Chris Selley: Canada’s fantasyland politics can’t fix our refugee backlog

A good rant by Selley:

Coming up on two years since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s infamous “Welcome to Canada” tweet, and nearly 38,000 irregular border crossings from the United States later, it is still easy to argue the country does not face any kind of migration crisis. Few if any of those crossing the border seem to represent a security threat — and since everyone seeking asylum, by definition, has to check in with authorities, we can hope bad actors will be weeded out. Many of those applying for asylum may well be economic migrants, not bona fide refugees; but there are far worse things than being overrun with hard-striving immigrants eager to make a go of it in a new country. It remains true that compared to the number of asylum-seekers other countries have dealt with in recent years, Canada hardly faces a challenge at all.

The Conservative opposition in Ottawa, and more recently the PC government in Toronto, have rudely declined to be sanguine. The former has demanded the government stop the flow of migrants; the latter has stridently demanded compensation for the cost of caring for the new arrivals who can’t fend for themselves. There has been no shortage of progressive commentators eager to hold them to account, arguing they are misrepresenting the issues or “dog-whistling” to racists, and citing all the reasons listed above.

At some point those commentators will have to hold the government to account as well, I’m afraid. As the Parliamentary Budget Officer confirmed this week, the Liberals have allowed — at the very least — a bureaucratic crisis to firmly take hold. Manageable as Canada’s irregular migration problem ought to be, the feds have utterly failed to manage it. As of Sept. 18, the backlog of all asylum cases was nearly 65,000 people. That’s the most this century, and more than triple what it was at the end of Trudeau’s first year in office. The PBO projects the wait time for refugee claims to be finalized will be three years by 2020.

The government’s line is that the number of irregular crossers is decreasing. But the majority of the 65,000 aren’t irregular crossers. Even two years is completely unjustifiable from every perspective, including a humanitarian one. Imagine being convinced you have a solid claim to asylum in Canada, selling the proverbial farm in Nigeria, getting yourself firmly established in a new country — and then being told you have to go home to nothing.

No serious country would think this was no big deal. While the influx of irregular crossers isn’t the Liberals’ fault, it is their responsibility to address it. Adding people to a massive and ever-growing list doesn’t cut it. Doing so while prancing and preening about as the brave defenders of Canadian compassion, empathy and inclusivity is simply repulsive. They shouldn’t have gotten away with it for even a second. Yet they continue to.

Many have focused on the daunting cost of all this: the PBO estimates nearly $400 million in the 2019-20 fiscal year. But the simple fact is, the only real solution here is to spend more than that. No party is proposing physically stopping unarmed men, women and children from crossing the border. No party is proposing revoking the long-established right to a hearing before Canada sends you on your way. There is no reason to think Washington will “take them back” even if we could send them. The only way to fix this is to spend scads more money to hire scads more people to process these claims more quickly, and yet somehow this debate has boiled away for two years without that rising to the top.

But then that’s hardly unique in Canadian politics, is it? The Conservatives claim to support action on carbon emissions while treating the simplest and most market-oriented approaches as communist plots. The Liberals fill their speeches and social media feeds with talk of fending off global devastation while fronting a carbon tax plan that will absolutely not achieve Canada’s targets under the Paris Accord.

The Liberals promise to get pipelines built using understanding, consultation and patchouli oil. The Conservatives demand an aggressive approach the likes of which didn’t get the job done very recently, and probably won’t in future. We all know Trans Mountain is a political nightmare that’s unlikely ever to get built.

A group of asylum seekers arrive at the temporary housing facilities at the border crossing Wednesday May 9, 2018 in St. Bernard-de-Lacolle, Que.

Decade after decade we make a royal hash of military procurement — or we do if actually procuring military hardware is the goal. As a vote-buying scheme, military procurement works just fine. Thank goodness we don’t need all those ships and planes — not really; not living next to our American friends.

It’s often observed that Canadian politics is a ferocious battle over small differences. But it’s often worse than that: A ferocious battle over small differences in which “winning” has nothing to do with actually accomplishing the task at hand. We must be blessed to live in a country where it matters so little.

Source: Chris Selley: Canada’s fantasyland politics can’t fix our refugee backlog

Chris Selley: Maybe Canada has a ‘birth tourism’ problem after all

My Policy Options article (Read Story) prompted more comment. I agree with Selley in his critique of the over-reaction by the Liberals and the NDP to the CPC policy resolution calling for an end to birthright citizenship and the reflexive labelling of the proposal as racist or xenophobic rather than a measured response.

Which, as Selley notes, the government now has in its plans to study the issue using the same data from CIHI that I used in my article:

Well, here’s something curious. Last week the Liberal government announced it has commissioned research on “birth tourism” — that is, the practice of coming to Canada with the sole intent of giving birth, then returning home with a child who’s a Canadian citizen. “The government of Canada recognizes the need to better understand the extent of this practice as well as its impacts,” Citizenship Minister Ahmed Hussen wrote in a response tabled in Parliament.

It’s in reaction to new research by Andrew Griffith, a former senior official at Citizenship and Immigration Canada, published last week in Policy Options. It suggests the practice may be far more widespread than had previously been thought.

Earlier reported numbers from Statistics Canada, based on provincial records, suggested there might be 300 such births in a year. But a single hospital in Richmond, B.C., was reporting more. Griffith turned instead to the Canadian Institute for Health Information’s discharge abstract database, and found that 1.2 per cent of births between 2010 and 2017 in Canada, excluding Quebec, were to non-resident mothers.

That excludes refugee claimants and permanent residents who aren’t yet eligible for their province’s medical insurance; they are categorized separately. It includes people who aren’t birth tourists as we commonly think of them: Foreigners posted to Canada by their employers, international students, and Canadian expats returning home to give birth.

Even if just half of those are “birth tourists,” though — a conservative estimate, in Griffith’s view — it’s still more than five times what had been reported. We might be granting citizenship to more birth tourist babies than Prince Edward Islander babies. The numbers grew steadily from 1,354 in 2010 to 3,628 in 2017.

None of that is to say this is a massive problem. I say it’s curious because earlier this year, when Conservative Party of Canada members approved a resolution in favour of the most superficially obvious solution — don’t grant automatic citizenship to Canadian-born children of parents who aren’t citizens or permanent residents — the Liberals, along with much of the Canadian media, went absolutely bananas.

“The NDP unequivocally condemns the division and hate being peddled by Andrew Scheer and the CPC,” leader Jagmeet Singh tweeted. Gerald Butts, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s principal secretary, lamented that the Conservatives “committed to give the government the power to strip people born in Canada of Canadian citizenship.”

Media consumers were told the policy would create stateless children. But Canada is bound by treaty not to create stateless people, as are the majority of countries around the world that do not grant absolute birthright citizenship. Even the Conservatives’ law stripping convicted terrorists of Canadian citizenship respected obligations regarding statelessness; there’s every reason to believe these changes would as well.

