Conservatives should show leadership on Bill 21 and defend religious freedom

Of note. Perhaps not surprising, after laying out the options, Kinsinger essentially adopts the Liberal government’s position of reserving the right to intervene in an exiting legal process:

Among the more discouraging aspects of the 2019 federal election was the failure of all major parties to take any meaningful stand against Quebec’s Bill 21. The legislation, which was passed by the National Assembly of Quebec last year, prohibits many public servants from wearing religious attire while they’re on duty. According to the Quebec government, one of the key purposes of the law is to promote the religious neutrality of the state. Civil libertarians and religious equality advocates, however, have widely denounced Bill 21 as an unjustified state intrusion into matters that fall outside of the its proper constitutional role.

To date, four separate legal challenges have been brought against Bill 21. The Quebec Superior Court will hear these cases together in the near future. In anticipation of this litigation, the Quebec government invoked section 33 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, often referred to as the notwithstanding clause. This provision constitutionally insulates laws that would otherwise violate certain rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Charter, subject to a renewal by the enacting legislature every five years.

Even with the invocation of the notwithstanding clause, Bill 21 flies directly in the face of constitutional protections that limit the state’s ability to dictate matters of conscience or religious belief. All political parties ought to be opposed to this legislation and should develop policies based on the very real grounds they would have to challenge Bill 21 if they form government. However, it is especially disappointing that Erin O’Toole, the recently elected leader of the Conservative Party, has not taken advantage of this opportunity to differentiate himself from other federal party leaders by openly opposing Bill 21.

The Tories have numerous reasons to be particularly offended by Bill 21: conservatives have long affirmed the positive and important role that religion plays in the lives of individuals and in the public square, and they often bill themselves as the strongest defenders of religious freedom, even when it seemingly clashes with other shared values.

In this sense, it is unsurprising that O’Toole has vowed to protect the rights of religious minorities both in Canada and abroad if he becomes prime minister. Yet following a meeting with Quebec Premier François Legault on Sept. 14, O’Toole told reporters he backed provincial autonomy and would not interfere on the issue of Bill 21. While O’Toole has sought to frame this as an issue of national unity, he no doubt also fears alienating Bill 21’s numerous supporters in Quebec, a province in which, many observers insist, the Conservatives must make significant inroads if they hope to regain power. Indeed, O’Toole’s decisive leadership victory over frontrunner Peter MacKay is being attributed in large part to the high support he received from Conservative members in La Belle Province.

It would nonetheless be a mistake for O’Toole to assume that the endorsement he received from Quebec Tories will translate into support from Quebec voters more generally. If past electoral performance is any indicator, the Conservatives will still face an uphill battle in Quebec when the next election is called. On this point, O’Toole would do well to remember that the road to Conservative success also goes through racially and religiously diverse ridings, especially those found in the Greater Toronto Area: it is here that a conservative defence of religious freedom can make a strong appeal to both religious and immigrant voters.

Consider the 2019 election, in which former Conservative leader Andrew Scheer’s personal religious views became a hotly debated election issue. Scheer never found a satisfying answer to an endless barrage of questions about whether he supported same-sex marriage. Had he defended himself on the grounds of religious freedom and conscience rights, and then made clear he wanted to protect these rights for all religious minorities, he might have been able to find a powerful message that resonated with voters in the ridings the Conservatives needed — and ultimately failed — to pick up.

To be sure, the Conservatives should denounce Bill 21 first and foremost as a matter of principle. But this doesn’t mean that O’Toole needs to ignore the compelling political reasons that favour taking a stand against this odious law. By promoting the rights of religious minorities, the Tories can show that religious freedom is truly about protecting the practices of all believers, and not just coded language used by social conservatives and Christians to defend their own beliefs. To this end, Garnett Genuis, a rising voice in the Conservative caucus and an early supporter of O’Toole’s leadership bid, has already shown how opposition to Bill 21 can be expanded into a broader platform for combating systemic discrimination in all its forms.

There are a range of policies that the federal government could adopt toward Bill 21, regardless of who occupies the Prime Minister’s Office. Admittedly, some of these are more advisable than others. The most radical would be to invoke the rarely used disallowance power, under which the federal government is permitted to constitutionally invalidate provincial legislation. Of all the available options, this is by far the least desirable. Although it was once employed regularly, the federal power to disallow provincial legislation has not been invoked for the better part of a century, and its use now would likely ignite a constitutional crisis concerning its legitimacy.

The next option would be for the federal cabinet to refer Bill 21 directly to the Supreme Court of Canada for an opinion on its constitutionality. The current challenges that have been brought against Bill 21 could take years to make their way through the normal appeals process. By referring the matter directly to the court of final appeal, the federal government could save these parties the considerable time and cost of litigating the constitutionality of Bill 21. Although advisory opinions don’t constitute precedents as weighty as do rulings on cases that were contested by litigants, in practice they’re usually treated as binding.

