Chris Selley: Look who’s talking tough on border security now

We will see if the US administration is really willing to accept such a change to the STCA given their overall anti-immigration rhetoric and policies. Why would the US do this favour for Canada as there is nothing in it for them?

But Selley’s observations of the change in tone and focus are valid:

The federal Liberals have always bristled at the suggestion that tens of thousands of “irregular” border crossers from the United States might constitute a problem. The system, they insist, works just fine. “This process is working to keep us safe,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told The Canadian Press before Christmas, and he accused the Conservatives of deliberately trying to frighten Canadians into believing otherwise. “It’s always easier to try and scare people than to allay fears in a time of anxiety,” he said. In January, Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen accused the Conservatives of planning “to militarize the border,” which is certainly not an example of trying to scare people rather than allaying their fears.

One of the ideas the Conservatives have long supported is “closing the loophole” in the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) that allows “irregular” arrivals — those who cross between official border posts — to claim asylum. (There’s no point blaming them: If they tried to arrive “regularly,” they would be turned back.) The idea has long been dismissed as unworkable, if not unconstitutional.

But wouldn’t you know it, in an interview with The Globe and Mail this week, Border Security Minister Bill Blair said he was in negotiations with Washington on precisely this point.

“If, for example, there was an agreement of the United States to accept back those people that are crossing at the end of Roxham Road (in Champlain, N.Y.), then Canadian officials … could theoretically take them back to a regular point of entry … and give effect to (the STCA) regulations at that place,” Blair said — i.e., would-be asylum-seekers actually apprehended crossing the border would be sent back.

It’s not clear why the Americans would agree to this: If thousands of non-citizens want to decamp and take their chances in Canada’s refugee determination system, one suspects President Donald Trump would be most inclined to let them. But it’s intriguing enough the Canadian government now wants to be seen pursuing the idea.

“Closing the loophole” might be difficult to negotiate, but unlike everything else the Liberals have tried, it would almost certainly accomplish the goal they can never quite admit to having: To keep these people away. The most resourceful and desperate migrants would try to sneak across the border and claim asylum inland, once it couldn’t be proven how they arrived — a dangerous and potentially deadly undertaking and an invitation to human smugglers, Liberals would argue if they were in opposition. But that’s infinitely more complex an undertaking than packing your suitcases, bundling up the kids and clambering over the border into a waiting RCMP car. The vast majority of people would be dissuaded.

It’s clear enough heading into the election campaign that the Liberals want to be seen fighting irregular border crossers rather than managing them as the legitimate asylum-seekers they always insisted they were.

The federal budget’s section on border security, meanwhile, is altogether extraordinary. It claims that “elevated numbers of asylum seekers, including those that have crossed into Canada irregularly, have challenged the fairness and effectiveness of Canada’s asylum system.” It proposes to target “individuals who cross Canadian borders irregularly and try to exploit Canada’s immigration system.” It moots “legislative amendments … to better manage, discourage and prevent irregular migration.”

This is the same government that has sworn blind no one is jumping any queue, that everyone is entitled to equal treatment under the system no matter whence they arrive, that the system is working perfectly — all repudiated in a single paragraph.

It adds up to a $1.18 billion commitment over five years. And the proposals are vague enough that Finance Minister Bill Morneau doesn’t seem to understand what they entail: “If someone comes across the border (and) claims asylum, we want to make sure we process that quickly so they either are moved back to where they came from, if it’s inappropriate, or in the case where they are legitimately seeking asylum, we deal with them in a compassionate and rapid way,” he told reporters on Tuesday. That’s baffling. How do you decide what’s an “appropriate” or “legitimate” claim without adjudicating the damn thing?

Nevertheless, it’s clear enough heading into the election campaign that the Liberals want to be seen fighting irregular border crossers rather than managing them as the legitimate asylum-seekers they always insisted they were. The way to do the latter would be to spend scads more money hiring scads more people than they already have to adjudicate asylum claims as normal — only much, much quicker. That was what refugee advocates argued for nearly 20 years ago, when hundreds of people headed north for fear of a post-9/11 immigration crackdown. Refugee advocates lost the argument; the STCA, ratified under Jean Chrétien’s Liberal government, put an end to the northbound queues at border crossings; and most everyone in Canada instantly forgot those people ever existed.

A significant political headache had been expertly healed. It’s both telling and appropriate, as Trudeau’s government rapidly abandons its touchy-feely schtick, that the Liberals would land again on a “get tough” approach at the border.

