Ex-Harper immigration minister calls out Scheer over ‘factually incorrect’ statements on UN migration pact

Yes another pleasant surprise. And funny how the CPC seems to be using more and more anti-UN language on migration (see Immigration critic Michelle Rempel’s earlier Conservative immigration critique of the levels plan where she singled out UNHCR role in selecting refugees):
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is being called out by a former immigration minister in Stephen Harper’s government for factual inaccuracies in a public statement Scheer made Tuesday in which he called on the Liberals to reject a UN agreement on migration.

Speaking in the foyer of the House of Commons Tuesday afternoon, Scheer said his party strongly opposes Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s “plan to sign Canada on to the UN Global Compact on Migration.”

Scheer said that by signing the compact, Canada would open the door to foreign bureaucrats directing its immigration policy.

“It gives influence over Canada’s immigration system to foreign entities. It attempts to influence how our free and independent media report on immigration issues and it could open the door to foreign bureaucrats telling Canada how to manage our borders,” Scheer said.

“Canadians, and Canadians alone, should make decisions on who comes in our country and under what circumstances.”

Chris Alexander, who once held the post of immigration minister under Harper, pushed back against Scheer’s claim on social media.

“Scheer’s statement is factually incorrect: This Compact is a political declaration, not a legally binding treaty. It has no impact on our sovereignty,” he wrote on Twitter.

According to the text of the agreement, the compact is not a treaty but an agreement charting out how countries around the world can work together to mitigate the impact and stresses of increased global migration.

“The Global Compact is a non-legally binding cooperative framework that recognizes that no state can address migration on its own due to the inherently transnational nature of the phenomenon,” the compact says.

The document goes on to say in the very next section that it “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.”

The part of the agreement that deals with how the media report on migration issues is referred to under objective 17 of the compact.

That section calls for an effort to eliminate “all forms of discrimination” in public discourse about migration issues.

The compact calls for the promotion of independent, objective reporting on the issue through the passage of anti-hate speech legislation and the withdrawal of public funding from media organizations that promote intolerance, xenophobia, racism and other forms of discrimination against migrants.

The agreement notes that any actions should always be “in full respect for the freedom of the media.”

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen will sign the agreement on Canada’s behalf next week in Marrakech, Morocco.

“We are proud of the leadership role that our government has played to bring countries together to collaborate in order to protect our robust immigration system,” Hussen’s press secretary, Mathieu Genest, told CBC News in an email.

“We recognize that Canada is not alone in facing these issues and believe that a compact to promote safe, orderly and regular migration is an important step in the right direction.”

“Today’s press conference demonstrated to which lengths the Conservatives are willing to go to win over supporters of the Peoples Party of Canada,” he added, referencing break-away former Conservative Maxime Bernier’s new political party.

Source: Ex-Harper immigration minister calls out Scheer over ‘factually incorrect’ statements on UN migration pact

Transition from temporary foreign workers to permanent residents

Former Minister Alexander’s asserted before CIMM during its study of C-24 that:

…it’s very important to distinguish between the two different broad categories of status that non-Canadian citizens can have here. One is temporary resident status and the other is permanent resident status. We are saying that the time that will count toward citizenship is permanent resident status. We don’t want those lines to be blurred. (28 April 2014)

This latest Statistics Canada belies that dichotomy, as do IRCC’s Open Data data sets (my chart below based upon this series – Transition from Temporary Resident to Permanent Resident Status.

There were 310,000 temporary work permit holders on December 31, 2015, accounting for 1.7% of the national employed workforce. The number of TFWs has more than quadrupled since 2000 (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada 2017).

Over the 2000s, immigration to Canada was increasingly drawn from TFWs. For instance, the proportion of newly landed adult immigrant men already holding a job in Canada rose from 16.3% in 1999 to 28.9% in 2010. Most of this increase consisted of immigrants who had high-paying jobs in Canada before attaining permanent resident status.

About 9% of TFWs who came to Canada between 1995 and 1999 became permanent residents within five years of receiving their first work permit. This was the case for 13% of those who came to Canada between 2000 and 2004, and for 21% of those who came between 2005 and 2009.

