Cardozo: Ontario needs a serious multiculturalism policy and minister

Answer: All of them.

In terms of the specific recommendations, some are more concrete and likely to have an impact, some less so. And a number are already happening to a certain extent:

Is the role of the Minister of Multiculturalism a throw-away gig or an entry-level job? Is it primarily to help the party in power recruit ethnocultural voters for the next election?

Or is it a portfolio that can address important and complex societal issues that are becoming increasingly critical in Ontario, Canada, and elsewhere?

I am going to argue the last option. That is what Ontario needs today.

Over the last 50 years, various ministers have been responsible for multiculturalism, usually under another guise such as citizenship or anti-racism.

In 2022, here are 10 clear steps that the minister and ministry should be taking.

The minister should promote a general policy of respect for the cultural, racial and religious diversity that is the reality of Ontario, especially in its cities, big and small.

The minister should develop an anti-racism policy to help Ontarians address discrimination and inequality. (This policy existed under the previous Liberal government but was cancelled by the Ford Progressive Conservatives.) It must address rapidly increasing online hate and polarization, plus bullying, violence and overt hate groups. Anti-Semitism has reached new depths where Jews avoid wearing a kippah on the subway. Anti-Black racism is only too evident in policing and elsewhere. Islamophobia is on the rise.

Generally, the minister should work with many other ministries to ensure they all do their bit to advance equality and inclusiveness and eliminate polarization and hate.

The minister should lead a cabinet committee of key minsters to address the issues across government. Members could include the attorney general and solicitor general, plus the ministers of education, colleges and universities, health, social services and environment.

The minister should expanding the number of minorities appointed to boards and commissions.

The minister should include reconciliation with Indigenous peoples as a key part of diversity, addressing historical wrongs and ongoing discrimination.

The minister should address challenges faced by women from various minority communities.

The minister should work with TVO and TFO, the province’s educational networks in English and French, to ensure they broadcast diversity in meaningful ways

The ministry should work with cultural agencies such as the Ontario Arts Council, the Ontario Art Gallery, the Royal Ontario Museum and the Ontario Trillium Foundation to ensure they reflect and fund the diverse reality of Ontarians and create dialogues on diversity.

The ministry should working with the business community, labour and NGOs to advance a better understanding of diversity and a sustained campaign against racism.

Let’s have legislation that codifies what provincial ministries should be doing: an Ontario Multiculturalism Act. Make it the law.

And now we see the new minister is the rookie MPP, the Premier’s nephew, Michael Ford. Oy vey!

These are complex and sensitive issues that require listening, building, funding, explaining and encouraging. The post requires a strong seasoned leader who can engage Canadians of all backgrounds in a serious dialogue. This is not about sending the kid out to the festivals to keep the ethnics happy!

Whether he is up to the sensitive and courageous job is the second issue though. The first is whether his uncle wants to get serious about what a good multiculturalism policy has to offer Ontario.

Note to the mainstream media corps at Queens Park: Please, please, please don’t write this off as the minister for recruiting ethnic voters to the PC Party (and I’m not sure Michael Ford the needed charisma or experience for that role).

Rather, please report on the issues that are tearing our society apart as well as the many attempts to make things better.

Ironically, as a right-of-centre semi-populist white guy, Doug Ford may have the unique ability at this time in our history to address these issues and convince everyday folks that diversity can be beneficial to all, that getting along may be better than the culture wars of fear and excluding the other. He managed to avoid the anti-vaxxers’ rancor. Maybe he can do it here too.

Andrew Cardozo is president of the Pearson Centre and co-editor of The Battle over Multiculturalism.

Source: Cardozo: Ontario needs a serious multiculturalism policy and minister

Cardozo: Canada is celebrating 50 years of multiculturalism, a policy that is working but still needs lot of work

Another article mentioning the 50th:

Multiculturalism is working when the top Canadian health officials giving a recent national briefing on COVID-19 were Dr. Theresa Tam, Dr. Howard Njoo and Dr. Supriya Sharma.

Multiculturalism is working when our top-selling Canadian authors include Thomas King, Dionne Brand, Esi Edugyan, Souvankham Thammavongsa, Michelle Good, Joy Kogawa and Jesse Wente.

Multiculturalism is working when our top Canadian athletes include Andre De Grasse, Leylah Fernandez, Patrick Chan, Mo Ahmed, Bianca Andreescu, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Milos Raonic.

Multiculturalism is working when our Members of Parliament have included Marci Ien, Navdeep Bains, Lori Idlout, Olivia Chow and Ya’ara Saks.

When merit is allowed to work all sorts of talent rises to the top.

Fifty years ago on Oct. 8, 1971 Canada ushered in the world’s first Multiculturalism Policy. As a federal initiative it has always been small as government programs go, but has always punched well beyond its weight. 

Importantly, it has created an ethic, a value, a defining characteristic of Canada that is known across Canada and also across the world. 

Take the TTC bus along Wilson or Jane Sts. and you see a veritable reflection of the world. Take a walk through a food court in a Bay St. office tower, same thing. But it’s not the world, it’s Canada.

Often times people point to the colourful symbols of diversity as its great benefit to Canada: the song and dance, the food and restaurants, the summer festivals, and exclaim how wonderful it is.

To be fair, multiculturalism did begin as a fairly celebratory idea. “Celebrating our differences” was one of the early slogans. And politicians of all parties, then, as now, are always only too happy to attend cultural and religious events. 

But a lot of our success exists because of immigration and the multicultural society we have built. Our health care and seniors care systems only exists because immigrants are the undisputed backbone of it, with doctors, nurses, pharmacists, personal support workers pulling together to save Canadian lives.

The bulk of low paid grocery store and plant workers are immigrants from many countries, working to get our food packed and on store shelves. And all these diverse people work together relatively harmoniously, because they accept the diverse society we have built. 

That’s the good story.

Then there’s another side. Here are the questions worth asking:

  • Why are all the low-wage and essential professions filled by immigrants?
  • Why do many of these workers still face racism in the workplace?
  • Why is there still systemic racism in so many systems — police, armed forces, health care to name three.
  • While many racialized Canadians are highly qualified, why are there many fields where they cannot advance, in the public and private sectors? 

