ICYMI: Some parties matter. The Islamic Party of Ontario doesn’t.

Good column by Michael Coren:

It’s not difficult to establish a political party in Canada. A few forms and signatures, a handful of supporters, and any of us can pretend to be aspiring premiers and prime ministers. Some parties matter, while others simply don’t. I’m reminded of Monty Python’s “Election Night Special” with its Silly Party, Sensible Party, and Very Silly Party. Now we have something called the Islamic Party of Ontario, which, according to the usual suspects on the political hard right, is an existential threat to all we hold sacred.

Well-known journalist Tarek Fatah wrote a column in the Toronto Sun about the new party, claiming that its founder, Jawed Anwar, had previously condemned him as an enemy of Islam who therefore deserved to die. If this is so, it’s deplorable. The column was syndicated throughout Canada, and picked up and commented on abroad. But it all seems a little tenuous, and the so-called party something of an illusion.

When this story broke, Anwar had a derisory 60 followers on Twitter, most of them conservatives, anti-Muslims, and bots. After Fatah’s column appeared, and various conservative writers and hard-right social-media warriors had screamed about this terrible foe of Canadian values, his followers increased to 160, including bizarre nationalist Faith Goldy, other well-known right-wing figures, and even some branches of the Conservative Party.

It all seems rather curious and odd, especially since Anwar has publicly and aggressively supported Ontario Premier Doug Ford. It’s also significant that Anwar and his party seem to be largely anonymous within the Muslim community, and when Muslim leaders have been informed about the new organization, they condemn it, not support it.

There is something else, and something that is deeply disturbing. A video purporting to be in support of this new party suddenly featured on social media, and was viewed numerous times. It labels itself a “Message for LGBTQ from the Islamic Party of Ontario,” and is hosted by a man dressed in what appears to be cartoon Muslim dress. He speaks of murdering gay people by fire or by sword, or throwing them from the tops of tall buildings. He purposefully mispronounces English words, and declares there is nothing to fear from Islam.

Truly awful stuff. But this man is actually someone called Eric Brazeau, a notorious Islamophobe who has long appeared at demonstrations and meetings, and who has even served time in jail for his dreadful and hateful activities. For this, he’s considered a martyr by some anti-Muslim zealots. They surely must have recognized him from the video, but said nothing about his true identity.

Yet none of this prevented a number of leading alt-right commentators from blogging and broadcasting about this new party and about the danger it posed to Canadian peace and democracy. Candice Malcolm, for example, is the founder and a senior fellow of the True North Initiative. She wrote, “Let’s talk about the Islamic Party of Ontario. They’re already threatening journalists and dissenting Muslims,” then broadcast about what she saw as impending doom.

It’s all a tempest in a teacup, really, and while the party’s ultra-conservative policies are grim, hardly anybody has even read them, let alone given them any credibility. It’s worth noting that the Christian Heritage Party has existed for more than 30 years, opposes abortion, euthanasia, and equal marriage, wants to eliminate secular education and to introduce “biblical values” into Canada. Very few people vote for it, which is what democracy and the right to choose and decide is all about. Perhaps it can form a working alliance with the Islamic Party of Ontario!

It’s one thing to expose and condemn the very real threat of genuine Islamist violence, but another to insist that support for such violence is ubiquitous, and to imply that the vast majority of Muslims support it. This is horribly unfair, downright racist, and plays into the hands of the authentic zealots who want to divide society and convince Muslims they’re not welcome in the West. There is nothing new about such politics, and it stinks of the approaches taken by historical despots against various ethnic and religious scapegoats.

By the way, in Monty Python’s political parody sketch, the Silly Party and the Very Silly Party split the silly vote. Someone should alert right-wing commentators; it could be a story.

Source: Some parties matter. The Islamic Party of Ontario doesn’t.

Andrew Coyne: Andrew Scheer steers hard to right on UN migrants pact

Some good contrasting articles from Andrew Coyne and John Ivison on the Conservative opposition to the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, with Andrew Coyne’s, in my view, being the stronger.

Campbell Clark also, correctly I think, how the Conservatives are playing this as a wedge issue, similar to M-103 on Islamophobia, and possibly to counter Bernier, who will be attending a rally organized by the far right on Saturday on Parliament Hill:

Starting with Coyne:

Since he became Conservative leader, it has been a matter of speculation: how far would Andrew Scheer go to pander to the populist-nationalist right, specifically on the matter of immigration?

His predecessor had pulled in both directions at once, one minister building bridges to immigrant communities even as another was blowing them up. But candidates who had courted the pop-nats during the leadership race had not attracted many votes. Perhaps their moment had passed.

But then came the influx of asylum seekers crossing our border. After that came Maxime Bernier’s dramatic departure to found his own party, the one-time libertarian wonk rebranded as an immigration skeptic. And the question returned: how far would Scheer go to keep  from being outflanked on the issue?

Well now we have our answer: as far as it takes. Exploiting Liberal discomfort over the border-crossing issue was one thing. But with the Conservative leader’s embrace of far-right fear-mongering over an anodyne UN agreement on immigration, we are deep into the fever swamp. It is disturbing and frankly embarrassing to see.

The document in question is the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. Negotiated and drafted over a year and half, the text was agreed to in July by all but one of the UN’s 193 countries, the lone hold-out being the United States. It’s to be formally adopted later this month.

That so many countries saw the necessity for such an agreement is in recognition of the international dimensions of the issue, especially as migration has expanded in recent years. With so many people on the move — some 258 million now live outside their country of birth — there is a pressing need for states to work together. If countries attempt to deal with the pressures of immigration by dumping migrants on each other’s doorsteps, no one’s interests will be served.

Accordingly, the compact sets out a few basic principles to guide states’ actions, with the aim not just of facilitating “safe, orderly and regular migration,” but “reducing the incidence and negative impact of irregular migration.” That’s right: the agreement is as much about reducing immigration as it is facilitating it, specifically by addressing the “structural factors that hinder people from building and maintaining sustainable livelihoods in their countries of origin.”

