Alberta teachers lack resources, support to address racism in the classroom: study

Suspect any study, in any Canadian province, would show similar results. Any one know of any comparative provincial studies?

Many Alberta teachers say racism is present in their classrooms — but don’t feel they have the support to teach multiculturalism or anti-racism.

A study by the Canadian Cultural Mosaic Foundation (CCMF) surveyed 150 teachers of kindergarten to Grade 12 students from rural and urban schools about a variety of topics, including whether they thought racism was happening in their school.

Fifty-two per cent of respondents said students engage in racism at their school, and respondents from urban schools were more likely to say racism is an issue at their school.

This can mean anything from students demonstrating preconceived notions about other cultures or ethnicities to discrimination on the playground.

Iman Bukhari, CEO of the foundation and an author on the study, said the findings confirmed what she and others already knew anecdotally.

“We’ve done so many presentations and programs within schools across Alberta, whether it’s rural or urban schools, and we had heard a lot from the teachers as well as the students,” she said. “This was really just a way to validate our concerns that we had already been hearing.”

Many respondents said they weren’t sure whether racism was happening at their school. Bukhari said this shows many teachers don’t have the time or experience to notice incidents of racism, especially if they aren’t racialized themselves.

“If you don’t experience racism yourself, it’s harder for you to recognize it,” she said, adding, “It’s so incredibly important to have teachers from diverse backgrounds, whether it’s ethnic, religious, cultural.”

The majority of respondents listed limited time and resources as barriers to teaching about multiculturalism. Twenty-two per cent said they felt they had limited knowledge to teach the subject, while 21 per cent selected their identity as a major limitation to teaching multiculturalism. Some said they felt the community they work in doesn’t value education about multiculturalism.

Many teachers identified systemic challenges, notably a Eurocentric curriculum, as well as a lack of policy or funding for teaching multiculturalism.

Bukhari said the curriculum is a “big issue,” and that teachers need not just an updated curriculum, but more training to help them tackle multiculturalism and racism in a classroom setting.

The report recommends two anti-racism campaigns, one held for teachers with opportunities for progress reporting and evaluation, and another for students, ideally led by youth. It also recommends that schools have strict no-tolerance policies when it comes to racism.

Bukhari said the CCMF is also planning to create a resource hub for teachers to equip them with the tools to talk to their students about multiculturalism and racism.

Adam Quraishi, an elementary teacher in Calgary, says he has often seen children get asked where they are from and he finds there are two reasons why they get asked this question.

“There is a curious question and then there is the, ‘Once I know that you are from somewhere else, I can treat you a certain way,’” he said. “I find that the racism that students go through is more about henpecking people.”

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Quraishi, whose mother is Irish and father East Indian, said his own daughter has gone through similar experiences in her junior high school despite the school’s reputation for its multiculturalism.

“She said that she wasn’t white enough for the white kids and she wasn’t brown enough for the brown kids,” he said.

Quraishi believes at the elementary level, schools are doing a good job teaching about racism, but in his experience, “teachers are not necessarily of the same mindset of what they teach.”

“It’s one thing to say to the kids that we embrace everybody, but it’s another thing to have those subtle little messages that are from a time long past,” he said.

Barb Silva, communications director for advocacy group Support Our Students, said the results of the study weren’t surprising to her either. In fact, she said she suspects incidences of racism in schools may be higher than reported in the study, but that many teachers aren’t aware of them.

“We fail to recognize the systemic and institutional barriers for people living on the margins,” she said, adding that in many schools, especially rural ones, teachers don’t necessarily represent their diverse student populations.

She said the outdated curriculum only serves to further alienate students who may be experiencing racism.

Silva said the fact that 21 per cent of respondents said they felt their own identity was a barrier to teaching about multiculturalism shows a lack of resources and support. While many teachers may be aware of their own lack of understanding, Silva said more resources are needed to help them feel comfortable addressing multiculturalism and racism in the classroom.

Silva said it’s important that school policies don’t shy away from calling racism what it is. She said terms like “diversity” and “inclusion” often don’t do enough to point out the reality of what some children face.

“Call it what it is. It’s racism,” she said.