Multiculturalism was designed to be an organizing principle that allows for diverse peoples to thrive together, respecting the diversity that exists, while also focusing on the common ties that bind. And that’s not simple. And despite its shortcomings it still works

So here we are at 50? A multicultural society that does work well in many ways and is a beacon to many societies. But which also has many flaws and many unfinished initiatives towards equality.

Today in 2021, we find a world where divisions with countries the world over are more divided than ever before. 

And here’s the growing chasm in Canadian society and many other societies: On the one hand is the assimilationist view point … make us great again! Time to stand up for our history (the predominant version of it), and stop catering to the growing number of calls for equality.

On the other hand is the growing determination for the rights of the nonprivileged. There are number of calls for equality from different perspectives and they add up to a sizable number of people who more strongly and loudly articulating their demand to be heard and responded to.

As we get more serious about who we are as a country and about our values, we find lip-service isn’t enough. A starting point is acknowledging our past, be that residential schools, or slavery. Yes it existed in Canada.

It means sharing the economic pie, paying better wages, stopping the systemic racism, so that we can have more Theresa Tams, Patrick Chans, Michelle Goods and Olivia Chows.


Cardozo: Dialogues on diversity is what we need

Agree with need for commission or enquiry to allow for a more substantive, comprehensive and non-partisan review.

Issue is with respect to what the focus should be and what kind of research, process and recommendations are needed (stay tuned, working on my thoughts):

“They made us believe we didn’t have souls,” Elder Florence Sparvier, a residential school survivor, said at a press conference in Cowessess, Sask.

Canada Day 2021 and this entire period has been a time for reflection. We are a good country. We have the self-confidence to know that we have lots of strengths. And in that confidence, we also have the ability to be self-critical to recognize the bad parts of our history, or the problems we have today, and to make amends, or at least to try to do better.

Over 50 years ago Lester B. Pearson established two royal commissions: one on the status of women and one on bilingualism and biculturalism. They recognized the fundamental, and, yes, systemic discrimination that was faced by women and by francophones. The results of the commissions have seen significant advances, and committed Canada to an ongoing path to betterment. To be clear, it has not been flowers and rainbows on these paths, but overall the trajectory has been positive as we try to get things better.

And so today as we need to think deeply, carefully and compassionately about our country and be conscious of the racism epidemic that has met the COVID pandemic, as was articulated by Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard at a Pearson Centre webinar last summer.

What can we do? Many things, but here is one idea, a thoughtful national dialogue on diversity. There are many ways to do this, but, as a nation, we must listen to each other, and, most importantly, we must listen to those with grievances.  That’s how we build a better country.

The discovery of unmarked graves at residential schools has not been a surprise to most Indigenous people, but it is the harsh reality that has triggered for many, the many real stages of grief. Made more devastating by the fact that they have been saying this for years and governments and the rest of society either had not believed them or just looked the other way.

This tragic discovery has become a precipitating event that has been a shock for non-Indigenous Canadians, for the political class, and the mainstream media. We somehow missed Calls Action 71 to 76 in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report, the missing children and burial information, and all the conversations on this for years.

2020 and 2021 have also seen other aspects of racism come to the fore. With the killing of George Floyd, a Black man killed by a white police officer, in the U.S., our racism problems became much more apparent. Once again, it was the precipitating event there that caused us to become more aware in Canada. In addition to systemic and overt racism faced by Indigenous peoples for years, the reality of anti-Black racism has become more evident. Anti-Semitism has reached new heights—or should we say new depths. Islamophobia is on the rise. We saw the killing of a Muslim family in London, Ont., in June. And with the rise of COVID, we have seen the ridiculous anti-Asian acts of overt racism and racial violence.

There is something rotten in our state these days. And there is nothing wrong in recognizing it and dealing with it. The solutions are many: from legal, to social, to economic, to educational measures. But it starts with dialogue and understanding what marginalization feels like, what unspoken discrimination feels like, or what the hand of racial violence feels like. Also what does white uneasiness or fragility feel like?

At the Pearson Centre we launched a six-month dialogue with two webinars, one with Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson who spoke about the ancient Indigenous history of his city and one with award-winning author Michelle Good. Her novel, Five Little Indians, is about the lives of five young residential school survivors as they make their way through life seriously damaged by their experience. There will be more over the months ahead, that explore systemic racism and various aspects of inequality while always trying to increase understanding across divides and identifying solutions. Using the marvels of webinars we will easily pull together Canadians from across the country into important discussions.

October marks the 50th anniversary of the multiculturalism policy—in the world. It is a good time to take stock and plan the future.

I urge other think tanks, organizations, and companies to launch their own dialogues and to get involved. As Cowessess First Nation Chief Cadmus Delorme said, “All we ask of all of you listening is that you stand by us as we heal and get stronger. All must put down our ignorance and accidental racism of not addressing the truth that this country has with Indigenous people. We are not asking for pity, but we are asking for understanding.”

We are too far apart and we understand too little about each other. We need to learn from each other. And of course dialogue is no reason not to take action. Governments need to engage in dialogue and seriously step up their actions at the same time.

I also think about “what would Pearson do.” I dare say he would strike a royal commission on diversity and equity of some kind, to dialogue about inequality in its various forms.

Source: Dialogues on diversity is what we need

A crisis brings strengths into focus: government, health care, the online work world, and diversity in Canada

Nice commentary by Andrew Cardozo of the Pearson Centre:

Some things are becoming clear through the COVID-19 crisis. First, government can be a huge force for good—in fact, it’s the only central force for some time to come. Second, we are very fortunate to have a strong health-care system, and it’s a good thing we don’t have a confusing, two-tier system. Third, governments can effectively help with income. Fourth, we are being kicked and dragged into the online world really fast—virtually and through remote work. Fifth, we have become a lot more hygienic. Sixth, it is clear that a good part of the success of our health-care system is our diversity—the women and men of various origins who make the system run so well come from a range of origins. Lastly, a strong public broadcaster makes a difference.

Almost no one is criticizing government for taking action on several fronts. To the extent there is criticism, it is that the government is not doing enough or fast enough.

Whether it’s health care, income support, business support, immigration or national security and diplomacy; it’s government, government, government.

