Double standards? PM and Scheer merit sympathy for wish to be with their families

At a time when the issues surrounding how governments and society should respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and the corresponding health and economic crisis, one can never underestimate the propensity for silly and shallow commentary.

And the media also pays far too much attention to these superficial issues.

I am sympathetic with political leaders who want to spend time with their families during these difficult times and do not find the actions by the PM and Andrew Scheer to be unreasonable.

As unfortunately to be expected, some Conservative commentators commentators can’t resist the temptation to take aim at PM Trudeau’s going to Harrington Lake to be with his family.

And also, as expected, no sooner than their commentary and tweets are out the corresponding story regarding Andrew Scheer travelling back to Ottawa with his family on a government jet along with two MPs in a confined 9 passenger jet.

Just as previous columns expressing outrage over PM Trudeau’s personal staff were undermined by revelations of Scheer’s excessive compensation for personal expenses (paid by the Conservative party).

As Norman Spector suggested in a tweet, the government could have reduced the risk by sending a separate plane for Scheer and his family despite the additional cost.

The more egregious examples are below, starting the Candice Malcolm:

While ordinary Canadians are facing hefty fines for breaking coronavirus-related public health orders, it appears that the same rules don’t apply to the prime minister and his family.

On Sunday Sophie Grégoire Trudeau posted pictures of herself with Justin Trudeau and their children on Instagram taking part in Easter festivities. According to the advice of public health officials, Trudeau violated the government’s social distancing rules.

“Even though families across the country are having to get a little creative and celebrate a bit differently this year, we’re all in this together,” Grégoire Trudeau wrote on Instagram.

Since March 29, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau and their children have been living in Harrington Lake, Que. while Justin Trudeau has remained in Ottawa.

As Justin Trudeau and his wife and children now live in separate households, the family should be practicing social distancing.

Social distancing means that individuals should avoid contact with those that live outside their household, including family members.

On Friday Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam told Canadians celebrating Easter and Passover to stay home this year.

“We need to not let down our guard. The safest plan for your holidays is a staycation for the nation,” she said.

Dr Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, added that celebrations should be limited to members of your household.

On April 1 the government of Quebec introduced strict travel restrictions across the province, including police checkpoints to prevent unnecessary travel in and out of Quebec.

Since the restrictions began, police have prevented 2,300vehicles from crossing the Ottawa-Gatineau border.

How Justin Trudeau’s trip to the family retreat in Harrington Lake would be considered necessary travel is not clear.

On Friday a family of four in Oakville was fined $880 for rollerblading in a parking lot of a community centre. The family says there was no indication anywhere that they were not allowed to be in the area.

In recent weeks hundreds of Canadians have also been fined for breaking public health orders, most of them for not following social distancing rules.

Source: Double standard: Trudeau violates social distancing rules

And the similar if not plagiarized one by Brian Lilley:

Justin Trudeau showed once again on Easter weekend that he doesn’t play by the same rules as everyone else, not even the rules he tell us to follow.

It was just last Friday that the PM was telling the whole country during his daily address that you couldn’t go see family for Easter.

“This weekend is going to be very different. You’ll have to stay home. You’ll have to Skype that big family dinner and the Easter egg hunt,” Trudeau said, standing outside of Rideau Cottage on the grounds of Rideau Hall in Ottawa.

That statement was followed up by this one.

“During the long weekend, we will all have to stay home. We cannot have gatherings for dinner and we’ll have to be creative to organize an Easter egg hunt inside the house,” Trudeau said.

So what did he do this weekend?

He got in his motorcade, with his full entourage, on Saturday afternoon and drove to the PM’s summer residence at Harrington Lake. From one cottage to the other, it is about 27 kilometers, it crosses a provincial boundary and goes through at least three municipalities.

In other words, Trudeau did exactly the opposite of what he, his own medical experts and the premiers of Ontario and Quebec have been saying. Ontario’s Doug Ford and Quebec’s Francois Legault have told people not to go to the cottage and to stay in our primary residence.

This is all part of flattening the curve we are told and making sure we don’t spread the virus. Quebec has even imposed travel restrictions within the province and for more than a week now, people trying to cross from Ottawa into Gatineau have been turned back unless they are essential workers.

No visiting the cottage, no shopping, no visiting family, no going on a drive through Gatineau Park. If you don’t live there, you are turned back.

Trudeau lives by different rules, though.

In normal times I would get this. I don’t begrudge him the fact that he travels with a big entourage; I get that being PM carries risks most of us can’t dream of. That said, these are not normal times.

Most of us would have loved to have visited family this weekend but we didn’t. We stayed home.

My parents are a short drive away and yet I have not seen them since they got back from Florida more than three weeks ago and I won’t see them soon.

Health officials warn against visiting anyone that you don’t already live with.

We are told time and again, including by Trudeau, that these are the sacrifices we have to make to fight COVID-19. On Saturday — just before he hopped in the motorcade and broke all the rules — Trudeau invoked the sacrifice of the men at Vimy Ridge to encourage us all to follow the rules.

Then he went to the cottage to see his wife and kids who have been living there for weeks and guess what, they had a big Easter egg hunt outside and posted it on social media.

At times like this, we need leaders who will lead by example; this weekend, Trudeau was not that leader.

He was showing he doesn’t follow the rules he sets for the little people and by posting the photos online, he and his family were openly mocking us.

Source: LILLEY: Trudeau’s cottage visit mocks us and the rules he sets

The one column by Ryan Tumulty who at least gives both equal treatment:

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer brought his wife, Jill, and five children to Ottawa aboard a small government jet, along with two other MPs, during a time when health authorities are encouraging people to keep socially distant.

The government has dispatched planes to pick up MPs in western Canada to allow them to attend the House of Commons in person for emergency votes that have taken place since the Commons stopped sitting in mid-March.

As the CBC first reported, the flight aboard the nine-seat Challenger jet picked up Green Party parliamentary leader Elizabeth May and Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough in British Columbia, before collecting Scheer in Regina along with his wife and children.

Public health officials across Canada have encouraged everyone to stay home due to the crisis and to avoid all non-essential travel and keep a two-metre distance from others.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also travelled over the weekend, heading to Harrington Lake, which is about 25 kilometres from his home, Rideau Cottage, in Ottawa.

Trudeau’s wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, posted a photo online of the prime minister and his three children on Sunday at the cottage.

Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, has discouraged people from going to their cottage properties.

“Urban dwellers should avoid heading to rural properties, as these places have less capacity to manage COVID-19,” she said in early April.

Meanwhile, May confirmed every seat on the Challenger plane was full once Scheer’s family boarded, but she said everyone did their best to limit potential spread.

“I wore my mask. I kept the best distance I could keep under the circumstances,” she said.