Among the 23 “objectives” are such not-terribly-shocking ideas as that states should “collect and utilize accurate and disaggregated data as a basis for evidence-based policies,” that they should “ensure that all migrants have proof of legal identity and adequate documentation,” “facilitate mutual recognition of skills, qualifications and competences,” and so on.

Some are admittedly a little more contentious. Maybe not everyone believes states should “provide access to basic services for migrants,” or “establish mechanisms for the portability of social security entitlements.” But here’s the thing. Suppose Canada, or any country, does not live up to these or any other of the agreement’s objectives. What happens then? Answer: nothing. The agreement is entirely and explicitly non-binding, non-enforceable, and non-justiciable.

This point is made at several points in the document. “The Global Compact is a non-legally binding cooperative framework,” it says, whose “authority rests on its consensual nature.” How does it affect national sovereignty? Not at all: “The Global Compact reaffirms the sovereign right of States to determine their national migration policy and their prerogative to govern migration within their jurisdiction in conformity with international law.” It could not be any clearer.

And yet in the months since it was agreed upon, the compact has become one of those bizarre objects of fascination among the conspiracy-minded, in which it has been elevated into a fiendish plot to dictate immigration policies to national governments, if not to eliminate them altogether. As in previous such episodes, what begins on the outer fringes of debate migrates inward: from racist websites to the right-wing press to opportunistic political leaders.

Toronto Sun columnist Candice Malcolm [MALCOLM: The UN Migration Compact – the details are truly worrisome] handily sums up the theory in one breathless sentence: “This dystopian UN plan seeks to erase borders, destroy the concept of citizenship, undermine the rule of law and circumvent state sovereignty.”

It seeks, she claims, “to make immigration a universal human right,” while blurring “the distinction between refugees and migrants.” After all, doesn’t it say right there in the preamble: “Refugees and migrants are entitled to the same universal human rights and fundamental freedoms”?

Yes it does. And in the next sentence says: “However, migrants and refugees are distinct groups governed by separate legal frameworks. Only refugees are entitled to the specific international protection as defined by international refugee law.” The compact is a statement of broad principles, not a body of law.

And yet there was Scheer on Tuesday, claiming the agreement could “open the door to foreign bureaucrats telling Canada how to manage our borders.” The Conservatives, he said “strongly oppose Canada signing” the compact and would “withdraw” Canada from it if elected. To which I suppose the best answer was supplied by Louise Arbour, UN envoy for international migration and former Supreme Court of Canada judge: “There’s nothing to sign. It’s not a treaty.”

Still, Scheer would put us in select company in rejecting the compact: not only Donald Trump, but the right-wing nationalist parties in Europe, such as now govern Hungary, Austria and Poland. I had not thought I would ever see the Conservative Party of Canada among their number, but you learn something new every day.

A final note: on one of the agreement’s objectives, that urging states to “(stop) allocation of public funding or material support to media outlets that systematically promote intolerance, xenophobia, racism and other forms of discrimination towards migrants,” the critics have a point. The threat to press freedom is obvious.

But the answer to this concern is not to give public funding to media outlets — on any side — not to pander to hysterical fears about open borders and shadowy world governments.

Source: Andrew Coyne: Andrew Scheer steers hard to right on UN migrants pact

Ivison urging caution:

The late Christopher Hitchens called conspiracy theories the “exhaust fumes of democracy” — the unavoidable result of large amounts of information circulating among a large number of people.

The latest conjectural haze drifting in from the fringes of the political spectrum is that the United Nations’ agreement on migration, which Canada is set to sign in Morocco next week, will see this country lose control of its borders.

The Rebel’s Ezra Levant called the UN’s global compact on migration “dangerous” — “a done deal cooked up by unelected bureaucrats with no regard for national sovereignty.”

Andrew Scheer, the Conservative leader, said his party strongly opposes Justin Trudeau’s plan to sign Canada onto the compact, saying it will open the doors to foreign bureaucrats to direct immigration policy. He was specifically concerned about an objective in the compact that deals with how media report on migration issues. The section calls for an effort to eliminate “all forms of discrimination” in public discourse about migration issues — which, if enforceable, would be an existential threat to The Rebel.

After question period on Wednesday, Scheer asked for unanimous consent for a statement that urged the government not to sign the compact and which blamed the UN for the torrent of refugees that has crossed into Canada from the U.S. Not surprisingly, he did not get it.

For now at least, Scheer’s fears are overdone. The potential limitations on media reporting, for example, are not enforceable. Chris Alexander, a former Conservative immigration minister, pointed out that the compact is a political declaration, not a legally binding treaty. “It has no impact on our sovereignty,” he wrote on Twitter.

Trudeau made the same point on Wednesday, as he boasted about Canada’s “global leadership” and its adoption of “open policy.”

It’s hard to find anything particularly offensive in the compact — it says refugees and migrants are entitled to universal human rights; that countries should improve co-operation on international migration to save lives and keep migrants out of harm’s way. It is explicit that it is not legally binding and the sovereign rights of states to determine their own migration policy is re-affirmed.

Still, I remain unconvinced that Canada should sign on. The compact also says that states should “determine their legislative and policy measures for the implementation of the global compact.” The very act of signing creates an expectation that the signatories will take action. It’s not nothing.

We have heard in the past about UN declarations being merely “aspirational.” As it turned out, they have become much more than that.

Take the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which was also sold as a non-binding, aspirational document.

When it was introduced in 2006, the Harper government opposed the declaration’s 46 articles, on the practical grounds that previous court decisions had referenced the work of UN bodies and used them to interpret the laws of Canada. One article in the draft version could have been interpreted to mean military activities could not take place on land that had traditionally been Aboriginal.

