As Tories review election loss, weak support in immigrant communities a crucial issue

Article over-dramatises even if there is a need for a review.
Margins in many of these ridings were relatively small. Moreover, in Ontario, the provincial conservatives swept most of the same seats and, as the article notes, active outreach by Conservatives allowed them to make inroads.
But beyond the 41 ridings, there are an additional 93 ridings with between 20 and 50 percent visible minorities which should also be looked at:
The Conservative Party is only beginning to sift through the data from the 2021 election, but there is at least one warning light flashing red on the dashboard: the party has been nearly wiped out in Canadian ridings where visible minorities form the majority.

Of the 41 ridings in Canada where more than half the population is racialized, the Conservatives won just one in the 2021 election — Calgary Forest Lawn — despite winning 119 seats overall.

Source: As Tories review election loss, weak support in immigrant communities a crucial issue

Kheiriddin: Rebuilding the Tories’ ‘big tent’ starts with new Canadians

Somewhat bloated commentary, where Kheiriddin picks up on earlier arguments made by Tom Flanagan regarding the “fourth sister” of Canadian politics but broadens her arguments to include other issues:
In the aftermath of Canada’s 44th federal election, the Conservative party is at a crossroads. Under two successive leaders, Andrew Scheer and Erin O’Toole, it has attempted to rebuild its fabled “big tent,” and failed.
That tent has taken different forms over the years. From 1984 to 1993, with party leader Brian Mulroney in the Prime Minister’s Office, it was composed of an amalgam of Quebec nationalists, Ontario Red Tories and Western fiscal hawks. From 2006 to 2015, with Stephen Harper at the helm and in power, it comprised a microtargeted mix of suburban and exurban Ontario families, “bleu Québécois,” and the Western remains of the Reform Party.

Source: Rebuilding the Tories’ ‘big tent’ starts with new Canadians

Conservatives could have done better job talking to Chinese Canadian voters: ex-MP

Of note:

A former Conservative MP who lost his seat in the recent election thinks the party could have done a better job speaking directly to Chinese Canadians.

Kenny Chiu was defeated in Steveston-Richmond East, a British Columbia riding with many residents of Chinese descent.

The party also saw the losses of longtime Conservative MP Alice Wong in Richmond Centre and Bob Saroya in Markham-Unionville, both home to many voters with Chinese roots. Neither responded to requests for comment from The Canadian Press.

The defeats have the Conservatives wondering what happened, and what connection the losses might have to the party’s stance and messaging on China.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole has been an outspoken critic of China’s human rights abuses, calling on the Liberal government to adopt a tougher approach with the authoritarian regime.

Chiu says there’s no single reason for his loss, but points to online WeChat posts he says contained false information about the Conservatives and allegations a private member’s bill he tabled would discriminate against Chinese Canadians.

“Hindsight is always 20/20. I think there could be more proactive communication directly addressing Canadians of Chinese descent that we could have done,” Chiu said in an interview.

The party could have bought more targeted advertisements, he said, adding it’s clear the communication efforts weren’t enough to counter what he considers misinformation.

Improving how Conservatives speak to constituents is one of the issues Chiu said he had hoped to raise heading into the next session of Parliament. Another was how to reassure people that their criticism of the potential influence of the Chinese Communist Party doesn’t mean they are attacking China, a country with a rich and storied history, or its people.

O’Toole hasn’t addressed the issue specifically, but expressed general disappointment in last week’s election results, promising that what went wrong will be examined in a postelection review. Details have yet to be provided on its parameters or who will lead it.

Besides failing to grow the party in key areas like the Greater Toronto Area and Metro Vancouver, home to many immigrants and new Canadians, the Conservatives have five fewer elected people of colour because of defeats in and around these two cities, as well as in Calgary.

That comes as a hit to O’Toole’s pledge to grow the party, and make it a place where more Canadians and people of all backgrounds call home.

During the campaign he tried courting voters by telling them Conservatives were no longer their dad’s or grandfather’s party, despite having a predominantly white caucus.

For Tenzin Khangsar, who worked for Jason Kenney when the Alberta premier served as immigration minister under former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper, success in making inroads with newcomer communities came down to having an authentic presence there before any election was called.

Under Harper, Kenney prioritized aggressive outreach with diaspora communities, noting that Canada’s demographics had changed.

Kenney was a key supporter of O’Toole’s when he ran to win the party’s leadership in 2020, with O’Toole crediting his former colleague for having helped grow the party when he served in Harper’s cabinet.