May said she was extraordinarily grateful to be offered a seat on the flight, because otherwise, even after driving to Vancouver, she would have had to board multiple commercial flights.

“It was still going to be three airports going through Vancouver, going through Toronto to get to Ottawa.“

She said she was offered the flight by the government and initially told it would be her, Qualtrough and Scheer on board. May said afterwards she was given the chance to object when Scheer asked to bring his family, but she understood where they were coming from.

May said the deciding factor was knowing that if Mrs. Scheer and the children were not allowed onboard they would have had to make their way to Ottawa by commercial flights.

“It is a personal family decision. I am not going to put myself in their shoes,” she said.

Scheer’s spokesperson Denise Siele said the trip made more sense than other possible options.

“This one way trip resulted in less travel than Mr. Scheer flying back and forth every time the House sits, or flying the entire family on commercial flights through multiple airports,” she said in an email.

She said the Scheer family would now be remaining in Ottawa.

“After spending several weeks in Regina over the March break, Mr. Scheer and his family will be based out of Ottawa for the rest of the spring session.”

Simon Ross, a spokesperson for the Government House Leader, said the government has sent several flights to bring MPs and senators to Ottawa for emergency sittings.

“During these exceptional circumstances brought on by pandemic, when possible the Government has sought to accommodate government aircraft requests from MPs and Senators.”

May said she returned home on the government plane Saturday, after the house rose, with only her and Qualtrough on board.

Source: Government’s COVID-19 rules don’t seem to apply to Andrew Scheer and Justin Trudeau

Scheer vows crackdown on those trying to ‘game’ Canada’s refugee system

As many have noted (see below), light on specifics but clear focus on dispelling the (Liberal) narrative that the Conservatives are anti-immigration, xenophobic and racist. Strongest message from him on inclusiveness and rebuking those who are. He has set the bar for Conservative candidates, and no doubt the media and others will be watching candidate nominations accordingly.

Scheer is completely correct in stating that questioning immigration policies and program management should not be dismissed as racists or bigots but debated on the merits of the arguments. The Liberals are all too quick to jump on that charge.

But how these arguments are framed, which words are used, the meetings one attends, the audience one targets are equally important (and applies to all parties).

While the focus on border management was expected, the ducking the question of immigration levels was not. Going back to an annual plan makes little sense given that a multi-year plan assists other levels of government and settlement organizations plan. One can question whether the levels are too high or low in the current plan (a case can be made either way).

The general points – promoting private sponsorship of refugees, emphasizing economic immigration, improving language training, improving foreign credential recognition – are long standing Conservative policy approaches that they also emphasized when in government. Providing a low-skilled workers a path to permanent residency is new to my recollection (current stats indicate that only higher skilled workers transition to permanent residency in significant numbers). And of course, closing the loophole in the STCA with the USA requires US agreement, and the Liberal government is already taking steps in the regard.

And interestingly, but not surprisingly, not a word about any changes to citizenship (the Liberal government reversed the Conservative  expanded ages for knowledge and language testing along with citizenship revocation in cases of terror or treason).

Starting with the points on the CPC website:

As Prime Minister, Andrew Scheer will:

  • Work to immediately restore fairness, order, and compassion in our immigration system
  • Put an end to illegal border crossings at unofficial points of entry like Roxham Road
  • Close the loophole in the Safe-Third Country Agreement that allows some people to skip the line and avoid the queue
  • Safeguard and emphasize economic immigration
  • Set immigration levels consistent with what is in Canada’s best interests
  • Stand up for families and ensure that spouses and children can be reunited
  • Improve language training
  • Ensure that our system prioritizes people facing true persecution
  • Improve credential recognition and make it easier for new Canadians who have existing skills that meet our standards to ply their trades here
  • Work to reunite survivors of genocide, who have already resettled in Canada, more expeditiously
  • Bring back the Office of Religious Freedom so that we can protect our shared humanity and promote interest in the dignity of all people
  • Promote the private sponsorships of refugees

Conservatives have cleaned up Liberal messes in immigration before and we are prepared to do it again… with fairness, order, and compassion as the pillars of our efforts.

Source: Andrew Scheer’s Immigration Plan

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says he would restore fairness and faith in the integrity of Canada’s immigration system by cracking down on those who “game” the refugee process and supporting newcomers who help boost the economy.

In a pre-election speech on immigration policy, Scheer blamed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for eroding public trust in the system by failing to stop the flow of people crossing into Canada from the U.S. outside official border points. The Liberals, he argued, have undermined Canada’s legacy of welcoming newcomers through a system based on compassion, the rule of law and human rights.

“Among the people I hear from most often on this point are new Canadians themselves, people who have played by the rules and arrived in Canada fair and square,” Scheer said to supporters and invited guests from diverse communities during a party-organized event in Toronto.

“They are most offended at Trudeau’s status-quo, where some are able to jump queues, exploit loopholes and skip the line.”

In a speech called Unity in Diversity, one in a series of five speeches on his vision for Canada, Scheer set the stage for an election campaign that’s expected to see divisive immigration issues become key points of debate.

He boasted about the Conservatives’ past record in reducing processing times and backlogs, and outlined in broad strokes some measures his government would take if it’s elected this fall.

Scheer said Conservatives would not set arbitrary immigration levels, but rather be guided on an annual basis based on Canada’s best interests.

“That number may change every year, and I’m not going to get into a political debate, or worse, an auction about immigration numbers,” he said. “The number will reflect what Canada needs and, just as importantly, who needs Canada.”

Refugee, economic immigrant policies

He also said a Conservative government would:

  • Do more to promote privately sponsored refugees.
  • Safeguard and emphasize economic immigration.
  • Improve language training so newcomers can succeed economically and socially.
  • Improve credential recognition to make it easier for newcomers to practise their professions and trades.
  • Provide low-skilled workers a permanent path to residency, making sure wages are fair and taking steps to prevent abuse of workers.
  • Close a loophole in the Safe Third Country Agreement to prevent people from entering Canada at Roxham Road in Quebec and other illegal crossing points.

The Liberals have been under fire for failing to control the border during a surge in the number of people crossing into Canada from the U.S. outside official border points. About 40,000 people have crossed illegally in the last two years.

Scheer accused Trudeau of playing wedge politics on the immigration file by responding to criticism with “rhetoric and personal attacks.”

“We should be able to have an immigration debate in this country without the government calling its critics racists and bigots,” he said.

Scheer said the Liberal approach is “dangerous” because it reduces legitimate criticisms to “cheap partisanship” and devalues the real threats of racism, bigotry and extremism.

Hateful forces

“To ascribe those motives to those who simply want stronger security screening procedures, or fewer people entering the country illegally, makes a mockery of such hateful forces,” he said.

