#WelcomeRefugees: Milestones and key figures

_WelcomeRefugees__Key_figures_1To the government’s credit, it is providing regular updates on the number of Syrian refugees, even if these show that the degree to which it has failed to meet its revised commitments.

_WelcomeRefugees__Key_figures_2Contrast this with the previous government’s repeated refusal to provide specific numbers until forced to.

On the less positive side, the regular CIC operational statistics for citizenship and immigration have not been updated since March 2015.

These should be released as automatically, and without political interference, as regular Statistics Canada data releases.

Source: #WelcomeRefugees: Milestones and key figures

Refugees and the long political journey: Martin Patriquin

A reminder, as if needed, just how much can change with new political direction, and the ideology and values of the previous government’s restrictive approach. Must read:

Given all this, I asked Vassallo, a 27-year CIC veteran, why the Canadian government took so long to get comparatively few suffering souls to this country. “I can’t answer that, it’s a political question,” he said, with a hint of a smile.

Unfortunately, Vassallo is right, and his non-answer is a reminder of what happens when a life-or-death issue of refugees gets fed into the cauldron of partisan politics, then further distilled by an at times ugly election campaign. In a sense, the machinations by which potential refugees are sorted and selected should be as apolitical as, say, getting one’s license renewed. Yet as the previous Conservative government demonstrated, there was a distinct attempt to shape and direct the work of its civil servants here and overseas when it came to the victims of the crisis in Syria.

Last January, Stephen Harper’s government announced plans to bring in 10,000 Syrian refugees over three years. Yet several months later, only about 10 per cent of this number had been admitted—in part, it seems, because of a directive from Harper’s office itself that attempted to halt the screening process. At the time, it was presented as a security measure “to ensure the integrity of our refugee referral system,” as Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander put it at the time.

Numerous sources, including one with first-hand knowledge of the processing of refugees, said the directive was less about security than about ensuring that Christian minorities took precedence over Muslims. “You got the feeling they were trying to cherry pick religious minorities,” one source said. (Syria, which is majority Sunni Muslim, has a sizeable Christian minority.)

It took the picture of Alan Kurdi, whose lifeless body washed up on a Turkish beach, for the government to slacken the reigns somewhat. Because Kurdi’s family was trying to reach Canada, the political intonations on the Harper election campaign were profound. On Sept 10, eight days after the picture made headlines worldwide, the government waived the stipulation that “resettlement candidates” must provide information regarding why they fled their country of origin.

“Going forward, unless there is evidence to the contrary, visa officers will be able to presume those fleeing the conflict meet the definition of a refugee, which will make processing faster,” reads a CIC briefing document.

There is a certain irony in this. The  government to first make a significant security-related change to the processing of refugees—arguably making it easier for Syrians and Iraqis to make it to these shores—was that of the ostensibly security-first, tough-on-terror Stephen Harper. And he did so as a political calculation, out of fear of losing an election.

Meanwhile, the “security concerns” that supposedly prevented the Harper government from increasing the numbers of refugees brought to Canada were seemingly a partisan mirage. “There have been no shortcuts to the process. They’ve accelerated it in the sense that they’ve sent over additional personnel,” Tim Bowen, chief of operations for Canadian Border Services Agency, told me. According to CIC staff, this includes the addition of some 500 officials deployed overseas to help with the effort, including between 50 and 70 visa officers.

Thankfully, there is a happy ending. First and foremost, refugees are finally arriving. Secondly, the Conservatives are critiquing the effort exactly as they should: on purely financial grounds. The refugee resettlement program will cost $671 million. It is a huge amount of money, and Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel promised to hold the government to account. “It is one thing to inspire Canadians, it’s another thing to be accountable to them,” she said.

That Rempel said as much without a fear-mongering whisper about “security concerns” shows how far the party has come in two months.

Source: Refugees and the long political journey – Macleans.ca

Ministerial Mandate Letters: Mainstreaming diversity and inclusion, and point of interest from a citizenship and multiculturalism perspective

With the Mandate letters now public, two good pieces by Susan Delacourt (You’ll be judged by how you treat others, Trudeau cabinet warned) and Paul Wells (Justin Trudeau repeats himself) on the template used to guide  Ministers on the government-wide priorities and the expected and broad code of conduct.