As the crisis started to unravel, we were seeing situations of Americans not going for tests as it could cost several hundred dollars for each person. Not so in Canada. Never. That’s why we have a universal system and not a two-tier system, which some people so desire.

And even if you really don’t care about your less fortunate fellow citizens, the prospect of potential carriers of the virus not being diagnosed meant that they would continue to carry it and spread it around—to selfish people included.

Isn’t it time we move to universal pharmacare so people who get the virus do not have to worry about paying for the drugs required? And the areas of public policy should include the economy, employment, and income support, and we should be trying to provide a “basic income” for Canadians. Isn’t it time we move our whole system to one of ensuring a basic income for all Canadians permanently?

Then there’s working from home. It’s the big new thing. It’s no more a nice thing to do, with all sorts of environmental and family benefits. It’s a necessity. It has to happen, now, right away, and as across the board as humanly possible. Who knew? A transition that started perhaps a decade ago and was slowly moving along, will literally become mainstream in a matter of days. Working remotely, and managing remote workers is suddenly the norm.

Oh and hand washing. My unscientific observations over the years is that one-third of men do not wash their hands after, you know. Yes, ladies, sorry to reveal the dirty truth. I hear on the female side of the ledger that figure is close to zero per cent. And those remaining two-thirds—only one-third uses soap. My male friends generally agree that these proportions are accurate.

Now we men are 100 per cent washing with soap, at least I hope. That is a huge and sudden progress.

But washing hands after washroom use is just one element of hygiene. We are likely to become a whole lot more hygienic—although I hope not overly so, or we will lose any built-up immunities.

The diversity of our top health officials is suddenly evident. It seems there is no other area of expertise where so many women and men of various origins have risen to the top.

Dr. Theresa Tam has to be the coolest, calmest, and most authoritative health official ever. Born in Hong Kong and educated in the U.K., she delivers the warnings in a way that is straightforward and non-threatening.

Her deputy is Dr. Howard Njoo, a veritable global citizen born in Europe and raised in Canada, of Chinese-Indonesian-Southeast Asian origin.

Dr. Horacio Arruda is director of public health of Quebec. Dr. Wajid Ahmed is the medical officer of health for Windor-Essex and Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang is Waterloo region’s medical officer of health are among the top health authorities across Canada.

Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, pictured on March 16, 2020, at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa, is ‘a veritable global citizen born in Europe and raised in Canada, of Chinese-Indonesian-Southeast Asian origin,’ writes Andrew Cardozo. The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade

The faces on TV are numerous. Dr. Peter Lin, whose calming dulcet tones grace CBC TV and radio, is called the CBC House Doctor. Dr. Samir Sinha is director of geriatrics at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto and Dr. Susy Hota is a University of Toronto academic. Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti is an infectious diseases specialist in Mississauga and Dr. Samir Gupta is a clinician-scientist at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael’s Hospital, oh yes, there’s that other billionaire immigrant, Li Ka Shing. Dr. Nisha Thampi is head of Infection Control at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa. Dr. Abdu Sharkawy, infectious disease specialist with Toronto’s University Health Network frequently appears on CTV.

We would be woefully understaffed if it were not for the thousands of immigrants throughout the system, all the Filipina and Caribbean nurses, for example. Something for Quebec to watch closely—they may want to extend a more immigrant-friendly welcome mat and suspend Bill 21 for a while.

Overall, we are also seeing a large number of women in top spots in public health across the country. In addition to Dr. Tam and Dr. Wang noted above, these include Dr. Bonnie Henry, British Columbia’s high-profile provincial health officer; Dr. Patricia Daly, her counterpart for Vancouver; Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health for Alberta (who is leading from her home, in quarantine); and Dr. Jessica Hopkins, Peel’s medical officer of health.

And, of course, at the political level, we are seeing the COVID cabinet committee, led by Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, and the competent and always informative Health Minister Patty Hajdu.

Lastly, the CBC. While the private networks are doing a great job, the CBC-Radio Canada is performing at its best. CBC News Network and ICI RDI are providing stellar services, which not only provide news about who is doing what, but provide a lot of information to viewers to help us understand what COVID-19 is all about and how we need to defend ourselves. The demonstrations on how to wash your hands could not have been more valuable.

In these troubled times, it helps to see the silver linings and the strong system we have in place.

Source: A crisis brings strengths into focus: government, health care, the online work world, and diversity in Canada

Why race and immigration are a gathering storm in Canadian politics: Glavin; Could all the parties just cool the rhetoric on racism and immigration? Cardozo

Two good columns on the politics and perils of immigration as an election battleground. Starting with Terry Glavin dissecting some of the recent polling data along with some good thoughtful commentary by Frank Graves of Ekos:

Going by quite a few headlines, commentaries and social media hot-takes making the rounds these days, you’d never know it, but Canadians are not working themselves up into a lather about immigrants or people of colour. We’re not suddenly becoming mean to refugees. There is no surge in bloody-minded racial bigotry arising among ordinary Canadians, and there’s no evidence for any dramatic spike in the numbers of Canadians who don’t like non-whites coming to this country.

That’s the good news.

Some politicians continue to blow their vulgar anti-immigrant dog-whistles, and some make partisan mischief by whatever means seem plausible enough to make their adversaries look bad. But when it comes to immigrants and refugees, Canadians in general tend to be a lot less excitable or inclined to racism than is convenient to certain strangely popular narratives at the moment.

It’s true that having once exerted themselves to out-compete the Opposition in their efforts to show mercy to Syrian refugees, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals are pulling off a complete U-turn on the alleged “asylum-shopping” of refugee claimants. They’ve tucked away a series of amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act in an omnibus budget implementation bill that would seriously impair the access of some refugees to a full and fair hearing of their claims. Ontario Premier Doug Ford has moved to eliminate funding for refugee and immigration aid law services.

At the fringes, hate crimes are up, and white-nationalist delirium is becoming fashionable among a creepy subset of far-right and friendless unemployable young men. It would be easy to misread the public mood. But the public mood is not taking any dramatic turns for the worse.

