21 racialized Canadians who could help the Order of Canada look more like Canada

Did a quick diversity analysis: 10 Black, 5 Chinese, 2 South Asian, 1 Japanese, 1 Indigenous (surprising that Murray Sinclair has not already been awarded the Order), and no Arab/West Asian or Southeast Asian. 15 women, 5 men. Weighted towards activists:

Earlier this week, the BlackNorth Initiative made a point that seemingly too few people had realized: the 114 people named to the Order of Canada this year were overwhelmingly white and men.

The organization, led by the Canadian Council of Business Leaders Against Anti-Black Systemic Racism, sent a letter to Gov. Gen. Julie Payette, whose office hands out the awards, calling for change. 

Only one Black Canadian, Denham Jolly, was listed when the honours were announced Nov. 27, along with a few Indigenous and Asian recipients. Outside of this year, the more than 4,000 Canadians appointed to the Order of Canada are mostly white. Since 2013, only 4.8 per cent of appointees have been visible minorities, while they account for 22.3 per cent of the population of Canada, based on research from Andrew Griffith, who focuses on diversity in politics, and reported by CBC News.

The Star asked community organizations, staff and members of the public which racialized Canadians they think could receive a nomination in the future.

Anyone can make a nomination and the nominees don’t have to be Canadian citizens, rather simply someone who has “enriched the lives of others and made our country a better place” over their lifetime. Elected officials and judges are ineligible while in office. 

These are some of the suggestions: 

M. NourbeSe Philip is an award-winning poet, writer and lawyer born in Tobago and based in Toronto. Philip’s work has helped build an understanding of the Caribbean experience in Canada. Before writing full-time, she was a practising lawyer for seven years. Her work includes “Harriet’s Daughter,” “Caribana: African Roots & Continuities” and “Zong!” In 1990, Philip was named a Guggenheim Fellow in poetry. 

Maryka Omatsu was the first Asian woman judge, appointed to the Ontario Court 1993. She is a member of the Order of Ontario as of 2015. Omatsu played a key role in achieving redress for Japanese Canadians interned during the Second World War and is the author of “Bittersweet Passage,” a book that documented the Japanese Canadian community’s campaign for an apology and an acknowledgment of the racism they endured during WWII.

Adelle Blackett is a law professor at McGill University. As a legal scholar, her work has focused on human rights and labour law. In 2009, Quebec’s national assembly appointed her to the province’s human rights commission. She’s received several awards and fellowships over the years, including from Barreau du Québec for her social commitment and her contributions to the advancement of women, and from the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers for her contributions to the legal community and community at large. She was also elected a fellow to the Royal Society of Canada in 2020 and was a 2016 fellow of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation.

Gary Yee is a lawyer who has devoted his career and community activities to legal clinics, adjudicative tribunals, access to justice and anti-racism. Yee was the president of the Chinese Canadian National Council, where he spearheaded the redress campaign for the Chinese Head Tax and Exclusion Act. 

Paul Taylor has worked in food security and anti-poverty in both Toronto and Vancouver. He is currently the executive director of FoodShare Toronto. Taylor works to both feed and support communities while changing narratives and perceptions about the causes of food insecurity and advocating for workers’ rights. In 2020, Taylor was named one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40.

Dr. Alan Tai-Wai Li has been a physician with the Regent Park Community Health Centre since the 1980s. Li has worked in HIV/AIDS research through the Ontario HIV Treatment Network and the Committee for Accessible AIDS Treatment. His work has focused on many marginalized communities including newcomers and racialized communities living with HIV/AIDS, LGBTQ people, people struggling with mental health and addictions, and those experiencing poverty and homelessness.

Lynn Jones has spent her life campaigning for civil rights in Nova Scotia as an educator, and a community and labour organizer. She grew up at a time when her hometown of Truro, N.S., was segregated in a family of activists. She worked with Saint Mary’s University to create the Lynn Jones African-Canadian and Diaspora Heritage Collection, which documents her family’s activism and 50 years of Black Nova Scotian history. Jones was also a vice-president of the Canadian Labour Congress, where she pushed for an anti-racism report on unions and their communities in Canada in 1995.

Vivek Shraya is a Calgary artist who works across music, literature, visual art, theatre and film. Her bestselling book “I’m Afraid of Men” explores the role masculinity has played throughout her life as a trans woman. Shraya is founder of the publishing imprint VS and has taught creative writing at the University of Calgary. Her album with the Queer Songbook Orchestra, “Part-Time Woman,” was nominated for the Polaris Music Prize.

Amy Go has been a social worker for over 30 years and worked to break down barriers for immigrants and racialized people. Go has worked to promote culturally appropriate long-term care through her work as executive director at the Yee Hong Centre for Geriatric Care. She co-created the CARE Centre for Internationally Educated Nurses in 2001, helping women around the globe pass registration exams to work in their profession. She is also the founding president of the Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice.

Akua Benjamin has been involved in numerous community groups and initiatives advocating for change, and challenging racist policies and structures. Groups in which she has played leadership roles include the Black Action Defence Committee, National Action Committee on the Status of Women and the Congress of Black Women. In 2003, she became the first Black director at Ryerson University. She was a social work professor at Ryerson University for decades and is now head of the Akua Benjamin Project at Ryerson.

Winnie Ng is a long-time social justice and union activist. For more than three decades, Ng championed workers’ rights through her involvement in labour organizations and networks, including as acting executive director of the Labour Education Centre, the Canadian Labour Congress’s Ontario regional director and Ryerson’s CAW-Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice and Democracy. 

Afua Cooper has made contributions to Black studies and art in Canada. Cooper is a sociology professor at Dalhousie University where she was the James Robinson Johnston Chair in Black Canadian Studies from 2011 to 2017. She founded the Black Canadian Studies Association and was Halifax’s seventh poet laureate. Her book “The Hanging of Angélique: The Untold Story of Canadian Slavery and the Burning of Old Montreal” was shortlisted for a Governor General’s Literary Award.

Murray Sinclair served the justice system in Manitoba for decades. He was the first Indigenous judge appointed in Manitoba and the second in Canada. The senator was chief commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, conducting hearings across the country on the impact of residential schools on Indigenous people, culminating in a report on a way forward toward reconciliation. (Note: officials are ineligible while serving.) 

Baldev Mutta has been in social work for more than 40 years. He founded Punjabi Community Health Services, which started in Mississauga and expanded across Ontario. He has worked for the last 28 years developing a holistic model to address substance abuse, mental health and family violence in South Asian communities and increase access to services for these communities.