“(It’s a) shame to see the Conservatives going back down the path established by the Harper government, which seeks to strip away the citizenship of people who have only ever known Canada as a home,” a spokesperson for Citizenship Minister Ahmed Hussen fulminated.

You would never know it was Richmond MP Joe Peschisolido, a Liberal, who sponsored a petition asking the government to condemn birth tourism and figure out how to stop it. And you would certainly never know lawyers for Hussen’s department were in court arguing not to grant citizenship to two Canadian-born children of Russian spies.

“Only 34 countries grant the automatic acquisition of citizenship through birthplace regardless of parents’ nationality or status,” the federal submission argued (noting none of the 34 are in Europe). “This practice is not consistent and uniform enough to ground a rule of customary international law.”

This is a trick only Liberals can pull off: Deny a problem exists; denounce those who suggest it exists as despicable human beings trying to foment social unrest; later accept there may actually be a problem without the slightest bit of humility, and if possible continue denouncing those who think there’s a problem even while trying to solve it. It speaks ill of our political arena that they get away with it so often.

None of the potential solutions are especially palatable. Griffith suggests asking visa applicants whether they intend to give birth in Canada; misrepresentation could lead to revocation of the child’s citizenship, as it would have been acquired fraudulently. He suspects enforcement would be “virtually impossible,” however. And asking visiting women about their reproductive intentions is the sort of thing Liberals would scream bloody murder about in opposition.

The Conservatives examined the idea of limiting birthright citizenship but ultimately rejected it for reasons of cost and practicality. But after studying the problem more in depth, if the problem really is five times or more bigger than we thought, there is no reason not to consider it again. This is something nearly every country comparable to Canada does without violating human rights. It makes perfect sense: We don’t grant citizenship to children of foreign diplomats; why grant it to others whose parents have no personal link to Canada? There is something more than a bit weird about a country where such a normal idea can be met with such hysteria.

Source: Chris Selley: Maybe Canada has a ‘birth tourism’ problem after all

Multiculturalism and related posts of interest

Last of my ‘catch-up’ series.

Starting with the Environics Institute’ Canada’s World Survey, which highlights the degree to which Canada has a more open and inclusive approach than most other countries, as highlighted in the Executive Summary:

Canadians’ views on global issues and Canada’s role in the world have remained notably stable over the past decade.

In the decade following the first Canada’s World Survey (conducted early in 2008), the world experienced significant events that changed the complexity and direction of international affairs: beginning with the financial meltdown and ensuing great recession in much of the world, followed by the continued rise of Asia as an emerging economic and political centre of power, the expansion of global terrorism, increasing tensions with North Korea and risks of nuclear conflagration; and a growing anti-government populism in Western democracies. Despite such developments, Canadians’ orientation to many world issues and the role they see their country playing on the international stage have remained remarkably stable over the past decade. Whether it is their perception of top issues facing the world, concerns about global issues, or their views on the direction the world is heading, Canadians’ perspectives on what’s going on in the world have held largely steady.

As in 2008, Canadians have maintained a consistent level of connection to the world through their engagement in international events and issues, their personal ties to people and cultures in other countries, frequency and nature of their travel abroad, and financial contributions to international organizations and friends and family members abroad. And Canadians continue to view their country as a positive and influential force in the world, one that can serve as a role model for other countries.

This consistency notwithstanding, Canadians have been sensitive to the ebb and flow of intenational events and global trends.

While Canadians’ perspectives on many issues have held steady over the past decade, there have also been some shifts in how they see what’s going on in the world and how they perceive Canada’s role on the global stage, in response to key global events and issues. This suggests Canadians are paying attention to what happens beyond their own borders, and that Canadian public opinion is responsive to media coverage of the global stage.

Canadians today are more concerned than a decade ago about such world issues as terrorism, the spread of nuclear weapons, and global migration/refugees. And the public has adjusted its perceptions of specific countries as having a positive (e.g., Germany) or negative (e.g., North Korea, Russia) impact in the world today. Canadians are also shifting their opinions about their country’s influence in world affairs, placing stronger emphasis on multiculturalism and accepting refugees, our country’s global political influence and diplomacy, and the popularity of our Prime Minister.

Canadians increasingly define their country’s place in the world as one that welcomes people from elsewhere.

Multiculturalism, diversity and inclusion are increasingly seen by Canadians as their country’s most notable contribution to the world. It is now less about peacekeeping and foreign aid, and more about who we are now becoming as a people and how we get along with each other. Multiculturalism and the acceptance of immigrants and refugees now stand out as the best way Canadians feel their country can be a role model for others, and as a way to exert influence on the global stage.

Moreover, Canadians are paying greater attention to issues related to immigration and refugees than they did a decade ago, their top interest in traveling abroad remains learning about another culture and language; and they increasingly believe that having Canadians living abroad is a good thing, because it helps spread Canadian culture and values (which include diversity) beyond our shores. Significantly, one in three Canadians report a connection to the Syrian refugee sponsorship program over the past two years, either through their own personal involvement in sponsoring a refugee family (7%) or knowing someone who has (25%).

Young Canadians’ views and perspectives on many aspects of world affairs have converged with those of older cohorts, but their opinions on Canada’s role on the world stage have become more distinct when it comes to promoting diversity.

It is young Canadians (ages 18 to 24) whose level of engagement with world issues and events has evolved most noticeably over the past decade, converging with their older counterparts whose level of engagement has either not changed nor kept pace with Canadian youth. Young people are increasingly following international issues and events to the same degree, they are as optimistic about the direction of the world as older Canadians, and they are close to being as active as travelers. At the same time, Canadian youth now hold more distinct opinions on their country’s role in the world as it relates specifically to diversity. They continue to be the most likely of all age groups to believe Canada’s role in the world has grown over the past 20 years, and are now more likely to single out multiculturalism and accepting immigrants/refugees as their country’s most positive contribution to the world.

Foreign-born Canadians have grown more engaged and connected to world affairs than native-born Canadians, and are more likely to see Canada playing an influential role on the global stage.

Foreign-born Canadians have become more involved in what’s going on outside our borders over the past decade, opening a noticeable gap with their native-born counterparts. They continue to follow international news and events more closely than people born in Canada, but have developed a much greater concern for a range of issues since 2008, while native-born Canadians’ views have not kept pace. Canadians born elsewhere have grown more optimistic about the direction in which the world is heading, while those born in the country have turned more pessimistic. And Canadians born in other countries have also become more positive about the degree of influence Canada has on world affairs, and the impact the country can have on addressing a number of key global issues.

Source: Canada’s World Survey 2018 – Executive Summary, Canadians believe multiculturalism is country’s key global contribution: study 

Some other stories that I found of interest:

The very different pictures of how well integration is working for visible minority and immigrant women between Status of Women Canada (overly negative) and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (not enough granularity between different visible minority groups, captured by Douglas Todd: Secret immigration report exposes ‘distortions’ about women  .