Nonetheless, something new and alarming is definitely happening in Canadian public opinion, says Frank Graves, president of EKOS Research Associates. EKOS has been annually tracking Canadian attitudes about immigration since the 1990s, and you don’t have to drill down very deep into the latest EKOS data to see it. It’s right there in the fine tuning of the findings the firm released last week.

The bad news is that for the first time since EKOS began its tracking in the 1990s, dyspepsia about the pace of immigration has coalesced with resentments about the rate of non-white newcomers to Canada. And that bloc of public opinion is consolidating for the first time behind a single political party—Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives.

This is happening whether Scheer’s Conservatives want it or not. Whether or not voters with unfavourable and in some cases decidedly unseemly views about Canada’s current immigration policies are being actively drawn to the Conservatives, or are simply being repelled by the annoying, not-racist-like-you histrionics of the Liberals, something unprecedented is happening.

The EKOS poll finds that roughly 40 per cent of Canadians harbour an unfavourable view of both the pace of immigration and the proportion of “visible minority” people among immigrants. Among the EKOS poll respondents who said there were too many non-whites among Canada’s newly-arrived immigrants, 69 per cent identified as Conservatives, while only 15 percent identified as Liberals. As NDP and Green voters, 27 percent and 28 percent, respectively, said the same.

The reason this is so dangerous is that the conflation of immigration policy with race is threatening to determine the way Canadians vote. It doesn’t matter which party benefits from this in the short run. It’s bad news all round. It’s the marker of what could be a descent into the same debilitating authoritarian-populist abyss into which the United States and much of Europe has fallen, Graves told me. “The inevitable result is a partisan polarization into two irreconcilable camps.”

It’s bad enough that the Scheer’s Conservatives have allowed these tendencies to become normalized among the party’s supporters, Graves said. What’s just as bad is a tendency among Liberals and the liberal-left generally to conflate genuine concerns people might have about refugees, or about how Canada’s demographics are changing, with the crudest xenophobia and the lowest types of racism.

“It doesn’t help. The moral critique, calling people out as Nazis or racists, and painting large portions of the population with this kind of inflammatory language, it’s really not helping. It makes things worse,” Graves said. That’s the way things went in the United States, and the result was the last thing either liberals or traditional conservatives wanted—the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States. “The Americans don’t have anything to teach us,” Graves said.

“We have largely been inoculated from the vicious debates that have torn the United States and a lot of Europe apart. That’s why I’m so troubled to see this informing voters’ choice in Canada.”

It’s perfectly reasonable to conclude, for instance, that Trudeau was dead wrong to insist that there was no “crisis” involved his government’s handling of the roughly 40,000 irregular refugee claimants who have walked across the border since early 2017. By last August, two-thirds of Canadians in an Angus Reid poll said “crisis” was a perfectly suitable description. More than half the respondents who said so were Liberals.

Team Trudeau found itself in a similar predicament two years ago during the fractious House of Commons debates surrounding M-103, the Liberals’ proposed resolution to establish a committee inquiry into the spectre of “more than one million Canadians who suffer because of Islamophobia, who are victimized on a daily basis.” Awkardly, a CBC-Environics poll and a CBC-Angus Reid Institute poll were in hand that painted quite a different picture. While 68 per cent of Canadians said minorities should work harder to “fit in” to Canadian culture, the same view was offered by 57 per cent of Muslim respondents. Only nine per cent of the Muslims surveyed identified discrimination as a factor that made them uncomfortable living in Canada—a third said the worst thing was all the snow. A follow-up Angus Reid poll found that 33 per cent of respondents who opposed the Islamophobia motion were Liberal supporters.

Neither is there anything louche in the proposition that Trudeau was just the tiniest bit hypocritical to dispatch Border Security Minister Bill Blair with instructions to attempt a renegotiation of the Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States in hopes of shutting down the border-crossing upsurge—after making ugly accusations about xenophobia and hysterics among the Conservatives who’d been urging him to do that very thing, all along.

Still, Trudeau is dead right to say, as he has been saying quite a lot at his round of town halls lately, that Canadians remain mostly “positively inclined” towards immigration and towards Canada’s immigration policies. More importantly, Trudeau has pointed out that Canadians must have confidence that they are in control of immigration, that immigration is managed. It’s the loss of control, a sense of a lost sovereignty, that has fuelled far-right populism from Brexit in the United Kingdom to the Make America Great Again hyperventilation in the United States.

The EKOS poll finding that roughly 40 per cent of Canadians think too many immigrants are allowed into the country every year isn’t even especially newsworthy. Last December, an Ipsos poll found nearly half of its respondents agreed, at least somewhat, that immigration is changing Canada in ways they didn’t like, and at least four in ten agreed “too many” immigrants were coming to Canada. In the EKOS poll trend lines over time, the proportion of Canadians who hold that view is not growing. It’s shrinking. More than 60 per cent of the annual EKOS poll respondents held to a “too many immigrants” view in the 1990s. The percentage wobbled on a downward trajectory to 2005, then wavered up towards 50 percent, and dropped down to 40 per cent again this year.

Canadians who say there are “too many visible minorities” among immigrants have always been fewer in number than the “too many immigrants” respondents, and the trajectory of that opinion bloc has similarly tracked downward over the years. But from a low of 30 per cent in 2005, the EKOS poll respondents who say there are “too many visible minorities” among immigrants has climbed back up to meet the “too many immigrants” response, at 39.9 per cent in the latest EKOS poll.

This is dangerous. Opposition to immigration is no longer driven by more easily remediable anxieties, ill-informed or not, that Canada’s high pace of immigration is bad for jobs, or housing costs, or community stability, or stresses on public services. About 300,000 people settle in Canada every year, and Ottawa wants to see the number rise to 350,000 by 2021. That’s a small number compared to Canada’s population of nearly 38 million. But roughly one in five Canadians is foreign-born—the highest proportion of any G7 country—and most immigrants since 2001 have not been “white.” They come mainly from Asia and the Middle East. About one in five Canadian citizens now falls into the Census Canada “visible minority” category.

Still, the EKOS poll does not tell anything like a straightforward story of white people with an attitude problem about non-white newcomers. Non-white Canadians appear even more likely than most Canadians to say there are too many non-white immigrants coming to Canada. While 39.9 percent of respondents overall said there were too many “visible minorities” among Canada’s newly arriving immigrants, the percentage of “visible minority” respondents who agreed with the statement in the EKOS poll was 42.8 per cent.