Source: Chris Selley: Look who’s talking tough on border security now

Chris Selley: Here’s why Justin Trudeau’s identity-politics troubles were inevitable

Identity politics is practiced by all political parties, the variation lies more with respect to which identities they are trying to court compared to others.

That being said, Selley notes correctly some of the risks.

And it is amazing the extent to which the PM appears to have destroyed whatever remained of his brand over the past week: “sunny ways,” transparent government, gender equality and Indigenous reconciliation:

One assumes Jody Wilson-Raybould would prefer still to be Canada’s Minister of Justice. But there are certainly worse ways to go out. As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau squirms before the cameras, mooting unsatisfying explanation after unsatisfying explanation as to just what transpired between his office and Wilson-Raybould in the matter of the SNC Lavalin prosecution, she’s practically soaked to the bone with praise.

There are serious questions as to how Wilson-Raybould could have stayed on in cabinet, or indeed not resigned as soon as the bad thing happened — whatever it was, assuming it happened. But when she finally threw in the towel on Tuesday, even NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh lauded her record: “Jody Wilson-Raybould, the first Indigenous woman AG of Canada, fulfilled her duties with courage and conviction,” he tweeted. “She spoke truth to power and in return she was fired by PM Trudeau.”

One notes Singh praised her record as Attorney-General, not as Justice Minister. Had Wilson-Raybould been shuffled to another relatively high-profile portfolio instead of being kicked down the stairs, the dominant narrative might have concerned what a terribly disappointing Justice Minister she was: Among many other complaints are the insane, likely unconstitutional impaired driving law and inaction on mandatory minimum sentences and victim surcharges, each of which is likely to disproportionately affect Indigenous and other visible minority Canadians; and of course, the continued wildly disproportionate number of Indigenous defendants and prisoners.

Indeed, Wilson-Raybould had plenty of Indigenous critics when she was in office. Now the dominant narrative is that her firing represents a major repudiation of Trudeau’s reconciliation agenda. It’s more than passing strange, but that’s the politics we have right now: Anywhere centre or left of centre, one’s identity and background count massively in or against your favour. That being the case, the Liberals’ current travails seem almost inevitable.

Trudeau’s first cabinet featured some very impressive resumes from a wide variety of people — but it was “because it’s 2015” that knocked half of Canada down in a swoon. From Day One, there were obvious questions: Why no black cabinet ministers? Why so many Sikhs? Why privilege one kind of proportional representation above another? Liberals waved such complaints away like mosquitoes: Can’t you people just enjoy a landmark achievement from a government that means well?

Well, no. Love identity politics or hate it, that’s not how it works. Eventually it was bound to fall apart. We’re seeing it right now.

At his Tuesday press conference, Trudeau repeatedly referred to Wilson-Raybould as “Jody” and Harjit Sajjan, who takes over from her at Veterans Affairs, as “Minsiter Sajjan.” To some, this smacked at worst deliberate sexism, at best of accidental sexism. To many others, this parsing will seem like a petty reach. (He couldn’t very well call her “Minister Wilson-Raybould,” could he?) But Trudeau can hardly complain. His party banged on forever about how disrespectful it was for the Conservatives to call him Justin.

When an MP or minister (or ex-MP or ex-minister) causes a political leader trouble, what does he do? Same thing an NHL GM does to justify a lousy trade: He has a friendly reporter explain what a nuisance that person was in the locker room. So we have heard various anonymous reports about Wilson-Raybould’s pugnacious, difficult and self-centred performance in cabinet. It’s standard operating procedure — but it’s also anonymously slagging off an Indigenous woman. That doesn’t fly in 2019.

At this point, the Wilson-Raybould demotion looks like a spectacular unforced error. But it would have taken a very, very different kind of politician to have avoided forever the trouble in which Trudeau now finds himself. Trudeau is not a very different kind of politician, and his staffers are not very different kinds of staffers. Several, including principal secretary Gerald Butts and chief of staff Katie Telford, cut their teeth in the office of Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty — another supposed breath of fresh air that went rapidly stale and eventually left everyone at Queen’s Park gagging in a green haze of egg fart. McGuinty’s former deputy chief of staff just got out of jail.

The Trudeau gang does seem to truly believe in their own inherent virtue — that when they call up The Canadian Press to slag off a former cabmin, it’s literally not the same thing as when a Conservative staffer does it. They still seem utterly transfixed by the power of symbolism over action. But that doesn’t help any real people who need real help. Setting aside their words and their symbolic gestures, their actions have been little but conventional.