More recently, Conservative MPs including Alberta’s Tim Uppal have apologized for not speaking out when he was in Harper’s government against its efforts to ban face coverings during citizenship ceremonies and its 2015 election promise to set up a so-called “barbaric cultural practices” hotline.

Source: Conservatives could have done better job talking to Chinese Canadian voters: ex-MP

After Monday’s vote, the federal Conservative caucus will be 95 per cent white

Waiting for the final results and the breakdowns for all parties for women, Indigenous peoples, visible minorities and LGBTQ. In the meantime, am posting some of the group specific articles to date, starting with the CPC:

Only seven of the Conservative candidates leading or elected in 119 ridings across the country are Black, Indigenous or a person of colour (BIPOC) — a share of the total that’s even lower now than it was before the election because some Conservative incumbents lost their seats.

A CBC News analysis of the preliminary results shows the vast majority of the MPs making up the new Conservative caucus — nearly 95 per cent — are white, even as the country’s racial makeup is diversifying. Before this election, nine per cent of Tory MPs were BIPOC.

The Conservatives retained seats in rural areas and picked up some support in Atlantic Canada — parts of the country that are, generally speaking, whiter than others. But the party struggled in Canada’s urban and suburban areas, regions where racial demographics have changed dramatically over the last 40 years due to waves of non-white immigration.

The Tory caucus will be less diverse than the class of 2019 because at least five Conservative MPs — Kenny Chiu, Nelly Shin and Alice Wong from Vancouver-area ridings, Bob Saroya from the riding of Markham-Unionville (a suburb of Toronto) and Calgary’s Jag Sahota — are on track to lose to Liberal or NDP candidates.

A Liberal spokesperson said the party is still awaiting final results, with special ballots still left to be counted in some ridings. The spokesperson said that, based on preliminary results, more than 30 per cent of the Liberal caucus will be MPs who identify as Black, Indigenous or a person of colour.

A spokesperson for the NDP said of the four new NDP MPs elected in Monday’s vote, two are Indigenous.

Under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the Liberal Party has had a lock on many of the country’s urban and suburban ridings and there’s some NDP representation in cities like Edmonton, Hamilton, Winnipeg and Vancouver.

Over the past three election cycles, the Conservatives have struggled to reach the high-water mark set in 2011 when former prime minister Stephen Harper cruised to victory thanks in part to strong suburban support in the Toronto and Vancouver areas.

The seven racially diverse Conservative candidates who were elected on Monday are Leslyn Lewis in Haldimand—Norfolk and Michael Chong in Wellington—Halton Hills (two more rural parts of Ontario), Jasraj Singh Hallan in Calgary Forest Lawn, Ziad Aboultaif and Tim Uppal in Edmonton-area seats, Alain Rayes from Richmond—Arthabaska in Quebec and Marc Dalton, who identifies as Métis, in the B.C. riding of Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge.

It’s a disappointing result for Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, who sought to bring more BIPOC Canadians into the Conservative fold as part of a push to unseat the governing Liberals.

O’Toole stressed the importance of diversity in his Monday concession speech after it became clear that the party was poised to lose some of the diversity in its caucus.

“We will continue to put in the time showing more Canadians that they are welcome in the Conservative Party of Canada,” O’Toole said at his event in Oshawa, Ont.

“Above all, we must continue to show Canadians, whether you’re black, white, brown or from any race or creed, whether you’re LGBTQ or straight, whether you are an Indigenous Canadian or came to Canada five weeks ago or five generations ago … you have a place in the Conservative Party.”

Some racialized voters ‘nervous’ about voting Conservative: activist

Sukhi Sandhu is a former Liberal voter from Surrey, B.C. who backed the Conservatives in this campaign. He’s also co-founder of Wake Up Surrey, a grassroots anti-gang violence group.

He said he has soured on what he calls Liberal “lip-service” and “performative politics” on issues that matter to his South Asian community, such as crime and gang violence, immigration fraud and international student exploitation.

Sandhu said many racialized Canadians are frustrated with the Liberal government’s record in office — and O’Toole and his team failed to capitalize on their disillusionment.

He said that, based on conversations with his neighbours, some Canadians from diverse backgrounds are still skeptical of the Conservatives.

The party’s platform made no mention of racism or systemic discrimination — a red flag for some would-be Conservative voters, Sandhu said. During the campaign, O’Toole faced pointed questions about why “Canada’s recovery plan” had more to say about dogs and animal welfare than marginalized communities.