Delacourt notes:

Working well with others — including people in the media — is now officially part of the job description for Canadian cabinet ministers.

The “mandate letters” given to every minister are setting a new bar for co-operation in Justin Trudeau’s government, according to one letter obtained in advance of the expected public release.

In fact, if the sheer word volume in these letters is any indication, co-operation seems to be the top item on the to-do list of Trudeau’s team.

Ministers are being warned that they will be judged by how well they treat a whole raft of people — everyone from business to labour, stakeholders and citizens, and yes, the opposition and the media too.

“Members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery, indeed all journalists in Canada and abroad, are professionals who, by asking necessary questions, contribute in an important way to the democratic process. Your professionalism and engagement with them is essential,” the letter states.

….One group of people is singled out as well in the mandate letters for special treatment from government. “No relationship is more important to me and to Canada than the one with Indigenous Peoples,” the letter states.

 The notable feature of these mandate letters, as mentioned, is the amount of words devoted to culture change of the kinder, gentler sort. “Open by default” is an operating principle.
 Wells analyses further:

Possible explanations for this outbreak of boilerplate include (a) a particularly wonky form of Tourette’s; (b) a desire to put most of the country to sleep before we get to the good stuff; (c) the PM and his advisers actually think the repetitive stuff is worth repeating. I’m going to go with (c). So while many colleagues will focus on what changes from letter to letter, let’s pause here to look at what doesn’t. 

  • “Real change—in both what we do and how we do it.” … Now, these letters come from Trudeau and his staff and appear over his signature, but it’s nearly a deadlock certainty that public servants were involved in the process, and one of them will have said: Prime Minister, if you evoke “a personal commitment” to this stuff and then tell ministers they “will be held accountable for our commitment,” you’re elevating it way beyond the realm of pious nostrum. You’re making it sound like you mean it. Repeating it 30 times in letters to 30 ministers is like tracing a line in the sand, then scraping it a yard deep.
  • “Track and report on the progress of our commitments.” …., idealism and political self-interest become nearly synonymous: Trudeau wants to be able to meet voters in, probably, 2019, with a bunch of check marks next to his 2015 promises. And again, by publicly repeating that goal, he is offering up a jumbo hostage to fortune if any promise proves impossible to keep.
  • “No relationship is more important to me and to Canada than the one with”— Actually, it’s interesting here to try to guess how this sentence ends. Important relationships. Hmm. The one with . . . the United States? The United Nations? Hard-working families? Nope. Again in every letter, Trudeau elevates the relationship with “Indigenous Peoples” above every other in his personal hierarchy of priorities…..
  • “Observe the highest ethical standards in everything you do.” …“As noted in the Guidelines, you must uphold the highest standards of honesty and impartiality, and both the performance of your official duties and the arrangement of your private affairs should bear the closest public scrutiny. This is an obligation that is not fully discharged by simply acting within the law.”Expect opposition members to quote that last sentence back to Trudeau and his ministers any time one of them lands in hot water. “It’s legal” is not, in Justin Trudeau’s own judgment, a sufficient defence for poor conduct.

Diversity and Inclusion commitments:

Turning from the general to the specific with respect to citizenship and multiculturalism, what is striking are the two paragraphs, again to all ministers, mainstreaming the Government’s diversity and inclusion agenda with a commitment to end divisive politics and practices and renewed emphasis on employment equity for women, indigenous Canadians and minority groups in political appointments:
Canadians expect us, in our work, to reflect the values we all embrace: inclusion, honesty, hard work, fiscal prudence, and generosity of spirit. We will be a government that governs for all Canadians, and I expect you, in your work, to bring Canadians together.
You are expected to do your part to fulfill our government’s commitment to transparent, merit-based appointments, to help ensure gender parity and that Indigenous Canadians and minority groups are better reflected in positions of leadership.