Source: Alberta teachers lack resources, support to address racism in the classroom: study

Why Jason Kenney’s workaholic style may not work when he’s premier [diversity numbers]

The numbers:

I pointed out on Twitter that Kenney’s UCP caucus contains a record-setting five Jasons. Yet, this change of government does bring in more ethnic diversity to Alberta’s legislature, as the NDP previously struggled to recruit non-white candidates. The new MLAs include 16 visible minority candidates (five NDP, 11 UCP) up from 10 elected overall in 2015. Say what you will about the racists who were exposed in the UCP ranks throughout this long campaign—and please do, it’s an important discussion—but Kenney has clearly brought with him from Ottawa an aptitude for bringing multicultural leaders and activists into the Conservative fold.

This legislature will have one openly LGBTQ member—rookie New Democrat Janis Irwin in Edmonton—down from three in the previous term. There was nobody from the community running as a UCP candidate. Should Edmonton–West Henday flip to Williams, who self-identifies at Métis, she will be the lone Indigenous MLA.

While Canada now has no female premiers for the first time in more than a decade, the legislature’s gender makeup didn’t suffer tremendously. There stands to be 26 or 27 female MLAs, just behind the record of 28 set last election—still far from parity in the 87-seat assembly.

Source: Why Jason Kenney’s workaholic style may not work when he’s premier

Kenney’s misdirection on candidate woes would make David Copperfield proud

Would have expected more from him given his past federal experience in community outreach and understanding of these kinds of sensitivities. Noteworthy change to the pre-election period:

I don’t know if United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney has ever thought of a job as a magician.

This week he displayed the kind of misdirection that would make David Copperfield proud.

When asked about the Islamophobic and homophobic posts from one of his candidates in Calgary, Kenney didn’t address the controversial posts. Instead, he praised the candidate, Eva Kiryakos in Calgary-South East, as “selfless” for voluntarily stepping done to avoid becoming a “distraction” for the party during the election campaign.

And he didn’t stop there. He tried to describe her as a victim: “Eva’s also from a minority community herself. She is from a Middle Eastern refugee family, from a community that has faced a history of genocide.” She can’t possibly be guilty of intolerance, he seemed to be saying, because she’s from a community that has been the victim of intolerance.

Kenney wasn’t the only one trying to make Kiryakos into the injured party. She was vigorously doing that herself when explaining why she resigned for the campaign.

“Someone outside of our party has been threatening to smear me, and I have had enough of the bullies and the threats,” she said in a statement. That’s why she quit.

She’s the victim of bullying and a smear campaign. Except that it might be more accurate to say she’s the victim of her own intolerant postings on social media that include, but are not limited to, this example: “Muslim forces continue to use murder, rape, kidnapping, terror and forced breeding in pursuit of Christian Genocide in the Middle East while the world turns a blind eye.”

And this post about gay-straight alliances in schools: “You’re not interested in protecting children with GSAs, you’re interested in converting them.” When Kiryakos stepped down she was angry, she was defiant and she painted herself as a defender of free speech: “I voiced my honest opinion.” But she was not repentant.

Welcome to the new normal in Alberta politics. Well, in UCP politics. It would appear that when UCP members find themselves brought down by their own controversial histories, they no longer apologize or explain. They defiantly point fingers at anonymous others, claim victimhood and try to change the channel.Probably because this is becoming such a familiar narrative from the UCP.

On the eve of the election last week, another candidate, Caylan Ford in Calgary-Mountain View quit because of her own witless postings about how she was “somewhat saddened by the demographic replacement of white peoples in their homelands.” She never apologized but Kenney did at least address the comments as “completely inexplicable” and said she made the right decision by resigning.“Let me be clear, I condemn the remarks included in the texts that she had sent,” said Kenney.

By the time Kiryakos’ comments came to light, though, Kenney apparently didn’t want to repeat the slander, so to speak, by directly addressing the postings. This is a different tack to what Kenney and the UCP have done the past year when faced with members who have a history of hateful or ridiculous postings on social media.

Last July, the UCP disqualified Todd Beasley, who was vying for the party’s nomination in Brooks-Medicine Hat, for Islamophobic tweets.