Xenophobia, racism and divisive rhetoric about immigration is something that Canada’s political leaders should take extremely seriously. But the Liberal government has occasionally and quite casually attributed those lurid motives to Conservative and popular alarms over the rapid rise since 2017 in the number of “irregular” border-crossing by asylum claimants. About half the claimants have been from Nigeria and Haiti, and the overall number of border-crossers is now declining. Racists shouted as loudly as they ever do about this, but as for widespread public concerns that the border-crossers were not genuine refugees, that wasn’t necessarily a judgment rooted in racism or xenophobia. It turns out that less than half the border-crossers’ claims that have been finalized so far have been accepted; about 40 per cent were rejected and the balance were abandoned or withdrawn.

As is necessary in any deep dive into an opinion poll’s findings, it’s worthwhile to look closely at its margins of error. The EKOS poll random sample of 1,045 Canadians comes with an error margin of plus or minus three per cent, 19 times out of 20. And when you get down into the weeds of respondent subcategories—Conservative voters, Liberal voters, visible-minority respondents and so on—the margin of error can increase quite dramatically.

But when you weigh the data statistically across the board to reflect the composition of Canada’s population, as EKOS does, you get a pretty clear picture of what people think. And because “visible minority” is becoming an increasingly obtuse category as Canada’s population grows more ethnically and racially diverse, EKOS conducted some experimental testing, and it showed that the term “non-white” produces the same results.

But getting back to some good news that similarly upsets the usual “narrative” apple carts, last month another opinion poll, this one a global survey by the Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C., found that ordinary Canadians have the most favourable view of immigrants among the world’s 18 highest immigrant-taking countries. Canadian respondents were more likely than anyone else to say immigration is a public good. Canadians were the least likely to identify immigration as a burden, or a source of crime, or a risk of terrorism.

Importantly, Canada turns out to be less polarized on the issue of immigration than any of the other countries surveyed, too, the Pew Center concluded. Canada’s conservatives are more upbeat about immigration than “left-wing” opinion in several of the other countries surveyed. Only 27 per cent of Canadian respondents said immigrants were a liability or that immigrants took away jobs, and on the bright side, 68 per cent of Canadian respondents said immigrants make Canada stronger.

Meanwhile, the federal government’s own annual tracking survey, carried out last August and September, produced results fairly similar to the EKOS poll. The federal survey benefited from a much larger sample size—2,800 respondents, with an error margin of plus or minus 1.9 per cent, 19 times out of 20. And it adds a couple of insights consistent with the EKOS findings.

Canadians who say immigration rates are too high do not appear to hold that disfavourable view solely on account of some mistaken belief that immigration rates are higher than they actually are. When told that the actual number of immigrants coming to Canada every year was 300,000, the proportion of respondents who said there were “too many” immigrants jumped from 28 per cent to 37 per cent—a figure close to the 39.9 per cent in the EKOS findings.

While the EKOS poll found that visible-minority Canadians are oddly more likely than Canadians in general to say there are “too many” visible-minority immigrants coming to Canada, the federal tracking survey found a similar irony. Forty-one percent of third-generation Canadians said that 300,000 immigrants a year was too many, but 15 per cent of recently-arrived Canadians, even—immigrants who have lived in Canada for less than five years—said they felt the same way. But overall, roughly half of the federal tracking survey respondents said Canada’s immigration levels were just about right.

Andrew Griffith, former director general of the Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s Citizenship and Multiculturalism Branch, and the author of Multiculturalism in Canada: Evidence and Anecdote, says that for all the uproars and controversies, Canada is still doing well as an experiment in multiculturalism.

The country maintains a generous immigration policy and a reasonably generous refugee policy, and that should not be expected to change without an enormous upheaval. Canadian public opinion on these matters is a fairly steady-state phenomenon. About a third are enthusiasts, about a third are sufficiently content, and a final third have serious reservations.

But that last third is not a homogeneous constituency of irredeemable bigots. If you want the surprisingly successful Canadian experiment to continue, you can’t corral that constituency into the same roped-off quarantine area where actually-existing racists and alarmists properly belong. They’ll all just stew in their own juices.

“People are far too quick to whip out the racism card when it serves their interests,” Griffth said. “But you can’t write off a third of the population. Those people are the people you have to engage with.”

Source: Why race and immigration are a gathering storm in Canadian politics

Andrew Cardozo, of the Pearson Centre, offers some good advice to both sides:

White supremacists. Islamophobia. Systemic racism. Racialized people. Irregular entrants.

These are hot words on Parliament Hill these days. These are all terms that identify problems facing Canadian social cohesion and are often discussed without a common understanding.

Discussion around race and racism are delicate at the best of times, but when they get hotter and more serious it gets harder to have a discussion. Add politics and it’s just not a good mix.

It is fair to say that today the activists who work to combat racism are getting further and further from those who have concerns about the changing nature of our society and the changing power balances.

Critical race theory is an area that has been attracting increased analysis and debate. To put it very generally it is the academic field of research that examines racism. This field has developed exponentially in the last few decades, and with each passing phase of advancement, there is a new terminology; where the old terminology can be seen as both inaccurate and often offensive. An example is the change in terminology to describe African Americans or First Nations peoples.

And as this has grown, so has the resistance to it.

Research on racism in recent years has found that four groups are particularly affected by hardcore racists—a phenomenon that is both uniquely Canadian, in some ways, and universal in others.

The four groups are Indigenous peoples, African-Canadians, Jews, and Muslims. Many others face discrimination to varying degrees too.

Indigenous peoples are coming into a new reality and self-awareness. The First Peoples of this land are finally being recognized for their rights in a manner that has always been enshrined in the Canadian Constitution but was never taught in school or practised by governments. So today when pipelines are delayed or halted, there is a new conflict of values which was just ignored in the past.

But the racism they have faced covers everything from state-imposed colonialism, on-reserve housing, and residential schools, to troubled police relations, and child welfare systems that are hugely inappropriate. They also face simple old-fashioned racism from some members of the public, going from ill-informed stereotypes to name calling and occasional violence.