It’s a great disappointment to many — perhaps not least some of Trudeau’s own cabinet ministers. Several have expressed support and praise for Wilson-Raybould’s works since her resignation. Treasury Board President Jane Philpott even posted a photo of the two together.

It would be easy to read too much into that. But it raises the intriguing prospect that some of Trudeau’s MPs might be truer believers in his agenda than he is. These people were promised “government by cabinet,” after all. If they decide to insist on it, even more interesting days may lie ahead.

Source: Chris Selley: Here’s why Justin Trudeau’s identity-politics troubles were inevitable

Chris Selley: It’s gut-check time for secularists as Quebec counts people affected by religious symbols ban

Good column by Selley on just how unworkable this will be when it comes down to lists with names:

The latest drama surrounding Quebec’s efforts to cleanse parts of the civil service of ostentatious religious symbols — read: hijabs — concerns a fairly anodyne request for information: On Monday, La Presse reported that the provincial Ministry of Education had asked three Montreal-area school boards for statistics on the number of teachers and other employees who would be affected by such a prohibition. But much consternation ensued.

Catherine Harel-Bourdon, president of the Montreal board, called the request “aberrant,” suggested it ran afoul of Quebec’s Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, and insisted no such information would be forthcoming. Liberal education critic Marwah Rizqy likened the request to “profiling.” “Counting religious symbols in schools — that’s the government’s priority on education?” asked Québec solidaire MNA and spokeswoman Manon Massé on Twitter. “That’s how it’s going to offer a better public education system?” (You’ll note she didn’t actually criticize the idea itself.)

When La Presse later reported that “not one, but three ministries” had made such requests of relevant authority-wielding workforces — police officers, judges, Crown attorneys and prison guards — the blowback only intensified. Even nationalist commentator Denise Bombardier, who supports the ban, called it a “blunder” that “offers weapons on a silver platter to political enemies who are champing at the bit … to fight with (Premier François Legault).” (He wants to abolish school boards altogether.)

“This … unacceptable intervention puts the government on the defensive before the parliamentary session even begins,” Bombardier complained.

All this over counting the number of people to be affected by a proposed government policy?

A valid criticism would be that only now, after 125 years of debate — or maybe it just feels that long — is anyone thinking to try to quantify the supposed problem that every party in the National Assembly has promised to address. Those who support the ban most fervently might credibly protest that the numbers are irrelevant: However many teachers, police officers and Crown attorneys there are who refuse to remove their religious symbols at work, that’s how many need to be removed from their jobs. (Bonus: Job opportunities for Proper Quebecers!) They see the CAQ government’s census as a sign it’s going soft and planning to adopt a “grandfather clause” that would exempt existing employees from the new restrictions — another very valid criticism, no matter what your position on the government’s policy.

“Grandmother clause” would be a better thing to call it. (“We should make clear that the bill is aimed primarily, if not exclusively, at veiled women,” Bombardier wrote this week in Le Journal de Montréal. If only Quebec’s politicians were as honest.)

“Cowardice clause” would be even more apt. The political advantage is that no one would have to be seen losing her job — something of which polls consistently show Quebecers are leery, even if they support the restrictions in principle. But that’s just staggeringly disreputable: If this version of laïcité — the kind that, inter alia, keeps a crucifix hanging above the speaker’s chair in the National Assembly — is a social imperative, then why delay? Telling a Muslim girl she can’t be a teacher or a police officer because she was born too late might make less news than canning her mom, but it’s no less an affront to Quebecers’ basic freedoms.

Indeed, many still grapple with the most basic implications of laïcité — among them Vincent Marissal, until recently one of Quebec’s more perspicacious journalists and now a Québec solidaire MNA. He says he supports the 2008 recommendations of the Bouchard-Taylor Commission, which are basically identical to what Legault proposes except they didn’t implicate teachers. And yet here he is this week,  speaking with La Presse: “Am I comfortable with the fact that someone won’t be able to do a job because of (the new law)? The frank answer is no, I’m not comfortable with that.”

He shares that cognitive dissonance with many bien-pensant Quebecers. But for the love of Bonhomme, they’ve had more than a decade to square that circle — more than long enough, surely, to realize it simply can’t be done. If you don’t support telling certain Quebecers they can’t hold certain jobs in the public service — now and in the future — then you do not, in fact, support the Bouchard-Taylor recommendations, and you do not, in fact, support the CAQ government’s Bouchard-Taylor-Plus proposal.