“People were still nervous about what the Conservative brand stood for. They were asking, ‘Do they actually value inclusion and equity?’ I’m sure many second- and third-generation immigrants were looking for a political home and the Conservative approach wasn’t compelling enough,” Sandhu told CBC News.

“The issues of systemic racism, inequity and social justice — those issues have to be paramount in every party. There’s a responsibility for the Conservative Party to engage with these issues. It’s not just about star candidates from an immigrant background. It’s not about tokenism. You’ve got to understand what your potential voter pool really cares about.

“If you’re out to lunch on this or if you have your head in the sand, then you’re going to lose at the ballot box. On systemic racism, the Conservatives need to wrap their heads around it. It’s about setting the foundation and building trusting relationships, not hollow words.”

Sandhu said he’s not surprised to hear the Conservative caucus in the Commons will be 95 per cent white. He said the party hasn’t built strong relationships with racial and ethnic community leaders in the swing ridings that often decide which party will be in power in Ottawa.

“It tells me the Conservative Party is struggling. You need to develop a pipeline of activists from marginalized communities — and there’s still some concern that this party does not respect or understand our unique identity as racialized Canadians,” he said.

Source: https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/conserative-caucus-95-per-cent-white-1.6185707

CPC Platform: Immigration-related plans and some missing parts

Will be preparing a comparative table when the platforms of other parties are out. While Conservatives have five priority themes: jobs, accountability, mental health, strategic stockpile of vaccines and PPE, and economy, the platform contains a myriad of commitments across most areas.

The immigration section is also detailed, covering the following themes: “addressing administrative backlogs, fixing a broken visitor visa system, innovation efficiency and cultural sensitivity, strengthening credential recognition, family reunification, super visas, pathways to permanence, advancing Canada’s interests, reforming Canada’s broken refugee system, and securing our border.”

Striking what is missing: no reference to citizenship and multiculturalism, racism reference pertain to Diefenbaker), no substantive references to diversity and inclusion, no reference to employment equity, no reference to antisemitism or Islamophobia, discrimination references limited to the CAF and (again) to Diefenbaker. Anti-Asian hate including in section “Standing up to China’s aggression.”

The other initial observation is the platform is silent on the question of levels, likely given that any suggestion of reduced levels would provide the other parties an opportunity to paint the CPC as anti-immigrant (unfairly, IMO).

Source: https://www.conservative.ca/plan/

Paul Well’s take:

Increasingly I think detailed campaign platform documents are terrible for governance.

They shackle entire governments, struggling with the unimaginable realities of life three years from now, to the best guesses a few campaign strategists were able to make last month. They crowd out the civil service’s policy-development function, because the first thing a new PM’s transition team says to the Privy Council Clerk who greets them is, “Shush. Do all of this.” They discourage agility amid changing circumstances because everyone’s busy ticking off stale boxes so they can run for re-election on “promise made, promise kept.” They practically guarantee fiscal trouble because who’d ever campaign on an appropriately pessimistic outlook for the economy?

Fie on the whole mess. The best way to run for high office would be to say, “You know me. Meet my team. Do we seem solid? Count on us to handle whatever comes our way.”

Of course I’m outvoted. Constantly. Whatever their worth as blueprints for government, thick platforms often work a charm in campaigns, especially if the goal is to rebut widespread worry that the leader in question is a lightweight or a nutbar. Modern campaign credibility-building was invented by Jean Chrétien’s Liberals in 1992 with Creating Opportunity: The Liberal Plan for Canada, instantly dubbed the Red Book. It transformed Chrétien from a yesterday’s man without a clue to a big thinker with an eye for detail. “It’s in there. Read it,” he’d say. Ontario’s provincial Conservatives under Mike Harris won power back in 1995, after a decade of Liberal and NDP governments, with the Common Sense Revolution pamphlet. And Justin Trudeau did a lot in 2015 to parry perceptions that he was a lightweight with Real Change: A New Plan For a Strong Middle Class (.pdf here). And even though each of those documents would have occasion to cause grief for its authors, they all worked, so they’ve spawned a hundred more or less successful imitators over the years.

This year the emerging novelty is a preference for early platform launches, a repudiation of the notion that you should dribble out your announcements for weeks on end, maintaining suspense and keeping campaign reporters from getting bored. Jagmeet Singh’s NDP went for a big bang last week with the release of the party’s entire platform, Ready For Better. And on Monday Erin O’Toole did the same, releasing the entire platform (Canada’s Recovery Plan) on the campaign’s first full day. Well, all of it except the costing: since it’s up to the Parliamentary Budget Office to check costing claims, and they couldn’t do that in a timely fashion because of the snap election, the costing will come later, Conservative campaign strategists told reporters on Monday. Meanwhile, apparently everything O’Toole is promising is free! I kid.