One of the key questions that will likely be addressed in the Bill 21 litigation concerns the Quebec government’s invocation of the section 33 override, even though the courts may ultimately decide to strike down the legislation on other grounds. Although invoking the notwithstanding clause was once considered taboo, provincial governments have increasingly relied on it in recent years to safeguard controversial legislation against unwanted Charter challenges. While a reference to the Supreme Court on Bill 21 would likely provide much-needed clarity on the constitutional limits of section 33, it could also result in undesirable tension with the Quebec government.

Thankfully, a less contentious alternative remains open to the federal government: the attorney general of Canada may, as of right, intervene as an added party in any litigation involving a constitutional question. Of the various responses to Bill 21 potentially available to O’Toole if he becomes prime minister, this would be the most prudent. Unlike a direct constitutional reference, an intervention by the attorney general would not force the Quebec government’s hand by initiating fresh litigation. Such an intervention could be further tailored to demonstrate the significant ways in which this law misapplies important constitutional principles, but without adopting a hard position on section 33 that risks open confrontation with the provinces.

The insistence that there are no politically viable options available to O’Toole and the Conservatives on Bill 21 rings hollow. To the contrary, Bill 21 has presented the Tories with a rare opportunity to offer leadership on a defining civil liberties issue while making the case to religious minorities that they have a home and champion in the party. The only question is whether Erin O’Toole is prepared to truly lead.

Source: Conservatives should show leadership on Bill 21 and defend religious freedom

Sensitive to claims of bias, Facebook relaxed misinformation rules for conservative pages

The social media platforms continue to undermine social inclusion and cohesion:

Facebook has allowed conservative news outlets and personalities to repeatedly spread false information without facing any of the company’s stated penalties, according to leaked materials reviewed by NBC News.

According to internal discussions from the last six months, Facebook has relaxed its rules so that conservative pages, including those run by Breitbart, former Fox News personalities Diamond and Silk, the nonprofit media outlet PragerU and the pundit Charlie Kirk, were not penalized for violations of the company’s misinformation policies.

Facebook’s fact-checking rules dictate that pages can have their reach and advertising limited on the platform if they repeatedly spread information deemed inaccurate by its fact-checking partners. The company operates on a “strike” basis, meaning a page can post inaccurate information and receive a one-strike warning before the platform takes action. Two strikes in 90 days places an account into “repeat offender” status, which can lead to a reduction in distribution of the account’s content and a temporary block on advertising on the platform.

Facebook has a process that allows its employees or representatives from Facebook’s partners, including news organizations, politicians, influencers and others who have a significant presence on the platform to flag misinformation-related problems. Fact-checking labels are applied to posts by Facebook when third-party fact-checkers determine their posts contain misinformation. A news organization or politician can appeal the decision to attach a label to one of its posts.

Facebook employees who work with content partners then decide if an appeal is a high-priority issue or PR risk, in which case they log it in an internal task management system as a misinformation “escalation.” Marking something as an “escalation” means that senior leadership is notified so they can review the situation and quickly — often within 24 hours — make a decision about how to proceed.

Facebook receives many queries about misinformation from its partners, but only a small subsection are deemed to require input from senior leadership. Since February, more than 30 of these misinformation queries were tagged as “escalations” within the company’s task management system, used by employees to track and assign work projects.

The list and descriptions of the escalations, leaked to NBC News, showed that Facebook employees in the misinformation escalations team, with direct oversight from company leadership, deleted strikes during the review process that were issued to some conservative partners for posting misinformation over the last six months. The discussions of the reviews showed that Facebook employees were worried that complaints about Facebook’s fact-checking could go public and fuel allegations that the social network was biased against conservatives.

The removal of the strikes has furthered concerns from some current and former employees that the company routinely relaxes its rules for conservative pages over fears about accusations of bias.

Two current Facebook employees and two former employees, who spoke anonymously out of fear of professional repercussions, said they believed the company had become hypersensitive to conservative complaints, in some cases making special allowances for conservative pages to avoid negative publicity.

“This supposed goal of this process is to prevent embarrassing false positives against respectable content partners, but the data shows that this is instead being used primarily to shield conservative fake news from the consequences,” said one former employee.

About two-thirds of the “escalations” included in the leaked list relate to misinformation issues linked to conservative pages, including those of Breitbart, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Gateway Pundit. There was one escalation related to a progressive advocacy group and one each for CNN, CBS, Yahoo and the World Health Organization.

There were also escalations related to left-leaning entities, including one about an ad from Democratic super PAC Priorities USA that the Trump campaign and fact checkers have labeled as misleading. Those matters focused on preventing misleading videos that were already being shared widely on other media platforms from spreading on Facebook and were not linked to complaints or concerns about strikes.

Facebook and other tech companies including Twitter and Google have faced repeated accusations of bias against conservatives in their content moderation decisions, though there is little clear evidence that this bias exists. The issue was reignited this week when Facebook removed a video posted to Trump’s personal Facebook page in which he falsely claimed that children are “almost immune” to COVID-19. The Trump campaign accused Facebook of “flagrant bias.”

Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone did not dispute the authenticity of the leaked materials, but said that it did not provide the full context of the situation.

In recent years, Facebook has developed a lengthy set of rules that govern how the platform moderates false or misleading information. But how those rules are applied can vary and is up to the discretion of Facebook’s executives.

In late March, a Facebook employee raised concerns on an internal message board about a “false” fact-checking label that had been added to a post by the conservative bloggers Diamond and Silk in which they expressed outrage over the false allegation that Democrats were trying to give members of Congress a $25 million raise as part of a COVID-19 stimulus package.

Diamond and Silk had not yet complained to Facebook about the fact check, but the employee was sounding the alarm because the “partner is extremely sensitive and has not hesitated going public about their concerns around alleged conservative bias on Facebook.”

Since it was the account’s second misinformation strike in 90 days, according to the leaked internal posts, the page was placed into “repeat offender” status.

Diamond and Silk appealed the “false” rating that had been applied by third-party fact-checker Lead Stories on the basis that they were expressing opinion and not stating a fact. The rating was downgraded by Lead Stories to “partly false” and they were taken out of “repeat offender” status. Even so, someone at Facebook described as “Policy/Leadership” intervened and instructed the team to remove both strikes from the account, according to the leaked material.

In another case in late May, a Facebook employee filed a misinformation escalation for PragerU, after a series of fact-checking labels were applied to several similar posts suggesting polar bear populations had not been decimated by climate change and that a photo of a starving animal was used as a “deliberate lie to advance the climate change agenda.” This claim was fact-checked by one of Facebook’s independent fact-checking partners, Climate Feedback, as false and meant that the PragerU page had “repeat offender” status and would potentially be banned from advertising.

A Facebook employee escalated the issue because of “partner sensitivity” and mentioned within that the repeat offender status was “especially worrisome due to PragerU having 500 active ads on our platform,” according to the discussion contained within the task management system and leaked to NBC News.

After some back and forth between employees, the fact check label was left on the posts, but the strikes that could have jeopardized the advertising campaign were removed from PragerU’s pages.

Stone, the Facebook spokesperson, said that the company defers to third-party fact-checkers on the ratings given to posts, but that the company is responsible for “how we manage our internal systems for repeat offenders.”

“We apply additional system-wide penalties for multiple false ratings, including demonetization and the inability to advertise, unless we determine that one or more of those ratings does not warrant additional consequences,” he said in an emailed statement.

He added that Facebook works with more than 70 fact-checking partners who apply fact-checks to “millions of pieces of content.”

Facebook announced Thursday that it banned a Republican PAC, the Committee to Defend the President, from advertising on the platform following repeated sharing of misinformation.

But the ongoing sensitivity to conservative complaints about fact-checking continues to trigger heated debates inside Facebook, according to leaked posts from Facebook’s internal message board and interviews with current and former employees.

“The research has shown no evidence of bias against conservatives on Facebook,” said another employee, “So why are we trying to appease them?”

Those concerns have also spilled out onto the company’s internal message boards.

One employee wrote a post on 19 July, first reported by BuzzFeed News on Thursday, summarizing the list of misinformation escalations found in the task management system and arguing that the company was pandering to conservative politicians.

The post, a copy of which NBC News has reviewed, also compared Mark Zuckerberg to President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Just like all the robber barons and slavers and plunderers who came before you, you are spending a fortune you didn’t build. No amount of charity can ever balance out the poverty, war and environmental damage enabled by your support of Donald Trump,” the employee wrote.

The post was removed for violating Facebook’s “respectful communications” policy and the list of escalations, previously accessible to all employees, was made private. The employee who wrote the post was later fired.

“We recognize that transparency and openness are important company values,” wrote a Facebook employee involved in handling misinformation escalations in response to questions about the list of escalations. “Unfortunately, because information from these Tasks were leaked, we’ve made them private for only subscribers and are considering how best to move forward.”

Source: https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/sensitive-claims-bias-facebook-relaxed-misinformation-rules-conservative-pages-n1236182

UK #Coronavirus: ‘World has changed’ and harsh new immigration rules must be rethought, Tory MPs tell Boris Johnson

Needed rethink. All governments will likely have to review their ranking and selection systems given the importance of the essential and lower-skilled support workers:

Conservative MPs have called on Boris Johnson to rethink his harsh new immigration rules, because “the world has changed” with the vital role played by lower-paid migrant staff during the pandemic.

Ahead of the plans reaching the Commons on Monday, former ministers have spoken out about their fears for the NHS and social care, as well as tourism, hospitality and farming – one branding the rules “stupid”.

One Tory MP warned of “very serious consequences” if care homes – where a quarter of Covid-19 deaths have taken place – lose more staff, while a second pointed out that many hospital cleaners and porters are EU migrants.

Caroline Nokes, a former Home Office minister, called for urgent changes, telling The Independent: “If the last six weeks have shown us anything, it is that we are dependent upon workers from all round the globe, but in large numbers the EU, for many essential roles.”