The late Jim Prentice, who was then Indian Affairs minister, said the declaration was inconsistent with Canadian law and refused to sign. The declaration only received the Canadian government’s unqualified support in 2016 under the Trudeau government. The new prime minister had already agreed to “fully adopt and implement” the UN declaration, even though his justice minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould, called it “unworkable” and a “political distraction.”

Whatever your views on the declaration, it is beyond dispute that it is not merely an “aspirational document.”

In fact, it is now the law, after NDP MP Romeo Saganash’s private members’ bill was passed by the House of Commons last May. The bill required that Canada’s laws be consistent with the declaration.

In the coming months and years, legislation and judicial interpretation will determine whether Canada’s existing jurisprudence on the duty to consult is sufficient to meet the UN declaration’s requirement on the need to secure “free, prior and informed consent” in any given area of policy. Critics argue that the passage into law of the declaration gives Indigenous Canadians rights not enjoyed by other Canadians.

What was presented as a nice thing to do to be onside with a global consensus has now evolved into a situation that could yet result in legislative gridlock, if the declaration’s provisions on the “rights of self-determination” are taken at face value.

The global compact’s intentions may be pure, but there will be consequences to its adoption that could over time impact Canada’s ability to set its own course on migration.

It won’t erase the border but it could erode sovereignty on immigration. You don’t have to inhale the exhaust fumes of the online conspiracy theories to believe that signing the UN global compact on migration is not a great idea.

Source: John Ivison: The UN’s global pact on migration sounds nice — but don’t sign it

Lastly, Campbell Clark on the politics and similarity with M-103 tactics:

The Global Compact for Migration is the new motion M-103, held up by anti-immigration right-wingers as a scary monster that is going to radically change Canada even though it won’t do much of anything at all.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer stepped out on Tuesday to warn, wrongly, that the Global Compact, a document negotiated by many countries under UN auspices, would force Canada to cede its sovereignty and cede influence to shadowy “foreign entities.”

In fact, the Global Compact – which aims to promote international co-operation on migration flows – is a vague, non-binding document full of long-winded, gobbledygook claptrap that includes a few worthy principles and a couple of dumb ideas. But it won’t force anyone to do anything.

So if Mr. Scheer had opposed the signing of Global Compact on the grounds that Canada shouldn’t put its name to long tracts of big words that don’t have any clear meaning just to make people feel good, he would have deserved a nod of respect.

But the warning the Global Compact will put Canada’s sovereignty in imminent danger is fantasy.

This is the kind of fabricated freak-out we saw in 2017 with M-103, a Liberal MP’s motion asking the Commons to condemn Islamophobia. The motion sparked conspiracy theories – fuelled by the online site the Rebel – that it would restrict free speech, provide “special privileges” to Muslims or somehow lead to sharia law.

It was bunk, because such parliamentary motions don’t lead to anything other than a study. The motion passed, a parliamentary committee issued a bland report last February – and sharia law was not imposed.

Now, the same angst machine is working on the Global Compact for Migration. The Rebel argues it is dangerous, Maxime Bernier, Leader of fledgling right-wing People’s Party, complained about it on Tuesday morning. Then Mr. Scheer followed.

The thing is, the Global Compact is a mess of muddle verbiage, but it is not going to cede immigration policy to the UN or anyone else.

“There is no duty on Canada to implement, enact or enforce anything,” said James Hathaway, a Canadian who is director of the University of Michigan’s program in refugee and asylum law. The compact not only explicitly says it is non-binding, it is also not a treaty, Prof. Hathaway noted. It signs up countries for a discussion process. “No government has to do anything here other than show up for meetings.”

Of course, it’s reasonable to ask whether there’s much real point to the 16,600 words of bureaucratic blah-blah. It is supposed to encourage things such as sharing data on migration. The signatories say they hope to “minimize the adverse drivers and structural factors that compel people to leave their country of origin” – you know, like poverty – but there are no firm commitments.

Some of the criticisms seem to be based on a misreading of the document itself. The Rebel’s Ezra Levant decided that approving references to “regular migration” meant that the compact aims to make mass migration normal and permanent. But regular migration refers to orderly flows of migrants through official border crossings and legal methods – as opposed to irregular migrants. Mr. Bernier echoed Mr. Levant’s words.

One commentator argued that the compact muddies the divide between refugees and migrants, but as Prof. Hathaway noted, it explicitly separates the two. Another commentator alleged it establishes new human rights for migrants, but it doesn’t.

There are flaws: circuitous language and dumb stuff. There’s a section on “promoting independent, objective, and quality reporting” on migration, including cutting off public funds to media outlets that “promote intolerance, xenophobia, racism and other forms of discrimination towards migrants.” Canada certainly shouldn’t want state re-education of the media to be an accepted notion in such documents.

It is worth asking whether this loose collection of words is worthwhile.

Chris Alexander, the former Conservative immigration minister, who tweeted that Mr. Scheer’s warnings were factually incorrect, also opined that there is nothing wrong in setting out some principles for dealing with migration. Prof. Hathaway said there were some ideas in it that made it “a little bit better than nothing.”

Mr. Scheer has every right to think it’s worse – full of misguided notions. But no, next week’s signing won’t give the UN control over Canada’s borders.

Source:     To right-wingers,the Global Compact for Migration motion is a sign the sky is falling again Campbell Clark December 5, 2018     

Long Live Multilateralism: Why the Global Compact for Migration Matters

Kind of ironic reading this commentary which includes the quote “It looked like an impossible bet, but the Global Compact has cut through the noise of xenophobia and populism” while seeing considerable anti-Global Compact messaging from many on the right (e.g., MALCOLM: The UN migration compact spells radical change for Canada) and far right:

U.N. MEMBER STATES last week finalized the text of the first ever international agreement on global migration. The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) is the result of nearly two years of intense and – at times fraught – negotiations. The U.S. left the negotiating table at an early stage and Hungary pulled out at the end of negotiations. Others have threatened to follow
suit.