The Liberals lost no time in tearing into the Conservatives’ approach to immigration and refugee policy.

In a Liberal Party news release issued before Scheer was to take the podium, Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen accused Scheer of embracing “the same sort of extreme right wing anti-immigration rhetoric that has become pervasive among right-wing populist parties around the world.”

Hussen also took aim at the Conservative legacy on immigration, saying the party made “reckless” program cuts that were called cruel and unusual treatment by the Federal Court.

“From stoking fear with snitch lines and cutting refugee health services, to running ads that peddle false information and outright conspiracy theories, Canadians know that Conservative politicians see immigration policy as a way to fear monger and divide Canadians,” Hussen said in the release.

Superior views ‘absolutely repugnant’

On refugees, Scheer said his “deeply held personal convictions” are based on universal equality, and said the notion that someone’s race, religion, gender or sexual orientation would make them superior is “absolutely repugnant.”

The Conservative leader also spoke of how his beliefs about helping those in greatest need were shaped by his mother, who died a couple of years ago, and her commitment to helping refugees and the most vulnerable people. Canada must continue to be a place of refuge for those truly in need, he said.

“This strikes at the very fairness of Canada’s immigration system, and there is absolutely nothing fair about forcing the oppressed and the persecuted, like the Syrians my mother helped, to wait longer for Canada’s help while others cross the border illegally from places like upstate New York,” he said.

Hussen’s release defended the Liberal record in office, insisting the Trudeau government has restored confidence in the immigration system by investing in resources to attract newcomers, shorten wait times and ensure fairness.

“Canadians don’t want to go back to the old days and old divisive ways of Stephen Harper and that’s what Andrew Sheer has to offer.”

Source: Andrew Scheer unveils his vision for Canada’s immigration system | CBC News

Commentary of interest

From John Ivison of the National Post:

In his immigration address, Scheer offered the perfect riposte to the suggestion that he is sympathetic to white supremacists and the tapeworm of intolerance and bigotry.

The Conservative leader was explicit – “there is no room in a peaceful and free country like Canada for intolerance, racism or extremism of any kind,” he said.

He reinforced his belief that immigration is a net positive contributor to the Canadian economy. But he was critical of a Liberal Party that has, he said, undone the progress on the immigration file made by previous Conservative governments to speed up processing and eliminate backlogs.

The failure by the Trudeau government to stem the flow of illegal migrants has led to a growth in the number of people who think immigration should be reduced, and in those who have lost faith in the fairness of the system.

Most of all, he censured the Liberals for calling its critics racists and bigots.

Scheer said his faith and upbringing instilled in him a commitment to social justice that flows from conservative principles of individual responsibility.

He said his late mother had helped Syrian refugees settle in Ottawa and that they had reciprocated her compassion by visiting her in hospital.

The Liberals have said they will increase Canada’s immigration target to 350,000 by 2021; Maxime Bernier’s fledgling People’s Party wants the number next year to be cut to 250,000. Scheer said the numbers game is a “red herring” – that the economic and social reality will dictate the level.

But the federal Conservatives have long been pro-immigration – in 2015, levels were at an historic high of 271,833 and over the course of the previous decade 2.8 million people had arrived as permanent residents, mainly from countries like the Philippines, India, China and Pakistan.

Scheer said he would safeguard and emphasize economic migration, at a time when the mix planned by the Liberals will see economic class migrants decrease as a proportion, compared to family reunification cases and refugees.

“We need the world’s best and brightest to choose Canada,” he said.

The focus on economic migrants might reduce the Conservative Party’s appeal in immigrant communities that like the Liberal pledge to bring in grandparents. But Scheer attempted to patch up the relationship with ethnic communities that deserted the Conservatives at the last election by pointing to the things that unite them – hard work, entrepreneurship, faith, family, free worship, and respect for the rule of law.

“The Conservatives are alone in being the last true ‘big tent’ national party,” he said.

Harper won three elections by portraying his party as moderate and mainstream.

By refusing to pander to the resentful backlash against newcomers that has been a hallmark of authoritarian populism elsewhere in the world, Scheer has frustrated his critics and given the Conservative Party the prospect of growing support beyond its base.

Similarly, the decision to drop a previous pledge to balance the budget within two years blunts Liberal claims that Scheer will cut billions from public services. The acknowledgment that he will not be able to make $20 billion deficits disappear in two budgetary cycles is a recognition of voters’ fundamental hypocrisy – they want lots of government spending and lower taxes.

In a previous speech, Scheer said dramatic spending cuts are not necessary to balance the budget – “simply taking a responsible, measured approach to spending growth will go a long way”.

That sounds a lot like the budget balancing itself. But it is very much in keeping with his predecessor’s approach – incremental progress, rather than smash-the-system revolution. That doesn’t seem particularly scary or weak.

Source: John Ivison: Andrew Scheer slowly revealing policies that appear neither scary nor weak

From Campbell Clark of the Globe:

Andrew Scheer’s big immigration-policy speech was not about immigration policy, but about telling the country that he’s not a bigot.

That section of the speech, laying out the Conservative Leader’s personal commitment to diversity and equality, and telling racists they have no place in his party, was personal, and it was important.

Good thing, too. The parts about immigration policy were a bust.

Still, at this particular juncture in politics, it is notable that a big chunk of the Conservative Leader’s speech could have fit in one of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s familiar paeans to diversity as our strength. Mr. Scheer’s speech was entitled Unity in Diversity.

That’s not only because Mr. Scheer has been accused by Liberals of stirring up divisions over immigration, and of being unwilling to unequivocally distance himself from anti-immigrant extremists. It’s also because there’s the People’s Party of Canada – headed by Mr. Scheer’s former leadership rival, Maxime Bernier – trying to feed off anti-immigrant sentiment and take Tory support.

Mr. Scheer presented a tribute to Canadian diversity that ran through the contributions of Indigenous peoples and successive waves of immigration from all parts of the world, closing the list with “Muslims afflicted by oppression and civil war,” and “Gays and lesbians escaping literal extermination simply for being who they are.”

He was going out of his way to respond to what he called “dangerous” false accusations that his party accepts extremism.

He has said that before. But this time, Mr. Scheer rooted that in his personal beliefs and his faith, describing respect for diversity and equality as “one of my most deeply held convictions.” He talked about his late mother volunteering to help Syrian refugees.

“I believe that we are all children of God. And therefore there can be no inferiority amongst human beings. And that equal and infinite value exists in each and every one of us,” he said. “I find the notion that one’s race, religion, gender or sexual orientation would make anyone in any way superior or inferior to anyone else absolutely repugnant.