The problem O’Toole seeks to address is that, to borrow the language I used a few paragraphs ago, lots of people worry he’s a lightweight and a nutbar. A lightweight because a lot of his public pronouncements until now have been comically low on detail—Justin Trudeau got NAFTA wrong, we need a plan, the debate is over, whatever random combination of fridge magnets you want to assemble. A nutbar because he campaigned as a “True Blue” and then discovered his party doesn’t believe the Earth is round, or some such.

Canada’s Recovery Plan (rejected title: Erin O’Toole’s Hail Mary Pass) is an attempt to answer every question anyone will ever have about O’Toole and his party. Surely a doomed attempt—it’s always easy to come up with more questions, this week often featuring the words “nasal swabs”—but ambitious in the trying nonetheless. It starts out a little pre-school (Actual quote from the first page of text: “What is Canada’s Recovery Plan? It’s a plan. A very detailed plan.” Gee thanks, Einstein). But before it’s done it sprawls across nearly twice as many pages as Trudeau’s 2015 platform. The word “detail” and its derivatives appears 54 times, often in chapter titles that read like so much grim found poetry: “A Detailed Plan to Lift Up Working Canadians/ A Detailed Plan to Support Working Families/ A Detailed Plan to Lower Prices/ A Detailed Plan to Tackle Home Prices,” and on and frickin’ on.

Another word frequently spotted in the thing is “support,” also a favourite of the Trudeau government, especially since COVID-19. In Trudeauspeak, “support” means “give money to,” and I suspect O’Toole swiped it to convey the impression this year’s Conservatives are more spendy than previous generations. “Support” and its derivatives appear 190 times in the CPC platform, including a record 23 appearances over the four pages from 108-111. What’s the beneficiary of this four-page burst of support? I was surprised to discover it’s the rest of the world, for it’s in his platform’s foreign-policy section that O’Toole feels most, um, uplifting.

Among the very many things he wants to support: “Taiwan’s participation in multilateral fora”; “a climate-conscious, clean alternative to the Belt and Road Initiative;” “regional security” across “Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and beyond;” “Israel’s existence as a sovereign democratic Jewish state” and “the aspirations of the Palestinian people and a two-state solution leading to a Palestinian state;” and “East Africa with data and infrastructure development.”

So the gauntlet is thrown. If you don’t vote Conservative this year, I guess you just don’t want a digital East Africa. It’ll be interesting to see whether this brick dominates O’Toole’s campaign or whether, having dropped it, he never mentions it again. I’ve seen both happen in various campaigns. It’s a drag that the Parliamentary Budget Officer hasn’t checked the Conservatives’ math, though they swear they’ll fix that in future editions, once the PBO reports. It’s close to a sure thing that amid all these words, there’ll be something to upset Conservatives’ opponents and probably also some supporters. Whatever happens next, at least, O’Toole can tell himself he left everything on the field, and indeed that he put it out there early.

Source: https://www.macleans.ca/politics/ottawa/erin-otoole-fills-in-blanks/

Canada raises immigration targets to record level, eyeing COVID-19 recovery

Will be interesting to observe the range of commentary on these ambitious targets. Hard to square this with Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem’s warning that the economy is unlikely to get back on track until 2023. Moreover, previous downturns and recessions tell us that immigrants who arrive during difficult economic times suffer economically in both the short and longer term::

In the midst of a second wave of COVID-19, Canada isn’t just maintaining its immigration strategy, but taking it up a notch, increasing the number of people it will bring into the country in a bid to stimulate the post-pandemic economic recovery.

On Friday, Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said Canada will welcome more than 1.2 million new immigrants over the next three years, with an annual intake that could reach 401,000 in 2021; 411,000 in 2022; and 421,000 in 2023 — equivalent to one per cent of the population.

The previous plan, unveiled right before the onset of the pandemic lockdown in March, set targets of 351,000 in 2021 and 361,000 in 2022.

“Immigration is essential to getting us through the pandemic, but also to our short-term economic recovery and our long-term economic growth. Canadians have seen how newcomers are playing an outsized role in our hospitals and care homes, and helping us to keep food on the table,” Mendicino said.

“Immigration is essential to getting us through the pandemic, but also to our short-term economic recovery and our long-term economic growth. Canadians have seen how newcomers are playing an outsized role in our hospitals and care homes, and helping us to keep food on the table,” Mendicino said.