But they did not leave. Instead, last Friday, national delegations from all over the world gave the Swiss and Mexican co-facilitators and the U.N.Special Representative on Migration Louise Arbour a standing ovationfor achieving an “historic breakthrough” on global migration.

Migration experts have a tendency to be skeptical of such language, usually with good reason. However, it would be a grave mistake to underestimate the political salience of the Global Compact, despite its limitations. It has the potential to help bring at least some real change to how the world approaches migration. In the current political climate, that is a significant achievement.

WHEN THE COMPACT PROCESS STARTED TWO YEARS AGO, MANY WERE SKEPTICAL ABOUT THE LIKELIHOOD OF THE GCMSEEING THE LIGHT OF THE DAY.

To begin with the limitations: Like most globally negotiated agreements, the GCM is far from perfect and is not a done deal. For a start, it is a voluntary non-binding agreement, unlike the 1951 Refugee Convention. While the text is now final, the GCM will not be formally adopted by U.N. member states until December at a global summit in Marrakech, Morocco. More states may still pull out of the deal. While it is unlikely that many other world leaders will want to be associated with Donald Trump and Hungary’s Viktor Orban, migration debates are highly sensitive and volatile in many countries, so it is possible that other states will pull out of the deal. Finally, the text is necessarily the result of several compromises, and not all issues have been adequately addressed or resolved. First and foremost of these is the relationship between irregular migration and diminishing legal pathways for people to migrate.

Yet let’s remember that when the Compact process started two years ago, many were skeptical about the likelihood of the GCM seeing the light of the day. Others believed that the text would have to be watered down as to become hollow. None of this was the case.

The significance of the political and diplomatic process leading up to the GCM agreement cannot be exaggerated. States engaged, discussed and found ways to compromise. Many non-state actors – including me – contributed and helped shape the ideas and innovations in the text. The co-facilitators listened and managed to translate the complex political dialogue into a text that, while not perfect and the result of many necessary compromises, is dense with proposals.

At a time when European states cannot reach a meaningful agreement to cooperate while an increasing number of people die at sea, and with Trump pushing an ever harder line on immigration at home and abroad, it is more urgent than ever to commit to discover and test new forms of international cooperation and to explore solutions and pragmatic ways forward. The GCM offers a framework to do just that. In the words of the Swiss ambassador for development, forced displacement and migration during Friday’s ceremony at the U.N.: “It looked like an impossible bet, but the Global Compact has cut through the noise of xenophobia and populism.”

So what to make of the text itself? I see it as a springboard for doing migration differently. Sure, it is long – with 23 objectives, limited internal coherence and perhaps not enough of a sense of purpose. It falls short of doing the right thing on something as important as child detention – where states could not agree to simply end detaining children, but rather to “ensuring availability and accessibility of a viable range of alternatives to detention in non-custodial contexts, favouring community-based care arrangement.”

“IT LOOKED LIKE AN IMPOSSIBLE BET, BUT THE GLOBAL COMPACT HAS CUT THROUGH THE NOISE OF XENOPHOBIA AND POPULISM.”

On matters of migration and development, the text recognizes that migration can help achieve development outcomes and as such it is a cornerstone of the Agenda 2030 on sustainable development. That’s no small result. However, the text also falls back into donor-convenient rhetoric of suggesting that development policies, programs and money can address the “adverse drivers” of migration, when there is little evidence that development aid can stem irregular movement.

Even so, the text is also rich in ideas and innovations; for example, the proposal to establish skills partnerships between countries to facilitate labor mobility.

Is it a “laughable wish list” as someone on Twitter suggested to me? I rather see it as a pragmatic and potentially very useful menu of options – or a “treasure chest”. It will be down to states but also political leaders, policymakers, mayors, businesses, activists, researchers and others to make good use of the ideas in the GCM and to put the text into action.

And when it comes to action, I believe that the non-binding nature of the Compact can be a blessing, not a curse. We have seen time and time again countries signing up to international agreements and failing to respect them. There are limits to how far legal frameworks can deliver on a phenomenon as politically charged and complex as global migration, where the appetite for international cooperation is, frankly, limited. It requires political leadership and long-term vision, fueled by innovation and experimentation. So a pragmatic voluntary agreement like the GCMcan come in handy, as a platform for negotiations, deals and dialogue.

What to expect next? In the months leading up to the Compact’s formal approval at the Marrakech Summit, it will be vital for action to take place at different levels: governments can begin to establish or re-energize bilateral or multilateral collaborations, commitments should be made to fund and deliver specific objectives and actions, mayors could proactively use the Compact objectives to form coalitions and agree action plans. In short, discussions should begin in earnest between all of us willing to make the best use of the GCM as a platform for action.

This is clearly just the beginning of the journey, and I am under no illusion that it will be an easy one. I also know that internationally negotiated agreements cannot resolve all the challenges or make the most of all the opportunities of global migration. But it feels so good – for once – to have something to build on rather than despair about.

Source: https://www.newsdeeply.com/refugees/community/2018/07/19/long-live-multilateralism-why-the-global-compact-for-migration-matters?utm_source=Refugees

Kellie Leitch criticized over tweet attacking Syrian refugee program

Deservedly so. Sun columnist and former Conservative ministerial staffer Candice Malcolm, the originator of the line (The real legacy of Trudeau’s Syrian refugee program), merits the same:

Conservative MP Kellie Leitch is facing new criticism after she issued a tweet portraying the legacy of the Liberals’ Syrian refugee program as a lone domestic violence case involving a Syrian refugee in Fredericton.

Social media erupted after Ms. Leitch tweeted Sunday: “A battered wife and a bloodied hockey stick. That’s the legacy of Trudeau’s Syrian refugee program,” quoting and including a link to a Toronto Sun column about a Syrian refugee in Fredericton who beat his wife with a hockey stick. Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said Ms. Leitch’s tweet is as disgraceful as domestic violence itself.