The specific commitments for each Minister will, of course, be reflected in the performance management agreements of Deputy Ministers, which in turn will cascade down to all levels of management. Hence, these are the ones that will be met given their priority.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister

The specific commitments track the party platform commitments in immigration and refugees. On citizenship, the mandate letter expands on the platform by including repealing the revocation provisions of the C-24 Citizenship Act and the ‘intent to reside’ provision.

In other words, very surgical changes rather than more sweeping changes. For example, no mention of reversing the expansion of knowledge and language requirements from 18-54 to 14-64 year olds, nor reversing the sharp increase in citizenship fees (from $100 to $530), nor improvements in due process (oral hearings in cases of misrepresentation).

While not in the list of commitments, presumably the Minister will revise and rebrand the citizenship study guide, Discover Canada, with more inclusive substance and language, given the overall priority mentioned above.

The specific commitments are below:

As Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, your overarching goal will be to reopen Canada’s doors to welcome those who want to contribute to our country’s success. Canadians are open, accepting, and generous – qualities that should be reflected in Canada’s immigration policies and in our approach to welcoming those seeking refuge from conflict and war. Our communities are strengthened when we come together to welcome newcomers who want to build a better Canada and to help those in need.
In particular, I will expect you to work with your colleagues and through established legislative, regulatory, and Cabinet processes to deliver on your top priorities:

  1. Lead government-wide efforts to resettle 25,000 refugees from Syria in the coming months.

  2. As part of the Annual Immigration Levels Plan for 2016, bring forward a proposal to double the number of entry applications for parents and grandparents of immigrants to 10,000 a year.

  3. Give additional points under the Entry Express system to provide more opportunities for applicants who have Canadian siblings.

  4. Increase the maximum age for dependents to 22, from 19, to allow more Canadians to bring their children to Canada.

  5. Bring forward a proposal regarding permanent residency for new spouses entering Canada.

  6. Develop a plan to reduce application processing times for sponsorship, citizenship and other visas.

  7. Fully restore the Interim Federal Health Program that provides limited and temporary health benefits to refugees and refugee claimants.

  8. Establish an expert human rights panel to help you determine designated countries of origin, and provide a right to appeal refugee decisions for citizens from these countries.

  9. Modify the temporary foreign workers program to eliminate the $1,000 Labour Market Impact Assessment fee to hire caregivers and work with provinces and territories to develop a system of regulated companies to hire caregivers on behalf of families.

  10. Lead efforts to facilitate the temporary entry of low risk travelers, including business visitors, and lift the visa requirement for Mexico.

  11. Work with the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to repeal provisions in the Citizenship Act that give the government the right to strip citizenship from dual nationals.

  12. Eliminate regulations that remove the credit given to international students for half of the time that they spend in Canada and regulations that require new citizens to sign a declaration that they intend to reside in Canada.

Canadian Heritage Minister

Noteworthy for what is not in the letter: any mention of multiculturalism following its transfer back to Canadian Heritage after some eight years at the former CIC.

This will give the bureaucracy time to implement the machinery changes (time-consuming at the best of times) and re-integrate and rebuild policy and related capacity that was dispersed and weakened at CIC.

For better and worse, it will give officials a freer hand in this reintegration process and the more important policy reflections on how multiculturalism can better reflect the diversity and inclusion agenda, lost somewhat at CIC under then Minister Kenney.

This would start with a review of the priorities enunciated in 2010, where language (e.g., inclusion) and substance (e.g., employment equity, racism and discrimination):

  • build an integrated, socially cohesive society;
  • help federal and public institutions respond to the needs of a diverse society; and
  • engage in international discussions on multiculturalism.

The first opportunity to reflect this change will be the February tabling of the Annual Report on the Operation of the Canadian Multiculturalism Act, with the Ministerial message and overview (the report will cover the 2014-15 fiscal year period and thus report on the previous government’s initiatives).

However, there is a risk that the lack of political direction (and ‘supporting minister’) will undermine the ability for the multiculturalism program to play an effective policy role in the government’s overall diversity and inclusion agenda.