Later that month, Sandra Kim found herself in trouble in the nomination race in Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin for social media posts critical of same-sex marriage. Then there were the three UCP nomination candidates for Edmonton-West Henday who found themselves in trouble in October for posing for photos with members of the anti-immigrant organization, Soldiers of Odin.

In several of these cases, the UCP issued condemnations.

In August, for example, the party denounced the social media postings of businessman Jerry Molnar who was contesting the nomination race in the riding of Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland. He had, among other things, called the now-former premier of Ontario, Kathleen Wynn, who is openly gay, a “tranny.”

The party’s executive director, Janice Harrington, wrote Molnar a letter bluntly saying his posts would be used by the NDP to cause “serious reputational harm” to the UCP and its members.

“We would not let a candidate for the NDP off the hook for an offensive comment simply because it was said on his or her personal Facebook,” added Harrington.

Harrington, of course, was correct.

The NDP these days is happy to use the posts of Ford and Kiryakos to help cause serious reputational harm to the UCP.As a defence strategy the UCP is no longer condemning the posts or vilifying those doing the posting.

That’s because we’re in the middle of an election campaign where the NDP is trying to focus people’s attention on the social conservative background of UCP leader Kenney.

Last week, NDP leader Rachel Notley said, “I personally do not believe that Jason Kenney is racist, but I believe that the UCP as a party has a problem with racism.”

And this ongoing question from the NDP: why does the UCP seem to attract an inordinate number of people with extreme or bigoted views? And pointing out that even though Ford and Kiryakos are no longer candidates, they are still UCP members.

This is a deliberate strategy by the NDP to help recreate the conditions that led to the meltdown of the right-wing Wildrose party (one of the legacy parties of the UCP) in the final days of the 2012 campaign over racist and homophobic utterances from several candidates. The Wildrose committed political suicide by defending the culprits.

The big difference for Kenney this time around is that he has the miscreants tossed overboard quickly. But he’s doing it more and more gently, praising the latest as “selfless.” He doesn’t want to make a fuss and he’s hoping when they hit the water they won’t even make a ripple, never mind a splash.

Source: Kenney’s misdirection on candidate woes would make David Copperfield proud

Jason Kenney announces UCP immigration policy

Kenney does know the immigration file and focus on rural Alberta reflects ongoing concerns in rural communities across Canada and the focus on the Provincial Nominee Program makes sense.

One of the interesting apparent paradoxes is that rural Canadians tend to have more reservations about general immigration levels (particularly family and refugee class) and multiculturalism but yet recognize their demographic needs require more immigrants:

Kenney said the UCP plan would aim to bring approximately 10,000 newcomers in total to rural Alberta every year.

Kenney, who served as federal immigration minister from 2008 to 2013, said the plan is meant to address population decline in rural Alberta and reinvigorate the provincial economy.

It mirrors a recent move by the federal government aimed at placing more immigrants in rural communities across Canada.

While immigration is largely seen as a federal responsibility, it is shared between the provinces and Ottawa.

Each province and territory negotiates its own agreement, but that falls within a broader immigration policy set by the federal government.

Alberta immigration policy

In Alberta, there is both a comprehensive immigration agreement and an immigrant nominee program that allows the province to target would-be Albertans based on labour needs.

The federal government assigns a quota of approximately 5,000 positions for the Alberta nominee program.

Kenney says for each one of those positions, typically four people — family members of the nominee — settle in the province.

“I truly believe we have not been as proactive or energetic as we should be in this program,” said Kenney, as he outlined the UCP’s plan if it forms the next provincial government in an election that has not been called yet by Rachel Notley’s governing NDP.

Under Alberta legislation, the election must take place between March 1 and May 31, 2019, with a 28-day campaign.

Kenney’s plan calls for partnerships with rural communities, where referrals from those communities can help place immigrants into the provincial nomination process.

He estimates these changes could bring 8,000 newcomers to smaller communities each year.

Kenney says the plan is based on Manitoba’s system, where 20 per cent of newcomers now settle in rural areas.

Entrepreneur program could add 2,000 people to rural areas

The UCP would also create what it’s calling a rural entrepreneur stream.

It would set aside 500 position for immigration to the province for those who meet minimum income and investment thresholds and are willing to invest in businesses in rural communities.

Kenney says those immigrants would have to be active majority owners of those businesses.