“And if there’s anyone who disagrees with that, there’s the door. You are not welcome here.”

Those words alone won’t be enough to convince everyone. Yet, they certainly aren’t the kinds of phrases you will find in Mr. Bernier’s speeches, or on his Twitter account. He rooted diversity and equality in his own beliefs. And it is important for Canadians to hear leaders of their major political parties say that.

The problem is that the rest of his speech was so full of unclear, empty phrases that it won’t reassure anyone about how he will apply those principles to immigration.

After all, Mr. Scheer wasn’t entirely wrong when he complained the Liberals paint his party as a bunch of extremists. Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, for example, accused the Conservatives in January of planning to “militarize” the border to keep out asylum-seekers. Mr. Hussen had twisted a preposterous Conservative proposal – to turn the whole border into an official border crossing – into gun-toting fear.

Yet, Mr. Scheer still uses dramatic rhetoric about the immigration system breaking down, but proposes such vague or half-baked solutions that it allows his adversaries to fill in the blanks.

On Tuesday, he bemoaned the fact that tens of thousands of asylum seekers have crossed the border at unauthorized locations. He suggested, somewhat obliquely, that they are queue-jumpers. But he didn’t propose a real solution to change things, anyway. He said he would close a loophole in a Canada-U.S. agreement so those people could be returned to the United States, without acknowledging the obstacle: The U.S. doesn’t want to do that.

Mr. Scheer said he’d “emphasize” economic immigration, but extolled the virtues of every other category.

How many people should Canada let in each year? Mr. Scheer criticized people who promise to lower the numbers, “without considering the economic impact.” Presumably, that was a shot at a rival, Mr. Bernier, but it also applies to a politician he has courted as an ally, Quebec Premier François Legault. Mr. Scheer also criticized the Liberal government for setting higher immigration targets “without adequate services in place.”

So what should the number be? Whatever “is in Canada’s best interests,” Mr. Scheer said.

He didn’t give the slightest hint of what that means.

No, there wasn’t much immigration policy there. But there was something else – a public embrace of diversity and equality as a core principle. In today’s politics, that matters.

Source: Andrew Scheer’s diversity speech is personal, but short on immigration policy details
The Toronto Sun take by Brian Lilley:

Andrew Scheer says Justin Trudeau has undermined support for immigration in Canada, and he wants to fix that.

Speaking in Toronto’s northern suburbs in the immigrant-heavy area around the airport, Scheer laid out his plan for fixing the system while criticizing Trudeau’s handling of the file.

“Under Trudeau, a record high number of Canadians believe that immigration should be reduced,” Scheer said.

“Worse, Canadians have lost faith in the fairness of our system.”

This has happened, Scheer said, because of the inability of Trudeau and his team to deal with illegal border crossers that — in his words — “game the system.”

Under the previous Conservative government, immigration levels stayed at near-record levels and support for the system remained strong.

While the Conservatives were happy to bring in more than 250,000 landed immigrants per year, they also cracked down on those who abused the visa system or tried to get around the rules.

The Liberals increased the annual immigration target to 340,000 by 2020.

While doing that, though, they have also allowed 43,000 people to cross into the country illegally — mostly at a single irregular border crossing in Quebec.

They have also loosened visa rules meant to stop bogus claims, including from countries like Mexico.

According to reports, more than 400 criminals have entered Canada to traffic drugs for Mexican cartels, and asylum claims have spiked from 260 when the visa requirement was lifted in 2016 to more than 3,300 in 2018.

Scheer says these types of abuses have prompted Canadians to lose faith in a system that, at one time, was a success story for the world to emulate, “of different people — humanity in all its diversity — living together, working together, succeeding and celebrating together as one.”

“One country — the true north, strong and free,” he added.

Source: LILLEY: Scheer strikes right note on immigration

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

A good example of ethnic politics going wrong.

First, an interesting political analysis by Ivison:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or was the plan all along to throw the fight?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rempel would not specify what that reason was.

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

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

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

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

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

Shin said he was shocked by Wang’s comments.

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

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

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

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

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

This is what a postnational multicultural state looks like.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Birth Tourism: My analysis and related articles

The link to my Policy Options article on the extent of, and options in dealing with birth tourism:

 Hospital stats show birth tourism rising in major cities 

Article has attracted considerable interest on Twitter and in the media.

In the Toronto Star:

The number of so-called “anchor babies” — children born to non-residents for the purpose of gaining citizenship — is at least five times higher than Canadian officials had estimated, new research suggests.

Birth tourism in Canada, where women late in pregnancy fly in to deliver their babies here, is controversial because the newborns are automatically Canadian citizens and enjoy full citizenship rights such as free education and lower university fees, even though their foreign parents aren’t taxpayers.

Statistics Canada has, since 2013, counted 1,561 babies — about 312 annually — born here to mothers, whose place of residence was listed outside Canada, based on figures from provincial birth registries.

However, a new study from the Institute for Research on Public Policy released Thursday suggests the number of “anchor babies” born here every year is likely in the 1,500 to 2,000 range.

The study mined the Canadian Institute for Health Information discharge database, and according to researcher Andrew Griffith, the figures — based on hospital financial data that codes services provided to non-residents under “other country resident self-pay” — give a clearer picture of the extent of the problem.

The data shows the number of births to non-resident mothers (including all provinces but Quebec, which refused to release the data) skyrocketed to 3,628 last year from just 1,354 in 2010, said the report by the Montreal-based think tank. It showed the Richmond Hospital in British Columbia with the highest volume of babies born to non-resident mothers.

Of the top 10 hospitals where such births were recorded, six are in the GTA.

The numbers are not perfect because they don’t break down how many of the births were to mothers with temporary status in Canada, which include Canadian expatriates returning to give birth, corporate transferees or international students who didn’t come here to specifically to have children. But Griffith says a conservative estimate is that 40 to 50 per cent of the non-resident mothers were birth tourists.

“How the (delivery) services are paid for is a more representative and realistic measure than the provincial registries,” said Griffith, a retired director general with Immigration Canada, adding part of the discrepancy can be attributed to birth tourists using their temporary Canadian address on birth registration forms and hence not being counted as non-residents.

“The concern has always been these people are exploiting the loophole in the law to obtain citizenship for their children when they are not entitled to that. There’s also the financial liability and responsibility on Canadian taxpayers for the child’s benefits.”

Currently, immigration officials cannot refuse a visitor visa application on the basis of the applicant’s intent to give birth in Canada, though they can assess if the person has enough money to visit Canada, if they will abide by the visa’s departure date and if they have a criminal record and should be barred from entry.

In 2012, the then-Conservative federal government, under Stephen Harper, had considered a crackdown on birth tourism but discarded the idea because the relatively small number of incidents — based on an estimate of 500 cases a year — did not justify the anticipated costs of enforcement.