“It’s [domestic violence] clearly something that we abhor and we condemn. What Ms. Leitch is doing is equally reprehensible because she’s tying in a problem that exists everywhere – both in refugee communities and in … our society. This is a problem that many societies grapple with. She’s tying that in with our refugee policy,” Ms. Hussen said in an interview with The Globe and Mail on Monday.

The column, written by Candice Malcolm last Friday, attempts to make the case for Ms. Leitch’s Canadian values test, saying it would have “gone a long way” in the case of Mohamad Rafia, who told the court he didn’t know it was against Canadian law to beat his wife. The Syrian refugee, who arrived in Canada 14 months ago, was sentenced to one year probation, according to a report by The Daily Gleaner on June 8.

Ms. Leitch’s proposed “Canadian values test” was a key part of her recent Conservative leadership campaign. The test would make newcomers go through face-to-face interviews with trained immigration officers to screen for Canadian values such as freedom, tolerance and generosity.

Ms. Leitch lost last month’s Conservative leadership vote, dropping off the ballot at the ninth of thirteen rounds with 7.95 per cent of the vote. Andrew Scheer won the race and now leads the Conservative Party in the House of Commons, where Ms. Leitch sits on his front bench.

When contacted by The Globe Monday, Ms. Leitch’s phone line went dead. Follow-up calls were not answered.

Asked about Ms. Leitch’s tweet, Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel said she would not speak on behalf of her colleague.

“I’m not going to speak on behalf of one member of our party. I’m going to speak on behalf of the record of our former government and the very positive and assertive position that we’ve taken as a party since the last election on a Conservative vision for helping the world’s most vulnerable, including refugees.”

NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan accused Ms. Leitch of “fear mongering.”

“Kellie Leitch continues to spout divisive dog-whistle rhetoric even after her own party rejected her and her ideas,” Ms. Kwan said.

Source: Kellie Leitch criticized over tweet attacking Syrian refugee program – The Globe and Mail

Activist judge puts stop to citizenship revocation | Candice Malcolm

The usual rant against “unelected”  and “activist” judges (all judges are unelected and “activist” is used when government over-reach is ruled against).

The value of Canadian citizenship was undermined by the “streamlined” revocation process for those guilty of misrepresentation by not providing the basic right to a hearing.

As legal experts testified during hearings on C-24 and C-6, those given a parking ticket had greater procedural protections than those whose citizenship was in question.

The court ruling recognized that, as did the Senate in passing an amendment to C-6 to ensure procedural protections.

As government legal opinions are protected under ATIP (for valid reasons), we will never know the degree to which government lawyers cautioned the previous government on the risks of their approach to revocation (I suspect they did):

An unelected judge has made a ruling that will significantly weaken the value of Canadian citizenship.

The landmark decision delivered by the Federal Court this week drastically restricts the government’s ability to revoke citizenship from people who gained it through fraud or misrepresentation.

The previous Conservative government introduced a streamlined process for stripping citizenship from fraudsters, liars and terrorists. Canada has long revoked citizenship from those who become Canadians on false pretenses – a policy that even Justin Trudeau defended in 2015.

Despite Trudeau’s big talk that “a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian,” his government stripped more citizenships in its first year in office than the previous Conservative government had in seven years.

But now, thanks to judicial activism pushing a big government agenda, the streamlined process will be dismantled.

Individuals found to have lied or cheated to become a citizen will be afforded more tax-payer funded resources to plead their case and appeal decisions they don’t like.

Justice Jocelyne Gagné determined that while the rules do not violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, they do infringe upon Canada’s Bill of Rights. Gagné ruled that those facing citizenship revocation “should be afforded an oral hearing before a court.”

This will all but end the practice of stripping citizenship. It will become too costly, too resource-intensive and too time-consuming.

The previous Conservative government spent years carefully crafting legislation to protect the integrity of Canadian citizenship. They held consultations, worked with non-partisan civil servants and cautiously introduced new rules to crack down on fraud and abuse in Canada’s immigration system.

Now, in a single day and without a coherent alternative, an activist judge has undone it with the slap of a gavel.

One unelected judge has overruled years of legislative accomplishments from Canada’s elected officials.

In our system of government, the judicial branch is designed to be a check on executive power. There is no practical check, however, on the unelected judges who lord over the Federal Court.

Canada’s judges have become super-legislators. They’ve given themselves the power to strike down laws they disagree with, and mask their dogmatic ideology with legalese.

Absurd decisions have become commonplace by activists on the bench.

In 2014, one judge struck down a policy to cut off additional welfare benefits to failed asylum seekers who were awaiting deportation from Canada.

The judge said it was “cruel and unusual” to deny bogus refugees – people already rejected by a Canadian immigration judge – from receiving healthcare benefits above and beyond what Canadian citizens receive.

You can’t make this stuff up.

In another case, legal obstacles thrown in front of immigration officials led to a lengthy delay in deporting career criminal Clinton Gayle. In the meantime, this thug was able to stay in Canada, commit crime after crime, and eventually murder a Toronto police officer.

When it comes to protecting the rights of foreign criminals, judges are steadfast. But when it comes to protecting Canadians – our safety, security and the value of our citizenship – these activist judges are nowhere to be found.

The decisions made by activist judges on the Federal Court have real consequences. Justice Gagné’s decision will no doubt make it much more difficult to strip citizenship and deport convicted fraudsters, gangsters, terrorists and war criminals.

The rights and freedoms of foreign criminals are judiciously protected by activist judges on the Federal Court. As for law-abiding Canadians? The jury is still out.

Source: Activist judge puts stop to citizenship revocation | MALCOLM | Columnists | Opin

Donald Trump’s Immigration Order Is Horrifying | Time.com

Hopefully, the Trump administration will learn from this and ensure proper vetting of all future policy decisions.

But I am not hopeful given their tendency to dig in rather than listen (the Holocaust Day press release not mentioning Jewish victims being a case in point):

The malevolence of President Trump’s Executive Order on visas and refugees is mitigated chiefly—and perhaps only—by the astonishing incompetence of its drafting and construction.

