, ordinary Canadians are too scared to be labelled as ‘racist’ by privileged Islamists riding the waves of victimhood.

In recommending Islamic Relief as one of the recipients of the $23 million fund, Khalid covered up the fact that even Bangladesh, a Muslim-majority country has banned Islamic Relief from providing either relief or aid to some 500,000 Rohingya refugees who have taken refuge in the country.

Khalid also shrugged off allegations that Islamic Relief has long been accused of funding terror. The United Arab Emirates has designated Islamic Relief as a terror-financing organization while in Russian authorities have accused Islamic Relief of supporting terrorism in Chechnya.

My question to ordinary Canadians is this: Who will stand up to the Islamist agenda in our country if it’s the government itself that funds their agenda?

Clarification

Tarek Fatah in a July 3, 2018 column incorrectly stated the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) is receiving funding from a federal multicultural program. Liberal MP Iqra Khalid suggested organizations such as NCCM would receive funding in a video referenced by Fatah however NCCM has not applied for funding.  The Toronto Sun regrets the error

via FATAH: Islamist groups eligible for share of $23M in federal funding? | Toronto Sun

Douglas Todd: Trudeau government goes silent on Syrian refugees

To be fair to the government, the Syrian refugee program was set up with better outcome tracking in place, to allow for a higher quality evaluation at the five-year mark. Census 2021 will also provide a good sense of how well Syrian refugees have done, both PSRs and GARs.

I suspect that some of the lack of interim information may reflect the pressures for regular data on asylum seekers; indeed while monthly operational data is updated regularly, quarterly and annual reporting is slower (e.g., quarterly citizenship operational data dates from June 2017):

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s election promise to welcome 25,000 refugees from Syria was aimed at showing voters his compassion. The followup photo opportunities he arranged in 2015 with smiling Syrian refugees, such as doctors, drew international headlines.

Once in power, Trudeau’s Liberals switched the name of the Immigration Department to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, to highlight their concern for those forced to leave chaotic home countries, especially Syria.

Given the grand gestures, you would be forgiven for believing the federal Liberals and the department responsible for refugees would be tracking the fate of the tens of the thousands of struggling Syrians that Canada has recently taken in.

But, after more than two weeks of inquiries by Postmedia, a media relations officer acknowledged the department has not produced any report in almost two years on the about 50,000 Syrian refugees now in Canada.

Canada’s auditor general is among the unamused. The Liberals had a plan to monitor whether the mostly Arabic-speaking refugees were learning English, working, receiving social assistance and going to school, but the government has failed to follow through, said auditor general Michael Ferguson. It is Ottawa’s responsibility, he said, to make sure Syrians refugees “integrate into Canadian society.”

The federal Liberals are not following the more transparent approach of Sweden and Germany, which took in the largest numbers of the 2.6 million mostly-Syrian asylum seekers who arrived in Europe in 2015 and 2016. The governments of those countries are providing extensive data on refugee outcomes, in addition to launching waves of job-training programs.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada did, to be fair, release a one-year-after report on Syrian refugees in December, 2016. It was moderately helpful, since it showed half the privately sponsored refugees had jobs in Canada. But employment fell to 10 per cent among the larger cohort of “government-assisted” refugees, who are typically less educated and often illiterate.

The early Ottawa report also touched on how, after refugees’ first year in Canada, they are cut off from direct stipends from the federal government.

How have things gone for Syrian refugees in Canada in the almost two years since that lone departmental report? No one really knows. That’s unlike in Sweden and Germany, where refugee programs are increasingly thorny electoral issues.

Sweden has discovered, for instance, that, despite creating hundreds of “fast-track” job-training programs for recent refugees, only one third of those who completed a two-year full-time integration program in 2017 were working or studying three months later.

Refugees in Germany have done a bit better, but three-quarters are working in jobs needing few skills and with poor prospects. Unemployment is exceedingly high.

How is integration going in Canada?

When Postmedia sought answers from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, a media official provided the website of another public-relations official at another department, who recommended contacting Canadian academics, who either didn’t respond, had nothing to say or suggested contacting yet other academics. It’s known as “getting the runaround.” It may eventually bear fruit, but who knows?

One non-governmental source in B.C., however, did have some helpful informal insights about what’s happening in this  province, the destination of about one in 10 Syrian refugees.

Maggie Hosgood, who has helped coordinate more than 100 B.C. United Church congregations that have privately sponsored 65 Syrian families, said most refugees “are doing all right,” with good outcomes for children, especially girls, who attend public schools.