Todd continues with some of his interesting exploration immigration issues, including regarding different communities (Douglas Todd: Canadian Hindus struggling with Sikh activism) and highlighting the work of Eric Kaufmann (Douglas Todd: Reducing immigration to protect culture not seen as racist by most) who, in my view, overstates “white flight” and related ethno-cultural tensions and has an overly static view of society.

Timothy Caulfield asks the questionIs direct-to-consumer genetic testing reifying race?:

From a genetic point of view, all humans are remarkably similar. Indeed, when the Human Genome Project was completed in 2003, it was confirmed that the “3 billion base pairs of genetic letters in humans [are] 99.9 percent identical in every person.” There are, of course, genetic differences that occur more frequently in certain populations — lactose intolerance, for example, is more common in people from East Asia. But there is simply no reason to think that your genes tell you something significant about your cultural heritage. There isn’t a lederhosen gene.

More important, we shouldn’t forget that the concept of “race” is a biological fiction. The crude racial categories that we use today — black, white, Asian, etc. — were first formulated in 1735 by the Swedish scientist and master classifier, Carl Linnaeus. While his categories have remained remarkable resilient to scientific debunking, there is almost universal agreement within the science community that they are biologically meaningless. They are, as is often stated, social constructs.

To be fair, DTC ancestry companies do not use racial terminology, though phrases like “DNA tribe” feel close. But as research I did with Christen Rachul and Colin Ouellette demonstrates, whenever biology is attached to a rough human classification system (ancestry, ethnicity, etc.), the public, researchers and the media almost always gravitate back to the concept of race. In other words, the more we suggest that biological differences between groups matter — and that is exactly what these companies are suggesting — the more the archaic concept of race is perceived, at least by some, as being legitimate. A 2014 study supports this concern. The researchers found that the messaging surrounding DTC ancestry testing reifies race as a biological reality and may, for example, “increase beliefs that whites and blacks are essentially different.” The authors go on to conclude that: “The results suggest that an unintended consequence of the genomic revolution may be to reinvigorate age-old beliefs in essential racial differences.”

Other research has found that an emphasis on genetic difference has the potential to (no surprise here) increase the likelihood of racist perspectives and decrease the perceived acceptability of policies aimed at addressing prejudice.

Some less-than-progressively-minded groups have already turned to ancestry testing as a way to prove their racial purity. White supremacists in the United States, for example, have embraced these services — often with ironic and pretty hilarious results (surprise, you’re not of pure “Aryan stock”!).

But I am sure most of the people who use ancestry companies are not thinking about racial purity, the reification of race or antiracism policies when they order their tests. And I understand that these tests are, for the vast majority of customers, providing what is essentially a bit of recreational science. In fact, I’ve had my ancestry mapped by 23andMe (I am, if you believe the results, almost 100 percent Irish — hence my love of Guinness). It was a fun process. Still, as the research suggests, the messaging surrounding this industry has the potential to facilitate the spread and perpetuation of scientifically inaccurate and socially harmful ideas about difference. In this era of heightened nationalism and populist exceptionalism, this seems the last thing we need right now.

So, don’t believe the marketing. Your genes are only part of the infinitely complex puzzle that makes “you uniquely you.” If you feel a special connection to lederhosen, rock the lederhosen. No genes required.

Lack of diversity in highlighted is sectors as varied as entertainment (The Billion-Dollar Romance Fiction Industry Has A Diversity Problem) and education (Lack of diversity persists among teaching staff at Canadian universities, colleges, report finds). Chris Selley: Granting Sikh bikers ‘right’ to ride without helmets only adds to religious freedom confusion provides a good critical take on whether religious freedom extends to riding motorcycles (Ontario does not allow, British Columbia and Alberta do).

Kim Thúy on how ‘refugee literature’ differs from immigrant literature provides an interesting perspective:

“Refugee and immigrant are very different,” she says in an interview. “A refugee is someone ejected from his or her past, who has no future, whose present is totally empty of meaning. In a refugee camp, you live outside of time—you don’t know when you’re going to eat, let alone when you’re going to get out of there. And you’re also outside of space because the camp is no man’s land. To be a human being you have to be part of something. The first time that we got an official piece of paper from Canada, my whole family stared at it—until then, we were stateless, part of nothing.”

Letters from Japanese-Canadian teenagers recount life after being exiled from B.C. coast enriches our understanding of the impact of their uprooting and exile under Japanese wartime internment (similar to Obasan):

“I don’t know of any other archival collections that are like this,” she said. “They might exist, but I don’t know of any. The combination of young people’s letters and letters to a non-Japanese Canadian person is just incredible to me. This is really special.

“One of the things I love about them is that they’re so clearly ordinary people. I think sometimes when the story gets told, that gets missed — that these are teenagers who are bored, and curious. It’s just really touching.”

And a variety of interesting articles on Islam and Muslims: Why so many Turks are losing faith in IslamCan Muslim Feminism Find a Third Way?  Ursula Lindsey and Gender parity in Muslim-majority countries: all is not bleak: Sheema Khan.

One of the most interesting is The Conversion/Deconversion Wars: Islam and Christianity using Pew Research data to assess respective trends:

It turns out that (American) Islam is losing Muslims at a pretty high rate. About a quarter of adults raised Muslim deconvert.

The problem is, from a secularist’s point of view, is that just as many convert to the religion. It has a high conversion rate, especially when compared to Christianity. Islam is growing by about 100,000 per year.

Per Research recently released a report that said:

“Like Americans in many other religious groups, a substantial share of adults who were raised Muslim no longer identify as members of the faith. But, unlike some other faiths, Islam gains about as many converts as it loses.

About a quarter of adults who were raised Muslim (23%) no longer identify as members of the faith, roughly on par with the share of Americans who were raised Christian and no longer identify with Christianity (22%), according to a new analysis of the 2014 Religious Landscape Study. But while the share of American Muslim adults who are converts to Islam also is about one-quarter (23%), a much smaller share of current Christians (6%) are converts. In other words, Christianity as a whole loses more people than it gains from religious switching (conversions in both directions) in the U.S., while the net effect on Islam in America is a wash.

A 2017 Pew Research Center survey of U.S. Muslims, using slightly different questions than the 2014 survey, found a similar estimate (24%) of the share of those who were raised Muslim but have left Islam. Among this group, 55% no longer identify with any religion, according to the 2017 survey. Fewer identify as Christian (22%), and an additional one-in-five (21%) identify with a wide variety of smaller groups, including faiths such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, or as generally “spiritual.”

The same 2017 survey asked converts fromIslam to explain, in their own words, their reasons for leaving the faith. A quarter cited issues with religion and faith in general, saying that they dislike organized religion (12%), that they do not believe in God (8%), or that they are just not religious (5%). And roughly one-in-five cited a reason specific to their experience with Islam, such as being raised Muslim but never connecting with the faith (9%) or disagreeing with the teachings (7%) of Islam. Similar shares listed reasons related to a preference for other religions or philosophies (16%) and personal growth experiences (14%), such as becoming more educated or maturing.”