Debbie Douglas is the executive director of the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants. She has highlighted issues of equity and inclusion including race, gender and sexual orientation within the immigration system and advocated for safe, welcoming spaces in settlement and integration. She has received several awards, including a Women of Distinction Award from YWCA Toronto, the Amino Malko Award from the Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture and an Urban Alliance on Race Relations Racial Equity Award. 

Susan Eng is a lawyer and has been involved in community efforts, including as a founding board member of the Chinese Canadian National Council and as part of the campaign for redress for the Chinese Canadian head tax. Eng was a chair of the Toronto Police Services Board and a vice-president of Canadian Association of Retired Persons. 

Angela Marie MacDougall is the executive director of Vancouver’s Battered Women’s Support Services. MacDougall has advocated for women’s empowerment and against violence against women, and worked on strategies to create gender equity. The City of Vancouver named her a Remarkable Woman in 2014.

OmiSoore Dryden is the James R. Johnston Chair in Black Canadian Studies in the faculty of medicine at Dalhousie University. She has studied the experiences of Black Canadians in the health-care system. She led research into the barriers that gay, bisexual and trans men encounter when attempting to donate blood in Canada.

Grace-Edward Galabuzi is a Ryerson University professor researching experiences of recent immigrants and racialized groups in the Canadian labour market; race and poverty, and social exclusion. Galabuzi also worked in the Ontario government as a senior policy analyst on justice issues in the early ’90s.

Avvy Go is a lawyer and director of the Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic. Go has worked largely in legal clinics serving low-income individuals and families, immigrants and refugees. She has also served on several boards and councils including the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council and the Ontario Justice Education Network. Outside of her legal practice, Go organized in the community for causes related to poverty, racism and Chinese Canadians.

Ingrid Waldron is a sociologist and professor in the faculty of health at Dalhousie University. Her work has encompassed the impacts of racial inequities on health. Over the last eight years, through the Environmental Noxiousness, Racial Inequities & Community Health (ENRICH) Project, she has studied the social and health effects of environmental racism in Mi’kmaq and African Nova Scotian communities.

Source: https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2020/12/05/21-racialized-canadians-who-could-help-the-order-of-canada-look-more-like-canada.html

U.S. election results one factor that could impact immigration to Canada next year

Will likely be more analysis and commentary once the results are known and how that affects or not the forthcoming immigration levels plan:

After four years of Canada positioning itself as a more welcoming destination than the U.S. for new immigrants, the upcoming presidential election could change that dynamic.

But as the Liberal government prepares to lay out its immigration targets for the coming year, the domestic discourse on the issue appears to be changing as well.

A new poll by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies suggests Canadians are feeling skittish about any planned increases to immigration next year, after months of low numbers of new arrivals due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fifty-two per cent of those polled this week say they want the levels to stay low for the next 12 months, a figure that can be pegged to the pandemic, said Jack Jedwab, the president of the Association for Canadian Studies.

“When health authorities are telling you that one of the principal causes of the virus is migration — they’re not saying international migration, just people moving in general — and they are telling you not to go abroad, you’re going to conclude to some degree that immigration carries a risk right now,” said Jedwab.

The survey polled 1,523 Canadians between Oct. 23 and Oct. 25. It cannot be assigned a margin of error because online surveys are not truly random.

Border closures, civil servants working from home, flight cancellations and vanished job opportunities have all had an impact on the immigration system: estimates suggest that as of August, immigration levels were down 43.5 per cent versus last year and the government’s plan to welcome 341,000 newcomers in 2020 is out the window.

While the Liberal government has maintained a pro-immigration stance throughout and has begun easing restrictions on who is allowed into Canada, what the Liberals think immigration overall could look like next year will be clearer later this week.

Despite some Americans’ “If Trump wins, I’m moving to Canada” line, the U.S. election might not affect the total numbers for new arrivals.

But it could affect the demographics of who arrives.

Upon assuming the presidency in 2017, Donald Trump immediately moved to impose restrictions on immigration, and Canada’s messaging immediately went in the other direction.

The most public response was Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s #WelcomeRefugees tweet, posted after Trump’s first changes were announced.

Meanwhile, Trump’s travel bans on certain countries, crackdowns on temporary visas issued to citizens of others, and efforts to make it harder for highly skilled workers to get visas would go on to have a trickle-up-to-Canada effect.

How so became tragically clear earlier this year when Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 was shot down just after taking off from Tehran.

Upwards of 130 people on the flight were headed to Canada. With Iran on the U.S. blacklist, the Iranian diaspora in Canada had swelled.

The tech sector as well began actively promoting Canada as a place to move as the U.S. made it harder for skilled workers to get visas.

A study earlier this year by the international real estate company CBRE concluded that Toronto had seen the biggest growth in technology jobs in the last five years, outpacing hot spots like Seattle and San Francisco.

Should Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden win the election, it’s expected that U.S. immigration policy will shift, said Andrew Griffiths, a former director general of citizenship and multiculturalism at the Immigration Department.

How far is hard to know: Trump made a lot of changes, he said.

“It’s going to take a major effort to go through them one by one and make changes and there may not be political will to reverse them all,” he said.

But there is one area where there could be a quick change.

Since 2017, nearly 60,000 people have crossed into Canada from the U.S. at unofficial border points to seek asylum in Canada.

The reason is the Safe Third Country Agreement, which doesn’t allow for asylum claims at land border points, on the grounds that both countries are safe, and someone must ask for refugee status in the first safe country he or she reaches.

Canada has been trying to renegotiate, and if there’s a change in power, the dynamics of those talks could shift as well.

On the other hand, points out Griffiths, it could also result in the number of people seeking to cross into Canada that way declining markedly. One “push factor” sending asylum-claimants north has been a U.S. crackdown on visa renewals by people from certain countries.

The political dynamic in the U.S. will always have a strong and vocal anti-immigrant component that doesn’t exist at the same level in Canada, Griffith said.

If Trump loses, the more “outrageous” aspects of his approach might disappear, he said.

“A Biden administration would reduce the strength of the Canadian advantage that we had in all our messaging, but it won’t completely eliminate it.”

Source: U.S. election results one factor that could impact immigration to Canada next year

Immigration virtue signalling in both directions

My latest:

As discussions about immigration levels and issues such as temporary foreign workers are likely to increase post-COVID, it is important to appreciate that these will occur at a number of levels, ranging from factual, to the underlying values that inform and shape narratives, and to how the arguments are presented.