He says the UCP estimates the entrepreneur program could mean an additional 2,000 people coming to rural communities each year.

That system is based on one in British Columbia.

Kenney said there are details that would have to be worked out before the immigration policy was established, based on what he said would be extensive consultations with immigrants, agencies, municipalities and more.

He also said Alberta under the UCP would push for a larger share of immigrants outside of the provincial policy.

“My goal would be to get a larger share of the federally selected immigrants by getting our economy back to work,” said Kenney.

Source: Jason Kenney announces UCP immigration policy

Alberta Human Rights Commission seeks to appeal Muslim school prayer spat at Supreme Court

Another case to watch:

The Alberta Human Rights Commission is hoping the Supreme Court will hear its appeal in the case of two Calgary Muslim students who were not allowed to pray at a non-denominational private school.

Sarmad Amir and Naman Siddiqui, who were in Grade 9 and 10 at Webber Academy in 2011, told the human rights commission that praying is mandatory in their Sunni religion. They said the school told them their praying, which requires bowing and kneeling, was too obvious and went against the academy’s non-denominational nature.

The human rights tribunal ruled the school’s policy was too rigid and it could have accommodated the students without violating its secular status.

That decision was upheld by the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench. The school then took the matter to the Alberta Court of Appeal.

It overturned the commission’s original decision ordering the school to pay a $26,000 fine for discriminatory behaviour and said another hearing was required because Webber Academy raised new issues under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Webber Academy president Neil Webber said Monday the human rights commission is seeking leave to appeal the decision.

“We should know I think by Christmas whether or not they have been successful. It took them quite a while to make the decision,” said Webber.

“We doubt that they will be successful. My information from our lawyer and also from a former member of the Supreme Court is that roughly 90 per cent of applications for leave … are turned down.”

No one at the Alberta Human Rights Commission immediately responded to a request for comment.

Webber said he hopes to preserve the secular nature of the school, which has about 1,000 students. He said the school has always made it clear to incoming students and their parents there is no space in the school for praying. It has received only two requests for prayer space in its 22 years of operations and both were denied.

He said even if the Supreme Court refuses to hear an appeal, the matter is far from over.

“Then the human rights commission has a choice — they can have another hearing or they could just drop the whole thing. I don’t know what the probability of dropping the whole thing could be.”

Source: Alberta Human Rights Commission seeks to appeal Muslim school prayer spat at Supreme Court

Catholic school sex education plan won’t be taught if it arrives as advertised: Notley

After Ontario, now Alberta has the sex education battles:

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says an alternative sex education curriculum being crafted by Catholic school officials will never be taught if it arrives as previously advertised.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, Notley says the health and well-being of students comes first.

“Nowhere do the rights of religious freedom extend to that person’s right to somehow attack or hurt others – and that’s what’s happening here,” Notley said Tuesday. “We will not use public dollars to have sexual health programs that deny science, that deny evidence, and that deny human rights.

“They can continue to work on (the proposal) all they want, but we ultimately approve the curriculum that goes into schools – and this kind of curriculum will not happen.”

Karl Germann, president of the Council of Catholic School Superintendents of Alberta, could not be reached for comment.

The Alberta government is currently rewriting teaching plans across the board for kindergarten to Grade 12.

Catholic school superintendents are crafting an alternative sex education curriculum that they want the province to approve for their schools.

They say the government’s teaching plan clashes with faith-based instruction by including, among other topics, homosexual relationships and gender identity different from one’s biological sex.

In documents filed with the province, the superintendents also take issue with sexual consent by a partner in marriage. They say it is only one of many factors to be considered along with morality, family and wellness.

Notley said consent is paramount and there is no debate.

“Consent is the law in Alberta and under no circumstances will any child in Alberta be taught that they have to somehow accept illegal behaviour in a sexual relationship. The end.”

Notley said her government respects the role of parental choice in education.

“Parents have the right – and they have had the right for a very, very long time – to pull their kids from curriculum and education around sexual health. And they will continue to have that right,” she said.

“But under no circumstances will we enforce or condone a sexual health curriculum that normalizes an absence of consent, refuses to talk about contraception and other things that protect the health of sexually active young people, or in any way marginalizes sexual minorities. That’s not on.”