Most transitions from TFW status to permanent resident status occurred within the five years following receipt of the first work permit. The rate rises another 1 to 3 percentage points by the 10th year, with little increase observed thereafter.

Transition rates

The rate of transition to permanent residence varied by type of work permit. Among those who came to Canada between 2005 and 2009, the five-year transition rate was highest among those in the Live-in Caregiver Program (LICP), at 56%, and the Spouse or Common-law Partner category, at 50%. The lowest rates for transition to permanent residence were among those in the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP), at 2%, and the Reciprocal Employment category, at 9%.

A large difference in the transition rate by type of work permit is a result of government policy. For example, while all those in the LICP are allowed to apply for permanent residence after two years of full-time work as domestic workers, SAWP workers have no dedicated stream for transition, and may only be employed for a maximum of eight months per year. Their SAWP permits, however, can be renewed over many years.

Source: Transition from temporary foreign workers to permanent residents

Tory leadership hopeful Chris Alexander mentions Rachel Notley at speech and crowd chants ‘lock her up

His political and personal judgement is in question.

Sharp contrast between John McCain showing leadership in 2008 when responding to a similar angry crowd by saying “I have to tell you. Sen. Obama is a decent person and a person you don’t have to be scared of as president of the United States.”

And the sheer hypocrisy, given his complaints about being subject to hateful tweets in last week’s CBC At Issue panel:

Federal Conservative leadership hopeful Chris Alexander says he didn’t stop a crowd calling for Alberta Premier Rachel Notley to be locked up because politicians need to listen to constituents.

The former immigration minister was speaking at a rally against the provincial NDPs’ planned carbon tax Saturday when protesters began the “Lock her up” chant popularized during president-elect Donald Trump’s campaign.

“I totally disapprove of that particular chant. I don’t think it’s fair. I don’t think it’s the right thing to say at a rally or elsewhere, and that’s why I didn’t join it,” Alexander said Sunday.

The Edmonton rally was organized by Rebel Media, an online news and right-wing opinion outlet, and video of the incident was posted on Twitter by the website’s Alberta bureau chief Sheila Gunn Reid.

The video shows the ralliers start by chanting “Vote her out,” but as they grow louder, the message changes.
As they chant “Lock her up,” Alexander smiles and appears to gesture in time with the chant, nodding along.

Someone can be heard shouting, “That’s enough! That’s enough!” in the background, and as Alexander smiles and nods, the camera turns to face the crowd.

At no point in the video does Alexander stop the protesters or say anything about their chant.

“You don’t pick it up in the video, but I started to say the words in time with them, ’Vote her out,’ and then the next point I made was about the ballot box,” he said. “I expressed my disapproval by talking about something completely different: voting. I think that was pretty clear.”

Source: Tory leadership hopeful Chris Alexander mentions Rachel Notley at speech and crowd chants ‘lock her up’ | National Post

Chris Alexander announces Tory leadership bid, wants Canada to boost immigration to 400,000 a year

Field is getting crowded and not sure the base will welcome such a large increase in immigration – or whether, given his record as former Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, he will have much credibility beyond:

Former immigration minister Chris Alexander has confirmed he plans to run for the Conservative leadership and that a key plank of his campaign will be a proposal to sharply increase the intake of immigrants to 400,000 every year, including 40,000 refugees, because “this is a core value for me and for Canada.”

Although not yet officially a candidate, the McGill and Oxford graduate said the paperwork would be completed within the next week or two. After that he intends to undertake a cross-country journey by car to the West Coast, “stopping in every place we can where we have an invitation, to speak with groups, large and small, of Conservatives and potential Conservatives.”

Alexander expressed concern about leadership hopeful Kelly Leitch’s controversial proposal to vet prospective immigrants and reject them if they did not share “Canadian values.”

“My question is,” Alexander said, “how does she propose to screen immigrants for Canadian values before they get here in a way that, A, we are not already doing, B, that is cost-effective and C, does not lead to more fraud and abuse? I don’t think any of those questions have been answered.”