The overarching  commitment in the mandate letter:

As Minister of Canadian Heritage, your overarching goal will be to implement our government’s plan to strengthen our cultural and creative industries. Our cultural sector is an enormous source of strength to the Canadian economy. Canada’s stories, shaped by our immense diversity, deserve to be celebrated and shared with the world. Our plan will protect our important national institutions, safeguard our official languages, promote the industries that reflect our unique identity as Canadians, and provide jobs and economic opportunities in our cultural and creative sectors.

The one commitment related to, but much broader than multiculturalism, is with respect to reinstating the court challenges program (it provided funds to groups that need funding to contest specific policies):

  1. Work with the Minister of Justice to update and reinstate a Court Challenges Program.

Roles of Other Ministers

The Minister of Justice is expected to:

  1. Review our litigation strategy. This should include early decisions to end appeals or positions that are not consistent with our commitments, the Charter or our values. [e.g., the citizenship niqab case, cuts to refugee healthcare]

  2. Support the Minister of Canadian Heritage to restore a modern Court Challenges Program.

  3. Work with the President of the Treasury Board to enhance the openness of government, including supporting his review of the Access to Information Act to ensure that Canadians have easier access to their own personal information, that the Information Commissioner is empowered to order government information to be released and that the Act applies appropriately to the Prime Minister’s and Ministers’ Offices, as well as administrative institutions that support Parliament and the courts.

The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness has no commitment with respect to softer approaches to countering violent extremism (e.g., research, working with communities, deradicalization) although this can be implied from the overall inclusion messaging.

Link to all mandate letters:

ministerial mandate letters

Conservative refugee health care cuts were ‘economically foolish,’ John McCallum says

New IRC Minister McCallum’s priorities (while he did not discuss citizenship in this article, he has mentioned dropping revocation for dual nationals in other interviews):

The new Liberal government has committed to reverse the cuts. McCallum said that while that change won’t happen overnight, it’s high on the government’s priority list when Parliament resumes on Dec. 3.

“I don’t know if it will be on the parliamentary agenda before Christmas, but what I can tell you is that certain things will happen quickly — in a few months, if not a few weeks. And one of those is refugee health care.”

Also high on McCallum’s priority list is the Liberal plan to speed up processing times for family reunification, as a part of a renewed approach to immigration.

“Probably the biggest commitment in our platform in the medium term … is to bring down those processing times for families,” said McCallum. “We’ve promised to have a new attitude where we welcome newcomers with a smile and not with a scowl.”

In the short-term, McCallum said the most pressing issue for his department is the Liberal commitment to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees in Canada by year’s end.

He said the government is still working toward that target, but is also determined to do proper security and health checks along the way. He said the public service is working “around the clock,” looking at every option to get Syrian refugees to Canada.

Source: Conservative refugee health care cuts were ‘economically foolish,’ John McCallum says | CTV News

#Multiculturalism Transferred Back to Canadian Heritage: Impact

CM_Table_12_Transfer_to_CICThe Order in Council announcing the reversal of the 2008 transfer to CIC as part of then Minister Kenney’s Package:

His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, pursuant to paragraph 2(a) of the Public Service Rearrangement and Transfer of Duties Act, transfers, effective November 4, 2015,

(a) from the Department of Citizenship and Immigration to the Department of Canadian Heritage the control and supervision of those portions of the federal public administration in the Citizenship and Multiculturalism Branch within the Department of Citizenship and Immigration that relate to multiculturalism; and

(b) to the Minister of Canadian Heritage the powers, duties and functions of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration relating to multiculturalism.

The PCO press release indicates that responsibility for the Canadian Race Relations Foundation is also transferred but makes no reference to either the Global Centre for Pluralism or the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (the previous government gave the head of the Office for Religious Freedom the lead responsibility).

Personally  interesting,  given that I managed the transfer to CIC in 2008, and have consistently written that multiculturalism was atrophying at CIC given its more operational focus on citizenship and immigration.