“As we look to recovery, newcomers create jobs not just by giving our businesses the skills they need to thrive, but also by starting businesses themselves. Our plan will help to address some of our most acute labour shortages and to grow our population to keep Canada competitive on the world stage.”

The much anticipated 2021-23 immigration plan was tabled amid a cloud of uncertainty over Canada’s economic future in the middle of a global pandemic that has seen the country’s jobless rate surged to nine per cent last month from 5.6 per cent before the pandemic. It peaked at 13.4 per cent in May.

The government’s immigration strategy has been consistent with the approach taken by successive governments to keep intake high during recessions since the late 1980s, when prime minister Brian Mulroney’s government first used immigration to withstand the economic slowdown in 1990s and 2000s.

Canada was on track to bring in 341,000 newcomers this year; 351,000 in 2021; and 361,000 in 2022 — with about 58 per cent of the intake being skilled immigrants, 26 per cent under family reunification and the remaining 26 per cent as refuges or on humanitarian grounds.

However, due to travel restrictions, reduced application processing capacity and flight cancellations, only 60 per cent or some 200,000 are expected to have made it to Canada by this year’s end.

The new plan hopes to make up the shortfall over the next three years, with 60 per cent of the intake coming from economic class, 30 per cent from family reunification and 10 per cent under refugee protection and resettlement.

Last month, Statistics Canada’s latest demographic update showed the country’s population has reached 38 million but only recorded a 0.1 per cent growth or an increase of 25,384 persons between April and June — the lowest since 1972 — because of the pandemic.

In contrast, the growth rate stood at 0.5 per cent in each of the past two years at this time. In 2019, immigration accounted for 86.5 per cent of Canada’s population growth in the second quarter. This year, that dropped to 38.2 per cent (an addition of 9,700 persons).

Source: https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2020/10/30/canada-raises-immigration-targets-to-record-level-eyeing-covid-19-recovery.html?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=SocialMedia&utm_campaign=National&utm_content=canadaraises

The full report and related material: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/news/notices/supplementary-immigration-levels-2021-2023.html

Pre-release commentary by the Conservative and NDP immigration critics:

Conservative immigration critic Raquel Dancho said that whatever the Trudeau government announces today, it must have a concrete plan for bringing people safely into the country during a pandemic and for integrating them into Canadian society.

She said the backlog of applicants has grown during the pandemic.

“The immigration system has not been well-managed, I think to say the least, in the last eight months. So I will be looking for some sort of plan for how they’re going to improve it,” Dancho said.

“The number can be whatever it’s going to be, but unless they bring forward a plan for how they’re going to change course and get better at processing immigration applications, it’s really all for nothing.”

Dancho said Canadians must have a clear explanation of how immigration targets will meet Canada’s labour needs while upholding its humanitarian commitments.

NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan urged the government to increase its capacity to help vulnerable people in need of protection in Canada, noting that persecution abroad has not stopped during the pandemic.

She said Canada also should give permanent residence status to people who want it and are already in the country, such as temporary foreign workers and international students with job offers.

“Canada can, in fact, take a true humanitarian approach by regularizing all those immigrants and refugees and undocumented people,” she said.

Source: Federal government to announce new immigration targets today

And Quebec continuing to have relatively low immigration targets, making the demographic gap between Quebec and the rest of Canada continue to grow:

Quebec could welcome between 44,500 and 47,500 immigrants in 2021.

The immigration targets for 2021 were announced as part of the Plan d’immigration du Québec 2021, released on October 29. This report coincides with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada‘s (IRCC) announcement of its multi-year plan, which is expected this week and will guide Canada’s immigration planning for 2021 to 2023.

In 2021, the majority of new admissions to Quebec — 62 per cent — are expected to come through the province’s economic immigration programs.

The new Quebec immigration levels represent a slight increase over its 2020 targets when Quebec’s goal was to welcome between 43,000 and 44,500 immigrants.

According to estimates in the plan released today, Quebec will admit a maximum of 30,500 immigrants this year, instead of the projected maximum of 44,500. The province says travel restrictions and the closure of federal offices and processing centres around the world make it difficult to meet immigration targets for 2020.

However, the province’s immigration ministry said its targets for 2021 include a rebalancing plan “with the admission of an additional 7,000 people, representing the deferment of some of the admissions that were not fulfilled in 2020 due to the health crisis.”

As a result of the health crisis, the province estimates the number of unrealized admissions in 2020 to be between 13,000 and 18,000 but plans to make up the shortfall over the next two years.