Selection of facts often reflects conscious and unconscious decisions, which in turn are influenced by our values and beliefs. Understanding these influences is helpful to discussion, as it allows one to engage at a deeper level, appreciate the basis of different perspectives and, hopefully, find some common ground for discussion.

After all, meaningful discussion and debate cannot happen within a bubble of the like-minded, but we all need to engage different viewpoints and perspectives. My personal journey to this realization occurred during my time working under former then immigration minister Jason Kenney on citizenship and multiculturalism issues, where I was regularly challenged with respect to my values, biases and orientations, as recounted in Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias.

Taking a look at a number of immigration issues, it can be useful to try to identify the underlying meanings of common and current immigration “catch phrases.” The following seeks to unpack some of the narratives used by both sides:

What are the narratives behind asylum seekers?

Characterizing asylum seekers as “illegal migrants” fits into a law and order narrative, emphasizing controlled or managed immigration and fairness in that there is one process for all. It implies possible fraud or misrepresentation in their claims. It is a narrative that can appeal to immigrants and non-immigrants alike. But the managed immigration narrative downplays the humanitarian aspects of people, many of whom would be at risk if returned to their homelands, who are worried about their future in the U.S., particularly under the Trump administration.

Characterizing them as “irregular arrivals” fits into the welcoming or inclusive narrative that accepts that how people arrive is less important than giving them the chance to make their case before the Immigration and Refugee Board. Similarly, it downplays the management aspect of immigration and that these claimants are essentially exploiting a loophole in the Safe Third Country Agreement. As the technical arguments “illegal or irregular” are not simple to explain, this tends to resonate more with those who favour a more open and inclusive approach.

What are the narratives behind ‘old-stock Canadian’ or ‘a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian?’

While the former can be used in a neutral message to indicate Canadians of three generations or more, its use more often suggests a more exclusionary narrative implying a citizenship hierarchy based upon the period of immigration, with earlier largely white arrivals more “Canadian” compared to more recent visible minority arrivals. Moreover, it reinforces concerns that more recent immigrants are not adapting to Canadian values.

“A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian,” on the other hand, signals inclusivity, that no matter the time of arrival or their ethnocultural identity, all are and should be treated equally. At its extreme, it justifies citizenship rights as divorced from residency and connections to Canada, as seen in debates over birth tourism, voting rights, and arguments in favour of citizenship transmission beyond the first generation.

What are the narratives behind ‘extreme multiculturalism’ or ‘diversity is our strength?’

“Extreme multiculturalism” signals that the values and practices of immigrants and visible minorities are different and divisive, thus undermining Canadian society and consensus. It implies that multiculturalism is based on an “anything goes” approach, one that leads to “unreasonable accommodation” demands to the disadvantage of “old-stock” Canadians.

“Diversity is our strength,” on the other hand, welcomes diversity as a good in itself. By stressing inclusivity and flexibility regarding accommodation requests, it expands the space of Canadian identities to incorporate other identities. On the other hand, it can lead to downplaying the constraints to accommodation, whether legal, economic or social.

What are the narratives behind ‘social cohesion’ or ‘social inclusion?’

Social cohesion stresses common values and standards that all are expected to understand and comply with. While differences exist, these are portrayed as more cultural (language, food, etc.) than fundamental values. People need to “fit in,” with explicit or implicit limits on societal accommodation. Back in 2009 (the Discover Canada Citizenship Guide) and, again in 2015 (a tip line), the previous Conservative government’s use of the term “barbaric cultural practices” for “honour killings” and female genital mutilation can be seen in this light.

Social inclusion, on the other hand, implies a greater openness to accommodating cultural, religious or other practices and identities. While subject to Charter protections and the need to balance rights, the emphasis is more on accommodation of difference and a reluctance to state limits or qualifications. It can lead to silence on issues within communities about such real concerns as extremism, spousal abuse and female genital mutilation, and the resulting impact on women and other vulnerable members.

What are the narratives behind ‘anti-Muslim hate’ or Islamophobia?

Anti-Muslim hate allows those uncomfortable with the term Islamophobia to situate issues of anti-Muslim bias, discrimination, and racism in the context of individual rather than group rights and those of a religion, Islam. The focus on individual rights maintains some space for legitimate criticism of the religion or its practices (e.g., role of women, LGBTQ, etc.) and more explicit recognition of balancing religious and other rights.

Islamophobia, on the other hand, emphasizes the religion itself, with a greater focus on systemic racism and the rights of the religion as such in contrast to individual rights. Criticism of specific religious practices becomes more difficult as it is can be viewed as criticism of the religion and its institutions rather than criticism of the impact on individual rights.

What are the narratives behind individual acts of racism or systemic racism?

By stressing individual acts of racism, the emphasis is on the individual, the “few bad apples” in any organization or community, with government interventions more focused on education and enforcement of anti-hate crimes legislation. In so doing, it largely sidesteps issues pertaining to societal and socioeconomic barriers.

Systemic racism, on the other hand, situates racism in the context of societal and socioeconomic barriers that result in inequalities, intended or unintended. Individual practices and policies of governments and organizations can inadvertently make it more difficult for individuals and groups to have comparable outcomes to more established groups, as seen with respect to the economy, education attainment, incarceration rates, health and political representation.

What are the narratives behind multiculturalism, interculturalism or pluralism?

All three are “plastic” terms to describe civic integration that range from more integrationist to more separatist. All three can be used positively or negatively. Multiculturalism has been decried by European leaders as having failed at integration in contrast to how it is generally positively viewed by Canadian political leaders and society. It is important to note that what Europeans understand as “multiculturalism” may not be how it is understood in Canada. Interculturalism, while substantively comparable to Canadian multiculturalism with a stronger reference point of Quebec as a French-speaking society, is largely used to emphasize Quebec as a distinct French-speaking and identity-based society. Pluralism is broader in that it includes all forms of diversity (ethnocultural, gender and other) but with more emphasis on tolerance than integration.

Conversation not confrontation

Consciously or not, we all use narratives to drive our arguments and positions. The narratives we use reflect a mix of interests and values. Narratives have elements of identity politics (policies targeted to narrow constituencies) and virtue signalling (superficial support for positions) designed to target and attract individuals and groups.

When listening to discussions and debates, one needs to be alert to the interests, values and signals behind stated positions to improve understanding of them. In formulating our own arguments, one similarly has to “know thyself” and be more mindful of how our interests and values are shaping our positions and narratives. Greater awareness should allow for deeper conversations that either clarify points of divergence or, ideally, commonalities that bridge differences or at least improve civility.