As I wrote two years ago in my conclusion to Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias: Resetting Citizenship and Multiculturalism on the longer-term impact of CIC’s departmental structure and culture on the multiculturalism program:

A functional model like CIC has advantages in creating greater clarity between the policy and operational functions, but tends to reinforce the centre of gravity and allocate resources accordingly. A business line model like PCH provides more focused policy and program integration at the business line or program level, but increases rigidity and coordination issues between business lines. While the PAA structure acts as a counterweight, over time the centre of gravity will dominate. Arguably, for integration, citizenship and multiculturalism, the lines between pure policy and pure operations (e.g., citizenship ceremony design, G&C management) are less clear than for admissibility and immigration selection. Additionally, one of the legacies of the Cullen-Couture agreement transferring immigration selection and integration funding to Quebec meant CIC was largely uninterested in using the levers in citizenship and multiculturalism to highlight federal presence in Quebec. A sharp contrast to PCH which had, and viewed itself as having, a strong role in Quebec.

In many ways, the collective impact for multiculturalism will, over time, become closer to the original Reform Party objective of 1996-97 of abolishing multiculturalism and strengthening a strong, common narrative of citizenship. The Cabinet shuffle of July 2013 and the separation of the political function, which remained under Minister Kenney, from the departmental function, under Minister Alexander, is significant in that context. While political, community-based outreach is central to electoral strategies (the “fourth sister”), as evidenced by Minister Kenney’s ongoing responsibility for this critical outreach, the substantive policy and program focus on long-term integration issues will continue to decline. This is a legitimate policy choice but it is striking just how little debate this change has provoked.

The Liberal government’s decision to reverse the transfer and restore the broader Canadian Heritage identity mandate (and no longer have the file ‘travel’ with a minister), with a strong diversity and inclusion emphasis, will reinvigorate multiculturalism, both within the department and across government more generally.

However, given the dispersal of and reductions to multiculturalism resources at CIC (now IRC), considerable rebuilding will be required.

The above table highlights the FTEs and Operations and Maintennance resources transferred in 2008 (about $12 million in Grants & Contributions funding was also transferred).

Chapter 6 of my book describes the process, resource transfers and impact (available at Lulu.com, direct link My Author Spotlight).

Source: Orders in Council – Search – Privy Council Office

New passport processing system suspended after glitches, security gaps revealed

The normal risks of moving to a new system compounded by likely political direction to implement by a certain date:

Citizenship and Immigration Canada has suspended its use of a new system to process passport applications after CBC News reported about widespread glitches with the program.

The department confirmed it is “pausing” the processing of passports through the Global Case Management System in order to incorporate “lessons learned” during the testing phase. Citizenship and Immigration is also taking time to evaluate feedback from employees, said spokesman Remi Lariviere.

At least 1,500 Canadian passports have been produced under a flawed new system that opened the door to fraud and tampering, according to documents obtained by CBC/Radio-Canada.

Internal records from Citizenship and Immigration revealed the processing program was rushed into operation on May 9, despite dire warnings from senior officials that it was not ready and could present new security risks.

Lariviere insisted that no passports have been issued with security gaps.

“This is a regular part of good product management,” he said. “To be clear, at no point has the integrity or security of passport issuance been compromised.

Department warned about risks

Since the launch of the new system, officials have been scrambling to fix hundreds of glitches and seal security gaps. Weeks after the new process was brought on line, there were calls to stop production.

Those recommendations were ignored, and the passports continued to be issued in the first phase of production under the new system, designed to enhance security and integrate with other global programs.

Numerous reports show that during a period of several weeks, it was possible for Citizenship and Immigration employees to alter the photo on a passport after it had been approved. And there are numerous reports of discrepancies between information contained in the database and what actually appeared on a passport.

Source: New passport processing system suspended after glitches, security gaps revealed – Politics – CBC News

Citizenship ceremony got ‘heated’ over niqab

Convenient that this story came out now during the last week of the campaign. While it could have been an official who leaked it, more likely at the political level (although less sensitive than other leaks – see Neil Macdonald: Government sensitivity over you hearing about ‘sensitive’ information – one wonders whether CIC will call in the RCMP to investigate this one as well?).