The best way to safeguard the integrity of the system — which is expected to process about 300,000 immigrants this year — is to maintain the reforms undertaken by the Harper government, he said. They produced what he called “the best in class immigration system in the world. We are getting the most educated, the most proficient in English and French, and in terms of skills, the best immigrants we have ever gotten because we select on the basis of merit.”

Alexander and Leitch were both criticized during the 2015 election campaign for their part in announcing the creation of a barbaric practices tipline, widely denounced as an indication of intolerance in the Conservative party.

Alexander has since called the announcement “the wrong one for that time.” But he rejects the idea that the party is anti-immigrant.

“I think we are still a very pro-immigration party.” He reasoned that Canada needs more immigrants to replace retiring baby boomers and because immigrants are essential if the economy is to grow.

The Tories need to recapture “the middle ground” from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to regain power, Alexander said during an interview from his home in Ajax, Ont.

Source: Chris Alexander announces Tory leadership bid, wants Canada to boost immigration to 400,000 a year

Chris Alexander on ‘barbaric cultural practices’: ‘It’s why we lost’ | CTV News

Without the ‘crocodile tears’ of Kellie Leitch, former Minister Alexander also disavows the ‘barbaric cultural practices’ tipline:

The Conservative proposal to set up a barbaric cultural practices tipline is one of the reasons the party lost the 2015 election, former immigration minister Chris Alexander says.

“I regret very much several issues that we blew up to a scale they should never have reached in the last campaign. It’s why we lost,” Alexander said in an interview with Evan Solomon, host of CTV’s Question Period.

“It was a terrible campaign. That announcement was the wrong one for that time.”

Alexander is now considering a run for the Conservative Party leadership. He says he’s finalizing the paperwork and will make a formal announcement in the coming weeks.

He’ll be facing off against Conservative MP Kellie Leitch, who appeared with Alexander last fall to promise the creation of the tipline, which was widely denounced and mocked on social media by people pointing out those in need of a tipline to report a crime could call 911. Leitch has distanced herself from the announcement, but says she stands by the message. She’s also since promoted the idea of a Canadian values test for immigrants, which other Conservative leadership candidates have roundly criticized.

Despite disavowing the tipline, Alexander – like Leitch – said the underlying value behind the announcement is important.

“I’m not going to back away from my commitment to women and girls who are facing the horror of forced marriage. It happens in Canada, it happens to 15 million girls and young women around the world every year, and young men as well,” Alexander said.

“I think Canadians get it. But we allowed ourselves to be portrayed in the last election as unwelcoming. That was a huge mistake.”

‘Not my policy’

While Conservative leadership candidate Michael Chong has been strongly critical of Leitch’s proposal to apply a values test to new Canadians, calling it dog-whistle politics, Alexander took a gentler approach.

“It’s certainly not my policy. It does make a lot of immigrants … nervous,” he said.

“It makes them feel unwelcome and it’s not workable in immigration terms. I can tell you that as someone who was very committed to defending Canadian values as minister of citizenship and immigration for two and a half years.”

Alexander also faced criticism as immigration minister over the slow pace of Syrian refugee approvals and lack of information made available under his leadership. The Conservatives pledged in January, 2015, to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. When the haunting photo of Alan Kurdi, a toddler who drowned while fleeing and who drew an emotional reaction from Canadians in the middle of the election, Alexander says the Conservative campaign didn’t react quickly enough.

“I very much regret that after Alan Kurdi’s body was photographed on that beach, and we all mourned his loss and what was happening in the Mediterranean and across Europe, we didn’t respond as fast as we could have with a much stronger commitment to Syrian refugees,” Alexander said.

“I wanted us to respond quickly after that day. It took us two weeks. I think that was a mistake as well.”

Source: Chris Alexander on ‘barbaric cultural practices’: ‘It’s why we lost’ | CTV News

PCC: Chris Alexander reconnaît le besoin de réhabiliter son image

Will be a challenge:

L’ancien ministre Chris Alexander reconnaît qu’il devra «absolument» réhabiliter son image s’il se présente comme candidat dans la course à la direction du Parti conservateur du Canada (PCC).