Quebec’s Admissions targets for 2021

For 2021, Quebec has set a range of between 27,500 and 29,300 new admissions for its economic immigration programs, including a maximum of 24,200 skilled workers.

The province has also set a maximum of 4,300 admissions for its business immigration programs, which include Quebec’s Entrepreneur Program and the Self-Employed Worker Program.

In addition, a maximum of 800 admissions is set for “other economic categories” such as live-in caregivers and others.

Another 10,200 new permanent residents are expected to arrive through family sponsorship, refugee and other immigration programs.

2021 Quebec Selection Certificate targets

Under the provisions of the Canada-Quebec Accord, Quebec has the power to select all economic class immigrants and certain refugees to the province.

Those selected are awarded a Quebec Selection Certificate (Certificat de sélection du Québec, or CSQ) and can then apply to Canada’s federal government for a permanent residence visa.

Quebec’s plan calls for 26,500 to 31,200 selection certificates to be issued in 2021, slightly more than its 2020 plan, which called for a range of 20,100 to 24,700.

The majority — up to 22,400 — would go to skilled worker candidates.

The selection certificate targets are as follows:

  • Skilled workers: between 19,400 and 22,400;
  • Business immigrants: between 1,500 and 2,300;
  • Other economic immigrants: between 400 and 600;
  • Refugees selected abroad: between 4,400 and 4,700;
  • Other immigrants: between 800 and 1,200.

The targets set for 2021 include applications in process or waiting to be processed in Quebec and at the federal level. They also take into consideration the time it takes for candidates to complete all the immigration procedures.

Source: Quebec extends immigration targets into 2021

New role as Shadow Minister of Multiculturalism

Of interest given how Genuis defines his role and multiculturalism:

I am honoured to be officially taking on the role of Shadow Minister for Multiculturalism within the Conservative caucus. The government appoints a cabinet, responsible for administering the affairs of the nation. The “shadow cabinet” is a parallel structure that exists in the opposition, whereby specific members are tasked with leading the opposition’s response to the government on specific files. Shadow cabinet can also be about preparing to take on similar roles in government, although positions do often shift at that point for a variety of reasons.

My role as Shadow Minister for Multiculturalism involves holding the government to account in terms of their actions related to multicultural policy, and also working to ensure that our caucus is hearing and incorporating the unique experiences and perspectives of minority communities.

The Conservative caucus’s approach to multiculturalism is unique. We recognize and celebrate Canada’s identity as a community of communities. We are a country made up of distinct and different communities of people, who come together as part of a shared national community with common values and objectives. Attachments to the particulars of one’s own religious or ethnic community are good and reasonable, but they also must be transcended in the creation of a greater national community of shared commitments, of intertwining histories, and of unifying solidarity. This unity, in the midst of our diversity, is built on the foundation of freedom, human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. New Canadians come here not principally because of our diversity, but because of the freedom and peace that characterize our country and how we live well together in it.

In this role, I will always emphasize the importance of unity in diversity, and work to build common ground. Our country is quite divided right now – divided in terms of region, politics, religion, culture, and other dimensions. A lot of this division is the result, in my view, of policies pursued in the last four years at the federal level. Albertans feel disconnected from the rest of Canada because of anti-energy bills like C-48 and C-69. Cultural divisions have been exacerbated by a government that fails to effectively manage our immigration system and accuses anyone who disagrees with them of being bigoted.

Other factors have also accentuated division, such as the passage of bill 21 in Quebec and a rise in fringe xenophobic rhetoric. People understandably want to preserve their own culture, but preserving one’s own culture and faith does not require the suppression of someone else’s.

Multiculturalism isn’t just about diversity of appearance and confession – it includes diversity of thought and opinion. I will continue to challenge the government to respect the rights of people who hold different opinions from them and still participate fully in Canadian society.

In the midst of all these challenges, I will always emphasize unity, the importance of finding common ground, and the necessity of protecting fundamental rights and freedoms.

I look forward to taking on this important challenge.

Source: New role as Shadow Minister of Multiculturalism

Amid Hong Kong’s unrest, a pro-Conservative group seeks to rally expat voters

More on CPC outreach in Hong Kong:

Amid political turbulence rocking Hong Kong, a pro-Conservative group is seeking to get out the expat vote in the city where an estimated 300,000 Canadians reside.

The recently-formed Canadian Conservatives in Hong Kong held two voter registration events at a bar in the city on Sept. 7 and 8, including on a day when pro-democracy protests shut down nearby streets. The group had also done online outreach in both English and Cantonese and drawn on the support of volunteers.