This isn’t a video-game simulation of Quebec society. Real people’s lives and livelihoods are on the table. At some point, if Premier Legault is to effect his more perfect Quebec society, the lists that are making people squeamish this week will have to be prepared: names, positions, salaries, offending religious symbols, termination dates. Quebecers who support these restrictions on religious liberty but aren’t sure they should affect real live human beings need to imagine themselves reading those lists, and then check their guts.

Source: Chris Selley: It’s gut-check time for secularists as Quebec counts people affected by religious symbols ban

Some of the dynamics can be seen in the following two articles from the Quebec media:

Source: Signes religieux: douloureuse remise en question au PLQ

Source: Signes religieux: la CAQ divisée sur «la clause grand-père»



ICYMI – Chris Selley: Police carding ought to be an anathema in a free society. How is it still up for debate?

Good commentary:

In the debate over if, when and how police should be able to stop, question and compel identification from citizens, and then store the information they receive in databases, those arguing to allow officers maximum discretion tend to defer to public safety. The more info police have, the more crime and violence and misery they can avert. Conveniently for that view, in the two years since more restrictive rules took effect in Ontario, Toronto has experienced a significant spike in homicides.

Coincidence? Justice Michael Tulloch thinks so. In his 300-page report on the Independent Street Checks Review he oversaw, officially released Friday, Tulloch does a pretty good job busting causation down to correlation.

In 2013, he observes, Toronto police agreed to ramp down “street checks” (an interaction producing “identifying information … concerning an individual … that is not part of an investigation”) and “carding” (when “a police officer randomly asks an individual to provide identifying information when there is no objectively suspicious activity,” and the individual isn’t suspected of or to have knowledge of any offence, and the information winds up stored in a database).

Despite that, the city’s homicide count held steady at 57-59 per annum until 2016, when it spiked to 75. In 2017, the year the rules came fully into effect, the number dropped to 65, before soaring to 96 in 2018 — the highest in a decade.

The number of shooting incidents, meanwhile, has hardly budged since the new rules came into force: There were 406 in 2016, 390 in 2017 and 424 in 2018. Furthermore, some areas of the city where carding was most prevalent — Jane and Finch, Rexdale, Lawrence Heights — saw dramatic decreases in shooting incidents. Whereas getting guns off the street is a common justification for intrusive police tactics, such as New York City’s stop-question-and-frisk, firearm seizures in Toronto skyrocketed after the new regulations came into place. And other Ontario municipalities reported no similar surges in crime. Overall, homicides in Ontario dropped from 2016 to 2017.

In short, it’s far easier to make a case that carding has no effect at all on serious crime than that it has a huge one. But even if previous carding practice had “worked,” even if the new regulation had stopped it from working, it barely even amounts to a defence. As Tulloch notes, “the regulation simply gives effect to the existing law that people do not have to provide their identification when there are no reasonable grounds to believe the person has committed an offence.”

If carding “worked,” in other words, it relied on citizens not knowing or caring about their already-existing right to be left alone whilst minding their own business, or being too intimidated to exercise that right — as well they might be. Politely refusing an armed man or woman’s request to identify yourself is no small thing, all the more so if you have “nothing to hide.”

The problems inherent in such a situation are myriad. There are quantifiable harms: People were denied jobs and security clearances, and in at least one case menaced by child services, thanks to information stored in police databases that implicated them in nothing other than being included in a police database. And there are more existential harms. Imagine growing up with a squeaky-clean nose yet constantly feeling like a person of police interest. It’s profoundly alienating, especially when targets quite logically conclude, based on well-documented statistics if not their own intuition, that they’re being harassed because of their race, skin colour or some other innate characteristic. It’s no less insidious if the bias is unconscious; it might even be more so.

Nothing good can come from it, and plenty bad. It hinders police in solving crimes, for one thing: “When a segment of society believes that it has been unfairly targeted by the police,” Tulloch writes, “it will delegitimize the police in their eyes.” All those desperate calls for witnesses to come forward will be met more skeptically. Tulloch cites research showing “inappropriate interaction with police” can even “desensitize young people from guilt regarding potential acts of crime.”

Tulloch has scores of recommendations, including clarifying what he argues are overly complex rules for officers; requiring officers to tell people when a conversation is voluntary; including written reasons for the existence of any database record; and destroying those records automatically after five years.