All this while the Indigenous population is the fastest growing group in Canada with more than 50 per cent of the population under 25 years old, and a growing sense of confidence and assertion of their rightful and constitutional place in Canada.

The movement of peoples in the world has been growing significantly in recent decades, and a large part of this is non-white people moving to predominantly white countries (although there are significant movements among non-white people too, think of the Syrian and the Rohingya refugees and their neighbouring countries).

The black community is both very old, dating back to the Loyalists on the East Coast to new arrivals from the Caribbean and Africa. The racism faced here is both of the everyday name-calling variety, to job discrimination and troubled relations with police that has an uncanny resemblance to that faced by African Americans south of the border.

Their contributions are significant in many sectors including medicine and nursing, education, small business and labour, and increasingly in politics. For example, Rawlson King was the most recent addition to Ottawa City Council through a byelection (making him the city’s first-ever black councillor), adding to the more than 50 African Canadians who have served at all levels of government.

Anti-semitism goes back to the time of Jesus Christ if not before, and while there is little questioning of the contribution of Jews to our society, this racism is of a variety that either has its strength in neo-Nazi movements, which are growing and becoming more strident and open, or to politics of the Middle East, where opposition to Israel can get conflated with anti-Jewish sentiment and certainly anti-Jewish movements. Anti-Semitic violence at synagogues for example is prevalent and threatening.

Muslim immigration to Canada has increased significantly and they are among the fastest growing religious groups in Canada. This is happening in a geopolitical context where there are significant terrorist movements who proclaim their work to be in the name of Islam. While Canadian Muslims have little or nothing to do with those groups and condemn the violence, it is a dark cloud that bhangs over their heads. The coincidental growing traditionalism, most evident in head coverings of some Muslim women, is a movement which is separate, but not unrelated, as some feel increasingly isolated and/or need to assert their cultural particularities. Some Canadians feel threatened or uncomfortable with this as there is opposition to traditional or religious garments of Jews, Sikhs, and Indigenous peoples. The contribution of Muslims in Canada tells an interesting story, as their numbers grow in major professions including medicine, law, politics, business, academia, entertainment, and even the NHL.

So we have a third Quebec government trying to bring in a law that limits religious symbols, a project that can never be trouble free.

A new Ekos poll which finds that 42 per cent of Canadians feel there are too many non-white immigrants to Canada is noteworthy, and more significant is that that number is at 71 per cent among Conservative voters, 34 per cent among Greens, 28 per cent among New Democrats and 19 per cent among Liberals. The high numbers on resistance to non-white immigration is worrisome, but also explains why Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pursue their particular lines of argument these days.

It would be terribly facile and unhelpful for Conservative opponents to brand them all negatively. Even 19 per cent is high, as is the 42 per cent average for Canadians.

On the one hand, the Conservatives should consider toning down their messaging—it usually doesn’t work well for any one, not even electorally. And for any progressive purists—don’t allow a “basket of deplorables” moment in Canada. It didn’t work out well for Hillary Clinton and it won’t work out well for Liberals here either.

Rather than finger-pointing and name-calling, it would be better for the country, as a whole, to calm the rhetoric on all sides.

And to the anti-racism activists, it is important to make the movement more accessible rather than less. Terminology needs to be easier to use and less exclusive. Every community, whether they be environmentalists, stock brokers or doctors, have a constantly evolving set of terms and acronyms that have the effect of excluding others. Now is not the time to insist the exact right and latest jargon, but rather to tone down the rhetoric.

All sides have a choice: politicize and drive wedges or lower the temperature and bring people together. Weaponize the debate or bring more people on to the side of combating division, supremacy, and phobias. It’s that simple.

Angus Reid’s survey actually shows high level of support for our diverse society: Cardozo

Good analysis by Andrew Cardozo:

Much is being made of a new Angus Reid poll on the attitudes of Canadians towards minorities, coming out as it does on the heels of Kellie Leitch’s plan to test immigrants on “anti-Canadian” values. Polling people’s attitudes on diversity is always a good thing as the mood does change from time to time, depending on the issues that face us.

While Angus Reid is a hugely credible polling organization, this poll is somewhere between incomplete and not very informative.

There were two sets of questions on diversity in the poll. Interestingly, the first did not receive coverage—not even in Reid’s own article on the CBC News website—while the second, the more sensational one, garnered all the coverage. Surprising!

Respondents were asked to first comment on: “How well immigrants are integrating into society.” A full 67 per cent said they were satisfied and 33 per cent said they were dissatisfied. (The report does not reveal how many had no opinion, which seems odd. Not even one per cent? But I digress.)

This is a good news story, no? Two to one, Canadians believe immigrants are integrating well. Not many government policies or societal trends get that kind of support.

Sadly, the questions that received all the coverage, perhaps because they align more with Leitch’s narrative in some way, are actually simplistic in the extreme. And further, while the questions did not use the word “multiculturalism,” Reid’s reporting did.

Here are the statements that respondents were asked to comment on: should minorities do more to fit in with mainstream society; and should we do more to encourage cultural diversity with different groups keeping their own customs and languages.

Trouble is, that is not the conundrum that defines multiculturalism. It is perhaps the conundrum that defines segregation. Should minorities fit in or live segregated lives? One or the other. Binary. No combination, no nuance.

Multiculturalism, from its very inception as a government policy in 1971 by one Pierre Trudeau, has been about both integration and cultural retention. Check the Hansard on that. Canadian individuals, immigrants and Canadian born, can generally walk and chew gum at the same time, and they do it all the time.

Interestingly, the poll came out on October 3, during Rosh Hashanah. And you have to think of all the Canadian Jews who were marking the high holiday. Most are able to get time off work and were celebrating the new year with family and friends. Jews are among the most integrated of minority groups in Canada and they contribute in significant ways in virtually every facet of Canadian society, and yet Rosh Hashanah, is widely celebrated.

So which of Angus Reid’s two statements do they fall under: fitting in or keeping their own customs? Or did they walk and chew gum?

One is tempted, on this basis, to dismiss the poll as incomplete or sloppy. But let’s look at a few other examples and try to guess what it is pointing to.