NBC is reporting that the document was not reviewed by DHS, the Justice Department, the State Department, or the Department of Defense, and that National Security Council lawyers were prevented from evaluating it. Moreover, the New York Times writes that Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services, the agencies tasked with carrying out the policy, were only given a briefing call while Trump was actually signing the order itself. Yesterday, the Department of Justice gave a “no comment” when asked whether the Office of Legal Counsel had reviewed Trump’s executive orders—including the order at hand. (OLC normally reviews every executive order.)

This order reads to me, frankly, as though it was not reviewed by competent counsel at all.

CNN offers extraordinary details:

Administration officials weren’t immediately sure which countries’ citizens would be barred from entering the United States. The Department of Homeland Security was left making a legal analysis on the order after Trump signed it. A Border Patrol agent, confronted with arriving refugees, referred questions only to the President himself, according to court filings.

. . .It wasn’t until Friday — the day Trump signed the order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries for 90 days and suspending all refugee admission for 120 days — that career homeland security staff were allowed to see the final details of the order, a person with the familiar the matter said.

. . .The policy team at the White House developed the executive order on refugees and visas, and largely avoided the traditional interagency process that would have allowed the Justice Department and homeland security agencies to provide operational guidance, according to numerous officials who spoke to CNN on Saturday.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Department of Homeland Security leadership saw the final details shortly before the order was finalized, government officials said.

Friday night, DHS arrived at the legal interpretation that the executive order restrictions applying to seven countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen — did not apply to people who with lawful permanent residence, generally referred to as green card holders.

The White House overruled that guidance overnight, according to officials familiar with the rollout. That order came from the President’s inner circle, led by Stephen Miller and Steve Bannon. Their decision held that, on a case by case basis, DHS could allow green card holders to enter the US.

As I shall explain, in the short term, the incompetence is actually good news for people who believe in visa and refugee policies based on criteria other than—let’s not be coy about this—bigotry and religious discrimination. The President has created a target-rich environment for litigation that will make his policies, I suspect, less effective than they would have been had he subjected his order to vetting one percent as extreme as the vetting to which he proposes to subject refugees from Bashar al-Assad and the bombing raids of Vladimir Putin.

Source: Donald Trump’s Immigration Order Is Horrifying | Time.com

Candice Malcolm in the Sun highlights issues pertaining to dual nationals, of particular concern given her husband’s Iranian ancestry, but finds little fault with the other aspects of the executive order:

There is a lot to unpack in Trump’s EO, and while trying to understand the law and its impact, it’s important to separate the facts from the hysteria.

First, and despite the rhetoric, this is not a Muslim Ban.

The vast majority of the world’s Muslims, including all American Muslims, will not be directly affected by this order.

The EO includes a four-month pause on all refugees, and a three-month ban on all citizens of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Sudan. The ban includes all citizens of these seven countries, including Muslims, Christians, Jews, and athiests. The order does not list any religion, nor does it ban people from the world’s most populous Muslim countries.

Second, it is untrue that no nationals of the countries on Trump ban list have perpetrated an act of Islamic terrorism on US soil.

Both the 2016 mall attack in St. Cloud, Minnesota and the attack at Ohio State University were carried out by Somali nationals. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for both attacks.

Senators Jeff Sessions and Ted Cruz released a report highlighting the 580 individuals who have been convicted on terrorism charges in the U.S. since the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks. Of the 380 foreign-born terrorists, 21 were from Somalia, 20 were from Yemen and 19 were from Iraq.

Curiously, the largest terrorists-producing countries, including Pakistan, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories are not included in the blanket ban. Likewise, the 9/11 hijackers were mostly from Saudi Arabia, another country not included in the ban.

That Trump didn’t include these countries is puzzling, and undermines the national security rationale behind this order.

The most troubling aspect of this order is the blanket ban on nationals from seven countries. The wording is clunky – simply saying the US will “suspend entry” for these nationals.

There is a difference between increased screening and a flat-out ban. This is a ban that will turn away lawful residents at the border.

There have been contradictory reports and messages from different government offices, but it seems that the ban applies to legal residents, green-card holders and even dual citizens travelling with Canadian passports.

There have been reports of green-card holders being handcuffed and detained at U.S. airports. This is reckless and wrong.

Trump immigration EO needs major changes 

Trudeau may change law to protect Monsef | Malcolm

Malcolm conveniently ignores that Minister McCallum during the spring committee hearings on C-6 committed to reviewing the revocation process in light of testimony regarding the lack of procedural protections in C-24 for those accused of fraud or misrepresentation: “less protection than for parking tickets.”

So while the Monsef case may have accelerated this review, it was already underway.

And calling C-6 “comprehensive changes” is incorrect. C-24, the 2014  changes of the Conservative government, were comprehensive; C-6 is a relatively surgical set of changes, significant to be sure, but limited in scope:

The Trudeau Liberals have spun themselves into a corner when it comes to Maryam Monsef.

It now looks as if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is willing to change Canada’s citizenship and immigration laws to protect one of his own.

Monsef says her mother recently told her she was born in Iran, not Afghanistan, as she had previously been told.

If her immigration application, when she was a child, included false information about her birthplace, then it is possible her immigration application was fraudulent.

The penalty for providing false representation to immigration officials is steep.

In similar cases where a parent provided untrue information on behalf of a child, it has led to the stripping of citizenship and even deportation from Canada.

As I pointed out in my last column, the Trudeau government recently stripped citizenship from an Egyptian national who became a Canadian citizen at age eight.

In that case, the woman’s parents lied on her application, and therefore, as per Canadian law, she risks being deported.

But when it comes to their own star cabinet minister, Monsef, the Trudeau Liberals are scrambling to deal with the controversy.

On Tuesday, Immigration Minister John McCallum testified in front of a Senate committee discussing Bill C-6, the Trudeau government’s controversial citizenship bill.