And Stephen Hammond, a former health minister, said: “I believe an exemption for social care workers is one that would be widely welcomed.”

The crackdown drawn up by home secretary Priti Patel – to replace free movement of EU citizens, from next January – will impose a minimum salary threshold of £25,600 for most workers seeking to enter the UK.

There will be no exemptions for so-called low-skilled jobs, other than seasonal workers, and social care has been excluded from a list of shortage occupations with a more lenient wage floor of as low as £20,480.

Around 70 per cent of the 200,000 EU migrants who come to the UK each year are expected to be excluded by the new rules, officials believe – which would mean around 140,000 shut out.

Even before the coronavirus laid bare how care services depend on migrant workers – some of whom have paid the ultimate price – the package was branded “a disaster” by social care leaders, who fear a deepening recruitment crisis.

Ms Nokes said she supported what the Home Office calls a “points-based system”, recognising education level, ability to speak English and shortage occupations, which will apply to migrants from anywhere in the world.

But she warned: “The Home Office will also have to build in flexibilities to make sure we don’t run out of carers, child care workers, farm labourers, road hauliers, retail assistants.

“These may not be regarded as ‘skilled’ workers in cold immigration terms, but do any of us look at those care workers on the front line of the battle against Covid-19 and think of them as ‘unskilled’?”

Steve Double, the MP for St Austell and Newquay, in Cornwall, said: “The proposals came out of what we thought back in December and January, but the world has changed. We are now looking at a very different world.”

On social care, he added: “There are very serious consequences if we get this wrong and there is no one to care for an elderly person in a residential home.”

Sir Roger Gale, the MP for North Thanet, in Kent, said: “Unless and until there is a sea change in our attitude to funding social care, we are not going to attract the people to fill the vacancies.”

He also pointed to the NHS’s dependence on migrants for ancillary staff, adding: “We have got to reflect the reality and, while I understand what Priti is trying to achieve, now is not the moment.”

One former senior minister said the plans now looked “stupid”, adding: “In the light of recent events, these salary thresholds make no sense at all and may be counterproductive, by arbitrarily increasing the salaries of the migrant workers we will still desperately need.”

Sally Warren, director of policy at The King’s Fund, said there were 122,000 social care job vacancies – while one in six staff are non-British – adding: “It is hard to see how staff shortages can be plugged without overseas recruitment.

“As the care sector struggles to cope with the ongoing impact of Covid-19, the government cannot allow international recruitment to fall off a cliff.”

The row came amid anger over Ms Patel’s refusal – revealed by The Independent – to waive the £624 immigration health surcharge for foreign healthcare workers.

The Immigration and Social Security Coordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill will have its second reading on Monday, in a race against time to complete the dramatic shake-up in just seven months – with an extension to the post-Brexit transition period ruled out.

However, the bill itself will simply end free movement, with the battle to come in future months over salary thresholds and shortage occupations which will be settled in secondary legislation.

Nevertheless, the Liberal Democrats vowed to vote against the “destructive” ending of free movement in the midst of the pandemic.

“Priti Patel may consider care workers to be ‘low skilled’, but they are on the front lines protecting us and our loved ones every single day,” said Christine Jardine, the party’s home affairs spokesperson.

The new rules will require migrants to speak English to “B1” level, enabling someone to, for example, open a bank account, or cope with “most situations” at home, work or leisure.

The are expected to be charged around £1,200 for a work visa, or £900 in a shortage occupation – the same fee paid by non-EU migrants currently.

Ms Patel has hailed Brexit as a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to strengthen the security of the UK border”, blaming free movement for letting in illegal immigrants, terrorists, drugs and guns.

“We will attract the brightest and the best from around the globe, boosting the economy and our communities, and unleash this country’s full potential,” she said in February.

Source: Coronavirus: ‘World has changed’ and harsh new immigration rules must be rethought, Tory MPs tell Boris Johnson

The Tories need a leader with vision – or risk losing young conservatives like me

Will be interesting to see how this plays out and how representative this view is:

Once again, the future of the Conservative Party of Canada is in the hands of its membership. And once again, I find myself needing to make a desperate plea to my fellow party members.

As was the case in the leadership race in 2017, the party faces an existential debate about its post-Stephen Harper identity. Andrew Scheer tried to forge one, but he failed to win an election that was his to lose.

And as was the case in 2017, the Tories will vote in a leadership contest in which some of the more bigoted tenets of social conservatism are part of the discourse.

I have been involved in partisan conservative politics off and on since 2013. In 2016, I successfully advocated to remove the traditional definition of marriage (between one man and one woman) from our policy declaration. I did not think I would have to debate the topic in 2016; I did not think it would be an issue in 2020.

I believe individuals like Richard Décarie, who declared his candidacy for the leadership and stated that being gay is a choice, represent a very small minority within the party; I am relieved that party HQ ultimately barred him from running when the window for applications closed last week. However, I’m left to wonder why people like him feel at home in my party.