Education Minister David Eggen echoed Notley’s remarks, particularly around consent.

“There’s no (room for) negotiation for that, I can tell you,” Eggen said in Calgary Tuesday. “Teaching consent is a basic health and safety issue for students in regards to sexuality, and it needs to be strengthened if anything.”

Notley’s government plans to introduce legislation in the fall legislature sitting to strengthen protections for minority students.

It would compel all schools that receive public money to establish anti-discrimination codes of conduct, adopt policies to protect LGBTQ students, and to affirm students’ legal right to set up gay-straight alliances.

Eggen has said many schools have been working with the province on such rules, but 20 of them, mostly private institutions, have been resisting.

Private schools get 70 per cent of their funding from the government.

Eggen has said the bill is also aimed at blunting a proposal from United Conservative leadership candidate Jason Kenney that school officials tell parents when their children join a gay-straight alliance, so long as it doesn’t bring harm to the youngster.

Advocates say there is no way to be sure that a child wouldn’t be ostracized or face harm. Eggen said the legislation will make it clear the decision remains with the student.

Source: Catholic school sex education plan won’t be taught if it arrives as advertised: Notley – The Globe and Mail

ICYMI – ‘You can’t just pick and choose’: Alberta Christian school fights board request to remove ‘offensive’ scripture

Would Carpay defend a Muslim school that used some of the Koranic versus that endorse violence? He appears to argue for no limits:

CCA — a public K-12 school in Kingman, a hamlet with a population of 103 about an hour outside of Edmonton — has retained the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedom (JCCF), a conservative legal organization dedicated to “defend(ing) the constitutional freedoms of Canadians through litigation and education.”

“Trustees enjoy the legal right to send their own kids to various schools that align with the parents’ beliefs and convictions. But these trustees have no right to impose their own ideology on schools they disagree with,” John Carpay, president of the JCCF, said in a statement.

Skori sent an email earlier this year asking Wargel to remove a bible verse on immorality from the school’s statement of faith. She also asked that they remove the word “quality” from the phrase “CCA offers quality educational programming.”

CCA agreed to remove “quality” and the passage from 1 Corinthians, which states: “Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

“The specific reference and the word quality were not a big issue,” Margel said. “Out of respect of the relationship we’ve had with them, we can say ‘okay, this isn’t the key point here.’”

But Skori followed up, saying that “any scripture that could be considered offensive to particular individuals should not be read or studied in school.” She clarified in a separate email, “For example: any teachings that denigrate or vilify someone’s sexual orientation.”

“That’s a completely different directive, and it was shocking. Absolutely shocking,” Margel said.

BRSD spokesperson Diane Hutchinson said the board felt compelled to make the request after protections for gender and sexual minorities were added to the Alberta Human Rights Act in late 2015.

“In our province there is a heightened awareness and a heightened sensitivity” around LGBTQ issues, she said, downplaying concerns of censorship.

“It appears that someone who was involved in the conversation had taken a small piece of the conversation and used it to raise an alarm about the potential for interference,” she said.

CCA approached JCCF a couple of months ago for advice on the situation, after which the JCCF sent an eight-page letter to the school board outlining what it says is an “unwarranted and unrealistic” prohibition.

“The government’s duty of neutrality, required by the Supreme Court of Canada, means that a school board cannot dictate whether verses in the Torah, Koran, New Testament or Guru Granth Sahib are acceptable,” Carpay said in a statement.

Less than eight hours after the letter was sent, Margel says she got an email back reaffirming the board’s position.

“How can you come to that conclusion in less than eight hours?” she said.

Alberta funnels public funding into “alternative schools” like CCA, which emphasize a particular language, culture, religion or subject. Each alternative school is offered through an Alberta school board. In CCA’s case, this involves a Master Agreement between the school and the BRSD, under which the board agreed not to meddle in the “essential nature” of the school’s programming.

Hate mail is flowing, misinformation and fear-mongering are widespread

“Alberta has one of the most diverse education systems in Canada,” Carpay told the Post. “It’s really contrary to government policy for any school board to try to squelch that diversity.”