As Reid points out, attitudes change. In the 1990s, wearing a turban in the Armed Forces was a hugely controversial issue, which the Mulroney government settled at great political cost. It is part of what gave rise to the Reform Party. And, of course, today the Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan wears a turban, and, given his mastery of his role in the Canadian Forces, his competence shone through.

Several Jewish MPs celebrated last week.

Several Muslim MPs, like Democratic Institutions Minister Maryam Monsef, celebrated Eid last month while being a federal minister as did several MPs, including Conservative Ziad Aboultaif and Liberal Ahmed Hussen. Walk and chew gum.

As the world watches the horrors of Hurricane Matthew bearing down on Haiti, former Michaëlle Jean, Canada’s former governor general and now head of La Francophonie, was helping to find aid for the victims of yet another catastrophe to hit her country of origin.

To turn back to Leitch’s issue of anti-Canadian values, one is tempted to ask, are these the anti-Canadian values we should be concerned about?

If there is a conundrum with multiculturalism, it is about the limits of cultural retention and how far we go in reasonable accommodation—a debate that rages on in Quebec. It’s a good discussion to have, but in a free and democratic society, there will rarely be unanimity about where that line exists. It’s about how we make walking and chewing gum at the same time possible. Multiculturalism works when we do both things.

When a practice restricts people’s integration that is a point of discussion like wearing a niqab. But is the solution to legislate what a woman should wear, or is it to find ways in which she will feel comfortable removing it? Or may be the rest of us just get over it?

Leitch gets some support because there is a view that immigrants bring over anti-Canadian values. Whether it was the Irish Fenian who assassinated Thomas D’Arcy McGee in 1868, or the people responsible for the Air India bombing in 1985 or the shooter who killed Corporal Nathan Cirillo in 2014, (Cirillo’s assassin was Canadian born) these people had values that were not in keeping with Canadian values of equality and justice.

It would be helpful if Leitch could be more specific. Yes, we want to root out undesirable elements and want to be clear about basic Canadian values such as gender equality and respect for diversity. At the same time we need to do all we can so we don’t import terrorism or violence.

Likewise, Angus Reid might be more specific with his questions rather than erect headline-catching false conundrum.

Perhaps the newsworthy story is that Canadians believe immigrants should integrate, that’s two to one, and that they generally like the way they are integrating, that’s two to one.

Source: Angus Reid’s survey actually shows high level of support for our diverse society – The Hill Times – The Hill Times

A less nuanced analysis is Margaret Wente’s:

Yet in liberal discourse, any resistance to immigration on any grounds makes you a racist, and any questions about immigration policy are perceived as illegitimate. People get frustrated by that. They’re also frustrated by a narrative that, in their view, only goes one way. They feel they’re constantly being harangued by their betters that it is they who must accommodate the newcomers. No one ever talks about what the newcomers should do to accommodate them.

And so they’re not thrilled when Kathleen Wynne, Ontario’s Premier, dons a head scarf to meet with the woman who insisted on her right to wear the niqab during the citizenship ceremony – and then tweets that it’s “an honour.” They are not thrilled when their Prime Minister promotes inclusivity by visiting a mosque where the women have to sit upstairs. They don’t like it when a Muslim boys’ soccer team refuses to play against girls.

Kellie Leitch taps into that sentiment. I don’t doubt for a moment that Canada has its share of racists – but if the Liberals ignore the genuine concerns of people who think accommodation should go both ways, they’re asking for a backlash.

Many progressives (including, I suspect, Mr. Trudeau) hold a romantic view of immigration as a sort of global social-justice project, which obliges us to share our good fortune with as much of the rest of the world as possible, while declaring that every other culture is just as good as ours is.

Thankfully, most Canadians don’t share this woozy notion. They pride themselves on their tolerance. But they’re also hard-headed pragmatists. They think immigration policy should serve our national interests, and that our leaders should not forget it.

 How much diversity do Canadians want? 

Good to talk about Canadian values, and let’s think it through: Andrew Cardozo

Good piece by Andrew Cardozo going through all the limitations in values testing for immigrants and proposing a more positive approach:

But this is not to say we cannot talk about Canadian values or tell newcomers—and immigration applicants, about Canadian values; that way they can know what to expect or decide not to come here if they don’t like any of our values.

The healthier way is to be strong and clear about these values, because there is no question that some of our values are not universally held or practised. Besides some Canadian-born folks who have old-fashioned ideas, there are some newcomers who come with attitudes of inequality as compared to the “Canadian norm.” Many people come here precisely because of our values and others come here without considering what that may mean for them and their families and children.

Not only is it healthier and nicer, it is a more successful way to encourage newcomers to embrace the values of our liberal democratic society. Being proudly progressive and Canadian is the best way to root out many of the attitudes of inequality and discrimination across all communities.

The thing about the uniquely “Canadian values” of equality and respect is that they are fairly clear, only fairly. Some are legislated, some are not. And it is that complex and careful balancing over time—with lots of variation and nuance—that allows for a free and peaceful society. Fundamentalist societies are the ones that allow for no deviation and they generally are not very peaceful or cohesive.

Source: Good to talk about Canadian values, and let’s think it through – The Hill Times – The Hill Times

Highest ever number of Muslim Canadian MPs elected in new House |

Good range of interviews on the large number of Muslim Canadian MPs elected:

In interviews last week, MPs, political insiders, and academics said the newly-elected legislators from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds will bring unique perspectives, community feedback and different life experiences to the table which will prove to be valuable in the overall legislation and policy-making process at the highest level of government. They also pointed out that these MPs are not just token representatives of their respective communities but people who have solid credentials in a variety of professions including law, medicine, and business.

“Every Member of Parliament will bring their values to the debates and values are shaped by religion, by experience, by the community that they come from. So, it will shape their values and values will shape what they have to say and their positions, no question,” said Prof. Donald Savoie, the Canada Research Chair in public administration and governance at the Université de Moncton and one of Canada’s leading experts on public administration, in an interview with The Hill Times.

He said Muslim MPs and MPs from other religious backgrounds will have important input in Parliamentary debates in the new Parliament.

“They will have very important points of view that need to be heard,” said Prof. Savoie, adding that Muslim MPs should also not be stereotyped.