Under pressure from Liberals in the Senate, McCallum suggested that his government would consider placing a moratorium on the practice of citizenship revocation.

How convenient.

“I will consider that moratorium. I won’t rule it out unconditionally,” McCallum told the Senate committee. “What I am saying is that we would welcome a reform to the system.”

The Trudeau government had no problem imposing this law during its first eleven months in office. None at all.

During the last session of Parliament, Trudeau and McCallum introduced comprehensive changes to Canada’s citizenship and immigration laws through Bill C-6.

On the issue of citizenship revocation, Bill C-6 halted the government’s ability to strip citizenship from convicted terrorists and those who commit treason against Canada.

As Trudeau said famously during the last election campaign, after all, “a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian.” Even if that Canadian is a foreign-born terrorist.

But when it came to cases of fraud and misrepresentation, no changes were made under Bill C-6.

Quite the opposite, in fact, as Trudeau said he supported citizenship revocation under these circumstances.

On the campaign trail last September, Trudeau less-famously said that, “revocation of citizenship can and should happen in situations of becoming a Canadian citizen under false pretences.”

At the time, this statement contradicted Trudeau’s own position that Canadian citizenship is an absolute and inalienable right.

Now, that contradiction is catching up on him.

Until the Monsef scandal surfaced, the Trudeau government had no problem in stripping citizenship away from those who committed fraud and those who lied on their applications.

They had no issue with the process of revocation — determined by the relevant cabinet minister and not through lengthy court proceedings.

They agreed with the law, and implemented it routinely.

But suddenly, this law threatens to damage the Trudeau government’s reputation and punish a Liberal insider.

And all of the sudden, they’re willing to change course.

The Trudeau government is now suggesting it would rather change Canada’s longstanding immigration law, ad hoc, than face the inconvenient fact that, based on the story she’s provided, Monsef’s immigration application may have been fraudulent.

Source: Trudeau may change law to protect Monsef | Malcolm | Columnists | Opinion | Toro

Leitch says Trudeau a ‘Canadian identity denier,’ but he’s pointed to ‘shared values, openness, respect’

Leitch continues to play hard on identity politics and mischaracterizing PM Trudeau’s comments on identity, just as her source, Candice Malcolm, has (see my review of her most recent book, A response to Candice Malcolm’s Losing True North – Policy Options):

New York Times Magazine story about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last December that prompted Conservative leadership contender Kellie Leitch to accuse Mr. Trudeau of practising “dangerous” politics and being a “Canadian identity denier” also contains references by the newly elected prime minister to values Canadians share, including “openness, respect, [and] compassion.”

Ms. Leitch surprised a handful of journalists as she was entering the House of Commons on Monday, into the first sitting of the Commons following a 12-week parliamentary recess, and took several minutes to criticize Mr. Trudeau for allegedly denying Canadians have a national identity.

A journalist noted it had been a “very, very big summer” for Ms. Leitch, following a controversy she stirred at the beginning of September by floating the possibility Canada should screen would-be immigrants for “anti-Canadian values,” and asked the leadership hopeful what “tone” she was expecting in the Commons.

“Look, you know, I had a great time and a great campaign, but I do have a concern today and my concern is that our prime minister has denied that we have a core Canadian identity. He’s a Canadian identity denier,” Ms. Leitch replied.

“I’m looking forward to the discussions in our party, but also in the House, over the course of the next number of weeks and months, you know, I think focusing on Canadian values is extremely important,” said Ms. Leitch (Simcoe Grey, Ont.).

“We as a people do have a core identity, we have Canadian values. And I think we’re very proud of them,” Ms. Leitch, who several times described Mr. Trudeau’s position as dangerous.

Asked what she meant, Ms. Leitch replied: “The prime minister of Canada is playing a dangerous game. He denies that we have a core Canadian identity. He’s a Canadian identity denier. I think that is dangerous politics because we as Canadians share a common set of values, and that’s made our country extremely strong.”

The journalists present were later perplexed over the cause of Ms. Leitch’s complaint against Mr. Trudeau, and The Hill Times found a column published in the Toronto Sun that had expressed similar sentiment.

The columnist, Candice Malcolm, weighing in on the critical comments Ms. Leitch experienced in response to a Sept. 1 news report of a survey in which she asked prospective leadership supporters whether Canada should screen refugees and potential immigrants for Canadian values, criticized Mr. Trudeau and briefly quoted a portion of comments Mr. Trudeau made to The New York Times late last year.

“There is no core identity, no mainstream in Canada,” Ms. Malcolm quoted Mr. Trudeau as saying in an interview with the newspaper, adding that Mr. Trudeau also said in the interview he sees Canada as “the first post-national state.” Ms. Malcolm was a press secretary to Conservative MP Jason Kenney (Calgary Midnapore, Alta.) when he was immigration minister.

A search on the New York Times newspaper website failed to find a report containing Mr. Trudeau’s comments, but the quotations appear in an article in the Dec. 13, 2015, edition of the weekly New York Times Magazine.

The Toronto Sun columnist, seemingly on whose description Ms. Leitch was depending, quoted only a small portion of the interview comments.

The journalist, who interviewed Mr. Trudeau following the election, in his lead-up to the contested comments noted how Mr. Trudeau and his party had campaigned on a promise to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees into Canada by the end of the year.

The journalist, Guy Lawson, also referred to the November 2015 terrorist attacks that had just rocked Paris.

“Trudeau said he wants Canada to be free from the politics of fear and division,” Mr. Lawson wrote.

“Countries with a strong national identity, linguistic, religious or cultural, are finding it a challenge to effectively integrate people from different backgrounds. In France, there is still a typical citizen and an atypical citizen. Canada doesn’t have that dynamic.”

Mr. Lawson described Mr. Trudeau’s “most radical argument” as his statement 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.”