Source: National Post

Colby Cosh: Thought Canada solved its census problems by booting Harper out of office? Think again

I found this piece by Cosh of interest as it indicates some of the less known challenges to the Census (and I am never bored by Alberta stories…):

Wow, this interim report on Alberta electoral boundaries is fascinat—

All right, I can already hear some of you saying “It’s called the NATIONAL Post, you hayseed; don’t bore us with trivia from your crummy Alberta backyard.” Well, everything happens in someone or other’s backyard. And this boundary reshuffle is an unusually consequential one—not just for the next Alberta election, but for the New Democrat cause across the country, and for the chess game of “right-wing unity” that continues to be a subplot of Canadian history.

But it really is interesting in its own right, if only for one reason. Much of the city of Fort McMurray, as you know, was destroyed by fire on May 3, 2016. The date of our country’s quinquennial census fell on May 10, 2016. This has presented an unprecedented problem for the five-person Alberta boundaries commission. And its interim report, designed to be discussed more before being finalized in October, admits that the commission does not yet have a good solution.

Door-to-door enumeration of Fort Mac on the May 10 date was impossible. A census is supposed to be a near-perfect snapshot of the country, taken at the same moment across the land. But such a snapshot of Ft. McMurray on May 10 would have returned a population of near zero, which would have obviously been useless for any policy purposes. Census respondents in the scorched city were therefore asked to report personal data pertaining to May 1, and so the figure in the census (66,573 persons) is not very realistic either—it may be little more than an accountant’s tribute to Fort Mac at a peak that it may never quite regain.

So how many Fort McMurrayites are there now? The boundaries commission asked the Alberta treasury for its own estimate—but that one is implausible too: it’s just the census figure minus about 9,000—an inference that “arises solely from the fact that 2,000 homes were destroyed in the fire.” This figure assumes that everybody who lost a home is gone from the city for good—an assumption that is patently untrue, and not much use for a commission that has to make reasonable election maps to last a decade.

So the present population of Ft. McMurray turns out to be irritatingly uncertain, and even if we knew it, no one can guess how much the city will rebound within the next year, or two, or five. The commission, trapped in a dead end of data, begs the public for “specific, reliable information upon which it could act.”

Fortunately, this problem mostly effects how two particular northern ridings will be split up, so the commission was able to devise provisional election boundaries for most of the province without worry. The rest of the report tells the typical story of a decade of Alberta population evolution. The cities of Edmonton and Calgary gain one extra seat apiece: Calgary was eligible for almost exactly one and a half, but is getting just one. The strongly Edmonton-centric NDP government will like that, but the fast-growing commuter zone between Calgary and the Rockies—a picturesque land of cowboy hipsters that is not quite “suburbia”—is also getting an extra seat.

One of the commissioners, the Carstairs businesswoman and artist Gwen Day, has filed a minority report arguing against this small (but possibly important) shift of voting power to the cities. Normally any sign of dissent within a boundaries commission is taken as a bad sign, but in this case one detects a simple determination to ignore the making of an embarrassing scene. Rural ridings everywhere in Canada often have a little extra power because of travel considerations, which ought to be weaker in abundantly-paved Alberta than they are almost anywhere else. But Day offers an entertaining novelty: “The concept of ‘one person, one vote’ is not a Canadian construct,” she argues.

She comes awfully close to saying that the votes of rural residents should count for more because rural people are more important humans. Day declares that Alberta has three kinds of economic activity: “primary industries” mostly in the countryside, “service industries” allegedly “driven by” the primary ones, and industries funded by tax dollars. I am not quite sure how department stores or Chinese restaurants fit in to this scheme, but it leads her to proclaim that “Rural Albertans control the land, access to the land and provide a significant portion of the labor force that most of our primary industries depend on.”

It is a wonder, one is left thinking, that city folk are allowed to vote at all; fortunately, the other commissioners chose not to embrace petro-agrarian fascism. I also appreciated that the majority is calling a halt to the odious practice of naming election constituencies after well-liked dead politicians, which is how we have ended up with a “Calgary-Klein” and a “Dunvegan-Central Peace-Notley” commemorating the father of the current premier.