And it’s forced me again to wonder whether, despite the constant platitudes around renewal, energizing young voters and incorporating more colour into the face of conservatism in Canada, the party might be more concerned about maintaining its aging base than losing a conservative, university-educated millennial professional and visible minority like me.

To enact real change, we need a leader with a clear vision for this country and for the future of conservatism. I consider myself a small-c conservative in ideology, but I often struggle to explain to my peers why I am a big-C Conservative when the Tories project themselves as little more than the party of boutique tax credits and blanket opposition to the carbon tax.

We need a leader who is focused on building strong communities and families, but doesn’t care what your family looks like. In our future leader, we should expect so much more than a declaration of support for same-sex marriage or empty chest-thumping about how blue you are. Let’s define what conservatism is for, and not let it become what we are against.

Still, our next leader must encourage a diversity of viewpoints within the party and a healthy respect for those who you do not agree with. This does not collide with my relief at Mr. Decarie being prevented from running; believing that being gay is a choice indicates a desire to roll back the hard-earned rights of others while believing that, say, a consumption tax may be a valid policy solution is a fact-supported idea that’s worth considering in the pursuit of fresh thinking.

That wasn’t my experience. When I worked to change the Tories’ policy declaration regarding the definition of marriage, it was out of a belief that conservatism does not mean things must stay the same forever; rather, it’s about looking to conserve what is good while working to continually make things better. But my efforts were met with intense criticism from fellow party members, simply because I dared to have a different opinion from traditionally held policy views.

Party members shouldn’t have to endure the same level of verbal abuse I did. We need a leader who will not tolerate attempts to bully our members – not by those on the left, and certainly not by our own.

To that point, the next Conservative leader needs to speak out against Quebec’s Bill 21, which bars some public servants from wearing religious symbols and clothing, and advocate for us regardless of race, religion or creed. Real leaders don’t stand idle while others have their rights threatened. Canadians deserve a leader who will defend all of us, without weighing the risk of alienating certain voters.

And we need a leader who will not let party members be tolerant of bigotry and racism – pure and simple. Such people will always exist in Canada, and they will loudly espouse their views. But silence on these issues in the name of free speech is no longer acceptable. For me, and many like me, this is non-negotiable. It will be either me, or them.

So, my fellow party members: What will it be? Will we elect a leader who will grow the party base by fighting to keep disillusioned young conservatives like me? The alternative – a party content to drift down the same, identity-less path as it has for the past three years – is too dispiriting to consider.

Source: The Tories need a leader with vision – or risk losing young conservatives like me: Natalie Pon

Change to citizenship oath not needed, [Conservative MP] Melillo

The Conservatives are making this an issue (while I agree with the original TRC proposed additional wording, the government version is excessively long – see Liberals propose changes to citizenship oath to respect Indigenous rights):

Kenora MP Eric Melillo says a change to Canada’s Oath to Citizenship shouldn’t be the priority of the House of Commons, as the Indigenous community is facing much larger issues than the wording of an oath.

In his comments at the House of Commons, Melillo spoke of Bill C-6, an act to amend the Citizenship Act. The bill aims to address the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action #94, which is to update Canada’s current Oath of Citizenship. The official oath is recited at a citizenship ceremony, and it is the final step to becoming a Canadian citizen.

“As an MP who represents 42 First Nation communities in my riding, I recently took the opportunity to speak with chiefs, community leaders and community members on their thoughts on this proposed change,” said Melillo.

The current oath reads as “I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada, and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.”

The proposed new oath reads as “I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada, including the Constitution, which recognizes and affirms the Aboriginal and treaty rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.”

“What I heard resoundingly, was that we should not be spending our time debating this, when we could be talking about issues like clean drinking water, healthcare, and many things that impact the lives of First Nation communities much more prominently,” added Melillo.

In response, Richmond Hill MP Majid Jowhari says that this is just one step on the journey of reconciliation, and more needs to be done.

As of Feb. 15, 88 long-term drinking water advisories have been lifted since November 2015, and 62 long-term drinking water advisories are still in effect. This is actually higher than the previous 57-long term advisories that were in place as of July 10, 2019.

Across Canada, northwestern Ontario has the highest concentration of long-term drinking water advisories. Of the 62 advisories remaining, 20 can be found in the Kenora District.

Source: Change to citizenship oath not needed, Melillo

Peter Kent, at Second Reading, on 24 February:

….In the week since these proposed changes were reintroduced by the government, I have received messages from constituents, and from far beyond, which contend that this amendment amounts to typical Liberal tokenism and virtue signalling, pandering and should be opposed.

    I cannot speak to the Liberal government’s motivation here, because when it comes to public policy, inconsistency and contradiction are the hallmarks of legislative process and decision-making. However, I can say that I have spoken often in this House against proposals, very often from the Liberal government, to burden various sections of clearly written sections of law, of the Criminal Code, with unneeded specificities.
    In this debate, I must be clear that I believe the existing oath of citizenship does not need to be burdened with 19 new words that I believe are redundant. If we are to add first nations specificity, why not official bilingualism, why not privacy, why not national security, why not anti-Semitism?
    Therefore, I propose the following amendment. I move:
     That the motion be amended by deleting all of the words after the word “That” and substituting the following: “this House declines to give second reading to Bill C-6, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s call to action number 94), since the existing Oath of Citizenship already includes the profound promise of citizens to faithfully observe the laws of Canada and the bill does nothing to support real action to address reconciliation with Canada’s first nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.”