None of this excuses the man’s behaviour and it appears CIC officials handled the situation appropriately:

A leaked e-mail obtained by the Toronto Sun, sent to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) from an official at the ceremony that day, depicts an ugly confrontation between the man and several CIC employees, including the clerk of the ceremony, assisting officers, judges and a manager.

In the e-mail, the official wrote the situation caused “considerable moral distress” to staff and those in attendance. Those involved were “distressed at the prospect of being any part of the husband’s efforts to coerce his wife.” Those who were at the ceremony said the husband and wife were there with their four children.

In accordance with protocol, a female officer with the citizenship court checked the woman’s ID and informed her she would need to unveil during the ceremony.

“This lady said ‘yes,’” a source told the Toronto Sun. “She was willing to do it.” The woman, who was the applicant for citizenship, wasn’t involved in the argument between her husband and officials.

“He’s pacing furiously and she’s just standing there,” said the source.

When the husband’s objections grew increasingly louder, CIC staff pulled the man into a side room.

People walking by could hear the yelling through the door.

“We’re talking the span of an entire citizenship ceremony this was going on.

Loud, loud, loud yelling,” the source said.

“He spent the entire time having a screaming match with the manager,” the source said.

As the argument continued, the woman “slipped into the room” where the citizenship ceremony was taking place, removed her niqab and swore the oath of citizenship.

“It was a terrible, terrible feeling to have this woman want to exercise her legal rights and to have her husband try to use us,” said the source. “And were we, you know, at the back of our minds a little bit afraid for her safety? Yes.” Federal officials refused to give specifics about what happened, but confirmed with the Sun that an incident did in fact take place on that date.

“The 10:30 a.m. ceremony was delayed by more than an hour because of a candidate’s question around a CIC policy,” said CIC spokesperson Remi Lariviere.

The right of Muslim women to remain veiled during Canadian citizenship ceremonies has defined one of the more contentious issues in this election campaign.

Source: Citizenship ceremony got ‘heated’ over niqab | Malcolm | Canada | News | Toronto

Neil Macdonald: Government sensitivity over you hearing about ‘sensitive’ information

While MacDonald is unfair to CIC DM Anita Biguzs (she had no option but to investigate the leak), his broader points are valid:

But to Biguzs and her fellow mandarins at Citizenship and Immigration, the public should never have been told any of these things in the first place, and the fact that it was constituted a grave crime.

Interestingly, Biguzs’s memo does not call the information leaked “classified.” She calls it “sensitive.” There’s a big difference.

Classified information is an official secret, determined by security professionals to be potentially injurious to national security. (Or at least that’s supposed to be how it works.)

Disclosing an official secret is a crime.

“Sensitive information,” on the other hand, is anything the government doesn’t want the public to know, and, as noted, the government that Biguzs has served for a decade doesn’t want the public to know much.

Prosecuting embarrassment

Using Biguzs’s logic, federal scientists who decide the public should know about a scientific finding about the quality of the air we breathe or water we drink are unethical underminers of democracy, too, unless they seek permission to speak, which is rather difficult to obtain nowadays in Ottawa.

Of course, when a government does want reporters to know something, the information is suddenly not sensitive at all anymore, and democracy is well-served by its disclosure, sometimes even — and I speak here with some experience — when it’s an official secret.

In the case of the immigration and passport stories, apparently, the government was embarrassed, so the RCMP are now stalking the department’s hallways, further intimidating an already scared group of bureaucrats.

Politicians, including Harper’s Conservatives, love to talk about the supreme importance of accountability. It is a word that has been milked, flogged and ridden practically to death.

So Biguzs and her political masters might want to ponder this: If the information about the refugee review and the faulty passports had been divulged in a timely fashion, as a matter of public accountability, democracy would not only have been served, there’d be no need to call the police.

Source: Neil Macdonald: Government sensitivity over you hearing about ‘sensitive’ information – Politics – CBC News

‘Not our idea,’ Ontario tells Ottawa over controversial refugee welfare restrictions | Toronto Star

Oops. Mistaking a general policy discussion on options for indicating support for a particular measure.