«La dernière campagne ne reflétait ni ma vision du pays ni la réalité de ce que nous (les conservateurs) avons accompli dans le domaine de l’immigration et de la citoyenneté», a-t-il soutenu.

«Je compte donc pouvoir clarifier les choses», a poursuivi M. Alexander en entrevue téléphonique avec La Presse canadienne, confirmant du même souffle qu’il a bel et bien l’intention de briguer la direction du parti.

Celui qui a perdu son siège en octobre dernier a été vivement critiqué après avoir présenté la promesse électorale conservatrice d’instaurer une ligne de dénonciation pour signaler des cas présumés de «pratiques culturelles barbares».

Cette annonce lui a collé à la peau.

Regrette-t-il d’y avoir pris part? L’ancien député ontarien ne le dit pas clairement.

 «Était-ce la bonne annonce pour ce jour, pendant la campagne? Probablement pas», a-t-il offert.

«Je regrette de n’avoir pas eu de l’influence sur l’ordre du jour de notre campagne, et je pense qu’il y a pas mal de gens qui partagent mes regrets», a poursuivi M. Alexander.

Celle qui était à ses côtés pour cette annonce, Kellie Leitch, avait subséquemment exprimé des regrets, mais la sincérité de cet acte de contrition a été remise en question après que la députée eut mis de l’avant sa proposition de filtrer les «valeurs anticanadiennes» des immigrants.

Cette suggestion, formulée dans le cadre de la course à la direction du PCC, a été comparée par les candidats Maxime Bernier et Michael Chong à la charte des valeurs élaborée par le Parti québécois.

À l’autre bout du fil, Chris Alexander abonde dans le même sens.

«Ce n’est pas une copie exacte, mais je vois un certain parallèle avec l’initiative échouée du Parti québécois, et je vois aussi certains échos du discours de Donald Trump aux États-Unis», a-t-il exposé.

Lui-même est en désaccord avec l’idée de Mme Leitch, car «c’est une façon de jouer sur les peurs des gens», et par ailleurs, «le Code criminel et nos lois reflètent (déjà) nos valeurs canadiennes».

Et le Parti conservateur ne devrait pas verser à nouveau dans ce type de discours qui a plombé ses chances de se faire réélire, estime M. Alexander, un ancien diplomate âgé de 48 ans qui a été ambassadeur du Canada en Afghanistan.

«On a fini par se faire percevoir comme un parti et un gouvernement non accueillant (pour les) immigrants, renfermé dans un discours assez négatif sur la sécurité et sur certains autres aspects de nos politiques d’immigration», a-t-il soutenu.

Chris Alexander compte annoncer s’il se lance dans la course à la direction avant le premier débat entre candidats. La joute oratoire, en anglais, aura lieu le 10 novembre à Saskatoon.

Source: PCC: Chris Alexander reconnaît le besoin de réhabiliter son image | Mélanie Marquis | Politique canadienne

Kellie Leitch tears up over role in barbaric cultural practices tip line – Politics – CBC News

Clear reflection and acknowledgement of a major mistake. Waiting to hear from former CIC Minister Chris Alexander whether he also has regrets:

Tory leadership candidate Kellie Leitch became visibly emotional while trying to explain her decision to front the launch of the Conservatives tip line for reporting barbaric cultural practices during the recent federal election.

The former minister in Stephen Harper’s government told CBC News Network’s Power & Politics host Rosemary Barton that she wishes she never took part in the election announcement.

“I’ve had a lot of time to think about this since the campaign took place and if could go back in time, which I can’t, I would change things,” Leitch said. “I would not have made that announcement that day.

“As minister of status of women I was focused on making sure that we eliminated violence against women and girls especially making sure we advocated for women’s rights,” she explained.

Leitch, who is also a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, said her intention was to ensure that if women and children needed to “pick up the phone” to call for help that someone would answer, but admits that “the message was lost.”