But most refugees, many of whom end up in Burnaby, are struggling to afford housing in hyper-costly Metro Vancouver. In addition, Hosgood estimated roughly one in four Syrian adults are on welfare.

Unlike the highly educated refugees who Trudeau mingles with for photo opportunities, most Syrian refugees have jobs that require few skills, such as cleaners or jobs in shops where they don’t have to speak English.

Many Syrians are struggling to learn English in the classroom, Hosgood said, regretting that the former federal Conservative government did away with a program in which refugees could, at the same time, learn both English and a trade.

There are positive exceptions. Some male refugees are bakers, candy makers or mechanics. One carpenter, Hosgood said, has developed a thriving business, learning English while he works. “He’s got plans.”

As German and Swedish government officials are discovering, Hosgood also confirmed many Middle Eastern “husbands don’t want their wives to work.” They think, she said, the woman should stay at home and the husband should provide for the family.

“The Canada Child Benefit has been a godsend for most families,” Hosgood said, echoing a study suggesting most Syrian parents come with three to four children, sometimes eight or 10. “Big families would be doing very well.”

Syrian mothers and fathers with four children can get about $50,000 a year in various taxpayer-funded social-service benefits. The Canada Child Benefit provides $6,400 a year for each child under six and $5,400 for children between six and 17, while provincial welfare can give about $12,000 a year to each adult.

Hosgood said many of the grateful Syrian refugees, who know how to stretch their money,  are now starting to sponsor relatives to come to Canada.

Integrating refugees into the well-off West requires playing the long game. European countries have found that refugees’ full entry into the taxpaying workforce often doesn’t approach the national average for a couple of decades.

Instead of posturing in photo opportunities, Canada’s governing politicians need to follow Europe and track what is happening on the difficult ground. It’s impossible to create effective integration programs if no one knows what’s working and what’s not.

Source: Douglas Todd: Trudeau government goes silent on Syrian refugees

Immigration critics urge Liberals to come up with answers on asylum issue

Clearly becoming more of a wedge issue, with parties more interested in scoring points and inflaming debate rather than more serious discussion of the opportunities and constraints.

Tone and words matter, and some of the language and approach by federal and provincial conservatives is unhelpful. Stating valid concerns over the number of asylum seekers and the government’s approach could easily be done in a more neutral manner, just as the concerns over FGM, “honour killings” and the like be discussed without the label “barbaric cultural practices:”

With tensions over asylum seekers mounting between Ottawa and Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s new Progressive Conservative government, Conservative MP Michelle Rempel wants to give provincial immigration ministers another chance to air their grievances – and Lisa MacLeod says she’d happily do so.

As Mr. Ford’s community and social services minister, Ms. MacLeod is butting heads with the Liberal government over its handling of the asylum-seeker issue, and she was at it again Friday after the main federal, provincial and territorial players gathered for a meeting on the matter in Winnipeg.

She walked out of the meeting after a testy exchange with federal Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, who later publicly accused Ontario of fear-mongering on asylum seekers. She called his comments “mean-spirited” and demanded an apology.

At Monday’s emergency meeting of the House of Commons immigration committee, opposition members will try to put some political pressure on the government by urging their Liberal counterparts to examine the problem, as well as the pressure it is putting on provinces.

Ms. Rempel will introduce a motion calling on the committee to “undertake a study to review the adequacy of the federal government’s response to the impact of increased asylum seekers crossing into Canada from the United States.”

She and NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan are calling on the committee to hold two more meetings this summer in hopes of learning more about what the government intends to do.

The motion calls on Mr. Hussen to testify, for the committee to meet at least twice more this summer and that the study be concluded before Aug. 3. Ms. Rempel also wants provincial ministers to either testify or provide written submissions to the committee.

Ms. MacLeod said she’d happily oblige.

Ms. Rempel called for Monday’s meeting after hearing Ontario and Quebec say they’ve run out of room for migrants. The Ontario government said it is facing a “looming crisis” next month if Ottawa doesn’t help find space for refugees and asylum seekers currently sheltered in college dorms.

Mr. Ford has demanded the federal government foot the entire bill for the province’s costs. The federal government has so far offered $11-million in help.

“If we’re going to be allocating all of these funds and they’re unbudgeted, then the government should be able to table some sort of plan, and I do feel it’s been very piecemeal and reactive,” said Ms. Rempel.

“I don’t think we can wait until the fall because I think the situation is going to get worse.”