However, with immigration and refugees expected to become a wedge issue in next year’s federal election, the Conservatives voted this summer at the party’s convention to end the birthright citizenship policy that gives citizenship to babies born in Canada even if their parents aren’t citizens or don’t have legal status in Canada. The motion is non-binding but could be part of their campaign platform next year.

Andrew Griffith, a retired director general with the immigration department, said birth tourism, while not a huge problem, should be monitored closely.

Griffith said any policy decision must be based on evidence and that’s what prompted him to seek out the most reliable data on the issue of birth tourism.

“Is it a widespread problem or is it just a phenomenon at the Richmond Hospital?” asked Griffith, referring to the B.C. hospital cited by the media as the epicentre of birth tourism. “We need data for informed decisions.”

He said birth tourism, currently accounting for roughly 0.5 per cent of the total annual live births in Canada, is not a huge problem but should be monitored closely.

“Using this as a starting point, if we see any further increase or a trend line, then we need to take another fresh look at it,” he said.

The study offers three options for policy-makers to tackle the problem if birth tourism gets out of control:

  • Amend immigration laws to make it an offence if a female visitor fails to disclose the purpose of her visit to give birth or declare her pregnancy to officials. The child’s citizenship would then be deemed fraudulently obtained due to misrepresentation by the mother.
  • Follow Australia’s move by adopting a “qualified” birthright approach specifying a person born in Canada would only be a Canadian citizen if the parent is either a Canadian citizen or permanent resident and the child lives in the country for 10 years after birth.
  • Introduce regulations prohibiting rooming houses and consultant and support services for birth tourists, substantially increasing the financial deposits required by hospitals from non-residents and ordering the provinces to require proof of payment prior to issuing birth certificates for children of non-resident mothers.

Source: Number of ‘anchor babies’ born in Canada far greater than official estimates, study shows

The CP article quoting Minister Hussen’s reactions to the findings along with other commentary:

With new research showing that more babies are born in Canada to foreign residents than Statistics Canada realized, the federal government is studying the issue of “birth tourism” in the hope of better understanding how many women travel to Canada to have babies who are born Canadian citizens.

Using numbers from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), which captures billing information directly from hospitals, researcher Andrew Griffith found over 3,200 babies were born here to women who weren’t Canadian residents in 2016 – compared with the 313 babies recorded by Statistics Canada.

The finding suggests not only that the numbers are higher than previously reported, but that it’s a growing trend, Griffith says.

“(The data) shows the steady growth in the number of babies born in hospitals to women who are residents of other countries, by absolute numbers and percentage, for all provinces except Quebec,” Griffith wrote in an article in Policy Options, published by the Institute for Research on Public Policy. “These births total just over one per cent of all live births in English Canada.”

A petition tabled recently in the House of Commons by Liberal MP Joe Peschisolido calls on Canada to take stronger measures to end birth tourism, saying it abuses Canada’s social-welfare system.

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen responded by saying his department has commissioned research to get a better picture of the scope of the issue in Canada.

“While these statistics indicate that this is not a widespread practice, the government of Canada recognizes the need to better understand the extent of this practice as well as its impacts,” Hussen said in his response, tabled in Parliament.

The department has commissioned CIHI to perform this research.

The issue of so-called birth tourism has been polarizing in Canada, with the Liberals defending the current law that gives automatic citizenship to anyone born on Canadian soil except for children of foreign diplomats.

Conservative party members passed a policy resolution during their biennial convention this summer calling on the government to end birthright citizenship “unless one of the parents of the child born in Canada is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada.”

Leader Andrew Scheer said at the time one of the goals would be to end the practice of women coming to Canada simply to give birth to a child that will automatically have Canadian citizenship.

Other countries have ended or modified their birthright-citizenship laws, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, India, the Dominican Republic, Thailand and Portugal. Recently, U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to end birthright citizenship in the United States, although critics have argued such a change could violate that country’s constitution.

Canada did explore changing Canada’s existing birthright policy under Stephen Harper’s Conservative government. This work ultimately found any change to the law would have significant impacts, according to a senior government official who spoke to The Canadian Press on background.

Many Canadians – 40 per cent or more – don’t have passports and use birth certificates to prove their citizenship. A change in birthright-citizenship rules would mean they’d need new forms of identification to prove their citizenship and get government services.

A 2013 estimate pegged the cost of changing the rules at $20 million to $30 million, plus $7 million in extra costs for the federal government every year, the senior official said. He further noted this did not include costs to the provinces and territories, which would be even higher because they’re responsible for more personal documents than the federal government is.

The Conservatives did not change the policy. Nor will the Liberals, said Mathieu Genest, a spokesman for Hussen.

“The birth-on-soil principle has been enshrined in our legislation since Canadian citizenship first came into existence in 1947. A change to this principle was planned by the Harper Conservatives, but abandoned after listening to the advice of experts,” Genest said. But the Immigration Department still wants a better understanding of what’s going on.

Griffith said he was inspired to delve into the question of how prevalent birth tourism is in Canada after he noted the number of non-resident births reported for Richmond Hospital in B.C. were disproportionate to the rest of the country, as calculated by Statistics Canada.

The data he collected from CIHI captured the number of mothers who paid out-of-pocket for their hospital bills, which was at least five times higher. He acknowledged this would include Canadian expatriates and foreign students whose hospital expenses were not covered by Canadian medicare.

Ontario immigration lawyer Gordon Scott Campbell said he’s had several clients in recent years who have given birth while in Canada while in the middle of legitimate refugee or immigration processes.

For example, he said some women with visitor status live with their spouses while applying for spousal sponsorship, and some refugees arrive pregnant or become pregnant while waiting for their claims to be processed.

“It would seem extremely punitive, even misogynistic, arguably, to say that no woman should be able to become pregnant or be pregnant if you’re not a permanent resident or a citizen of Canada,” Campbell said.

“Are we talking about three people a year, four people a year, flying into Canada (to give birth)?” he asked. “I’m not sure we even have any proof of that. There might be anecdotal proof out there in media articles, but if we’re talking two or three people a year, it’s hardly a national crisis justifying legislation.”

Vancouver Coastal Health, the authority that oversees the Richmond Hospital, said Thursday that taxpayers don’t pay for non-resident births. The agency provided its own statistics, which differed slightly from Griffith’s findings but which were also out of keeping with the numbers of non-resident births in Canada reported by Statistics Canada.

Statistics Canada says it generates its data from demographic information provided by vital-statistics registries in the provinces and territories. Parents complete these registry forms and are responsible for filing them with local registrars, the agency said. Griffith believes Statistics Canada might record lower numbers of non-resident births because parents put local addresses on these forms that aren’t their real permanent addresses.