There is perhaps an interesting explanation for some of this deconversion data:

“One striking difference between former Muslims and those who have always been Muslim is in the share who hail from Iran. Those who have left Islam are more likely to be immigrants from Iran (22%) than those who have not switched faiths (8%). The large number of Iranian American former Muslims is the result of a spike in immigration from Iran following the Iranian Revolution of 1978 and 1979 – which included many secular Iranians seeking political refuge from the new theocratic regime.”

How does this compare to people who converted to Islam?

“Among those who have converted to Islam, a majority come from a Christian background. In fact, about half of all converts to Islam (53%) identified as Protestant before converting; another 20% were Catholic. And roughly one-in-five (19%) volunteered that they had no religion before converting to Islam, while smaller shares switched from Orthodox Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism or some other religion.

When asked to specify why they became Muslim, converts give a variety of reasons. About a quarter say they preferred the beliefs or teachings of Islam to those of their prior religion, while 21% say they read religious texts or studied Islam before making the decision to switch. Still others said they wanted to belong to a community (10%), that marriage or a relationship was the prime motivator (9%), that they were introduced to the faith by a friend, or that they were following a public leader (9%).”

 

Chris Selley: Astonishing nonsense from the Liberals amid surge of asylum-seekers

Good column by Selley. Love the first para on the party differences.

His recommendation for more resources to speed up the determination process makes sense as the best feedback loop to discourage border crossings are quick determinations and removals as warranted:

When Conservative Canadian governments deport failed asylum-seekers and try to prevent them from arriving in the first place, they tend to boast about it. When Liberal Canadian governments deport failed asylum-seekers and try to prevent them from arriving in the first place, they tend to pretend it’s simply not happening. On migration policy, this is one of the key differences between our two natural governing parties. It basically boils down to branding.

The Trudeau government has taken traditional Liberal messaging considerably further, though. In March, amidst a global refugee crisis, having recently dropped the tourist visa requirement for Mexican citizens and with a surge of northbound border-crossers arriving concurrently (if not because of) the Trump presidency — and with hundreds of thousands of undocumented people in the U.S. who could theoretically join that surge — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted out this now-legendary piece of reckless, insincere nonsense: “Regardless of who you are or where you come from, there’s always a place for you in Canada.”

Spoiler alert: there isn’t.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel tried to frame the northbound exodus as a direct result of Trudeau’s shameless virtue signalling. Asked what her government had done or would do differently, she responded, essentially, that her government wouldn’t have all-but-explicitly encouraged people to give Canada a college try.

It’s a stretch; this is mostly about circumstances beyond any government’s control. But the extent to which this government refuses to speak in plain English is truly remarkable.

On Sunday, in a visit to the border region in Quebec, Transport Minister Marc Garneau said Canadian consulates in the U.S. would try to warn people thinking of heading north to claim asylum that their chances of success were far from assured. That’s a very good idea. Many of the current border-crossers are Haitians whose asylum claims failed in the United States. A temporary post-earthquake moratorium on removals having expired, they now face deportation. Reports suggest they are being sold garbage advice — in some cases literally — that Canada is a sure thing. To preserve Canada’s already stretched border resources, to maintain whatever public trust remains in the system’s integrity, and to save vulnerable people from extortion and financial ruin, the government should be warning people away in no uncertain terms.

Here’s what Garneau put on Twitter: “We are continuing to engage with diaspora communities in the U.S.A. — everyone deserves to know the facts about what it means to come to Canada.”

And on Wednesday, here’s what Trudeau put on Twitter: “We’re … reaching out to folks in the U.S. to make sure people who want to come to Canada understand the proper procedures to do so.”

For the love of God, man, there is no “proper procedure” with a snowball’s chance in Port-au-Prince via which a failed Haitian asylum-seeker in the United States can come “properly” to Canada. What you mean is “don’t come. We’ll probably deport you anyway.” So say it.

There’s no guarantee a blunt message would get the job done, mind you. No matter how often the Conservatives called asylum-seekers from European Union countries “bogus refugees,” the Immigration and Refugee Board kept recognizing their claims at a reasonable clip — 2,500 from Hungary alone over the last decade, for a roughly 18 per cent success rate.

Unlike Hungary, the now-famous unofficial border crossing in Quebec is just a Greyhound and a cab away from anywhere in the contiguous 48 states. If Canada’s consulates are indeed distributing “the facts,” then Haitians will know Canada has accepted nearly 50 per cent of claims from their fellow citizens over the last 10 years. Many claims that failed in the U.S. might well fail in Canada too — but it’s a safe bet quite a few would succeed. (The U.S. accepts a significantly lower percentage of claimants.)

If my options were (a) deportation to Haiti, where I have nothing, or (b) a $200 trip to the border, a longish stay in Canada during which I can legally work and make some money, a long-shot chance at permanent residency and then, at worst, deportation to Haiti anyway, I know exactly which one I would pick.

What can the government do about this? Without straying dramatically from traditional policy options, not a hell of a lot. But it could stray from traditional Liberal policy and not let a massive backlog build up. On Wednesday, citing a UNHCR official, Global News reported asylum-seekers arriving today won’t even get preliminary eligibility hearings until January. The longer a hopeless claim takes to be resolved, the greater the incentive to give it a whirl. The government could hire more people to deal with these claimants expeditiously, which the Liberals have said they will, thus reducing that incentive. But most radically, as off-brand as it would be, the Liberals might consider saying what they bloody well mean.

Source: National Post

Chris Selley: If the Brits can handle terrorism properly, surely we sheltered Canadians can too

Selley takes down Sun columnists on their alarmist calls for internment and other measures:

Brits are reacting to the latest terrorist attacks on their soil more or less as usual, though Thursday’s election adds an extra bit of urgency and drama. Conservatives, including Prime Minister Theresa May, are calling for ramped up anti-terror measures: more surveillance, more punishment, more online censorship. “Enough is enough,” May said Sunday.

A few unreconstructed lefties still bang on about Western civilization’s just desserts, but as Terry Glavin observed in the National Post after last month’s attack in Manchester, that species of urban sophisticate is less welcome at parties than ever. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn used to be very much of the “Terrorist? Or freedom fighter?” set. With Labour shockingly competitive in the polls, he now accuses May of cheaping out on policing and supports a “shoot to kill” policy that he used to oppose.

Some are calling for much stronger measures indeed. Tarique Ghaffur, a former assistant commissioner for London’s Metropolitan Police, argues “special centres” should be set up where some 3,000 known Islamic extremists could be forcibly de-radicalized — i.e., internment camps. Professionally hysterical Daily Mail columnist Katie Hopkins, who is very un-British-ly proud of being frightened to death, is foursquare behind the idea (though she has apologized for her post-Manchester demand for a “final solution”).