Source: Immigration virtue signalling in both directions

Canada’s federal security and intelligence establishment encouraging employees to self-identify

Further to the earlier Hill Times story. Having gone through some of the recent reports (still awaiting a few), my general observation is the lower the representation numbers, the longer the reports and the more words describing the various initiatives underway). That being said, their cultures are different from elsewhere in the public service and thus the challenges greater:

A number of organizations in Canada’s security and intelligence establishment, including the Communications Security Establishment, the Canadian Security and Intelligence Community, the Department of National Defence, and the Canada Border Services Agency have been conducting campaigns to encourage employees who belong to one of the four designated groups listed in the Employment Equity Act—women, Indigenous people, members of a visible minority, and people with a disability—to self-identify, as part of their efforts to improve data collection and hiring practices.

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, composed of 11 MPs and Senators and chaired by Liberal MP David McGuinty (Ottawa South, Ont.), focused on diversity and inclusion issues in the security and intelligence community in its most recent annual report.

The report notes that one of the challenges in the security and intelligence committee surrounds voluntary self-identification.

But the report also notes that “self-identification campaigns and internal communications are [a] way organizations try to increase awareness on these issues,” and that the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), and the Department of National Defence (DND) have conducted campaigns to “demystify the self-identification process and encourage employees to self identify.”

The Hill Times reached out to the four organizations noted in the report for more information on how they have done that.

Communications Security Establishment

Diversity and inclusion is an important element in ensuring that the Canadian security and intelligence community can effectively protect Canada, said Ryan Foreman, a media relations representative with the Communications Security Establishment (CSE).

Mr. Foreman outlined a number of initiatives undertaken by the CSE to encourage self-identification, including a 2017 push to increase organizational awareness of the requirements of the Employment Equity Act, and to explain how a diverse workforce strengthens CSE’s ability to deliver on its mandate.

“This included providing data to managers, and developing strategies to attract job applicants from underrepresented groups,” said Mr. Foreman, who also noted that CSE launched a self-identification campaign called “Show us what CSE is made of,” which was designed to encourage employees to self-identify.

“The messaging for this campaign communicated the importance of employment equity data and its impact on other organizational initiatives, such as recruitment and training,” said Mr. Foreman. “Both the 2017 initiative and the self-identification campaign started in 2018 are on-going.”

Canadian Security and Intelligence Community

“As Canada’s security and intelligence service, it is critical that CSIS reflects the communities it protects, wrote CSIS spokesperson John Townsend in an email to The Hill Times. “To this end, CSIS has implemented an ongoing internal communications campaign to encourage employees who belong to one of the four designated groups listed in the Employment Equity Act to self-identify.”

“The campaign includes an annual Employment Equity questionnaire among other tools to advise employees on the importance of self-identification.”

Ninety per cent of CSIS employees have engaged with these tools, according to Mr. Townsend.

“The work of making CSIS more representative of Canada is never finished but our commitment is steadfast and our efforts continue,” wrote Mr. Townsend.

Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces

Staff at the Department of National Defence and members of Canadian Armed Forces have returned self-identification forms at a greater rate this year than in the past, thanks to organizational efforts to spread the word about the importance of self-identification, according to Major Smyth, spokesperson for DND.

The Employment Equity Act requires that every member be provided the opportunity to self-identify as a member of a designated group, but it remains voluntary to do so.

As such, employment equity representation rates are based on a voluntary process and may not represent the actual employment equity representation in CAF, according to Mr. Smyth.

“Overall, the CAF continues to improve upon its self-identification return rates,” said Mr. Smyth. “The first part of the self-identification form is a personal identification portion. For this portion, the regular force achieved its highest return rate yet with 97.5 per cent of [members] having had the opportunity to self-identify as a member of a designated employment equity group.”

“While the return rates are lower in the primary reserve units, the CAF saw an overall increase in self-identification as designated group members from both regular force and primary reserve members compared to 2017/18.”

“Current representation rates, as of July 2020, for the regular force and the primary reserves combined, were as follows: women, 16 per cent; visible minorities, 9.3 per cent; and Indigenous Peoples, 2.8 per cent.”

DND/CAF did not identify the representation of persons with disabilities as of July 2020 in their response to The Hill Times.

The CAF works closely with Statistics Canada to ensure that “labour market data they provide, and upon which the CAF sets its employment equity representation rate goals, is reflective of the unique occupations and employment criteria of the CAF.”

“DND/CAF is committed to reflecting the Canadian ideals of diversity, respect and inclusion. Both long and short term goals have been created, based on the labour market analysis provided by Statistics Canada. We review our progress regularly to ensure that we are always working towards increasing representation rates,” said Mr. Smyth.”

Canadian Border Services Agency

The Canada Border Services Agency’s campaign encouraging self-identification began in 2017 and was repeated in 2018, according to Jacqueline Callin, spokesperson with the agency.

“They stressed the importance of understanding our workforce composition and reinforced that employee information would be protected. Recognizing that the Agency’s manual process might be contributing to response rates of 61 per cent, an online form was piloted with success in 2019 and was set to be launched in March 2020 as part of our ‘Your Voice Matters’ campaign. It has been postponed due to the current COVID-19 pandemic and current efforts are focused on how best to virtually promote self-identification,” she said.

Employment Equity Act ‘has served Canada and the public service well,’ says expert

Andrew Griffith, who is the former director general for Citizenship and Multiculturalism and has worked for a variety of government departments in Canada and abroad, told The Hill Times that the Employment Equity Act has served Canada and the public service well, and that the diversity of virtually every group has increased since the act was introduced.

“So the basic structure of the act, I think, has worked in the reporting structure and the data collection, and the publicity that comes with the results,” said Mr. Griffith, who is a fellow of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute and Environics Institute.

“But if you re-open the act, I’m just not sure that it’s worth all that much effort, time, and invariable divisiveness and controversies that it will raise,” said Mr. Griffith. “I’m thinking that if you want to use government time wisely, it would be more effective, I would think, [to look] at specific anti-racism initiatives and look at some of the specific barriers rather than a wholesale of revision of the act, because I think the challenge is less with the act and more with some of the practical stuff.”

Source: Canada’s federal security and intelligence establishment encouraging employees to self-identify

Immigrants urge government to deliver on promise to wipe out citizenship fee

Of note. Applications dipped to about 17,000 monthly in November and December 2019 from an average of close to 24,000 in previous months, perhaps in anticipation of fee elimination:

As the U.S. moves to hike the fee to become an American citizen, Canada plans to eliminate the cost entirely.