“We weren’t talking about race, we were talking about kids … but that message was completely overtaken and I regret that, and I regret that it occurred, and it shouldn’t have been done,” she said.

The Simcoe-Grey MP refused to reveal who in the Conservative Party came up with the idea for the tip line saying “this is not a time for pointing fingers at people or looking at what happened.”

When the Tories lost the election they also lost the chance to implement the promised tip line.

Source: Kellie Leitch tears up over role in barbaric cultural practices tip line – Politics – CBC News

Various Commentary on Citizenship Act Changes

Commentary on the Liberal government’s planned changes to citizenship (Bill C-6), from those advocating a more facultative approach (including myself) and former Minister Alexander:

“We are very pleased with the government’s decision to rescind the previous government’s Bill C-24 that made it far more difficult to obtain citizenship and far easier to lose,” said Debbie Douglas of the Ontario Council for Agencies Serving Immigrants.

“We are particularly pleased that we are moving away from two-tier citizenship where dual citizens could have their citizenship revoked. We commend the Liberal government for taking this principled decision.”

The new citizenship bill also makes some new changes by extending immigration authorities’ power to seize documents suspected of fraud and barring those serving conditional sentences from seeking citizenship or counting the time toward the residency eligibility.

Andrew Griffith, a former director-general with the immigration department, said the proposed legislation surprisingly retained many of the provisions passed by the previous government to improve enforcement and integrity of the citizenship system while reducing unreasonable hurdles for would-be citizens.

“They are removing some of the worst abuses the Conservatives did, promoting its diversity and inclusive agenda, without changing the fundamental value of real and meaningful commitment to Canadian citizenship,” Griffith said.

“These proposed changes reflect, apart from revocation, relatively modest changes, in line with the Liberals’ public commitments, and that retain virtually all of the previous government’s integrity measures.”

While he is pleased with the proposed citizenship changes, veteran immigration lawyer Lorne Waldman said those who face citizenship revocation on the grounds of misrepresentation are still not entitled to a hearing – a practice that is under a legal challenge in the federal court.

“Why are we keeping this Harper legacy?” Waldman asked.

Under the Harper government, the citizenship application backlog had ballooned with processing time significantly lengthened. New resources were brought in last year to reduce the wait time.

McCallum said new citizenship applications are now being processed in 12 months and the backlog is expected to be cleared by the end of this year.

In an email to The Canadian Press ahead of the announcement, former Conservative immigration minister Chris Alexander said the changes his government made were in keeping with Canadian values.

“Terrorism, espionage and treason are serious crimes, representing gross acts of disloyalty. They are far more serious violations than covering up minor crimes from one’s past — a common form of misrepresentation,” he said.

The Conservative bill was attacked as setting a dangerous precedent and even challenged, unsuccessfully, as unconstitutional.

In the National Post, John Ivison harshly criticizes the repeal of the revocation provisions (as well as pandering to ethnic voters):

It’s true, as Immigration Minister John McCallum pointed out, that this fulfils an election pledge, made to drive a wedge between the Tories and the ethnic communities that supported them in three elections.

The Conservatives signed their own death warrant by tightening up the family reunification criteria, raising the income threshold necessary for new immigrants to bring in parents and grandparents.

The Liberals campaigned hard on easing those restrictions and on their intention to revoke the Conservative citizenship bill, exploiting fears in ethnic communities that they could be stripped of their citizenship and deported if convicted of a crime.

…. the central failing of this bill. Dual nationals can now be convicted of terrorism, high treason or spying and retain their Canadian citizenship.

You can be supportive of civility, tolerance and inclusion and still believe this move is dangerous and misguided.

Loyalty is the measure of good citizenship.

When you betray that trust, you should forfeit the rights, privileges and duties of being a member of Canadian society.

Dual nationals convicted of terrorism, high treason or spying don’t deserve to keep Canadian citizenship

I am waiting for Ivison’s colleague, Chris Selley, to weigh in given his previous strong criticism of revocation (National Post | Chris Selley: Stripping jihadis’ citizenship feels good. But what good does it do?)