Organizers of the group, Canadians Brett Stephenson and Barrett Bingley, also enlisted the help of former foreign affairs minister John Baird for their two events as its special guest. The gatherings were advertised on the Conservative Party’s website but the group is unaffiliated.

For months, Hong Kong has seen large demonstrations that have posed a challenge to mainland China’s tightening grip on the semi-autonomous city. On Tuesday, during protests coinciding with China’s National Day, a teenage protester was shot in the chest by police.

Bingley, a senior director at The Economist Group by day, said political unrest in the city, as well as new liberalized voting rules for expats, are drawing their attention toward Canadian politics.

“It has to do with the election coming while there is this massive unrest happening in Hong Kong and people are looking to find a leader and a party who is going to stand up for them,” Bingley said in a phone interview last week.

“This year is not only when Canadians abroad are able to vote. There is a great desire by Hong Kong people to vote in the Canadian election this time.”

Amid that heightened interest, Bingley said their room-packed events were able to help register about 250 people. It was not only Conservatives attending but other Canadians wanting to vote. The Canadian Club in Hong Kong also hosted its own voter sign-up event on Sept. 20, with more than 200 people gathering.

The Supreme Court ruled in January that Canadians who have lived abroad for more than five years can vote.

Elections Canada’s figures show 1,588 Canadian voters have registered in Hong Kong as of Sept. 22. Voter registration abroad has now exceeded 31,000.

Canadians in Hong Kong consists of many Cantonese speakers with family in the city, as well as those working for multinational businesses.

Stephenson, a director at the Asia Business Trade Association working on Asia-Pacific trade, said Canadians who attended the events brought up issues including foreign policy, immigration and business concerns.

But the top issue was Hong Kong’s political situation and how federal parties will approach it.

Canadian Conservatives in Hong Kong’s logo. Photo courtesy of the group.

Stephenson believes the Tories are more inclined to support Hong Kong and the protection of the ‘one country, two systems’ model envisioned in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration. That treaty spelled out, upon return to China’s rule in 1997, civil freedoms and a degree political independence for the city — something protesters say Beijing has moved to erode.

Stephenson said Scheer is the only federal leader to have “spoken up very forcefully” for Hong Kong. He pointed to an August tweet where Scheer said “now is the time for everyone committed to democracy, freedom, human rights and the rule of law to stand with the people of Hong Kong.”

On the contrary, Stephenson said he has only seen “timid” responses from Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“I think a lot of Hong Kongers don’t feel Canada under the Liberals have stepped up and said anything that would help them in this struggle,” he said.

The Hong Kong protests occur as Canada-China relations remain sour over the detention of two Canadians in China widely seen as punishment for the Vancouver arrest of a Huawei executive in December.

In August, Freeland issued a joint statement with her EU counterpart urging restraint amid “a rising number of unacceptable violent incidents.” That statement prompted China’s embassy in Ottawa to issue a response accusing her of “meddling in Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal affairs.”

But so far during the campaign, Hong Kong’s unrest and other foreign policy issues have received scant attention from all party leaders.

Stephenson said parties’ attention toward expat votes could increase if they observe any influence on key swing ridings, particularly in the Greater Toronto Area and Metro Vancouver.

That sentiment was echoed by Baird, now a consultant with much of his work centred in Asia. Bingley said the former Harper minister, who was in town the weekend of their events, had told the audience their votes especially matter if they are being tallied in battleground ridings.

Interest abroad may mean more groups like theirs spring up, but Bingley said their creation is barely novel. Existing already are expat organizations that support the U.S. Republicans, the Australian Liberal Party and U.K. Conservatives.

“What we’re doing is very much within the mainstream of centre-right parties,” he said.

“It’s just that because Canadians couldn’t really vote from abroad up until the Supreme Court changed the rules. There was no infrastructure to do this. So it feels strange to Canadians and yet is actually not strange at all.”

From his observation, there are no Liberal or NDP groups in the city.

The group will have to be mindful of Elections Canada’s third-party rules, which require Canadians spending more than $500 on regulated activities during the campaign to register with it. Agency spokesperson Natasha Gauthier said whether voter registration events are considered a third-party activity depends on the facts and context of each situation.

Conservative spokesperson Simon Jefferies told iPolitics that the group isn’t affiliated with the party but nevertheless agreed to host a webpage for its event.

Bingley said Canadians in Hong Kong live the impact of the world’s geopolitical challenges that aren’t being discussed enough in this election.