Yet nearly a year after the Liberals made an election campaign promise to waive the $630 fee, newcomers to Canada who are now feeling a financial pinch from the pandemic are still waiting for the government to deliver.

Faizan Malik says coming up with that amount for himself and his wife is a “big problem,” especially since he is working reduced hours and facing higher costs of living due to COVID-19. With a single income between them, and because they’re helping to support family members in his native Pakistan, he said it’s tough to put any savings aside.

“It’s kind of difficult for me to scramble that amount of money, and if it’s that difficult for me, I wonder how difficult it would be for a new immigrant or a family of four,” he said.

Malik, a Toronto-based supply chain specialist, says even if the Liberal government doesn’t waive the fee completely, he would welcome a reduction in the amount to make it more affordable.

“Right now I’m just holding my horses and waiting for the right time if something happens, otherwise it’s very difficult to file with the current fee,” he said.

Citizenship gives a person the right to vote and to obtain a passport, and provides a sense of belonging in Canadian society. Some employers, including the Canadian Armed Forces, require citizenship.

The processing fee is $530, which was increased from $100 by the previous Conservative government, plus a $100 “right of citizenship” fee.

The Liberals promised to waive the fee during the fall 2019 election campaign.

Fall campaign commitment

“Becoming a citizen allows new immigrants to fully participate in Canadian society, and the process of granting citizenship is a government service, not something that should be paid for with a user fee. To make citizenship more affordable, we will make the application process free for those who have fulfilled the requirements needed to obtain it,” reads the Liberal campaign platform.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino was also instructed to follow through on that promise in his Dec. 13, 2019 mandate letter. The department will lose $400 million over four years if the fee is eliminated.

The minister’s spokesperson Kevin Lemkay says the Liberal government has made citizenship more accessible by cutting wait times and loosening the language, residency and other requirements to obtain citizenship.

“Our government places great value on Canadian citizenship and is committed to removing barriers and helping newcomers achieve citizenship faster while also protecting the integrity of the program,” he said.

Lemkay said the government remains committed to bringing forward a plan to eliminate the fees, but did not offer a time frame of when that would happen.

The planned move in Canada is in stark contrast to the U.S., where President Donald Trump is nearly doubling the cost of becoming a citizen by hiking the fee to $1,170 US from $640. That, and other immigration fee changes, are scheduled to come into effect in October.

Abhishek Rawat has been “waiting anxiously” for the Liberals to waive the fee, calling it “steep” for people like him with reduced incomes due to the pandemic. Rawat, a Toronto physicist, expects the promise has fallen through the cracks because the government is preoccupied with the pandemic.”I understand the government has due process to go through before they can eliminate the fees. On the other hand just last month they raised the fees for permanent residency applications. So they can move fast if they want,” he said.

‘In Canada’s interest’

Sharry Aiken, an associate professor of immigration law at Queen’s University, urged the government to move.

“It is in Canada’s interest to naturalize newcomers as fast and as efficiently as possible once they are otherwise eligible,” she said. “For many the presence of a fee is a barrier, and they will put off applying simply for financial reasons.”

Even though fees are reduced for children, a family of four would be required to pay $1,460, which Aiken says is prohibitive for many on tight budgets.

Andrew Griffith, author, former senior immigration official and fellow of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, favours a reduced fee over an outright elimination. But since the government has made the commitment, he said it should follow through on it.

Griffith said it could be done quickly with a regulatory change.

The markedly different course that Canada is taking compared to the U.S. underscores the sharp contrast in immigration policies, he said.

“It’s part of the government’s efforts to have an overall message that immigration is good for the country; We want to increase the levels of immigration, they’ll make a contribution both in the short term and the longer term in terms of the demographics and we want you to feel part of the country,” he said.

Source: Immigrants urge government to deliver on promise to wipe out citizenship fee

Disaggregated data key to ensuring representative workplaces, say experts, as PMO skirts Black staff statistic

Partial data on political staffer diversity, with a very low response rate:

A recent Hill Times survey seeking to understand the demographics of staff on Parliament Hill found that, among a small pool of respondent MP offices, 42 per cent of staff identified as a visible minority, while 5.3 per cent identified as Black, but a comparison to cabinet offices, including the Prime Minister’s Office, isn’t possible after a separate survey was circulated by the PMO that excluded a specific category on staffers who identified as Black.  

Instead, results from the PMO, which are said to include responses from a little more than 560 staffers across all cabinet offices and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s (Papineau, Que.), offered an aggregated percentage of staff who identified as “racialized/visible minority/a person of colour.”

But truly addressing gaps in diversity and representation requires being willing to talk about the numbers and breaking them down, “particularly along racial lines,” said York University professor Lorne Foster, as barriers to inclusion—and their solutions—are unique to different groups.

“In education for instance … a large number of the visible minority category are doing quite well in school, but when you disaggregate the data you find that South Asians do well, but Blacks don’t do well,” said Prof. Foster, who is director of York’s Institute for Social Research. 

Moreover, ensuring a truly representative workforce means going beyond just “diversity by the numbers” to look at occupational mobility, who holds senior positions of power, how diversity is being harnessed and empowered, and how diverse perspectives are being integrated into organizational frameworks, he said.

“If you don’t have that disaggregated data, you really don’t know where the gaps are and you really cannot get to any problems or vulnerability, or even develop constructive workplace policies. You know, there’s an old saying, it’s been said a million times but it’s worth noting again: what gets measured gets done,” said Prof. Foster, noting “consistent” calls from the Black community, and others, for disaggregated data across various issues and sectors. “It’s the only way to comprehensively deal with problems that have been with us for centuries.”

“By staying away from those numbers, putting their head in a hole, then they’re actually preserving their own interests, but it really doesn’t do anything for an inclusive and empowering society and the representative society that we all want and we all talk about,” he said.

Recent widespread anti-Black racism and police brutality protests have put a spotlight on diversity and representation among Canada’s public institutions.

Last fall, The Hill Times collaborated with The Samara Centre for Democracy and researchers Jerome Black and Andrew Griffith to analyze more than 1,700 candidates running for the Liberals, Conservatives, NDP, Greens, and the People’s Party in 2019. Compiled through candidate biographies, media articles, social media and the like, it found 16.5 per cent of candidates were from a visible minority group, with 2.8 per cent identified as Black, and 3.7 per cent as Indigenous.