Mr. Trudeau described a recent vandalism attack against a mosque in Cold Lake, Alta. and said “the entire town came out the next day to scrub the graffiti of the walls and help them fix the damage.”

‘‘Countries with a strong national identity—linguistic, religious, or cultural—are finding it a challenge to effectively integrate people from different backgrounds. In France, there is still a typical citizen and an atypical citizen. Canada doesn’t have that dynamic.’’ said Mr. Trudeau.

Mr. Lawson recalled how Mr. Trudeau’s father, former prime minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau, had argued against cultural and historical nationalism and its negative effect on Quebec prior to the 1960s social and political change in the province.

“There is no core identity, no mainstream in Canada,” Mr. Lawson quoted Mr. Trudeau as saying.

‘‘There are shared values—openness, respect, compassion, willingness to work hard, to be there for each other, to search for equality and justice. Those qualities are what make us the first postnational state,” Mr. Trudeau said, in remarkable similarity even to some of the values Ms. Leitch has mentioned in response to her critics.

Source: The Hill Times

Jason Kenney dismisses Kellie Leitch’s immigrant-screening proposal, Candice Malcolm former Kenney staffer endorses Leitch’s proposal

Sharp contrast between former CIC Minister Kenney and one of his former staffers, Candice Malcolm. Starting with Kenney:

Federal Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch hasn’t thought through her controversial position on screening immigrants for “anti-Canadian values,” former Tory immigration minister Jason Kenney says.

Following a speech in downtown Calgary on Friday, Mr. Kenney, who is seeking the Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership, said he believes Dr. Leitch is pursuing an “improvised position” without understanding the negative impact of her words.

“I don’t take her position seriously. She’s never articulated it before,” Mr. Kenney said.

 “She’s never said a word about this in Parliament, caucus or cabinet. I don’t think she understands the nuance around these issues. You have to be very careful in the way you articulate questions about integration.”

Dr. Leitch, a Conservative MP from Ontario, e-mailed a survey last week to supporters that included a question about whether the federal government should screen potential immigrants and refugees for “anti-Canadian values.”

She later said she is protecting Canadian values from people who believe that women are property and can be beaten or that gays and lesbians should be stoned.

Despite widespread criticism including unflattering comparisons to U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump, Dr. Leitch has defended her position that screening is needed without saying how immigration officials would actually vet new Canadians.

Source: Jason Kenney dismisses Kellie Leitch’s immigrant-screening proposal – The Globe and Mail

And Malcolm’s defence of Leitch:

To most Canadians, this is a perfectly reasonable suggestion. In fact, back in 2011 the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation commissioned a report through Dalhousie University that asked very similar questions.

In that survey, 97% of Canadians agreed that values such as “gender equality”and “tolerance of others” must be embraced by newcomers. Likewise, 96% of immigrant Canadians agreed with embracing Canadian values.

According to a Globe and Mail report at the time,the survey demonstrated “a solid consensus around the notion that immigrants should accept certain values as a precondition for joining Canadian society.”

A “pre-condition” – meaning potential immigrants should accept these values before coming to Canada.

The survey also found that nine in 10 Canadians believed that Canadian laws should take precedence over religious laws and that newcomers should learn about Canada’s history and culture. Eight in 10 Canadians supported the idea that immigrants should “raise their children as Canadians.”

The overwhelmingly majority of Canadians believed that newcomers should accept our values. And the media hardly raised an eyebrow.

That was then, and this is now.

Five years ago, we all agreed that Canadian values were cherished and worth protecting. We were confident in ourselves and proud of our country. We celebrated our Canadian values, and weren’t afraid to promote our way of life to newcomers. But things have changed.

In 2016, any suggestion that our values are important leads to name-calling and hysteria. Leitch has received a fury of condemnation from media elites, Liberals and even many of her fellow Conservative caucus members.

They’ve accused her of “xenophobia,” “racism,”“dog-whistle politics,” and compared her to Donald Trump. The comparison is silly.

Trump has been successful in the U.S. for lashing out at the establishment, brazenly opposing political correctness and making shocking comments about various minority groups. He irresponsibly called for a ban on all Muslims entering the U.S., categorized Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and initially failed to denounce a former KKK leader.

Trump has built his candidacy around emotional appeals to American greatness,while not-so-subtly winking at racists and white supremacists.

Leitch, by stark contrast, made a simple suggestion about standing up for Canadian values, and followed up with a thoughtful explanation.

But elites in Canada are paranoid. The rise of Trump in the U.S, alongside the resurgence of nationalism and anti-immigration parties in Europe, has made many nervous. Wary of a similar movement in Canada, many are determined to nip discussions of integration and immigration reform in the bud before they grow.

This shows a lack of confidence in Canadian commonsense. Not every conservative is aDonald Trump in waiting. Not every proposal surrounding immigrant and integration is tantamount to Trumpian racism.

Kellie Leitch is no Donald Trump

A response to Candice Malcolm’s Losing True North – Policy Options

For those interested, please find below the links for Candice Malcolm’s summary of her book, Losing True North: Justin Trudeau’s Assault on Canadian Citizenship, and my critique A response to Candice Malcolm’s Losing True North – Policy Options.

My conclusion:

As other reviewers have noted, there is a need for a strong conservative perspective in citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism policies to inform debates, discussion and policy choices. Otherwise, governments risk not considering the impact of their preferred approach. But this conservative perspective should be rigorous and evidence-based, enriched by anecdotes, and not merely a polemic. The same of course applies to liberals.

While it may be cathartic for her and other Conservative party members and supporters to criticize the Liberal government’s changes in this manner, it does not help the Conservative Party in its reflections on the lessons of the 2015 election. Even though Jason Kenny spent most of his weekends in ridings with large populations of new Canadians, the Liberals were victorious in 30 of the 33 ridings where visible minorities are the majority. Furthermore, her book does little to advance our understanding and knowledge of the challenges in ensuring the ongoing success of the Canadian model of the immigrant-to-citizen process.