Immigrants built Britain. Now their Conservative children are disowning them

Not unique to UK (e.g. Betraying their heritage: Trump’s immigration functionaries fail to understand the lessons of the Italian-Amer). In one sense, can be seen as integration:

There are few people who have done more work for recent Conservative immigration policy while not actually being in government than Sajid Javid’s father. In fact, he’s doing two jobs at once. The first is to advertise that the Tories are now the party of social mobility: Javid senior was a bus driver. The second is to be invoked constantly as a defence against charges of Conservative racism and Islamophobia – as a Muslim man, born in Pakistan, who migrated to the UK in the 1960s.

Once this brownwashing is complete, Javid senior plays one final role, with a biblical twist – he is to then be denied by his own son. The route that brought him here – paving the way to his son’s spectacular rise through the City and the government – has been blocked. Under new migration policies, Javid senior would not have been allowed in.

The new policies effectively close Britain’s borders to all those classed as unskilled workers and those who cannot speak English at a certain level. When Javid was asked, in 2018, if he was sad about supporting laws that would have barred his own father, he replied that he was “very optimistic about our future because … we will remain the global-outlook nation that welcomes people from across the world.” Just not people like his father. Last week Priti Patel was a little more blunt when she conceded that her parents, Indians from east Africa, would no longer be welcome. “This is the point,” she said. “We are changing our immigration policy to one that’s fit for purpose for our economy, based on skills.”

Source: Immigrants built Britain. Now their Conservative children are disowning them

Cabinet, Parliamentary Secretary and CPC critic comparison

Now that the parliamentary secretaries have been announced, I prepared this chart that compares representation of women, visible minorities and Indigenous peoples in cabinet, parliamentary secretary appointments and Conservative critic roles. Given the relatively small size of the Bloc and NDP caucuses, have not bothered to do the same as virtually every member of those two parties plays a critic role.

The Liberal commitment to a gender-balanced cabinet means that women are comparatively over-represented compared to their share of caucus. Conversely, and likely to balance caucus representation, women parliamentary secretaries are comparatively under-represented. The Conservatives, on the other hand, have compensated for their relative lack of women MPs by ensure that one-quarter have the higher profile critic roles.

For visible minorities, with the reference population adjusted to visible minorities who are citizens, the Liberals not only elected more visible minority MPs but have ensured that cabinet and parliamentary secretary representation is comparable to their caucus representation. The Conservatives have also chosen to highlight their visible minority MPs in their critic appointments.

For Indigenous peoples, the Liberals have slight under-representation in cabinet and parliamentary secretary appointments compared to the population and caucus.

Experts say Scheer’s plan to close border loophole ‘doomed to failure’

More political positioning than realistic options for many of the reasons listed:

Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer says that, if elected, he would close the loophole in the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) that allows people to make refugee claims in Canada even if they enter the country at an unofficial border crossing.

The Conservatives also aren’t ruling out creating detention camps at the border to house irregular migrants while their claims are being processed.

Asked directly if detention camps were something a Conservative government would create at the border, the Conservatives said the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act provides criteria for detaining asylum seekers. This leaves the option of creating detention camps at the border open.

Scheer’s pledge, made Wednesday at Roxham Road in Quebec, came with few details on exactly how he would close the loophole.

Scheer said his “preferred option” would be to renegotiate the STCA with the U.S., but when pressed on what he would do if U.S. President Donald Trump refused to make a deal, Scheer was light on details.

“There are other options. There are other tools available to the government that we will also be exploring,” Scheer said.

The rising rhetoric around refugees is fuelling many falsehoods about whether these new arrivals pose a threat

One of these options is to declare the entire Canada-U.S. border an official port of entry. This way, people entering the country would be covered by the STCA and — if they do not qualify for an exemption under the agreement — would be sent back to the U.S.

Scheer suggested this is one of the options he’s looking at when he said “we can apply the principles of the Safe Third Country Agreement at other points along the border.”

But migration experts, border security officials and the government have questioned whether this is possible.

Sharry Aiken, a Queen’s University law professor, says any plan to scrap the loophole in the STCA without agreement from the U.S. is “doomed to failure.”

Meanwhile, she says expanding the agreement to cover the entire border is nonsensical because Canada does not have the resources to enforce this type of mass “securitization” of the border, nor is this type of strategy effective.

Aiken points to the U.S.-Mexico border as an example of why increased security does not mean fewer irregular migrants.

“As we can see in relation to what’s going on with respect to America’s efforts in relation to Mexico, they’re an abysmal failure,” she said. “People are still crossing, just at higher costs and at peril to their lives. People are dying all the time.”