Of the 338 MPs elected, roughly 15.1 per cent belong to a visible minority group—within that, five MPs, or 1.5 per cent, are Black—and almost three per cent (10 MPs) are Indigenous. Within Mr. Trudeau’s 36-member cabinet, seven ministers (19.4 per cent) are a visible minority, just one of whom is Black, and one is Indigenous. 

Mr. Griffith similarly spoke to the need for disaggregated data, noting that, through his research, when it comes to political representation, often “South Asians tend to be overrepresented in relation to their share of the population, whereas Blacks are underrepresented and Filipinos are underrepresented.”

While there may be seen to be “less everyday racism in the street” in Canada as compared to the U.S., the story is reversed when it comes to institutional racism and systemic discrimination, said Prof. Foster, with far more instances of Black people in positions of power, as elected officials and otherwise, south of the border.

“It’s really quite remarkable and distinctive in terms of its difference with the Canadian scene,” he said, noting that within Canada’s federal public service, the highest-level Black public servant is the assistant deputy minister for Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada, Caroline Xavier, who was appointed in February and stands alone at her level. 

Just as important as elected officials are the staff who support them—the people at the table or behind the keyboard when laws are being drafted, debated, amended, and passed.

Low response rate, aggregated categories cloud survey findings 

To conduct its survey, The Hill Times reached out to a total of 386 offices on Parliament Hill, including all 338 MPs, all opposition leader offices, House leaders, Whips, research bureaus, 36 ministers’ offices, and the PMO. In reaching out, it was indicated responses would be reported on in aggregate with other like offices. 

The survey was voluntary, and based entirely on self-identification by staff. Offices were asked for a total count of full-time staff (both on the Hill and in riding offices), a gender breakdown (male, female, or non-binary), and how many staff identify as a visible minority, Black, or Indigenous. Offices were also asked about their hiring practices, namely: what they’ve done to ensure diversity in hiring and whether approaches were being reconsidered. For ministers’ offices and the PMO, an extra question was included regarding how many EX-level staff—a Treasury Board Secretariat designation that refers to the senior-most level of ministerial staff, like directors and chiefs of staff—identify as Black or Indigenous.

Questions were sent to offices by email on June 16 and 17, with a deadline of June 29 to respond.

It’s important to note that, along with being based on self-identification, the survey did not capture part-time staff, students, or interns—a decision contested by at least one office, noting an increased level of part-time staff due to efforts to provide flexible work arrangements. 

In the end, excluding cabinet and the PMO, The Hill Times received 38 responses from 36 MP offices, the Liberal research bureau, and the Liberal Whip’s office. Among MPs, 26 of the 36 respondents were Liberal, six were Conservative, three were NDP, and one Bloc Québécois, for a total response rate of about 10 per cent.

Based on Elections Canada’s riding assessments, of those MPs who responded, 27 represent urban ridings, five represent urban/rural ridings, and four represent rural/urban ridings. 

One MP office that responded declined to provide a gender breakdown, and another declined to provide a breakdown of Black or Indigenous staff. In turn, percentages for those categories were calculated using modified total staff counts. 

In all, these 38 offices reported a total of 212 full-time staff, of whom 119 identified as women (57.2 per cent), 88 as men (42.3 per cent), and one as non-binary (0.5 per cent), and 89 identified as a visible minority (42 per cent). Eleven staff identified as Black (5.3 per cent of the adjusted total), while five identified as Indigenous (2.4 per cent).

Graph created with Infogram

Reacting to The Hill Times’ findings from MPs, Mr. Griffith said he was “surprised” at the “very high percentage of visible minority staffers,” but stressed it’s hard to draw conclusions as the results don’t reflect “the total universe of MPs and their staff” due to the small sample size and self-identifying nature of the survey. Mr. Griffith also hypothesized that MPs from more diverse ridings—namely, urban ridings, which 75 per cent of MP respondents were—may be more likely to have diverse offices. 

The results are different when it comes to cabinet and the PMO.

Though The Hill Times reached out to these offices individually with a similar set of survey questions, only one minister’s office responded directly, and in doing so, declined to provide a specific breakdown of Black or Indigenous staff.

Instead, The Hill Times understands the PMO circulated a different, voluntary survey among ministers’ offices, with responses collected and aggregated by the PMO before being emailed on the evening of July 3. 

While these findings in ways present more data than was sought—providing insights into language, disability, and LGBTQ2 diversity among political staff—they also lack one of the two key aspects The Hill Timessought to understand, specifically: how many political staff identify as Black. Instead, numbers were provided for staff who identify as “racialized/visible minority/a person of colour” as one combined category. 

“As many of the offices you surveyed have a smaller number of staff, information shared detailing individual’s race and gender by each office could very much identify individual staff. So to ensure the privacy of individuals is maintained, we asked Minister’s Offices to share information in a manner that was both anonymous and voluntary,” said PMO press secretary Alex Wellstead in an email. 

“With that in mind, we sent a confidential survey to staff to help collect information on the diversity of our team.”

Graph created with Infogram

In all, the PMO reported a response rate of 82 per cent to its survey, with a little more than 560 respondents from all ministers’ offices, including the PMO. The Hill Times was only provided the aggregated, total percentages for each category.

Of the total, 24.7 per cent of staff identified as racialized/visible minority/a person of colour and 3.4 per cent identified as Indigenous; 51.2 per cent identified as male and 48 per cent as female; 2.3 per cent identified as a person with a disability; 15.8 per cent identified as LGBTQ2; 68.5 per cent identified English as their first language, while 23.8 per cent said it was French, and 6.2 per cent identified another language as their first.

Graph created with Infogram

Among senior staff in the PMO and ministers’ offices (directors, senior advisers, chiefs of staff) who responded, 19.1 per cent identified as racialized/visible minority/a person of colour and 1.9 per cent identified as Indigenous; 57.4 per cent identified as male and 42.6 per cent as female; 3.1 per cent identified as a person with a disability; 11.7 per cent identified as LGBTQ2; 71.6 per cent identified English as their first language, while 24.1 per cent said French, and 2.5 per cent identified another language. 

Graph created with Infogram

Picking out the PMO specifically, the office reports that 29.9 per cent of its staff self-identified as racialized/visible minority/a person of colour and 1.1 per cent as Indigenous; 52.9 per cent identified as male and 47.1 per cent as female; 3.4 per cent identified as a person with a disability; 12.6 per cent as LGBTQ2; and 69 per cent identified English as their first language, while 25.3 said French, and 4.6 said another language.