Some Calgarians wanted to create a “Calgary-Bhullar” to commemorate Manmeet Bhullar, the young MLA killed in a road accident in 2015 while helping victims of an earlier collision. The commission said an apologetic no, noting that a school named for Bhullar is under construction, and states that electoral ridings should be given party-neutral, geographically descriptive names from now on. Manmeet Bhullar was a gem, but the commission’s suggested rule is the proper one, and its members’ resistance to sentiment should be applauded.

Donald Trump could happen in Canada. It’s already begun. – Macleans.ca

Some good analysis and questions regarding the resilience of Canadian politics to Trump-style politics, focussing on the ugliness in the Alberta PC leadership campaign and the Leitch/Blaney campaign approaches.

Starting with Charlie Gillis:

The question, say experts, is whether support for such ideas could galvanize into a Trump-style movement. Ice-breakers like Blaney and Leitch are exploiting the same rural-urban cultural divide that Trump did in the U.S., acknowledges Clark Banack, a Brock University political scientist who studies populist movements. But the kind of anti-elitist discontent that moves votes is seldom seen in Canada outside the West, Banack notes, and when it arises elsewhere, it tends to be short-lived. “We have sporadic examples of people emerging for a short time around a specific issue,” he says, citing Rob Ford’s rise to the Toronto mayoralty on the strength of working-class, suburban anger. “But overall, Canadian political culture is less susceptible to populism than American political culture.”

Another mitigating factor: the relative absence in Canada of a dispossessed working class in a mood to punish its leaders. David Green, a professor at the University of British Columbia’s Vancouver School of Economics, believes Trump’s support base of white men with no college degree would be hard to replicate in this country because the commodities boom sustained Canada’s blue-collar workers, even as the financial crisis crushed the dreams of their counterparts in other countries. Between 2003 and 2015, he notes in a forthcoming paper, mean hourly wages for Americans with a high school education or less fell by six per cent; for the same demographic in Canada, they climbed eight per cent. The effect, he says, was to slow the growth of the economic gap that has fed voter rage in the U.S., the U.K. and parts of Europe. Last year, our top 10 per cent of earners made 8.6 times on average what the bottom 10 per cent pulled in—a ratio that, while high, falls beneath the OECD average and far below the U.S. ratio of 19 to one.

But all that could change, Green warns, if oil prices remain low—especially if the housing market weakens at the same time. The country’s residential construction boom, he notes, has maintained job centres around the country’s large cities, putting more than a few displaced oil patch employees to work. “What do you do with that set of less-than-university-educated guys—the demographic that switched over to Trump?” Green asks. “That’s a potentially worrying connection.”

More so, agrees Banack, if you have a high-minded central government that overlooks their misfortune while pursuing its own pre-occupations. Running against Ottawa, he notes, is a time-tested stratagem for populist movements in Canada, and these days, few national governments are more closely identified with the globalist program of trade, labour mobility and climate-change action than Justin Trudeau’s Liberals. Something like Trudeau’s promised national carbon tax, which will be felt keenly in the West, could be enough to trigger a populist insurgency in Alberta, he says, though it’s safe to assume the federal Conservative party would do everything it could to stop such a movement, given the outcome of the Reform party experiment: “Another vote split, and you could forget about a Conservative federal government for another 10 or 15 years.”

Maybe, but experienced political players are no longer sure economic logic and conventional political calculus are in force. Carter, the Alberta strategist, notes that the online communities where so-called “alt-right” voters congregate—Facebook groups, or conspiracy-fuelled sites like Infowars—don’t traffic in that sort of information. In its place: a strain of fanaticism typified by the onslaught that ran Jansen off the PC stage, which Carter believes is sure to spread. “I don’t know if it’s Trump or social media or just belief that they’re correct that gives a sense of permission,” he says. “But this is not normal.”

Gary Mason in the Globe picks up similar themes:

The Premier and her party are now sitting at 14 per cent in the polls. The party receiving the most support in recent public opinion surveys is the Progressive Conservatives, the same entity Mr. Kenney plans to destroy if he wins the leadership. He wants to build a new political organization that Wildrose members will feel comfortable joining as part of an overarching bid to unify conservative forces in the province.

Either way, Alberta seems to be preparing to make an ideological course correction.

There’s little doubt the rise of Donald Trump has emboldened many in the province. One of those would appear to be Derek Fildebrandt, a Wildrose MLA and one of the most powerful conservative voices in Alberta.