A Conservative spokesperson later clarified Scheer’s comments on this issue. The Conservatives said it’s not their policy to expand official port of entry status to the entire border. Instead, they would “pursue a regulatory approach to ensure that the principles of the Safe Third Country Agreement are applied and people are not able to jump the queue.”

Promise would require new legislation

Since spring 2017, there has been a significant influx of asylum seekers in Canada, many of whom entered the country irregularly at unofficial border crossings.

The total number of asylum claims made in Canada in 2018 was 55,000, of which about one-third crossed the border irregularly. This was up from 23,500 total claims two years earlier.

In addition to pledging to close the loophole in the STCA, Scheer said he would move existing judges from the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) closer to the border and widely used unofficial crossings to speed up the processing time for claims and make crossing “illegally” less attractive.

But Aiken and others say Scheer could not do this without first introducing new legislation to change the IRB’s mandate. That’s because the IRB operates independently of the government, and administrative decisions are strictly the authority of the IRB’s chairperson, she said.

Raoul Boulakia, a Toronto-based immigration lawyer, says moving refugee judges to the border would also make it a lot harder for asylum seekers to access a lawyer — a right they are guaranteed under Canada’s Constitution.

Meanwhile, Craig Damian Smith, director of the Global Migration Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, said Scheer’s pledge lacks vital details.

For example, he wonders if Scheer would create detention camps at the border for asylum seekers who enter the country irregularly to be held while their claims are processed.

Scheer claims asylum seekers are ‘skipping the line’

Smith also questions the logistics of the move. The IRB isn’t just made up of judges, he said. There are translators, administrative staff, offices and other things needed in order for claims to be heard and judges to be able to do their jobs.

Smith says holding asylum seekers at the border while their claims are processed — no matter how quickly this is done — presents other problems, such as limiting their ability to work, pay taxes and receive health care.

The Conservative Party, meanwhile, says that if elected, it will amend existing immigration legislation and regulations to make sure IRB judges can be deployed to irregular crossing “hot spots.”

The money needed to relocate IRB judges will come from existing budgets, Conservatives say, adding that there are no plans to change current work-permit rules for people whose asylum claims are allowed to go forward.

Ex-minister under Hussein made refugee claim in Canada

Conservatives point out that immigration detention already takes place in Canada. However, there are currently no immigration detention centres at the border. Instead, would-be refugees who cannot prove their identity, are a flight risk or who could pose a security risk are detained at facilities in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.

Some asylum seekers are also held in long-term detention in provincial jails. According statistics from the Canada Border Services Agency, the average stay in immigration detention in 2017-18 was 14 days.

Under current rules, asylum seekers are allowed to move freely within Canada once their claims are made and so long as they are not detained. Unless laws are changed, Smith said, moving IRB judges to the border would not change this and likely will not speed up the hearing process.

Scheer has repeatedly said closing the STCA loophole would make Canada’s immigration system fairer, more orderly and more compassionate.

Source: Experts say Scheer’s plan to close border loophole ‘doomed to failure”

Daphne Bramham: Misleading Conservative ads fan fears in Chinese community

Chinese Canadians were among the most opposed to cannabis legalization which continues to be covered in Chinese language media. This fake news exploits this opposition:

The close-up image of lines of white powder, a razor blade and thick, white fingers is startling enough for most Facebook users. But it’s the words in the Conservative Party of Canada’s Facebook ad — in Chinese characters — that are more attention grabbing.

“(Liberal Leader Justin) Trudeau has already legalized marijuana, he now plans to legalize hard drugs! If you want to get the latest in Chinese, please press Like in our Facebook page.”

Alarming? Yes, it is. It’s also not true.

The message is repeated in a bilingual (Chinese/English) post dated Oct. 5 on the Conservative Party’s Chinese-language Facebook page. “Do you want Justin Trudeau to legalize hard drugs in your community?” reads the headline. “Justin Trudeau has a plan to legalize hard drugs!”

No similar posting was made on the party’s main English-language Facebook page.

The Conservatives base the fake claim on an exchange between Conservative leader Andrew Scheer and Trudeau during a recent leaders’ debate. In French, Scheer accuses the Liberals of having a “secret agenda to legalize or decriminalize hard drugs.”

But Liberal spokesman Guy Gallant said Wednesday, “That (legalization) is not in our plans.”

What the Liberals’ platform says is that the “default option for first-time, non-violent offenders” would require going to drug court where they would get “quick access to treatment,” which in turn would “prevent more serious crimes.”

To make it work, the Liberals promise more community-based services, more residential treatment beds as well as a scaling up of the most effective harm-reduction services such as supervised consumption sites.

Although it lacks many details, it sounds similar to what Portugal did in 2001 in response to its opioid addiction crisis.

There, all street drugs (including marijuana) are illegal. But anyone found with drugs within the set limits for personal use is sent to the Commission for the Dissuasion of Drug Addiction, where counsellors and therapists come up with a plan to direct the user to whatever services are needed to help them quit taking drugs.