“They need to be addressed by leaders, and one of the biggest is the rise of China.”

Source: Amid Hong Kong’s unrest, a pro-Conservative group seeks to rally expat voters

Scheer says he would continue Liberals’ $45M anti-racism strategy

Unfortunately, behind the paywall but nevertheless interesting.

Of course, if we judge by the previous Conservative government, which drastically reduced the resources dedicated to multiculturalism and anti-racism programming (The Conservative legacy on multiculturalism: more cohesion, less inclusion):

The Liberal government’s $45-million anti-racism strategy isn’t going anywhere under a Scheer government, the Conservative leader says.

Asked by a reporter in Thorold, Ont., on Tuesday whether he supports the anti-racism plan put forward by the Trudeau government this year, and the approach it is taking, Andrew Scheer said he would continue to back such programs.

Source: Scheer says he would continue Liberals’ $45M anti-racism strategy

Gurski: Why Canada should not be in a hurry to re-embrace Saudi Arabia

Good piece by Gurski:

I never worked in foreign affairs or for Foreign Affairs (or Global Affairs Canada, as it is now known, having once been designated External Affairs and many other names), but I know a little about the subject. After all, you cannot work in intelligence for three decades without picking up a thing or two on how nations manage their relations with other states.

I do know that at times a country has to hold its nose when engaging with a foreign partner whose actions are seen as, at a minimum, distasteful or, at a maximum, grotesque. In this light, I cannot imagine how the current crew at the Lester B. Pearson Building in Ottawa are handling Canada-U.S. ties, given the present occupant of the White House.

There are also those who maintain that some level of relationship is better than none. A complete cut in ties removes any form of influence or dialogue, although there are other fora (the UN for example) where national representatives can grab a coffee and chitchat about all things statecraft.

On the other hand, there are times and circumstances where a government has little choice but to close doors. Sometimes a state will engage in activities that are truly heinous and no country should allow such to go unpunished.

Saudi Arabia is now in that club. Canada has chosen, at least under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, to criticize the kingdom over a variety of incidents; ranging from its treatment of women activists, to its disastrous war in Yemen, which is directly causing a massive humanitarian crisis. The event that overshadows everything, however, is last year’s murder and dismemberment of a Saudi dissident, Jamal Kashoggi, at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Everyone knows that he was killed on orders from the very top of the Saudi royal family, their incredulous denials, notwithstanding. In return, the Saudis have suspended relations, booted our ambassador in Riyadh out and recalled their own man from Ottawa. There has not been a lot of movement on this file in some time although Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and her Saudi counterpart have been “discussing ideas to de-escalate.”

Into this mix comes the Conservative Party, whose foreign affairs critic, Conservative MP Erin O’Toole, has said that a government led by Andrew Scheer will try to “win some trust” with the Saudis by focusing on improving business links. O’Toole acknowledges that for some Canadians re-establishing ties with Saudi Arabia will be a “tough sell.”

Ya think?

I fail to see why so many states are still fawning over Saudi Arabia, and especially over the king-in-waiting and international star Muhammad bin Salman (or MBS as he is called: some say the acronym stands for “Mister Bone Saw,” a reference to how Kashoggi was cut up). Yes, yes, it is all about oil and MBS’ plans to modernize his nation and the need to have a stalwart ally against the real menace: Iran.

Except that the crown prince’s words are probably just that: words. Saudi Arabia remains a heavily conservative Wahhabi Muslim state that has exported its hateful strain of Islam worldwide for decades and crushes any internal dissent forcefully. True, there has been some crackdown on the more egregious religious hate-mongers, but this leopard is highly unlikely to change its spots any time soon.

I find it hard to believe that many governments, including the U.S., have been giving the kingdom a pass in the post 9/11 period. Recall that 15 of the 19 hijackers that fateful day on Sept. 11, 2001, were Saudis, bred on Saudi Wahhabi Islam. And for all the noises about a mellowing of Islam in the desert kingdom, there is ample evidence that Saudi-trained imams are continuing to spread Wahhabi poison around the world. And this is what an ally does?

I realize that money trumps values a lot of the time. In this regard, there is a lot of money to be made by having a robust relationship with Saudi Arabia, particularly in the defence sector. But what is more important: trade or the values Canada stands for?

So O’Toole, if your party indeed gains power in October, have a re-think over going cap in hand to the Saudis. We really don’t need them. Their actions are antithetical to who we are. I’d like to suggest that you be a little more Canadian yourself and ditch this idea.

Source: Why Canada should not be in a hurry to re-embrace Saudi Arabia