“We face an unprecedented terrorist threat in Britain,” Ghaffur wrote in the Mail on Sunday. There are “way too many (potential threats) for the security services and police to monitor (otherwise).” Ghaffur conceded the precedent was not entirely compelling: the internment of nearly 2,000 Irish nationalists between 1971 and 1975 “led to hunger strikes,” he noted. “But the centres I’m proposing would be different as they would have backing from Muslim leaders.”

One rather suspects they would not. And the problem in Ireland was quite a bit larger than hunger strikes. Setting aside civil liberties and other such malarkey, it didn’t work: 1972 was the deadliest year of the Troubles. With all those suspected threats locked up, the IRA blew up pubs, hotels and army barracks across the U.K.

That took gumption and significant resources. Nowadays, it would take very little effort at all for ISIL to leverage internment as powerful inspiration for amateur jihadists who see glorious carnage to be made with a white van and kitchen knives.

Internment is a God-awful idea, but it’s at least understandable in the British context. Terrorism is hardly an existential or an unprecedented one: 2005 was the deadliest year for terrorism in the U.K. since the Troubles, and it pales by comparison. But when cars and kitchen knives become threats, the cowardly have all the more reason to hide under their beds and demand martial law so they can be comfortable going to the theatre again.

It’s quite ridiculous to see this nonsense crop up here in Canada, however, where the domestic death toll from Islamic terrorism stands at three people, all of them soldiers. “All people (who are) on terror watch list in Canada or are in terrorist rehab programs should be detained and in some cases deported,” Toronto Sun columnist Joe Warmington tweeted. His colleague Anthony Furey followed suit: “Get the RCMP to arrest the dozens of known jihadists now walking around freely on Canadian soil. Just do it.” Furey’s demand was all the stranger considering he wrote a column explaining how implausible it would be to build a legal case against someone for his activities in ISIL-controlled Iraq or Syria.

Sheltered as Canadians have been from these threats, there is a streak of performative unseriousness that runs through our anti-terrorism discussion. “Let ‘em go,” some chortled when Canadians were found to be heading abroad to fight for ISIL. And when they come back, what then? “Lock ‘em up,” they’ll say — but of course we can’t, or not while respecting the rule of law.

Our relative unfamiliarity with terrorism might make it understandable that we would overreact to whatever threat there is. But it’s all the more disreputable for that reason — especially considering police keep foiling plans that do exist. “Go out as you planned and enjoy yourselves,” senior U.K. anti-terrorism officer Mark Rowley advised Brits heading into last weekend — not because they had everything totally under control after Manchester, you understand, but because MI5 believed “an attack is no longer imminent.”

The Brits, by and large, went out as they planned. Overwhelmingly, Canadians seem to be doing likewise — and rightly so. The rest of us should get with the program.

Source: Chris Selley: If the Brits can handle terrorism properly, surely we sheltered Canadians can too | National Post

Chris Selley, Simona Chiose: Two takes on the business interests of Jordan Peterson, hero of the anti-PC crowd

Interesting analysis of the business models supporting Peterson in both the National Post and Globe.

Peterson canbe judged to some extent by the company he keeps as detailed in the longer and more comprehensive Globe article:

On Sept. 1 last year, Peterson had 161 supporters on the crowdfunding site Patreon, contributing US$1,058 a month; as of this week, he had 3,609 supporters contributing an astonishing US$39,084 a month. That’s about three-and-a-half times his salary from the university. When Peterson was denied a research grant to study the link between personality and political beliefs, including belief in political correctness, Ezra Levant’s Rebel Media framed it as a left-wing conspiracy and launched a crowdfunding campaign on his behalf. It currently sits at 266 per cent of its goal: $195,230.

“It’s unbelievable. But all of it is unbelievable,” says Peterson, referring both to the money and to the last eight months in general.

Naturally, this outcome does not sit perfectly well with Peterson’s detractors on campus. “It does seem to me rather tacky that he has been posing as a victim of PC prejudice and representing himself as at risk of jail or dismissal from his job,” says Ronald de Sousa, an emeritus professor of philosophy at U of T. Lawyers’ opinions have convinced de Sousa that Peterson has nothing legitimate to fear from the law, and nothing except a “tut-tutting letter” — which he calls a “regrettable decision” — to fear from the university administration.

Physics professor A.W. Peet is rather more blunt: “He has been dehumanizing trans and gender-diverse people … for fun and profit.”

Rebel’s intervention certainly adds an edge. Peterson says he watches very little of the online news outlet’s output, which is not surprising: it is not known for its academic or journalistic rigour, or indeed for consistent sanity. At one anti-Peterson rally on the U of T campus, then-Rebel contributor Lauren Southern took the microphone as if she were an attendee, not a reporter; when organizers said they wanted to give trans people priority to speak, she lied and said she was one. Rebel contributors have included Paul Joseph Watson, a 9/11 Truther and friend of uber-conspiracist Alex Jones; Pizzagate delivery man Jack Posobiec, who was briefly Rebel’s “Washington bureau chief”; and Tommy Robinson, former leader of a gang of racist hooligans called the English Defence League. Peterson says he knows “for a fact” Levant isn’t Islamophobic, noting they were recently at a meeting with several moderate Canadian Muslims. But the network did spend the hours after the massacre at a Quebec City mosque torquing garden-variety confusion into a conspiracy theory that the killer was, in fact, Muslim.

Peterson says he would always prefer his work be associated solely with himself but that he’s “disinclined to look a gift horse in the mouth.” Peet has no qualms with crowdfunding academic research per se, but thinks there should be rules governing it — for example, when a third party like Rebel intervenes on a professor’s behalf. Such guidelines are under development at U of T, says spokesperson Althea Blackburn-Evans. But if they put any crimp in Peterson’s plans, he could easily make up the difference some other way.

If Peterson’s fundraising numbers are astounding, perhaps the astounded have underestimated the fury being inspired by modern preoccupations like white privilege and cultural appropriation, and by the marginalization, shouting down or outright cancellation of other viewpoints in polite society’s institutions. The biggest applause line at last weekend’s Conservative Party of Canada leadership convention came when winner Andrew Scheer promised to withhold federal funding from universities that “shut down debate.”

“It’s (bad) enough that the media elites find the views of many conservatives unfashionable or outré,” says one Conservative strategist, describing the mood among party supporters. “Now the trendline on university campuses seems to be to ban any expression of conservative ideas … or any questioning of liberal orthodoxy.”

Peterson is by no means appealing only to reactionaries or partisan conservatives, however. His YouTube channel, which has 290,000 subscribers, is not a source of Rebel-style rants and conspiracies. Recent videos include the first two of his ongoing 12-part lecture series, The Psychological Significance of The Biblical Stories. (Some of his crowdfunding money went toward renting the Isabel Bader Theatre at U of T for the series, but he says he made it back through ticket sales.) His Patreon account promises “lectures about profound psychological ideas.”