As part of his response to Parliament, Hussen said Canada does not collect information on whether a woman is pregnant when entering Canada, nor can a woman legally be denied entry solely because she is pregnant or might give birth in Canada.

Source: Ottawa studying ‘birth tourism’ in light of new data showing higher non-resident birth rates

Brian Lilley in the Toronto Sun who also wrote an earlier piece on surrogacy and birth tourism:

When it comes to hot tourism spots in Canada, few would put suburbs like Richmond, British Columbia or Scarborough, Ontario up there with the CN Tower or the Rockies.

But to a certain kind of tourist, these suburbs, and specifically their hospitals, are all the rage.

A new paper from the Institute for Research on Public Policy shows birth tourism is growing in Canada’s major cities.

Written by Andrew Griffith, the former director general of Immigration Canada, the paper reveals significantly more women than thought are coming to Canada to deliver their babies and leave with a Canadian passport for their child.

“The level of birth tourism nationally is at least five times greater than the 300 births captured by Statistics Canada in 2016,” Griffith writes.

Instead of the Statistics Canada number, Griffith estimates that there were 3,628 babies born to foreign parents in 2017, and that doesn’t include numbers from Quebec.

“The impact of this practice can no longer be described as insignificant given its effect on the integrity of citizenship and public perceptions that birth tourism is a fraudulent shortcut to obtaining citizenship,” Griffith writes.

These figures don’t include landed immigrants or refugees, this is simply people who are simply visiting Canada when they give birth.

While some would be people visiting on a work or student visa, Griffith says that even with a conservative estimate of 40% to 50% the number is too high.

His search for better data on birth tourism was sparked by reports earlier this year showing more than 20% of births at the Richmond Hospital just outside Vancouver were due to birth tourism.

Of 2,145 births at this hospital in 2017-18, 469 were non-resident births.

The second highest hospital tracked by Griffith for the paper is Scarborough and Rouge Hospital — Birchmount site in Toronto’s East End and St. Mary’s Hospital in Montreal.

Both of those sites saw more than 9% of all births involve non-residents.

One thing all the hospitals on the list have in common is easy access to a major airport and direct flights in and out of Canada.

A petition sponsored by Liberal MP Joe Peschisolido, who represents the Richmond area, calls on the government to study the problem of birth tourism and take steps to end it.

So far the petition has garnered almost 11,000 signatures.

The previous Harper government considered taking action to stopping birth tourism but with StatsCan saying there were only a few hundred cases a year, the cost to enforce any new measures was deemed too high.

Now with higher and growing numbers, it is time to act.

The numbers tracked by Griffith show the number of births to non-resident mothers has just about tripled between 2010 and 2017.

None of this includes the numbers I revealed in this paper a week ago showing 44% of surrogacy births in British Columbia in 2016 and 2017 were for foreign based parents using a Canadian surrogate.

Each of those children, regardless of the status of the parents, gets full Canadian citizenship and all the benefits that entails. Even if the mother only flew into Canada and checked into the hospital for the express purpose of giving birth.

Isn’t that making a mockery of our system?

Doesn’t that debase Canadian citizenship?

There are lawyers, consultants and “global mobility solutions” experts offering services on having a baby in Canada in order to get a Canadian passport for the baby.

The Conservative Party passed a resolution at their convention this past summer to end the practice of birth tourism.

That move was instantly attacked by Trudeau’s top aide Gerald Butts as, “a deeply wrong and disturbing idea.”

You’ll recall that Trudeau famously campaigned to give back Canadian citizenship to convicted terrorists who had dual citizenship and who had taken up arms against Canada.

His mantra was that a Canadian, is a Canadian, is a Canadian.

It’s a handy catch phrase and useful when the real purpose is to try and sound compassionate and scare immigrants.

The truth is that under Trudeau Canada has still stripped many people of citizenship. From former Nazis to people that lied on their applications to come here.

The simple fact of the matter is that Canadians get to decide who gets citizenship, and we do that all the time.

Changing the law to end birth tourism, a growing and disturbing trend, would hardly be controversial for most Canadians.

Let’s hope someone in the political world has the courage to take up this issue.

Source: LILLEY: Birth tourism on rise across Canada | Toronto Sun

An article in The Breaker on the formal government response to the petition by MP Peschisolido (written before my article came out):

The federal Liberal government says it will undertake further research into birth tourism.

That, according to Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen’s Nov. 19 response to an electronic petition initiated by Richmond activist Kerry Starchuk and sponsored by Steveston-Richmond East Liberal MP Joe Peschisolido.

Starchuk’s petition, which was supported by 10,882 people, was brought to the House of Commons on Oct. 5 by Peschisolido. It called upon the government to state it opposes birth tourism, commit public resources to determine the full extent of the practice and implement concrete measures to reduce and eliminate the practice. Under federal law, MP-endorsed electronic petitions that gain 500 or more supporters within four months are tabled in the House of Commons. 

Citizenship acquired through birth on soil has been in place since the first Canadian Citizenship Act of 1947, though it does not apply to children of anyone representing or working for a foreign government. Richmond Hospital averages one foreign birth a day and there have been cases where local mothers have been transferred to other hospitals to make way for foreign mothers. Petitioner Starchuk is also concerned with the potential future health and education costs to taxpayers.

The 354-word response said the government does not collect information on whether a woman is pregnant when entering the country, and a person cannot be deemed inadmissible or denied a visa if they are pregnant or if they may give birth in the country. But foreign nationals are required to state the purpose of their visit.

“Applicants must always be honest about the purpose of their visit. Providing false information or documents when dealing with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada or Canada Border Services Agency is considered misrepresentation and has significant consequences,” said the official response.

The response quoted from 2016 Statistics Canada data that said only 300 children were born to foreign women among the 385,000 babies born in the country that year. But that data has been discredited in media reports which found public agencies do not harmonize their research and there are loopholes that prevent accurate data collection.

The Richmond News reported in June that many non-resident women who give birth at Richmond Hospital list their address as a birth house or birth hostel where they are temporarily staying. Richmond Hospital saw a jump in self-pay births from non-resident mothers from 299 in 2015-2016 to 379 a year later. Most were from China.

RICHMOND HOSPITAL (MACKIN)

Should the birth house operator list the address of their home business at the hospital’s registration desk, the ministry would not count the baby as a non-resident,” the newspaper reported. “Only when the true address of the mother is registered, does the birth become a non-resident in the eyes of Vital Statistics B.C.”

The response said the federal government “recognizes the need to better understand the extent of this practice as well as its impacts. IRCC has commissioned research from the Canadian Institute for Health Information, which also show the number of children born to non-residents who were required to pay hospital expenses to be less than 1% of total births in Canada, and will undertake further research in this regard.”