Tasha Kheiriddin in iPolitics starts from the same place but ends with a more nuanced criticism, making a distinction between those who became citizens as children, which should be treated no differently from Canadian-born, and those who became citizens as adults:

But the fear of losing one’s citizenship struck a deep chord with immigrants and native-born Canadians alike. Trudeau’s impassioned defence of citizenship was widely seen as a highlight of that debate — that rare sort of knockout punch pundits and audiences yearn for. The Liberals carried that punch from the debate to the doorstep, where it — coupled with their defence of the niqab and opposition to the Conservatives’ barbaric cultural practices tip line — helped cement the Liberals’ reputation as pro-New Canadian, and the Conservatives’ image as anti-immigrant.
This week, Immigration Minister John McCallum announced that the government would be reversing Bill C-24. “Canadian citizens are equal under the law, whether they were born in Canada or were naturalized in Canada or hold dual citizenship,” McCallum said in a statement. …

The bill also will restore Canadian citizenship to anyone stripped of it under Bill C-24. As a result, Amara will have his citizenship reinstated once the Liberals’ new bill becomes law.

Opponents of the Conservative law decried the creation of two different “classes” of citizens — those born in Canada and those who have dual nationalities. But those individuals are arguably already in two different classes — in fact, more than two, depending on how they obtained their citizenships. Some did so by birth, some due to a parent’s move to Canada, and some by their own choice as an adult. And the implications of revocation for each group can be very, very different.

In Amara’s case, he came to Canada as a 13-year-old. While he arguably took his oath as a child, nothing would have prevented him from renouncing his Jordanian citizenship as an adult. Maintaining it, however, gave him certain advantages, including freedom to live, work and travel in Jordan, where he was born. Those advantages are not available to other Canadians. Should they complain that they’re second-class citizens, because they don’t have the same privileges? Should he complain that he received unequal treatment, when he himself maintains an unequal status?

In the case of dual citizens born in Canada, who hold dual citizenship by virtue of their parents, the situation is somewhat different. Saad Gaya, also one of the Toronto 18, was deemed to have Pakistani citizenship retroactively, due to his parents’ possessing Pakistani nationality. Unlike Amara, Gaya had no connection to his parents’ country, and claimed that he didn’t even have said citizenship. Furthermore, as a child born here, he did not choose Canada. Because of this, he claimed that sending him to Pakistan would constitute “cruel and unusual treatment”.

A better version of the law would be one that allows the state to cancel the Canadian citizenship of a person convicted of treason who obtained that citizenship consciously and deliberately as an adult. This would deter those seeking citizenship for no other reason than to enable them to strike back at their adopted country, or who used their ability to move freely in Canada to facilitate terrorist acts.

While there is no doubt that withdrawal of citizenship should not be subject to the whim of the state, neither should citizenship be completely taken for granted. For citizenship to have value, it must not just be a passport of convenience — or worse, a cover for crime.

Dual nationals convicted of terrorism don’t deserve to keep Canadian citizenship

Comparatively little to no coverage or commentary in Quebec media, unless I missed it.

Conservatives didn’t cherry-pick religious minority refugees: Alexander

Valid defence of the policy but the documents suggest a more interventionist approach. Alexander, in the article, is silent about the tiny numbers admitted (which suggest more ‘cherry picking’ – see Conservatives cherry picked certain Syrian refugee files: documents).

More interesting, he does not comment on the implications of the PMO audit: that PMO did not trust Alexander, CIC, or PCO to ensure that the policy direction of preference for religious minorities was being implemented, and what would likely be unprecedented PMO involvement in a refugee file .

When I worked in PCO, the normal way PMO would ‘manage’ what was considered a problematic file (one that departments were not managing well), was through PCO, not directly:

Former immigration minister Chris Alexander is defending his government’s approach to resettling Syrian refugees, denying that the Conservatives cherry-picked cases by prioritizing religious and ethnic minorities.