Canada’s Safe Third Country agreement with the U.S. stipulates that asylum seekers are required to make their claims in the first “safe” country where they arrive – meaning those who cross into Canada at an official land border crossing are sent back to make their claim in the U.S.

The agreement does not cover “irregular” or “illegal” asylum seekers – those entering Canada at unofficial points, most notably in Quebec.

The number of asylum seekers crossing between legal entry points has steadily decreased. According to new numbers released Friday, the RCMP intercepted 1,263 people at the border in June, which is down from 1,869 in May. In April, the RCMP intercepted 2,560 people at the border.

While committee chair Liberal MP Rob Oliphant won’t have a vote, he suggested he would be keen to hold additional meetings, if only to latch on to some facts to help to dispel any myths or “outrageous” claims that are circulating.

“That’s my duty,” Mr. Oliphant said. “I would say it’s best to get a hearing of the facts, get the evidence, find out what’s going on. That’s my personal opinion. Committee will make the decision. The more information the better and the sooner the better.”

Even so, the influx of asylum seekers crossing into Canada is an important issue, but not a crisis, Mr. Oliphant added.

“I’m going to be pushing that we have the right meetings at the right time with the right people to get the right information.”

Mr. Oliphant said he hasn’t yet spoken with the Liberal members of the committee, but their contingent usually meets before committee to discuss what they’re thinking “in terms of a team.”

The members listen to the opposition’s arguments, he insisted, and will come up with a decision after that.

For her part, Ms. Kwan – like Ms. Rempel – also has a slew of questions for Mr. Hussen and his officials. But she also said the committee needs to find a strategy to deal with the U.S., where President Donald Trump’s hard line on immigration is being blamed for pushing people north.

“As long as Trump is in office, the United States is not a safe country for asylum seekers,” Ms. Kwan said.

Source: Immigration critics urge Liberals to come up with answers on asylum issue

Is China’s atheist Communist Party trying to eradicate Islam?

As they have tried for other religions:

Green-domed mosques still dominate the skyline of China’s “Little Mecca”, but they have undergone a profound change – no longer do boys flit through their stone courtyards en route to classes and prayers.

In what locals said they fear is a deliberate move to eradicate Islam, the atheist ruling Communist Party has banned children under 16 from religious activity or study in Linxia, a deeply Islamic region in western China’s Gansu province that had offered a haven of comparative religious freedom for the ethnic Hui Muslims there.

China governs Xinjiang, another majority Muslim region in its far west, with an iron fist to weed out what it calls “religious extremism” and “separatism” in the wake of deadly unrest, throwing ethnic Uygurs into shadowy re-education camps without due process for minor infractions such as owning a Koran or even growing a beard.

Now, Hui Muslims fear similar surveillance and repression.

“The winds have shifted” in the past year, said a senior imam who requested anonymity. “Frankly, I’m very afraid they’re going to implement the Xinjiang model here.”

Local authorities have severely curtailed the number of people over 16 officially allowed to study in each mosque and limited certification processes for new imams.

They have also instructed mosques to display national flags and stop sounding the call to prayer to reduce “noise pollution” – with loudspeakers removed entirely from all 355 mosques in a neighbouring county.

“They want to secularise Muslims, to cut off Islam at the roots,” the imam said, shaking with barely restrained emotion. “These days, children are not allowed to believe in religion: only in communism and the party.”

More than 1,000 boys used to attend his mid-sized mosque to study Koranic basics during summer and winter school holidays but now they are banned from even entering the premises.

His classrooms are still full of huge Arabic books from Saudi Arabia, browned with age and bound in heavy leather. But only 20 officially registered pupils over the age of 16 are now allowed to use them.

Parents were told the ban on extracurricular Koranic study was for their children’s own good, so they could rest and focus on secular coursework. But most are utterly panicked.

“We’re scared, very scared. If it goes on like this, after a generation or two, our traditions will be gone,” said Ma Lan, a 45-year-old caretaker, tears dripping quietly into her uneaten bowl of beef noodle soup.

Inspectors checked her local mosque every few days during the last school holiday to ensure none of the 70 or so village boys were present.

Their imam initially tried holding lessons in secret before sunrise but soon gave up, fearing repercussions.

Instead of studying five hours a day at the mosque, her 10-year-old son stayed home watching television. She said he dreamed of being an imam, but his schoolteachers had encouraged him to make money and become a communist cadre.

The Hui number nearly 10 million, half the country’s Muslim population, according to 2012 government statistics.