Starchuk said the response lacks details about the government’s next steps.

“There’s no deadline, they’ve left it open-ended,” Starchuk told theBreaker. “How long are they going to take to do it?”

She was also perplexed why such a multifaceted issue attracted a response from only the immigration minister, but not the ministers of public safety (Ralph Goodale) or border security (Bill Blair).

The response also said the government is “committed to protecting the public from fraud and unethical consulting practices and protecting the integrity of Canada’s immigration and citizenship programs,” so it is undertaking a comprehensive review aimed at cracking down on unscrupulous consultants and those who exploit programs through misrepresentation.”

In 2016, Starchuk also petitioned the federal government to end birth tourism, but the December 2016 reply from then-Immigration Minister John McCallum dismissed the issue. McCallum was later appointed Canada’s ambassador to China.

Source: Feds to study birth tourism, but petitioner wants details

Lastly, an op-ed by Jamie Liew of University of Ottawa law faculty written before my analysis, quoting my comments dismissing the issue as insignificant given the previous numbers (my position has evolved :):

There’s been a lot of talk about getting rid of birthright citizenship in Canada and the United States. U.S. President Donald Trump announced that he’ll issue an executive order to do so, and the Conservative Party of Canada passed a motion that, should they form the next federal government, birthright citizenship will be no more.

In the U.S., the president will have to contend with the fact that he can’t just unilaterally eliminate a right granted in the 14th Amendment of their constitution.

In Canada, birthright citizenship can be eliminated simply by amending or repealing parts of the Citizenship Act.

In both countries, the preoccupation with ending birthright citizenship is tied to the argument that migrants are engaging in “birth tourism” and challenging the integrity of citizenship. But the facts say otherwise.

As Andrew Griffith, former director general at Citizenship and Immigration Canada, points out, fewer than 0.1 per cent of total births in Canada in the past 10 years (except 2012) involved births of children to foreign mothers. Griffiths concludes, “An impartial observer would conclude that there is currently no business case for changing Canada’s birth policy.”

Aside from the business case, what’s not talked about is how the elimination of birthright citizenship would affect not just migrants, but all of us. Undoubtedly, such a policy would increase the number of stateless persons in Canada.

Every person born in Canada to non-citizen parents would have to apply for citizenship. More tax dollars would be needed to process the applications. Clerks would suddenly have the power to make substantive and legal determinations about the status of every person who applies for citizenship. Like any administrative system, mistakes would be made. Bad or wrong decisions would be challenged in the courts at great expense to both the state and people affected. People would struggle with the fact that they are stateless in the interim.

Being stateless has serious implications.

Stateless persons have difficulty accessing education, employment, health care, social services and freedom of movement. Simple things such as getting a bank account, cellphone account or registering birth, marriage or death are complicated, if not impossible. Stateless persons would be subject to arrest, detention and potential removal to places they may never have been to.

The elimination of birthright citizenship would have the greatest effect on the most vulnerable: the indigent, the less educated, those with mental illness, children in precarious family situations or wards of the state. These are the people who may not have the appropriate paperwork or proof that they do qualify for citizenship or they won’t have support for obtaining citizenship.

This one policy would create an expensive social problem for the state.

The elimination of birthright citizenship is, then, not an act to preserve or protect the integrity of citizenship. The policy is a dividing tool that fuels discrimination against those of different races and socioeconomic classes. It’s a tool to delegitimize persons who have a genuine and effective link to Canada. It would create barriers to important rights that come with citizenship, including the right to vote.

We only need to look at how stripping citizenship and the denial of citizenship in other places of the world have encouraged discrimination, persecution and violence against stateless persons. For example, the oppression of and the genocide against Rohingya people was precipitated by denial of their citizenship in Myanmar, a country they called home for generations.

Canadians should be cautious when considering the idea to get rid of birthright citizenship. It wouldn’t stop migrants from coming. Instead of making it harder to get citizenship, we should trust our well-oiled immigration system to deal with the entry of persons within our country.

Such a policy would not build confidence in the integrity of Canadian citizenship. Instead, citizenship would be more precarious than ever before.

Canadians should also be mindful that Canada has signed onto the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, both of which obligate Canada not to create situations of statelessness.

My father was born stateless because the state he was born into didn’t confer birthright citizenship. It affected his opportunity for education, employment and his mental health.

Being a child of a previously stateless person, I’m proof enough that welcoming stateless persons to Canada with the conferral of citizenship is the best way to build a nation.

Source: Birthright citizenship affects all Canadians

 

Toronto Sun Editorial: Birth tourism growing issue in Canada (surrogacy)

The earlier op-ed in the Globe gets traction in the Sun (How Canada became an international surrogacy destination [another form of birth tourism]:

There were 102 babies born to surrogate moms in British Columbia in 2016 and 2017.

Of those, 45 were babies for parents from other countries.

Parents who travelled here to have their child delivered in Canada, who before they left picked up a Canadian citizenship for their child and who left Canadian taxpayers with the bills for the pregnancy of their surrogate mom as well as costs for the delivery and postnatal care of their newborn.

We know this thanks to reporting by freelance Globe and Mail writer Alison Motluk, who earlier this month wrote about Canada increasingly becoming a destination for international surrogacy.

It’s understandable that foreign parents, especially those who may need to turn to surrogacy to have a child, would find Canada and a bonus Canadian citizenship for their child attractive.

Surrogacy is prohibited in many countries and few countries permit surrogacy for non-residents, let alone pay for costs associated with the surrogate mom’s pregnancy, delivery and postnatal care costs.

Without doubt, some of those parents are likely desperate to have children and may have few options. On compassionate grounds, their desire to seek surrogacy here may be compelling.

However, an open-door policy for birth tourism is also troubling.

Why is citizenship being handed out to the children of birth tourists as a going away prize?

Citizenship is a privilege, something often earned at great cost and difficulty for the many millions of Canadians who immigrated to this country and made it their home.

Why on earth should Canadian taxpayers foot the hospital bills for foreign couples who want to have their babies in this country – $3,000 to $6,000 for uneventful births to potentially more than $90,000 for premature babies with complications?

Is birth tourism something we should be encouraging?

And although B.C. tracks residency data on parents, other provinces don’t.

So we’re not even sure of the scope of birth tourism in this country, let alone its costs.

As Brian Lilley wrote in the Sun on this issue, Real Women of Canada wants Ottawa to close loopholes that permit taxpayer subsidization for foreign surrogacy – something many European countries have already done.

Without such change, there’s little doubt Canada increasingly will become a destination for birth tourism.