Every country working with the United Nations refugee agency on the humanitarian crisis in Syria operated under agreed-upon criteria for how to decide which refugees they’d accept, Alexander said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

The basic principle was to focus on the most vulnerable, but additional priorities had to be applied, Alexander said.

“To determine who was the most needy, who is the most vulnerable among four million people, you need to set some priorities,” he said.

“And that’s what the Syria core group has done from the beginning and that’s what Canada’s operation to resettle Syrian refugees has striven to do.”

Alexander, who lost his Toronto-area seat in last fall’s election, was at the helm of the Immigration portfolio when the Conservatives announced last January they would increase the number of refugees accepted by Canada from 1,300 to 10,000.

But they also announced they would concentrate on bringing in members of religious and ethnic minorities, prompting accusations of an anti-Muslim bias and charges that the government was violating UN rules.

Most religious minorities in the region are from Christian groups. The UN also specifically asks countries not to use religion as a factor in determining who to take in.

‘Areas of focus’

How exactly the Conservatives applied their approach was made clear this week via documents tabled in the House of Commons in response to a question from the NDP.

In them, the Immigration department said visa officers working in Lebanon and Jordan pulled cases that met the “areas of focus” criteria and processed those on a priority basis, while others were processed on regular timelines.

‘The principle we respected all along was humanitarian need. There were a variety of priorities under that heading’ – Former immigration minister Chris Alexander

Alexander said religion and ethnic status were not the sole area of focus and that they were working from a set of principles agreed upon by resettlement states.

A document he provided outlining those principles makes no mention of religion or ethnicity, but Alexander said they were understood to be part of a category described as people “belonging to a group for whom the authorities are unable to provide protection.”

He also pointed to another document, available on the website of the British arm of the UN refugee agency.

“Refugees who face serious threats to their physical security, particularly due to political opinion or belonging to an ethnic or religious minority group, may also be prioritized,” the document states.

In prioritizing religious minorities, the Conservatives were not picking a single faith, Alexander noted.

But applying that lens to the program reflected the nature of the conflict, which includes Islamic militants targeting Christian minorities or the Assad regime in Syria going after Sunni Muslims.

“This is the way this conflict is unfolding and those groups who face persecution because of their faith, or their ethnicity or their political views deserve special forms of protection,” he said.

Source: Conservatives didn’t cherry-pick religious minority refugees: Alexander – Politics – CBC News

RCMP had no idea about barbaric cultural practices snitch line pitched by Conservatives

No excuse for former Ministers Leitch and Alexander for going along with this. It would be nice to hear some sober second thought reflections from each of them:

CBC News has learned the RCMP had no idea a Conservative government would have tasked it with establishing a controversial “barbaric cultural practices” tipline.

Two former Conservative cabinet ministers held a news conference mid-campaign to tell reporters that if their party formed the next government, it would order Mounties to set up the snitch line.

Chris Alexander and Kellie Leitch said it would allow citizens to “report incidents of barbaric cultural practices here in Canada or to notify authorities that a child or woman is at risk of being victimized.”

The idea was criticized by some who pointed out such a tip line already exists — 911. Others jokingly predicted the Mounties could have found themselves investigating tips from the public that baby boys were being circumcised or that parents were getting their kids’ ears pierced.

CBC News asked the RCMP for all correspondence or other documentation related to such a proposal in an access to information request. The police force responded Wednesday.

The Mounties say they searched records in federal policing, specialized policing services, contract and aboriginal policing and the strategic policy and planning directory.

“Unfortunately, we were unable to locate records which respond to your request,” Supt. David Vautour, an officer with the access to information and privacy branch of the RCMP, wrote in a letter to CBC News.

This backs up what sources have recently told CBC News — that the idea for such a tip line was cooked up at the last minute by a small circle of people close to former prime minister and Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper with no consultation with anyone else.

Today, the Conservative Party’s Interim Leader Rona Ambrose told reporters, “I was not part of that decision, nor do I support it.”

Source: RCMP had no idea about barbaric cultural practices snitch line pitched by Conservatives – Politics – CBC News