In Linxia, they have historically been well integrated with the ethnic Han majority, able to openly express their devotion and centre their lives around their faith.

Women in headscarves dish out boiled lamb in mirror-panelled halal eateries while streams of white-hatted men meander into mosques for afternoon prayers, passing shops hawking rugs, incense and “eight treasure tea”, a local speciality including dates and dried chrysanthemum buds.

But in January, local officials signed a decree pledging to ensure that no individual or organisation would “support, permit, organise or guide minors towards entering mosques for Koranic study or religious activities”, or push them towards religious beliefs.

“I cannot act contrary to my beliefs. Islam requires education from cradle to grave. As soon as children are able to speak we should begin to teach them our truths,” he said.

“It feels like we are slowly moving back towards the repression of the Cultural Revolution,” he said, referring to a nationwide purge from 1966 until 1976 when local mosques were dismantled or turned into donkey sheds.

Other imams complained authorities were issuing fewer certificates required to practise or teach and now only to graduates of state-sanctioned institutions.

“For now, there are enough of us, but I fear for the future. Even if there are still students, there won’t be anyone of quality to teach them,” one imam said.

Local authorities failed to answer repeated calls seeking comment but Linxia’s youth ban comes as China rolls out its newly revised Religious Affairs Regulations.

The rules have intensified punishments for unsanctioned religious activities across all faiths and regions.

Beijing was targeting minors “as a way to ensure that faith traditions die out while also maintaining the government’s control over ideological affairs”, said William Nee, a China researcher at Amnesty International.

Another imam said the tense situation in Xinjiang was at the root of changes in Linxia.

The government believed that “religious piety fosters fanaticism, which spawns extremism, which leads to terrorist acts – so they want to secularise us”, he said.

But many Hui are quick to distinguish themselves from Uygurs.

“They believe in Islam too, but they’re violent and bloodthirsty. We’re nothing like that,” said Muslim hairdresser Ma Jiancai, 40, drawing on common stereotypes.

Sitting under the elegant eaves of a Sufi shrine complex, a young scholar from Xinjiang said his family had sent him alone aged five to Linxia to study the Koran with a freedom not possible in his hometown.

“Things are very different here,” he said with knitted brows. “I hope to stay.”

Source: Is China’s atheist Communist Party trying to eradicate Islam?

No, CSIS does not ‘target’ Muslims with no accountability (Gurski) and the piece that prompted it (Gardee)

Phil Gurski on Ihsaan Gardee’s earlier column (reprinted below):

There are times when you read something that makes your blood boil and demands a response. One such time occurred to me last week within the pages of The Hill Times in an op-ed by Ihsaan Gardee, executive director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM). Entitled “Government must rebuild trust with Canadian Muslims on national security“, this op-ed piece is full of language like “over-reaching and draconian,” “smearing Muslims,” “Islamophobia,” “systemic bias and discrimination,” and “little or no accountability,” all directed at CSIS and other agencies involved in national security.

Gardee paints a picture of CSIS that seems to have it in for Canada’s Muslims and which has undermined attempts by those communities to “establish robust partnerships.” He appears convinced that CSIS is an organization run rogue that has “protracted problems” which leads to the “stigmatization” of those among us who are Muslim.

As a former analyst at CSIS who not only worked on Islamist extremism for 15 years, but who has written four books on the topic—and met with Muslims all across the country to discuss the issues of radicalization and terrorism—I think I am in a better position than him to draw a better picture. And no, for the record, I am not a ‘shill’ for CSIS and more than happy to point to the bad as well as the good within the agency.

So to the first accusation levelled by Gardee: does Islamophobia exist within CSIS? Absolutely—I saw it first-hand and challenged it when I saw it, although it is not as pervasive as he thinks it is. And, yes, the lawsuit containing allegations about Islamophobia among other shortcomings that was settled by five former employees was based on facts, as I outlined quite clearly in a previous Hill Times column. Aside from that, however, everything else Gardee alleges as endemic within CSIS—I cannot speak for another agency such as CBSA as I never worked there and would never purport to know what goes on within its walls—is false. As CSIS won’t publicly address these fabrications, I will, if for no other reason than I toiled tirelessly for a decade and a half to do my small part in keeping Canadians safe from terrorism and don’t want my time construed as wasted in a racist environment.

But if you look at the terrorist/violent extremist environment in Canada since 9/11, which seems to be the timeframe Gardee sees when everything went to hell for Muslim Canadians, the vast majority of attacks have been perpetrated by Islamist extremists. And that does not even take into account the Islamic State ‘foreign fighter’ phenomenon that led to the deaths of countless thousands in Iraq and Syria. Does this perhaps explain why CSIS and its partners have focused on the Muslim community in that time, given that these perpetrators come from that community?