As he says, the police have lots of powers at their disposal — including the power to stop and question people if officers have a legitimate, articulable “reason to believe the identifying information would be valuable police intelligence.” That still goes too far for some civil libertarians. But it’s maddening there are still people who object to the very idea of eliminating truly random stop-and-question policies; people who can’t grasp just how anathema that idea ought to be in a free society, how profoundly it undermines the social contract that underpins modern Western policing; people who could actually take issue with Tulloch’s most fundamental recommendation: “No police service should randomly stop people in order to collect and record identifying information and create a database for general intelligence purposes.”

Well, obviously.

Source: Chris Selley: Police carding ought to be an anathema in a free society. How is it still up for debate?

Tories pursue high-stakes strategy in condemning United Nation’s migrant pact: John Ibbitson and Chris Selley commentaries

John Ibbitson on the politics of the CPC’s opposition to the Global Compact on Migration:

A database search suggests that the first article in a mainstream Canadian news outlet that criticized the United Nations’ new migration compact appeared on the Toronto Sun website on Nov. 30.

That document – officially the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration – is now a high-stakes controversy from which both Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau hope to profit. One of them is making a mistake. But right now, it’s hard to know who.

Liberal Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, along with representatives from more than 160 other countries, has signed the agreement in Marrakesh. Mr. Hussen called the compact “an effective way to address the challenges that migration can bring.”

This may well be true. But had it not been for the conservative media and Official Opposition sounding the alarm, most of us would never even have heard about the compact, much less Canada’s decision to join it.

Parliament hasn’t debated or voted on the agreement; the government hasn’t bothered to consult Canadians on whether they oppose or support it. This is foreign policy conducted in the dead of night.

However, there is one significant problem with Mr. Scheer’s claim that the compact will “erode our sovereign right to manage our borders.” The problem is that the thing is innocuous, a succession of bland paragraphs promising to promote this and consult on that.

The document stresses that it is not legally binding and “reaffirms the sovereign right of States to determine their national migration policy and to govern migration within their jurisdiction.”

There is a foolish clause on “sensitizing and educating media professionals.” Otherwise the document mostly commits states to sharing information, fighting human trafficking and abiding by the rule of law. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Except that’s not how others treat the document, pro and con.

Pro: Former Canadian Supreme Court justice Louise Arbour, who is now the United Nations Special Representative for International Migration, called the compact “one of the defining projects of our generation,” which “will remain the reference for all future initiatives dealing with cross-border human mobility.”

Con: The United States – well, of course, with Donald Trump as President – Australia, the Dominican Republic and Chile have not signed, along with Israel and a clutch of countries in Eastern Europe, where migrants are deeply unpopular. Rightly or wrongly, some analysts see things in those bland paragraphs that could force countries to increase their immigration and refugee intake.

This is one reason why the Conservatives are making such a big deal of the accord. Another is that demonizing the compact fits with a narrative they wish to construct: that the Liberals have lost control of the immigration system, that tens of thousands have streamed across the border illegally and that now the government is surrendering sovereignty to a dysfunctional, even corrupt, United Nations.

The truth is that, over the past six months or so, the government has managed to greatly reduce the flow of asylum claimants entering Canada from the United States. And, as I and wiser minds read it, the migration compact surrenders not a jot or tittle of Canadian sovereignty to the UN.

But many Canadians do worry about losing control of the border. This doesn’t make them anti-immigrant; it just makes them anti-uncontrolled-immigration. And even those who support increased immigration may shake their heads at the Liberal inability to manage major files. As the Tories might put it, the Liberals can’t build a pipeline, can’t control the border, won’t balance the budget.

But on the immigration issues, at least, this strategy comes with great political risk for the Conservatives. More than half the population of Mississauga is not Caucasian. Fifty-three per cent of the population of Richmond, B.C., is ethnic Chinese.

If suburban immigrant voters decide that the Conservatives have become anti-immigrant, even nativist, they will shun the party and the Conservatives will lose the next election. You cannot win at the federal level without substantial support from immigrant voters. There are just too many of them.

The Liberals take pride in how they’ve handled immigration and are happy to campaign on it. The Conservatives think the Liberals are vulnerable on immigration and are happy to campaign on it. Who is right? It will take an election to find out.

Source:     Tories pursue high-stakes strategy in condemning United Nation’s migrant pact Subscriber content John Ibbitson December 10, 2018     
And Chris Selley suggests the CPC could have made a more sophisticated critique of the Compact rather than playing the identity politics card (which the Liberals are also happy to play):
One hundred and sixty-four countries agreed to the UN Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration in Morocco on Monday. And while the ship has long since sailed, in theory, there are quite a few things in there that Canadian conservatives might have gotten behind.

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