Source: EDITORIAL: Birth tourism growing issue in Canada

And the Lilley piece that prompted the editorial:

Call it birth tourism of another kind.

We’ve all heard stories about mothers arriving in Canadian cities just in time to give birth so their child can get Canadian citizenship.

But what about foreign parents having a kid in Canada via surrogacy?

It is happening and it is growing.

In 2016 and 2017 there were 102 babies born to surrogate mothers in British Columbia. A shocking 45 of those babies were born to parents from outside of the country.

Here is the crazy part, you are paying for it and the baby that is quickly whisked off to a foreign land is granted automatic Canadian citizenship.

The numbers, first reported by freelance journalist Alison Motluk in the Globe and Mail, show what experts believe to be a growing issue in Canada.

While surrogacy is tightly regulated in Canada, we are one of a handful of countries that allow foreign parents to find a surrogate within our borders. We also have “free” health care, meaning the “intended parents” of the child born by surrogacy aren’t on the hook for the bill.

Estimates for the cost of an uneventful birth range from $3,000 to $6,000, not including any prenatal or postnatal care. With 45 births in B.C. to foreign parents, that means taxpayers were out $135,000 to $270,000 in health care costs for the birth alone.

If there are complications those costs skyrocket. Estimates say care for a premature baby could top $90,000.

All of that paid for by Canadian taxpayers for a baby that will be shuffled home to a foreign country as soon as all the paperwork is complete.

Those numbers I’ve given you are for B.C. alone. Other provinces either do not keep or will not release stats on the number of surrogate babies for foreign parents.

Whatever the number in other countries, expect this to grow in Canada.

As other countries crackdown on foreign surrogate parents or don’t allow the procedure for non-residents, Canada has no such rules. We also offer complete health-care coverage for the Canadian surrogate and citizenship for the child upon birth.

That means a Canadian passport for life and easier entry, maybe even sponsorship of the parents later in life.

Other countries also make you pay to use their facilities.

One American company offering surrogacy charges a low of US$39,400 in Mexico to a high of US$64,900 for the “Guaranteed Baby” program in Ukraine.

With prices like that, no wonder Canada is becoming a more attractive destination for this kind of birth tourism.

The group Real Women of Canada, which is outright opposed to surrogacy, says the federal government should at least be looking to close this loophole allowing couples from other countries to have their child’s birth subsidized by Canadian taxpayers.

In a submission to Health Canada, which is looking at modernizing rules and regulations around surrogacy, the group calls for non-Canadians to be barred from using Canada as a surrogacy destination, something many European countries already do.

Any discussion of such a ban would be a sticky one for the government, in fact any discussion of the issue is sticky.

Emotions will run high, claims of targeting specific groups will be made.

Here’s an idea though, let’s get better information on this.

It’s understandable that foreign parents may want to give their child the privilege and advantages of a Canadian passport. That’s why we have an immigration system.

But let’s find out from each of the provinces how often this is happening.

Are Canadians paying for the hospital care for babies born to foreign parents?

Are we paying for expensive neonatal care or even IVF treatments so foreign couples can have a child?

Are we handing out citizenship to children that will not live here? And if so, how often is this happening?

This looks like the type of thing  people didn’t think of when the current regulations were devised.

More than a decade in, maybe it’s time we had some honest conversations about what we want to allow, who is going to pay for it and who should actually get a Canadian passport.

Source: LILLEY: Canadians paying bills for birth tourism

No, A Canadian Mosque Is Not Teaching 4-Year-Olds to Behead

Sun News Network at its best in distortion, with Tarek Fatah, not necessarily known for soft views on Muslim extremism, trying to provide Sun host Brian Lilley with some needed context:

However, Lilley admits that he is no expert on Muslims or their faith, and asks his guest on the show, liberal activist/author Tarek Fatah, author of The Jew is Not My Enemy: Unveiling the Myths that Fuel Muslim Anti-Semitism, to explain the play to him, asking if it was similar to Catholics teaching their children about Jesus by having them conduct a play on his crucifixion.

Fatah replies that the scenarios are actually quite similar, as the play depicts the martyrdom of Muhammad’s grandson and brother.

“It’s a Shiite school, and it’s commemorating one of the great tragedies in Islamic history, which is the slaughter of the Prophet Muhammad’s family by the caliphate of the time,” says Fatah, who also notes that he himself watched these plays as a boy growing up in Pakistan.

“The children really go out to participate,” he explains. “Looking at it from a Canadian context, I was deeply disturbed because it means that the indoctrination of 3, 4-year-olds that has been going on for centuries – and which even I as a child in Pakistan thought it to be perfectly normal – how much damage it would do in desensitizing me or my friends or buddies who are now in their 60s as to what is ‘martyrdom’ and why would anyone wish death was a good thing.”

However, Fatah notes that he does not believe that the parents, or teachers, at the Islamic Jaffari Centre are “trying to make the kids into radicals.”

“After all, these are the victims of radicals,” he says. “Most Shiite Muslims today are being slaughtered by fellow Muslims. So that context has to be there. This was not some ISIS or al-Qaida or Taliban type of people.”

…..In the news segment, Fatah acknowledges that someone needs to talk to the leadership of the community – particularly the Islamic Jaffari Centre – and explain to them that “celebrating death, no matter what, is a bizarre experience. It desensitizes bloodshed among kids.”

Fatah is right. We need to start a dialogue so that leaders do not expose young children to such scenarios. But by that rationale, is it not equally detrimental for children to conduct a play on the Crucifixion of Christ?

If this centre is indeed spreading propaganda that compares Jews to Nazis, or are indeed teaching children to behead others with the intentions of becoming radical jihadists, then news agencies, condemn away. But to publish misleading headlines that will only add fire to the flame and ostracize Muslims from Western society – just as during this summer Jews and Israelis were ostracized ample times for supporting an “apartheid” state – is wrong.

Violence and discrimination against Muslims today, whether in the West or in Iraq and Syria, is real, just like such violence and anti-Semitism against Jews is real, and taking place right now. We cannot blame the entirety of Muslims for the threat of ISIS, just as we cannot blame the entirety of Jews for the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir.

Despite the percentages, despite the terrorists, despite Jihad, it is unfair to accuse an entire religion of people for what a group of individuals do. There may be a higher percentage of Muslims who support joining religion and state as opposed to other religions, and there may be even more Muslim terrorists than there are Jewish, Christian, Hindu, etc., but that doesn’t justify always assuming the worst of Muslim people,

That goes against the fundamental principles of what makes Canada and the United States a haven for open-mindedness and democracy. Worse, it goes against everything we are supposed to stand for.

No, A Canadian Mosque Is Not Teaching 4-Year-Olds to Behead – Page1 – Shalom Life.