What Gardee appears to fail to understand is that CSIS is an intelligence agency that is driven by intelligence. Intelligence tells it where to put its resources; that and government requirements. If the threat is emanating primarily from a small number of Canadians who happen to be Muslim then that is exactly where you would want our protectors to look, not elsewhere.

I am not saying that CSIS or its employees are perfect. No, they are not as they are human. In addition, there is always room for improvement, and that includes its relations with communities across Canada, Muslims among them. Since 9/11, however, CSIS has done its part with its partners to prevent deaths. I would think that Gardee would at least acknowledge that much.

I thus reject Gardee’s accusations. He owes CSIS an apology for his ill-considered words. Phil Gurski is a former strategic analyst with CSIS, an author and the Director of Intelligence and Security at the SecDev Group.

via No, CSIS does not ‘target’ Muslims with no accountability – The Hill Times

Gardee’s op-ed made in the context of C-59:

Once bitten, twice shy. That’s the sense within Canadian Muslim communities when it comes to the Liberal government’s proposed overhaul of national security law under Bill C-59.

The legislation was back before the House last week after examination by the Public Safety and National Security Committee.

Let’s not forget where this first started. Under the previous government, Canadian anti-terrorism laws quickly morphed into overreaching and draconian policies. This was coupled with Muslim communities facing jarring public scrutiny and increasing Islamophobia.

Back then, despite efforts from Canadian Muslims to establish robust partnerships on national security, the government’s response was to smear them as a threat to Canada. The result: trust between Canadian Muslims and the government agencies tasked with protecting us all evaporated after years of work.

The days when the loyalty of Canadian Muslims was being questioned by government officials seem behind us—for now. But that is no standard by which to measure meaningful change.

That very public show of Islamophobic discourse by government overshadowed something even more alarming—the permeating of systemic bias and discrimination against Muslims by and in our security agencies.

In the past several months alone, we have seen sweeping allegations by CSIS employees about racism and Islamophobia within the service and new data that suggests the CBSA disproportionately targets non-whites, particularly those from the Middle East.

These accounts, along with the direct reports regularly received by our organization, only amplify concerns about what Canadian Muslims have been experiencing for years.

To be fair, Bill C-59 does make important, long-overdue improvements to previous laws, including better and more focused review powers and mechanisms as well as some stricter directives to prevent complicity with torture by foreign powers.

Last December, our organization told the House Public Safety Committeethat redress and review were only a partial solution to the problems plaguing Canada’s national security system. Real reform of security work is necessary to address systemic bias and discrimination.

As outlined by experts and civil society, there are several concerning elements in Bill C-59; however, two key issues have recently come to the fore.

First, the government has not substantially reined back the contentious disruption powers given to CSIS—an agency that we know through public inquiries has targeted Muslims with little to no accountability for their actions. There must be a concerted effort by government to confront the systemic bias in the way CSIS approaches and resources its intelligence work. Until real change occurs, these powers which remain unproven in their effectiveness are only an invitation to more abuse and scandal.

Second, the lack of due process in the Passenger Protect Program—Canada’s No Fly List—continues. This has been one of the most troubling instruments of state power for over a decade. There are no reported cases of Canadians successfully getting off the list through the Passenger Protect Inquiries Office which was created in 2016. Families impacted by the list say the inquiries office has been of little to no use. Although recently funding has been earmarked for a new redress system to remove false flagging, how and why Canadians find themselves on this draconian list in the first place remains unanswered.

As we look ahead, the aegis of this legislation does not engender the kind of trust from communities that is needed.

Incidentally, Public Safety Canada’s recently launched Canada Centre for Community Engagement and the Prevention of Violence is pledging a strategy that “reflects the realities faced by Canada’s diverse communities.” Canadian Muslims are closely watching whether this initiative is yet another exercise in falsely framing national security as the “Muslim problem” or whether policymaking will finally take into account the growing threat of far-right extremism in Canada.

In other words, rebuilding trust with our communities cannot be achieved through roundtables and focus groups.

It has been more than a decade since the Arar Inquiry report first outlined some of the protracted problems within our country’s security apparatus. Through the haze of political haste, 12 years later Canadian Muslims are still seeking the partnership with government that ends their national security stigmatization.

Government must rebuild trust with Canadian Muslims on national security