He has little patience for the likes of Ms. Jansen and others complaining about online trolls and provocateurs. “Hypersensitive, politically correct, victim-as-virtue culture is creating a leadership class of wimps,” he wrote in a tweet that could have been sent out by The Donald himself. “People are sick of it.”

After Mr. Trump was elected, Mr. Fildebrandt tweeted: “The biggest lesson that we should learn from the election of Trump: smug, condescending political correctness will spark a backlash.”

I’m not sure what is happening in Alberta, but on almost any level it’s not good. Trump-style politics could well be making its way north of the border. At the end of the day, however, society gets the politicians it deserves.

Source: Not so progressive: Trump-style politics seep into Alberta

Can Jason Kenney throw a rope around Alberta’s unruly Right? Delacourt

Good column by Susan Delacourt on Kenney’ s move to Alberta politics and his many strengths, with a nice shout out to my books:

One of the events obliged panelists to give quick answers to provocative questions posed by the audience. “Who’s the best cabinet minister in Ottawa right now?” someone asked. I didn’t even have to pause for thought: “Jason Kenney,” I said. Many others on stage and in the audience shared that view.

It wasn’t just his reputation for hard work, although that certainly was a factor. Kenney was everywhere in the old Conservative government, building his clout on the political front (with those cultural communities and others) but also on the policy front. I was told once that Kenney had a representative at every meeting in Ottawa, keeping tabs on all kinds of decision-making processes, even those beyond his ministerial brief.

open quote 761b1bKenney does have strong views (no one’s going to mistake him for a Red Tory) but the caricatures ignore his practical side. And party mergers need practical politicians.

For a sense of what kind of minister Kenney was, I tend to urge people to take a look at books published by Andrew Griffith, a former director general in Kenney’s old department of Multiculturalism. Griffith has written revealingly of a public service coming to grips with a minister who had definite ideas about how to blend policy and politics, evidence and anecdote.

And where many ministers hewed to the PMO diktat and avoided contact with the media, Kenney was eminently approachable. I don’t think he ever said no when I asked him for comment on one thing or another. (Though he hasn’t replied to a message I sent him today as I was writing this article.)

For years he held annual Christmas parties at which reporters were not only welcome, but positively encouraged. The reward for attending was getting to hear Kenney tell funny, behind-the-scenes stories about the Harper government — nothing headline-making, just anecdotes that presented his political workplace as a little less stuffy and aloof.

And it was never hard to find opposition MPs during the Harper years willing to say that Kenney (along with John Baird) was one of the more co-operative ministers in cabinet, willing to occasionally drop the hyper-partisan posture that characterized so much of that government’s style.

This version of Jason Kenney is at odds, naturally, with the caricature painted by his critics — of a rigid, even scary, ideologue. Kenney does have strong views (no one’s going to mistake him for a Red Tory) but the caricatures ignore this high-energy politician’s practical side.

And party mergers need practical politicians. Harper was a pragmatist when he set about uniting the old federal PC party with the Canadian Alliance back in 2003.

Still, I will concede that I’m finding it hard to square the more nuanced Kenney I saw with the politician who tweeted out his support for the Brexit vote a couple of weeks ago. Given that much of Brexit’s support came from hostility towards immigrants, it seemed odd, to say the least, to see a former immigration minister — a courter of cultural communities — on that side of the question.

Interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose, I noticed, also seemed at a loss to explain the support for Brexit from the likes of Kenney and Tony Clement in an interview last weekend on CBC’s The House — suggesting vaguely that it might have something to do with friendships they’ve forged abroad.

Perhaps it was just Kenney keeping things interesting, blurring the tidy lines of the boxes people want to throw around him. If he is going to seek the leadership of the Alberta PCs, that in itself is a bit of a surprise; many people expected to see him seek the leadership of the federal Conservatives.

It may not be a good sign for those federal Conservatives that Kenney sees his future elsewhere right now. He became pretty adept — as his old boss would attest — at figuring out where there was room for growth in the conservative movement.

Could he pull off a merger in Alberta? I wouldn’t put it past him. Kenney has developed a knack for doing — and being — the unexpected.

Source: Can Jason Kenney throw a rope around Alberta’s unruly Right?