“As all our offices are always striving to provide a safe and healthy workplace, and one where employees feel valued and be treated with dignity and respect, this information will also help us continue our work toward a more diverse and inclusive workplace,” said Mr. Wellstead.

“We are committed to creating a workplace that truly reflects the full diversity of our great country and we will continue to recruit, retain, and train diverse staff from across Canada. The current conversations around systemic racism and discrimination in our society have made it even clearer that we need to continue this work,” said Mr. Wellstead. 

“We will be offering opportunities for staff to participate in future confidential and voluntary surveys to better understand our team later this summer. Topics on this survey will include greater granularity on demographics, mental health in the workplace, the impacts of COVID-19, systemic inequalities, education and training, and more,” he said, noting the upcoming survey would use Statistics Canada’s list of visible minority groups. That list includes “Black” as a distinct group.

The Hill Times reached out to Diversity, Inclusion, and Youth Minister Bardish Chagger’s (Waterloo, Ont.) to speak with the minister about diversity on Parliament Hill but was told she was not available by filing deadline.

Source: Disaggregated data key to ensuring representative workplaces, say experts, as PMO skirts Black staff statistic

Virtual citizenship ceremonies coming for new Canadians whose dreams were crushed by COVID-19

Needed albeit imperfect compared to in-person ceremonies:

Citizenship tests and ceremonies have been cancelled for more than two months because of the global pandemic — but newcomers could soon be taking their oaths online through virtual citizenship events.

On March 14, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said it would cancel the ceremonies “until further notice.”

Dhiti Nanavati has been working hard for years to reach her “life goal” of becoming a Canadian citizen. The Toronto-based software company marketing manager said she was deeply disappointed when her scheduled March 27 ceremony was called off.

“I was really looking forward to becoming a Canadian citizen and not knowing when the oath ceremony will take place is naturally very distressing,” she said.”A lot of personal sacrifices have gone into making this a reality and the uncertainty about the ceremony is unsettling. It’s like you’re almost at the finish line of a race, only to be told you have stop because the race is cancelled.”

She said she would welcome an online option. She may soon get one.

In a statement to CBC, the department said the citizenship ceremony represents “the culmination of years of hard work for new Canadians and their families.” It said it will begin scheduling virtual ceremonies, starting with those who already had ceremonies scheduled and have a pressing need for Canadian citizenship.

“IRCC will then work to implement virtual citizenship ceremonies for other cases as quickly as possible,” it said.

Since the pandemic hit, IRCC has considered granting citizenship only in exceptional cases, to people who need it for employment or essential travel.

Last month, University of Manitoba researcher Adolf Ng, who is working on a study related to supply chain management issues during the pandemic, became the first person to be awarded Canadian citizenship through a virtual ceremony.The government says it’s working out a way to administer the ceremonies that protects the integrity of the legal process and also reflects the significance of the occasion. No firm timeframe has been established.

Andrew Griffith — author, fellow of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute and a former senior immigration official — said that in a pandemic climate, virtual ceremonies are probably the most efficient and practical way to avoid a growing backlog of citizenship cases. No one who has paid the fees and passed the tests should be forced to wait, he said.

But Griffith said something will be lost in the translation from an in-person ceremony to an online one.

“I think there’s something particularly special about when the group of 30 or 40, or however many there are, actually sit down together, look around the room and see the diversity of the people who are applying for Canadian citizenship and take the oath as a group,” he said.

Typically, a person takes the solemn oath before a citizenship judge or official, usually in a group setting. Taking the oath of citizenship is the final legal requirement that applicants older than 14 years old must meet to become Canadian citizens.

A sense of security

“It gives you that security,” Griffith said, adding that a sense of security “is pretty valuable, given the state of the world right now.”

Vancouver-based immigration lawyer Zool Suleman said those who have “gone through all the hoops” to become a Canadian should be granted citizenship, even during a pandemic.

Despite global travel restrictions, some people may still need to obtain passports quickly for essential work or other types of travel, he said. Others, he said, might have other reasons for not wanting to wait to obtain their citizenship — tax reasons, for example, or a wish to relinquish citizenship in another country.

“There could be financial reasons, or purely political or social reasons,” he said.

Suleman agrees that the communal experience of becoming a Canadian is precious, but he predicts people will find their own ways to mark the special day.

“Legally, it will all be the same,” he said.

Once people get to the point of taking the oath at a citizenship ceremony, they’ve already checked off a number of other requirements regarding residency and language. They’ve also passed a test on Canadian history and values and paid fees of $630 each.

Stuck in limbo

Citizenship comes with the right to vote and apply for a Canadian passport. Some jobs, including employment with the Canadian Armed Forces, require citizenship.

Last year, nearly 250,000 people became Canadian citizens.

Yasir Naqvi, chief executive officer of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, said that final step of taking the oath provides a profound sense of belonging. It’s also a way for people to express affection for their adopted home, he said.

“They understand why the process is halted at the moment, but at the moment the delay is a source of anxiety because they want to become Canadian citizens and move on with the next chapter of their life as a Canadian,” Naqvi said.

Soran Kareem of Hamilton, Ont. arrived as a refugee from the Kurdistan region of Iraq five years ago.

He said 2020 was shaping up to be a joyous year: his college studies were wrapping up, his son was learning to walk and he and his wife were on their way to becoming Canadian citizens.They filed their applications in October 2019 but are now in limbo due to delays caused by the pandemic.

“We have been living in stress and uncertainty because we do not know when we can do the test and the ceremony,” he said.

“My wife and I have a lot of stress and worry about this situation because we have many plans (for) when we get the citizenship, especially for studying and moving to another city. We cannot do anything because we do not want to change our address. That could make the citizenship process longer.”

Kareem said allowing people go through the citizenship process online could put to rest many of those concerns.

Parvinder Singh of Toronto took his test on March 10 and hasn’t heard anything since. He said he understands the unprecedented situation officials are dealing with but hopes the government will act fast to help those waiting for citizenship.

“It’s a long process and just coming on to the last point and finding yourself stuck is frustrating,” he said.

Source: Virtual citizenship ceremonies coming for new Canadians whose dreams were crushed by COVID-19

‘Non-advertising’ hiring up due to feds’ new appointments policy, data shows

My latest – links below:

The new appointments policy allowing for greater flexibility in the hiring of federal public servants came into effect in April 2016, resulting in a greater number of “non-advertised” hiring compared to formal publicly advertised hiring processes and competitions.