Anyone found with larger amounts is charged with trafficking, goes through the criminal justice system, and can be sent to jail for up to 12 years.

Drug use in Portugal, once the highest in Europe, is now amongst the lowest, especially among youth, according to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction’s 2019 report.

While Portugal had only 30 overdose deaths in 2016, the year quoted in the report, 4,588 Canadians died from overdoses in 2018, and another 1,082 died in the first three months this year.

“If Justin Trudeau tells us precisely when he is going to legalize dangerous drugs, we will amend our ads to reflect the new information,” Conservative spokesman Simon Jefferies said Wednesday in an email.

All but one of the links provided by Conservatives to “prove” that Liberals would legalize illicit drugs — the French-language debate clip, a Trudeau interview with Global TV, news stories about individual Liberal candidates, and a YouTube videofrom the 2018 Liberal convention — all refer not to legalization, but to decriminalization. Some even include specific references to the Portuguese model.

The exception was a 2014 tweet from Michael Den Tandt, the Liberal candidate in the Ontario riding of Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound. At the time, he was a National Post reporter and his tweet urged legalization and control of recreational drugs and prostitution, along with an end to supply management and lower taxes. None of those are Liberal party policies.

Conservatives deny a deliberate attempt to confuse voters by using “decriminalization” and “legalization” interchangeably.

The Conservatives have yet to release their full platform, but last week Scheer promised to “tackle drug addiction” in an announcement that focused on guns, gangs and sentencing.

A background paper released at the same time said Conservatives would invest in treatment and recovery centres, including recovery high schools, have a national campaign warning children and youth about the dangers of drug use, and partner with municipalities and schools to clean up used needles.

Illicit drugs are anathema for many new Canadians from Asia and for those who recall China’s opium wars. In Hong Kong, for example, penalties for possession of illicit drugs can be up to seven years in jail and a fine of C$170,000. In China, drug trafficking can bring the death penalty, as two Canadians found out earlier this year. Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand also have a death penalty for trafficking.

As was apparent when Trudeau’s government legalized marijuana, changing drug laws is much less acceptable to many Asian voters than to other Canadians. And it just so happens that Chinese-speaking voters account for a significant percentage in some of the most heavily contested ridings — including Richmond Centre, Steveston-Richmond East, and Vancouver Kingsway.

Deliberately creating confusion and misunderstanding has, unfortunately, proven to be a far too effective strategy south of the border, and it seems to have made its way north.

Bad at any time, it’s worse when it targets voters whose first language isn’t English, and especially confuses an issue that affects thousands of Canadians with addictions whose lives are at stake every day.

Yet, that’s what Conservatives are willing to risk in this ugly, too-close-to-call election.

Source: Daphne Bramham: Misleading Conservative ads fan fears in Chinese community

Liberals keeping Cape Breton candidate despite past racist, sexist remarks on social media

Hard to defend keeping this candidate apart from the need to save a safe Liberal seat.

In contrast, the Conservative decision to dump their candidate in Burnaby North-Seymour was easier, as the Conservatives ran third, albeit with 28 percent of the vote in 2015:

Justin Trudeau says past racist and sexist social-media posts from a Liberal candidate in Cape Breton were “unacceptable,” but the party is not dropping Jaime Battiste from its election campaign roster.

Sunday marked the first time Mr. Trudeau has publicly commented on Mr. Battiste’s remarks since Friday, when the Toronto Sun revealed past Facebook and Twitter posts in which the Liberal candidate for Sydney-Victoria made offensive remarks about women, Indigenous girls, gay men and Chinese people with accents. Mr. Battiste has since apologized for the posts, which date back as far as 2011, saying he wrote the posts during “difficult times” in his life.

Speaking to reporters in Plainfield, Ont., Sunday, Mr. Trudeau was asked if he felt he was limited in the action he could take against other Liberal candidates because of past photos of him in blackface and brownface, but he didn’t answer the question directly.

“We recognize that Jaime Battiste … took responsibility for his actions and has apologized,” Mr. Trudeau said.

In response to an interview request for Mr. Battiste, the Liberal Party referred to his apology instead.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer had the day off on Sunday, but his party took to Twitter to ask if Mr. Trudeau needs to “see more before he finally fires him.”

Meanwhile, the Conservatives were dealing with another controversial candidate of their own. The party dropped Heather Leung as its candidate for Burnaby North-Seymour on Friday over offensive comments she made about the LGBTQ community.

However, video posted by CityNews in Vancouver on Saturday showed Ms. Leung’s team still putting up Conservative campaign signs with her name on them.

In a statement on Sunday, Conservative spokesperson Simon Jefferies said Ms. Leung has been told she cannot use the party’s name or logo, or represent herself as the Tory candidate.

All of the major parties have had candidate troubles. Cameron Ogilvie stepped down as Conservative candidate in Winnipeg last month over discriminatory social-media posts.

Source: Liberals keeping Cape Breton candidate despite past racist, sexist remarks on social media