“History has shown that political correctness, and all that comes with it, is the first step on a very dark path,” says Philip Sibbering, a games designer in the U.K. who contributed to the Rebel-sponsored crowdfunding effort. Sibbering notes the intellectual intolerance of the Nazis, which all of society now rejects, and of the Marxists, which all of society does not. “Any research that could allow us to understand the root cause and effect that brings political correctness into being is vital.”

Stephen Kaiser-Pendergast, a film editor based in Los Angeles and another crowdfunding contributor, first discovered Peterson through his interviews with Dave Rubin and Joe Rogan, two prominent critics of political correctness. (The interviews have 185,000 and 1.9 million views on YouTube, respectively.) “Working in narrative film, I have a vested interest in any kind of remedy for politically correct thinking, which I see as among the most significant of threats to artistic expression,” he says. “However, I mostly remain on his (YouTube) channel for the academic material. I have had a lifelong interest in understanding human behaviour and I find Prof. Peterson’s channel to be a treasure-trove.”

Peterson has big plans, and money to make them happen. He plans to curate “a series of conversations with moderate Muslims about the possibility of developing a bridge between that faith and the fundamental beliefs of the West.” It began on Thursday when he interviewed Ayaan Hirsi Ali (though she is more of a former Muslim than a moderate one). [a rabid anti-Muslim activist would be a more accurate description]

Source: Chris Selley: Jordan Peterson, hero of the anti-PC crowd, just keeps winning | National Post

The Globe’s Simona Chiose also covers the story more in depth from a more critical angle, along with analysis of follower comments:

Prof. Peterson’s vociferous defence of free speech isn’t new to universities. What is new, however, is the way that social media has amplified the discourse – and “weaponized” and globalized this long-running drama. The professor’s unrelenting stance has earned him scores of angry critics, but the attention has also helped him rack up followers. He now has almost 300,000 subscribers on YouTube and thousands of patrons on Patreon, a crowd-funded subscription content site where he earns more than $30,000 a month. On Twitter, his followers hail from Shanghai and Berlin, St. Petersburg and Pune, Toronto and San Francisco. And under the guise of anonymity, these anti-PC warriors can harass their opponents through posts, memes and videos and organize campaigns on no-holds-barred message boards.

The existence of this parallel, online space is hardly mentioned in free speech debates or arises only in lateral mentions of concerns about “safety on campus.”

But an investigation into the controversy around Jordan Peterson shows how this world grows and operates. With his vast online reach, Prof. Peterson has attracted small volunteer armies willing to defend his views. The Globe and Mail reviewed hundreds of pages of discussions about Prof. Peterson and his views on anonymous message boards, including 4chan and voat – two of the least moderated or monitored online forums. The conversations, which range from immature to obscene, show that the professor’s critics were the subjects of “doxing” campaigns, where activists are personally identified and harassed online.

Prof. Peterson says he can’t be held responsible for the harassment that his critics endure online, however, and justifies his hardline position on free speech by saying it allows hateful views to be exposed to the cleansing light of day.

“It’s extraordinarily dangerous to drive hate speech underground,” he said in a conversation last fall. “There are a lot of terrible things that people shouldn’t say, but that does not mean you should stop them from saying them, because you want to know who is saying them and you want to bring discourse to bear on their perspective,” he said.

In short, Jordan Peterson has redefined the notion of the faculty celebrity and pushed the university into new territory, trying to decide what protecting free speech means in the age of Internet trolls.

How U of T’s Jordan Peterson has made money from online notoriety

Chris Selley: Hate religion in public schools? Yell at your MPP, not your school board

Chris Selley on the violent opposition of some for religious accommodation by allowing prayers to take place in Peel Region schools, rather than a more measured discussion of the form and limits of any accommodation:

But the OHRC’s interpretation of the Ontario Human Rights Code makes it plain: only cost and health and safety may stand in the way of a religious accommodation. Wiffly concepts like “secularism” may not. So whether you’re a perturbed secularist, vexed feminist, scandalized menstrual-rights advocate or fulminating Islam-hater, there’s no point aiming your complaints at the local school board. You should call your MPP.

That probably won’t get you anywhere either, frankly. Secularism and feminism are all well and good, but the New Democrats are unlikely to align with the Qur’an-stompers. The Liberals think religious accommodations are the Pope’s pyjamas. And after John Tory’s faith-based schools debacle and Patrick Brown’s sex-ed switcheroo, the Progressive Conservatives are scared stiff of this stuff. (Opposing prayer in public school isn’t exactly home-run conservative policy, anyway.)

Nevertheless, it’s not Ontario’s educators you should be bothering — it’s Ontario’s legislators. They made this world. The schools are just living in it.

Source: Chris Selley: Hate religion in public schools? Yell at your MPP, not your school board | National Post

Chris Selley: Most Canadians support ‘values screening’ — which is neither surprising nor concerning

Good observations by Selley:

Of course we can’t empirically test for violent tendencies, misogyny and indolence. There are many good practical reasons not to pursue these policies. The consensus among bien-pensant campaign watchers is that this is nothing more than a populist “dog whistle” appeal to nativists and xenophobes who believe immigrants are more likely to be violent, misogynist and indolent.

But most Canadians aren’t watching the campaign at all, and couldn’t pick Leitch out of a lineup. If you ask them whether Canada should screen immigrants for objectively undesirable traits, then of course most are going to say yes. It’s absurd to hold that up as evidence of a surge in anti-immigrant sentiment, especially when the poll in question provides plenty of evidence to the contrary: 78 per cent think immigration makes Canada a better place to live or makes little difference; 83 per cent think we have much to learn from other cultures; 79 per cent have no desire to see a Trump-style figure in Canadian politics.

If you were inclined to worry about anti-immigrant sentiment, there’s plenty you could latch on to in this 61-page poll that’s far more disquieting than support for “values screening.” But that’s the genius of a wedge issue like this: it provokes a level of outrage and condemnation that to those not following closely would seem unhinged, which in turn makes the policy and the candidate seem all the more reasonable by comparison.

“Leitch’s proposal to screen every immigrant and visitor is nothing but Donald Trump’s executive order, disguised as Canadian values, and crafted to keep Muslims out of Canada,” leadership candidate Deepak Obhrai said in a statement last week. He suggested it could incite racists to murder, such as in Kansas last month.

I’m disgusted by Leitch’s campaign and even I think that’s crazy. But more to the point, it won’t help. Fighting populism with hyperbole is like fighting fire with kerosene, and it’s strange how few anti-populists seem to realize this. If Leitch’s proposal weren’t surrounded by a bunch of exploding heads and people screaming “Trump! TRUMP!” at her, it would just be one silly, unpractical and unnecessary idea among dozens in play in this campaign.

At times Leitch’s campaign has seemed less like an actual leadership bid and more like a clinical trial of Trump-brand populism in the Canadian body politic. Perhaps it will yield useful data for its architects to use with a less terrible candidate in future. But moderate Conservatives and others arguing in good faith against her really need to up their anti-populist game. Leitch is an intensely unlikable and uninspiring campaign presence who will probably lose. But some day a populist candidate with an ounce of sincerity and charisma might come along with some truly dangerous ideas.

Source: Chris Selley: Most Canadians support ‘values screening’ — which is neither surprising nor concerning | National Post

Chris Selley: Conservatives need pressure release on Islamic extremism, but Manning panel on terrorism was bonkers

Good commentary by Selley:

Goodness knows conservatives could use some pressure-release on the question of Islamic extremism. Ten days ago, four leadership candidates — including two former cabinet ministers — attended a rally whose premise was that a private member’s motion in the House of Commons was a step toward Sharia law and an attack on free speech.

Alas, the terrorism panel released no pressure at all.

“Motion 103 … is essentially akin to the blasphemy laws,” said Raheel Raza, president of the Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow. (M-103 isn’t a law of any sort, and never will be.) She took umbrage at the suggestion by M-103’s sponsor, Liberal MP Iqra Khalid, that “more than one million Canadians … suffer because of Islamophobia … on a daily basis.”

Raza: “Seriously? As though in Canada racism and bigotry, only against Muslims, is an everyday issue?” (Six parishioners were recently murdered in a Quebec City mosque. M-103 condemns “all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination.”)

Thomas Quiggin of the Terrorism and Security Experts network then rattled through a deck of slides that would have left an uninformed viewer thinking most every mosque in Canada — including the Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec City, site of the massacre — was funnelling funds to extremist groups. He suggested the English-language media didn’t report on a pig’s head having been delivered to the mosque a year earlier. (They did. Why wouldn’t they?) He suggested intelligence officials should have known about the pig’s head, and that the mosque was supporting extremists, and that the gunman was intending to take his revenge — Quiggin suspects — for that support.

“The cycle of violence has come to Canada as it has in France, Belgium, Germany, the Middle East, and we can no longer deny this,” said Quiggin, and that’s bonkers. The facts in evidence were the attacks in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu (one dead), Parliament Hill attack (one dead) and … Quebec City, where the victims were Muslims at prayer!

There are things being said in some Canadian mosques that would cause outrage if they were more widely reported. Why they are not more widely reported is a good question; political correctness is a very plausible answer. But Manning attendees were promised a sober look at the problem, including an effort to “define how serious (it) really is.” What they got were two alarmists. Policy has never been the Manning conference’s forte, but I swear panellists used to mildly disagree with each other now and again, and to have vastly superior resumes.

Four years ago, after Tom Flanagan’s comments about child pornography and Wildrose candidate Alan Hunsperger’s “lake of fire” missive, Manning warned conservatives against “intemperate and ill-considered remarks by those who hold … positions deeply but in fits of carelessness or zealousness say things that discredit the family.” The first question from the audience at the terrorism panel was whether Raza thought it should be illegal to call Muhammad a pedophile.

She didn’t. Neither do I. But this kind of nonsense has great potential to harm the Conservative Party, Michael Chong said Friday in an interview; the last place it should be happening is at Manningstock. And Chong is fairly emblematic of the mess the party now confronts. He supported M-103, a meaningless motion. But he also supports doing away with the hate-speech section of the Criminal Code, a very meaningful restriction on free speech. He supports a simple, revenue-neutral, Economics 101 carbon tax to fight emissions, instead of command-and-control regulations.

He was roundly booed for the later during Friday’s leaders debate. Mainstream Conservatives, never mind the new fringe, sneer that he ought to run for the Liberals.

Source: Chris Selley: Conservatives need pressure release on Islamic extremism, but Manning panel on terrorism was bonkers | National Post

Shannon Proudfoot has an only slightly more gentle take:

The Manning Centre Conference, the pre-eminent gathering of Canadian conservatives, opened in Ottawa on Friday morning with a panel discussion that sounded a stark note of alarm, with a contrarian streak: Islamic extremism exists in Canada, and to believe otherwise is dangerous naiveté.

The discussion was billed as “Leading the Response to Islamist Extremism and its Ideology in Canada,” one of the break-out sessions planned by the Manning Centre, which provides research, training and networking for Canadian conservatives.

The morning panel featured Raheel Raza, president of the Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, which describes its mission as “oppos(ing) extremism, fanaticism and violence in the name of religion,” and Thomas Quiggin, a self-styled security and terrorism expert who runs the Terrorism and Security Experts network.

….But regardless of his inaccuracies and misleading connections, Quiggin’s arguments seemed to resonate with at least a segment of the Manning Centre audience. They indulged him by turns with disapproving murmurs and incredulous gasps as he theatrically laid out the supposed creeping influence of Islamist extremism in Canada.

As Quiggin worked himself into high dudgeon over what he claimed was the Islamization of Canada’s public schools, out in the audience, the 50-ish woman once again sighed and shook her head in disgust.

At the Manning Conference, an alarming view of Islam

Barbara Kay: Actually, one needn’t be a hysterical bigot to have concerns with M-103, other commentary by Lorne Gunter and Chris Selley

Barbara Kay continues not to understand, or appear not to understand, what M-103 includes and what is do not. Coyne is on much sounder ground than she, despite her examples of unacceptable comments:

In December, for example, Georges Bensoussan, a Morocco-born scholar on Jewish communities in Arab countries, was prosecuted in France, because a complaint was filed against him for incitement to racial hatred by the “Collective Against Islamophobia.” His crime? Two quotations were cited in the charge, taken from an interview last year on a French cultural radio show. Bensoussan said, “Today, we are witnessing a different people in the midst of the French nation, who are effecting a return on a certain number of democratic values to which we adhere,” and “This visceral anti-Semitism proven by the Fondapol survey by Dominique Reynié last year cannot remain under a cover of silence.” (Here he was referring to a 2014 survey finding Muslims in France were nearly three times more likely to be anti-Jewish than French people as a whole.)

If these are not fair comments by Andrew Coyne’s standards, then I do not know what is. But Bensoussan is in the dock for them. His story frightens me — with reason.

Ironically, I happened to come across this story at the same time as it was revealed that in at least two sermons distributed on Youtube, imam Sayyid al-Ghitaoui of Montreal’s Al-Andalus Islamic Centre called for Allah to “destroy the accursed Jews,” to “kill them one by one” and to “make their children orphans and their women widows.” (Has he been fired yet? I ask because only Jewish media considered it a story worth covering.) It’s not as if this imam is unique here either. Imams all over the world say the same and much worse about Jews, citing sacred Islamic texts. ISIL members too tell journalists they are following the prophet Mohammed “in the strictest way.” They feel their Islam is as “real” as those who wrote E-411.
So I say to the petitioners of E-411 that I have received their opinion loud and clear. And now I would like to make up my own mind about Islam, as I do with all contentious issues: that is, according to primary sources, credible commentators, legitimate opinion surveys and so forth.

I do not wish to be told by a petition or by the recommendations of a study based on that petition what I must think — or say in a considered and thoughtful way — about any ideology or belief system in deference to the sensibilities of a specific group in order to earn a seal of non-Islamophobic approval from agenda-driven advocacy groups and their political allies.

I greatly admire Andrew Coyne for his exegetical brilliance in the hermeneutics of electoral reform, but on the subject of creeping Shariah-based blasphemy laws across the Western world, it grieves me to say that he has revealed himself as an authority of rather lesser stature.

Source: Barbara Kay: Actually, one needn’t be a hysterical bigot to have concerns with M-103 | National Post

Lorne Gunter picks up the same slippery slope argumentation:

After arguing it was wrong to tar all Muslims – extremists and moderates – with the same brush, Prof. Kutty then added I was way off base for linking the treatment of suburban Montrealer Antonio Padula with the effects M-103 may have.

Padula is just some guy from the Montreal-area community of Kirkland. One evening shortly after the horrific murders at a Quebec City mosque, Padula saw three police cars pull up outside his home. He was arrested, taken away in cuffs and put in jail for the night, all because police misinterpreted some tweets he posted as promoting hatred toward Muslims.

Kutty said Padula’s treatment had nothing to do with the intent of M-103, that he was being charged under hate crimes and other laws, not under a Parliamentary motion offering support for Muslims.

But that’s how these things start. Too often they begin with well-meaning intentions. Yet once they get into the hands of politically correct bureaucrats, Parliamentary committees and human rights commissioners, they morph into something unrecognizable.

Tremont asked me whether, perhaps, Padula’s treatment was justified given that his indelicate tweets came just days after the bloody shooting. But isn’t that just promoting a climate of fear – fear that everyone who posts politically incorrect tweets is a potential murderer who deserves to be arrested and throw in a cell, and possibly face months of expensive legal defence to clear his name?

The supporters of M-103 insist there is an increasing public climate of hatred and fear against Muslims. But wasn’t the treatment of Padula just as much an overreaction based on fear?

If Muslims shouldn’t be condemned for the actions of a few extremists in their faith, shouldn’t it also hold that Antonio Padula shouldn’t be arrested just because officials are suddenly acting out of fear that everyone who tweets unkind ideas is a potential killer?

Prof. Kutty also said it was wrong to focus on the word Islamophobia because he had a good definition of it. And, I’ll admit, his wasn’t bad. But that’s the problem – everybody has his or her own definition. Give that much leeway to the human rights police and the broadest possible definition will be upheld. There will be more, not fewer, Antonio Padula’s rousted from their beds in the middle of the night for the “crime” of being politically incorrect, or even just ironic.

Source: M-103 could morph into something unrecognizable

Chris Selley nails it beautifully in this commentary, contrasting the federal conservatives with their Ontario counterparts:

Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown says he will support Liberal MPP Nathalie Des Rosiers’ private member’s motion asking the legislature to “condemn all forms of Islamophobia.”

“I think it’s pretty straightforward to condemn any form of hate,” Brown told reporters Tuesday morning. “In terms of Islamophobia, it is real.” He said he would encourage his MPPs to vote likewise. And there is no sign of significant dissent in the ranks.

That’s a good thing. Private members’ motions compel the government to do precisely nothing. They are not the soil in which legislation grows, nor are they fertilizer. They are farts in the wind. And on thorny issues like Islamophobia or Israel or transgender rights, their primary purpose is often to expose one’s political opponents as holding unsuitable positions and then denounce them.

Nothing good can come from falling into that trap — and if there was any doubt about that, Brown’s former colleagues in Ottawa are proving it in spades.

It is now lost forever in a toxic fog, but there were legitimate debates to be had about Liberal MP Iqra Khalid’s private member’s motion M-103, which calls on the government to “condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination,” and to “develop a whole-of-government approach to reducing or eliminating systemic racism and religious discrimination including Islamophobia.”

Perhaps the platonic ideal of this legislatively inconsequential motion would not single out any one religion. Perhaps it would be worded differently: were he still an MP, Irwin Cotler said he would have proposed replacing “Islamophobia” with “anti-Muslim bigotry” or “anti-Muslim hatred.” That’s perfectly reasonable. To some people Islamophobia means “anti-Muslim bigotry” or “anti-Muslim hatred,” but to others it means what it says: fear of Islam.

You’re allowed to be afraid of religions (though I wouldn’t recommend it), and you’re certainly allowed to criticize religions. Some Canadians spent the entire Stephen Harper era being afraid of evangelical Christians, for example. On Monday the Masjid Toronto mosque apologized for a supplication recorded on its premises asking Allah to “purify Al-Aqsa Mosque (on the Temple Mount) from the filth of the Jews.” (That’s as translated by Jonathan Halevi of CIJ News.) I’m certainly not going to sit here and condemn Jews for “fearing” Islam.

But these are delicate arguments to make even in a regular political climate. It’s quasi-suicidal in today’s political climate — one in which six parishioners were recently gunned down at a mosque in Quebec City; in which protesters have descended on Toronto mosques with signs reading “ban Islam,” “Muslims are terrorists” and the like; and in which some portion of Canadian conservatives who were already leery of Islam have followed Donald Trump’s tire tracks into a ditch of conspiracist madness.

Among the ditch-dwellers and those who flog merchandise to them, M-103 is an “Islamic blasphemy law” that prohibits criticism of Islam or it is the first step (or another!) toward the implementation of Shariah law in Canada. Ezra Levant’s Rebel Media held an entire “free speech” rally based on those premises last week, and four Conservative leadership candidates actually showed up — including whichever demons have seized the bodies of well-regarded diplomat Chris Alexander and orthopaedic surgeon Kellie Leitch. Enough has transpired in the past couple of weeks to fill an entire campaign’s worth of attack ads for the Liberals; they must be thrilled to pieces.

Back at Queen’s Park, there are many grounds on which to question whether Patrick Brown is the best man for the job of ending nearly 14 years of Liberal rule. The Liberals will cast him as the worst Conservative bogeyman since the last worst Conservative bogeyman: anti-abortion, anti-sex-ed, anti-government, the whole lot. Many conservatives, meanwhile, wonder whether there’s much conservatism to Brown at all — or much of anything that outranks political expediency.

But Brown’s outreach to immigrant communities remains one of his key accomplishments; there is no reason to believe he isn’t sincere in supporting Des Rosiers’ motion on principle. And if there are Ontario Tories who do have minor concerns, the Ottawa precedent makes it clear how best to proceed: express those minor concerns by all means, but vote for the motion. There is nothing to be gained by doing otherwise.

This is a low bar the Ontario Tories are clearing here, and it shouldn’t be a surprise. Given that their federal cousins are currently beating themselves around the mouth and ears with that same bar, however, it is nevertheless a reassuring sign of basic political competence, leadership and sanity. It’s quite a world Canadian Conservatives are living in all of a sudden.

Source: Chris Selley: On Islamophobia, Ontario Tories look to pass the very easy test their federal cousins failed