“Let them come and debate the issue and let’s hear what they have to say. What they will have to say is as important, as relevant, and ought to be listened to, as much as a white MP from Newfoundland, or from British Columbia.”

Meanwhile, pollster Greg Lyle of Innovative Research said that MPs from different cultural and religious backgrounds will offer valuable input in legislative debates on social and economic issues that affect all Canadians.

“When you are in the room, you don’t have to wait for someone to think about you. You’re right there to bring your concerns front and centre,” Mr. Lyle said.

He said that newly elected MPs from a variety of demographic groups won their ridings because they were the best candidates. Using the example of Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould (Vancouver Granville, B.C.), Mr. Lyle said she is an indigenous woman who ran in a riding that has almost negligible presence of aboriginal people, but won by a margin of about 9,000 votes.

 “In a lot of cases, people are just nominating the best person for this job and they happen to come from different backgrounds,” Mr. Lyle said.

“When you look at their resumés, they’re not getting appointed as tokens. These are people who have really impressive stories to tell,” Mr. Lyle said.

Muslim MPs interviewed for this article said that the previous government’s Anti-Terrorism Bill C-51, the so-called Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act Bill C-24, the niqab debate, and the barbaric cultural practices snitch line affected the Muslim community directly and motivated it to get engaged a lot more actively than in past elections.

“The community is reaching a new level of maturity, overall. The Muslim community in Canada tends to be a newer community. It’s going through various levels of growth and sophistication, maturity as a newer Canadian community,” said Mr. Alghabra who represented the riding of Mississauga-Erindale, Ont., from 2006 to 2008, lost the two subsequent elections and was elected again on Oct. 19.

“This was a new milestone in that growth process. There’s a greater level of sophistication, greater level of awareness about the importance of getting involved. It was demonstrated through various groups and organizations and individuals,” said Mr. Alghabra.

Ms. Ratansi, who represented the riding of Don Valley East from 2004 to 2011, lost the 2011 election but was re-elected last month, also reiterated that the divisive issues that the Conservatives pushed in the campaign made the Muslim community get involved more actively.

“People got a little concerned about the negativity against Islam. A lot of intelligent people who are lawyers, [legal scholars] who teach law in universities, who are accountants, businesspeople like me, got a little fed up with this constant badgering of Muslims as if we were a homogenous group and we all work the same way. We don’t,” said Ms. Ratansi, adding that unlike the impression portrayed by some in the last government and some news organizations, the Muslim community, overall, is a peaceful hardworking community trying to make the world a better place.

Carleton University Prof. Howard Duncan, who has conducted extensive research on immigration integration theory, multiculturalism theory, globalization, and migration, in an interview, predicted that the election of MPs from different religious and cultural backgrounds will encourage those who did not participate in this election to get engaged in the political process.

“What you’re going to find as time goes by is that immigrants from other countries and other religious and ethnic backgrounds are also going to participate more in politics,” said Prof. Duncan.

Andrew Cardozo, president of Pearson Centre for Progressive Policy, told The Hill Timesthat in the current international political scenario, a number of political conflicts are religion based. He said he hoped that the newly-elected MPs from different religions will prove they can all work together.

“If you think of it in global terms, the biggest division that’s taking place amongst people in the world is around religion. It’s good when you have a country that’s religiously diverse. It’s good to have so many religions represented. With many of them in the same caucus, there should be room for discussion and accommodation when there are differences,” said Mr. Cardozo.

Source: Highest ever number of Muslim Canadian MPs elected in new House |

Why the Conservative ethnic outreach strategy fell apart: Cardozo

Andrew Cardozo on the reasons the Conservative ethnic outreach strategy failed:

It was that they assumed the ethnic voters were too stupid to hear the Liberal promise and could be easily scared by hot button words.

After years of visiting thousands of parades, temples, gurdwaras and the occasional mosque, and chasing around with foreign leaders like Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Filipino President Benign Aquino and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the 416, the 905, the 604—all those “heavily ethnic” ridings went Liberal.  How could they?

The first pillar of the Conservative ethnic policy was in part that they identified the more conservative elements within each of the communities, no matter how large or small, and in doing so not only expanded their base, but deepened the conservativism of the party.  They were able to attract the many traditional-minded Christians from various countries in addition to conservative elements of others from China, India and all the non-Christian religious groups.

The second pillar of the strategy was to play home-country politics.  All governments have done this, but the Conservatives took it to new heights—an extent to which it was becoming distasteful.  There will always be leaders in each community who will bask in the glow of a visiting head of state, but at a different level, members of the community are saying,  “No, Mr. Modi is not my Prime Minister, it’s you damn it.”

So on both these approaches, the Conservatives were smart enough to understand that they were not going to get the whole community but they could get the support of the more conservative segments of each community.  The sad part of it though was that they had no compunction about racing into a community and aggressively addressing issues on which there were divisions.  Unlike any other political party, they inserted their wedge politics that they use in the wider society, and have left those communities divided like never before. For example, you got a handful of demonstrators from the Jewish Defence League outside a fundraiser for a Jewish Liberal candidate in Toronto.

The third pillar of the strategy has been to play communities off each other, by resurrecting divisions from the old countries.  Taking a principled stand is what they said it was about.  They actively reached out to minority Christian communities from the South Indian and Middle East regions—people who left those countries to escape Islamic fundamentalism only to find that fundamentalism growing here, be they homegrown terrorist or the niqab and hijab.

But here is where the Liberals and New Democrats need to look deeply.  Just because the Conservatives were appearing to be overly bombastic, the other parties should not race to the complete opposite position.  There remains a need to counter radicalism within Canada and we do need to work towards gender equality in all communities.  While some women might cover by their own choice, others are certainly forced to.  So finding that balance should not be eschewed just because of the Conservative’s ugly approach.

In the end the Conservative approach was to focus on the conservative minded segments, cater to home-country politics, divide communities and scare them.  They will have earned the more hard-core conservative supporters for life, but by and large the strategy fell apart and even backfired, as they lost the vast majority in these communities to the Liberals’ positive campaign of hope and inclusiveness.

Source: Why the Conservative ethnic outreach strategy fell apart |