The Public Service Commission has reported on an overall increase in non-advertised appointments to 34 per cent of hires in 2017-18 compared to 25 per cent in the previous fiscal year, reflecting the attractiveness of this easier way to staff. 2018-19 data shows a further increase to 35 per cent. Greater use of non-advertised staffing raises the potential risk of the “who you know” factor playing a greater role in hiring and this analysis aims to assess this potential risk.

Source: ‘Non-advertising’ hiring up due to feds’ new appointments policy, data shows (Hill Times)

pdf: TBS New Appointments Policy Impact, New Appointments Policy: Annex A Departmental Comparisons (clearer table than in the HT piece)

The risk of oversimplifying the birth tourism debate

My latest take on recent birth tourism debates (excerpt):

Did the CBC Fifth Estate really demonize pregnant migrant women in its investigative report into the number of non-resident births in Canada? That is the argument made by Megan Gaucher and Lindsay Larios, writing recently in Policy Options. A letter of complaint was also submitted about the report to the CBC Ombudsperson by 30 organizations, including groups representing migrant workers. Is discussion of birth tourism essentially a form of xenophobia given its focus on visible-minority foreigners? Or are the underlying concerns of the critics less about birth tourism and more about gaps in healthcare coverage for temporary residents?

Source: The risk of oversimplifying the birth tourism debate

Douglas Todd: How the election is playing out in local Chinese-language media

More in-depth look at Chinese-language media election and related coverage:

The conflict between Hong Kong and China. The pros and cons of immigration and refugees. Beliefs on abortion and same-sex issues. The tension between paying taxes and benefiting from social services.

Specialists who monitor Canada’s roughly 290 Chinese-language newspapers, websites, radio stations and TV channels say the political coverage not only echoes the mainstream media, it also reveals the distinct concerns of people with origins in East Asia.

Immigration and refugee issues garner more attention in the Chinese-language media than they do among the general Canadian public, say professional observers.

And even though Chinese-Canadians with roots in Hong Kong, Taiwan and China show a complex range of political opinions, Andrew Griffith, a former senior director in Ottawa’s immigration department, has concluded: “There is more of a conservative trend among Chinese-Canadians than, for example, South Asians.”

Like other Canadians, the 1.3 million people of Chinese origin switch party allegiances according to broader political patterns, said Griffith, who works with Diversityvotes.ca, a website highlighting political coverage in the country’s ethnic media. But their votes could make a crucial difference in dozens of urban swing ridings with large immigrant and visible-minority populations.

Roughly three out of four Chinese-Canadians live in either Greater Toronto, where they make up 11 per cent of voters, or Metro Vancouver, where they account for 20 per cent of voters. In the Vancouver suburb of Richmond, which has two federal ridings, 54 per cent of the population is ethnic Chinese.

Andres Malchaski, president of MIREMS International, which monitors the ethnic-language media and helped create Diversityvotes.ca, says that, while a large portion of Canadians tell pollsters the environment is their top election issue, that issue is far outweighed in the Chinese-language media by debates over immigration and refugees.

Chinese-Canadian media outlets, including their discussion forums, contain frequent criticism of Liberal leader Justin Trudeau for bringing in more than 60,000 Syrian refugees since 2015, said Machalski, who has analyzed Canada’s ethnic media for three decades.

Media outlets that target Canadians from China are often wary of refugees from Muslim countries, Machalski said, an attitude that reflects the way China’s authoritarian leaders have restricted the religious freedom of millions of Uighur Muslims.

“The feelings expressed by some of the calls and comments on phone-in shows and in newspaper columns (in Canada) certainly support the idea there will be segments of Chinese voters that might even go so far as to support the People’s Party of Canada,” which is calling for reducing immigration and refugee levels, Machalski said.

Still, Machalski emphasized that the views expressed in the Chinese-language outlets in Canada offer a “kaleidoscope” of perspectives, which often reflect whether their respective audiences are connected to Hong Kong, Taiwan, Hanoi or Beijing.

That is especially so in regards to the recent anti-Beijing protests in the financial centre of Hong Kong.

More than 300,000 people living in Hong Kong hold Canadian passports — and Oct. 21 marks the first Canadian election in which they can cast a ballot, says a Diversityvotes.ca article by Blythe Irwin.

The Chinese media is picking up on everything Canadian politicians are saying about the special administrative region of China. Ethnic-Chinese media commentators, she says, are both approving and sceptical of the way Trudeau says he is “extremely concerned” about Hong Kong, while Conservative leader Andrew Scheer went further by declaring in a tweet: “We are all Hong Kongers.”

Fenella Sung, a former Chinese-language radio show host, said that Chinese-media perspectives about the conflict largely reflect whether the Canadian-based outlets are aimed at audiences rooted in Hong Kong or China.

It’s not surprising that readers of media directed at the large mainland-Chinese population in Canada “would think the Hong Kong issue is China’s internal affair and that it would not be appropriate for Canadian politicians to comment,” said Sung, who is a member of Canadian Friends of Hong Kong.

Long-time immigrants from Hong Kong, Taiwan and other parts of East Asia, Sung said, tend to have political concerns that are in line with Canadians at large, such as jobs, housing and protecting the environment.

“But newer and younger immigrants, mostly from mainland China, are very consistent and focussed on economic growth, expansion of trade, less government bureaucracy, and lower taxation. They don’t like social spending.”

Prior to the B.C. election in 2016, some opinion polls suggested that, even while the province’s more than 500,000 ethnic Chinese voters held diverse views, they generally leaned to the centre-right B.C. Liberals, and had almost no interest in the Greens.

In an article on politics and Canada’s ethnic media published Wednesday in Policy Options magazine, Griffith said Liberal and Conservative party approaches to same-sex marriage and abortion have been widely commented upon, suggesting so-called “family values” are important to many recent immigrants and people of colour.

“While the Liberals and Conservatives get widespread coverage of their electoral promises and commitments, the NDP and Green Party are under-covered,” Griffith added, after reviewing 1,200 recent articles in the ethnic media.

“In contrast, the People’s Party of Canada, given its focus on restricting immigration and its initial exclusion from the leaders’ debate, received more than twice as much substantive coverage as the NDP and Greens combined.”

Chinese-language and other ethnic media outlets in Canada don’t necessarily reinforce cultural silos, Griffith says. But it’s clear they also offer a special window into political discussions of particular concern to certain ethnic groups.

Source: Douglas Todd: How the election is playing out in local Chinese-language media