Given Ontario’s strong public opposition for the cuts to the IFHP for refugee claimants (partially rolled back following the successful court challenge), that Ontario had continued to fund health care for refugee claimants, hard to imagine that Ontario would support such a measure:

On Thursday, a senior federal immigration director told a Senate committee that the proposal to allow provinces to impose a minimum residency requirement for people seeking social assistance — currently embedded in the omnibus budgetary Bill C-43 — “came up” during conversations with provincial officials.

“We had a number of conversations with the Government of Ontario where we were looking at the very generous benefits Canada provided to asylum claimants in the past, when we’re trying to identify what adjustments we should be making in order to discourage inappropriate asylum claims,” said Mark Davidson, Immigration’s director general for international and intergovernmental relations.

“During that conversation, the Province of Ontario actually reminded us that there’s a provision in the federal law that limits the ability of provincial governments to make this policy choice in their own jurisdiction.”

When pushed by Toronto Senator Art Eggleton as to whether Ontario asked for the change, Davidson replied: “I wouldn’t say the Government of Ontario has specifically asked for this but certainly it’s come up in the conversation we had with them in the recent past.”

A spokesperson for Community and Social Services Minister Helena Jaczek immediately rebuffed that claim.

“The government of Ontario has not requested the ability to impose residency restrictions, and we were not consulted on this legislation,” said Amber Anderson.“

In fact, the Ministry of Community and Social Services has concerns about the potential human rights implications of imposing a waiting period for a specific group. We believe that a waiting period could impact people with legitimate refugee claims who are truly in need. We have communicated our concerns to the federal government.”

Critics and advocacy groups said the province’s response confirms that the proposed changes were undertaken by the Conservative government with little consultation.

Interesting how easily officials stray into Government political language, “very generous benefits” rather than more neutral language “benefits.” Stockholm syndrome in action.

Not our idea,’ Ontario tells Ottawa over controversial refugee welfare restrictions | Toronto Star.

Confusion reigned at CIC after Kenney kept on multiculturalism

Embassy article on how CIC had to scramble to figure out the implications of Minister Kenney retaining responsibility for the multiculturalism file, including my quotes:

The Conservative government owes its current majority in part to strong support from ethnic communities in suburban Canada, and Mr. Kenney has led the party’s efforts to appeal to immigrant diasporas.

Prime Minister Harper credited Mr. Kenney for turning “small-c conservative” immigrants into “big-C conservatives” and urged United States conservatives to learn from his party’s example during a recent sit-down interview with the Wall Street Journal in New York.

“This is a huge transformation. It’s why we’ve come to office, and have stayed in office,” Mr. Harper commented, according to a report by the Canadian Press.

Andrew Griffith, a director general for citizenship and multiculturalism at Citizenship and Immigration Canada from 2007 until 2011 and now retired, said that the decision to keep Mr. Kenney on the multiculturalism file was “a political point.”

“He engaged the communities, he developed the contacts there, he recruited candidates for the party and he played a major role in the electoral strategy of the party,” said Mr. Griffith, author of the book Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias: Resetting Citizenship and Multiculturalism.

“It didn’t make any sense for them to switch to another minister who would have to build up the relationships. I suspect that Kenney probably didn’t want to give it up either, because it’s part of his political base.”

Even in situations where Mr. Alexander is responsible for signing off on multiculturalism decisions, Mr. Griffith said that the documents make clear that the minister for multiculturalism is responsible for the substance of those decisions.

“From a bureaucratic point of view, I don’t like it because it’s messier and I think it impacts the ability to do good policy work. But from a political point of view, I understand why the prime minister made that decision,” said Mr. Griffith.

“If I were him, I probably would have made the same decision.”

Message to current public servants: be careful what you say in emails. “Confusion reigns!” may be accurate but may also be too vivid for the public!

Confusion reigned at CIC after Kenney kept on multiculturalism | Embassy – Canadas Foreign Policy Newspaper.

Earlier blog posts and reporting: