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

Award-winning professor Salim Mansur disqualified from seeking Conservative nomination

A sign of who the vetting process of the CPC is catching (the right wing press, Rebel, Clarion, True North have been critical of this decision, will be interesting to see if Mansur is picked up by the PPC):

Professor, author and columnist Salim Mansur has been disqualified from seeking the Conservative nomination.

Mansur, a recently retired Western University professor, announced his candidacy last September in his home riding, London North Centre.

Despite being told by the Conservative Party of Canada’s regional organizer last November that he was allowed to launch his campaign and begin campaigning, Mansur received notice from the party’s executive director Monday morning that his nomination candidacy was “disallowed.”

“The (National Candidate Selection Committee of the Conservative Party of Canada) has disallowed your candidacy as a candidate for the Conservative Party of Canada,” said an email from Dustin Van Vugt.

No reason was provided in the email, but Mansur told me in a brief interview that Conservative leader Andrew Scheer’s campaign manager, Hamish Marshall, advised him last week of the party’s concerns with Mansur’s past writing and public speaking on Islamism and the politics of radical Muslims, which Marshall said will likely be portrayed by Liberals and others as Islamophobic, and become disruptive to the party’s national campaign.

It’s Mansur’s academic career that has held him in such high esteem by the Conservatives in the past, however. Mansur has testified before parliament on numerous occasions at the invitation of the Conservatives. In 2017, he was awarded the Canadian Senate’s 150th Anniversary Medal for his work promoting interfaith understanding, presented by Conservative senator Linda Frum.

Mansur, a devout Muslim, has been a stalwart opponent of radical Islamism and the groups advancing it within Canada. He’s chronicled this fight as a Muslim and as an academic in his bestselling book Islam’s Predicament: Perspectives of a dissident Muslim.

The retired professor said in an open letter on his website that his mission is to “elect a Conservative government in Ottawa with Andrew Scheer as our next Prime Minister.” On his platform page, Mansur cites economic growth, strengthening Canada’s security, and vigorously protecting individual freedoms as his priorities.

In the interests of disclosure, I have introduced Mansur to a number of political activists in London as a personal favour, and have served as a sounding board for some ideas he had about his campaign. I have received no compensation for these or any other efforts related to his candidacy.

Source: READ MORE

Scheer vows crackdown on those trying to ‘game’ Canada’s refugee system

As many have noted (see below), light on specifics but clear focus on dispelling the (Liberal) narrative that the Conservatives are anti-immigration, xenophobic and racist. Strongest message from him on inclusiveness and rebuking those who are. He has set the bar for Conservative candidates, and no doubt the media and others will be watching candidate nominations accordingly.

Scheer is completely correct in stating that questioning immigration policies and program management should not be dismissed as racists or bigots but debated on the merits of the arguments. The Liberals are all too quick to jump on that charge.

But how these arguments are framed, which words are used, the meetings one attends, the audience one targets are equally important (and applies to all parties).

While the focus on border management was expected, the ducking the question of immigration levels was not. Going back to an annual plan makes little sense given that a multi-year plan assists other levels of government and settlement organizations plan. One can question whether the levels are too high or low in the current plan (a case can be made either way).

The general points – promoting private sponsorship of refugees, emphasizing economic immigration, improving language training, improving foreign credential recognition – are long standing Conservative policy approaches that they also emphasized when in government. Providing a low-skilled workers a path to permanent residency is new to my recollection (current stats indicate that only higher skilled workers transition to permanent residency in significant numbers). And of course, closing the loophole in the STCA with the USA requires US agreement, and the Liberal government is already taking steps in the regard.

And interestingly, but not surprisingly, not a word about any changes to citizenship (the Liberal government reversed the Conservative  expanded ages for knowledge and language testing along with citizenship revocation in cases of terror or treason).

Starting with the points on the CPC website:

As Prime Minister, Andrew Scheer will:

  • Work to immediately restore fairness, order, and compassion in our immigration system
  • Put an end to illegal border crossings at unofficial points of entry like Roxham Road
  • Close the loophole in the Safe-Third Country Agreement that allows some people to skip the line and avoid the queue
  • Safeguard and emphasize economic immigration
  • Set immigration levels consistent with what is in Canada’s best interests
  • Stand up for families and ensure that spouses and children can be reunited
  • Improve language training
  • Ensure that our system prioritizes people facing true persecution
  • Improve credential recognition and make it easier for new Canadians who have existing skills that meet our standards to ply their trades here
  • Work to reunite survivors of genocide, who have already resettled in Canada, more expeditiously
  • Bring back the Office of Religious Freedom so that we can protect our shared humanity and promote interest in the dignity of all people
  • Promote the private sponsorships of refugees

Conservatives have cleaned up Liberal messes in immigration before and we are prepared to do it again… with fairness, order, and compassion as the pillars of our efforts.

Source: Andrew Scheer’s Immigration Plan

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says he would restore fairness and faith in the integrity of Canada’s immigration system by cracking down on those who “game” the refugee process and supporting newcomers who help boost the economy.

In a pre-election speech on immigration policy, Scheer blamed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for eroding public trust in the system by failing to stop the flow of people crossing into Canada from the U.S. outside official border points. The Liberals, he argued, have undermined Canada’s legacy of welcoming newcomers through a system based on compassion, the rule of law and human rights.

“Among the people I hear from most often on this point are new Canadians themselves, people who have played by the rules and arrived in Canada fair and square,” Scheer said to supporters and invited guests from diverse communities during a party-organized event in Toronto.

“They are most offended at Trudeau’s status-quo, where some are able to jump queues, exploit loopholes and skip the line.”

In a speech called Unity in Diversity, one in a series of five speeches on his vision for Canada, Scheer set the stage for an election campaign that’s expected to see divisive immigration issues become key points of debate.

He boasted about the Conservatives’ past record in reducing processing times and backlogs, and outlined in broad strokes some measures his government would take if it’s elected this fall.

Scheer said Conservatives would not set arbitrary immigration levels, but rather be guided on an annual basis based on Canada’s best interests.

“That number may change every year, and I’m not going to get into a political debate, or worse, an auction about immigration numbers,” he said. “The number will reflect what Canada needs and, just as importantly, who needs Canada.”

Refugee, economic immigrant policies

He also said a Conservative government would:

  • Do more to promote privately sponsored refugees.
  • Safeguard and emphasize economic immigration.
  • Improve language training so newcomers can succeed economically and socially.
  • Improve credential recognition to make it easier for newcomers to practise their professions and trades.
  • Provide low-skilled workers a permanent path to residency, making sure wages are fair and taking steps to prevent abuse of workers.
  • Close a loophole in the Safe Third Country Agreement to prevent people from entering Canada at Roxham Road in Quebec and other illegal crossing points.

The Liberals have been under fire for failing to control the border during a surge in the number of people crossing into Canada from the U.S. outside official border points. About 40,000 people have crossed illegally in the last two years.

Scheer accused Trudeau of playing wedge politics on the immigration file by responding to criticism with “rhetoric and personal attacks.”

“We should be able to have an immigration debate in this country without the government calling its critics racists and bigots,” he said.

Scheer said the Liberal approach is “dangerous” because it reduces legitimate criticisms to “cheap partisanship” and devalues the real threats of racism, bigotry and extremism.

Hateful forces

“To ascribe those motives to those who simply want stronger security screening procedures, or fewer people entering the country illegally, makes a mockery of such hateful forces,” he said.

The Liberals lost no time in tearing into the Conservatives’ approach to immigration and refugee policy.

In a Liberal Party news release issued before Scheer was to take the podium, Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen accused Scheer of embracing “the same sort of extreme right wing anti-immigration rhetoric that has become pervasive among right-wing populist parties around the world.”

Hussen also took aim at the Conservative legacy on immigration, saying the party made “reckless” program cuts that were called cruel and unusual treatment by the Federal Court.

“From stoking fear with snitch lines and cutting refugee health services, to running ads that peddle false information and outright conspiracy theories, Canadians know that Conservative politicians see immigration policy as a way to fear monger and divide Canadians,” Hussen said in the release.

Superior views ‘absolutely repugnant’

On refugees, Scheer said his “deeply held personal convictions” are based on universal equality, and said the notion that someone’s race, religion, gender or sexual orientation would make them superior is “absolutely repugnant.”

The Conservative leader also spoke of how his beliefs about helping those in greatest need were shaped by his mother, who died a couple of years ago, and her commitment to helping refugees and the most vulnerable people. Canada must continue to be a place of refuge for those truly in need, he said.

“This strikes at the very fairness of Canada’s immigration system, and there is absolutely nothing fair about forcing the oppressed and the persecuted, like the Syrians my mother helped, to wait longer for Canada’s help while others cross the border illegally from places like upstate New York,” he said.

Hussen’s release defended the Liberal record in office, insisting the Trudeau government has restored confidence in the immigration system by investing in resources to attract newcomers, shorten wait times and ensure fairness.

“Canadians don’t want to go back to the old days and old divisive ways of Stephen Harper and that’s what Andrew Sheer has to offer.”

Source: Andrew Scheer unveils his vision for Canada’s immigration system | CBC News

Commentary of interest

From John Ivison of the National Post:

In his immigration address, Scheer offered the perfect riposte to the suggestion that he is sympathetic to white supremacists and the tapeworm of intolerance and bigotry.

The Conservative leader was explicit – “there is no room in a peaceful and free country like Canada for intolerance, racism or extremism of any kind,” he said.

He reinforced his belief that immigration is a net positive contributor to the Canadian economy. But he was critical of a Liberal Party that has, he said, undone the progress on the immigration file made by previous Conservative governments to speed up processing and eliminate backlogs.

The failure by the Trudeau government to stem the flow of illegal migrants has led to a growth in the number of people who think immigration should be reduced, and in those who have lost faith in the fairness of the system.

Most of all, he censured the Liberals for calling its critics racists and bigots.

Scheer said his faith and upbringing instilled in him a commitment to social justice that flows from conservative principles of individual responsibility.

He said his late mother had helped Syrian refugees settle in Ottawa and that they had reciprocated her compassion by visiting her in hospital.

The Liberals have said they will increase Canada’s immigration target to 350,000 by 2021; Maxime Bernier’s fledgling People’s Party wants the number next year to be cut to 250,000. Scheer said the numbers game is a “red herring” – that the economic and social reality will dictate the level.

But the federal Conservatives have long been pro-immigration – in 2015, levels were at an historic high of 271,833 and over the course of the previous decade 2.8 million people had arrived as permanent residents, mainly from countries like the Philippines, India, China and Pakistan.

Scheer said he would safeguard and emphasize economic migration, at a time when the mix planned by the Liberals will see economic class migrants decrease as a proportion, compared to family reunification cases and refugees.

“We need the world’s best and brightest to choose Canada,” he said.

The focus on economic migrants might reduce the Conservative Party’s appeal in immigrant communities that like the Liberal pledge to bring in grandparents. But Scheer attempted to patch up the relationship with ethnic communities that deserted the Conservatives at the last election by pointing to the things that unite them – hard work, entrepreneurship, faith, family, free worship, and respect for the rule of law.

“The Conservatives are alone in being the last true ‘big tent’ national party,” he said.

Harper won three elections by portraying his party as moderate and mainstream.

By refusing to pander to the resentful backlash against newcomers that has been a hallmark of authoritarian populism elsewhere in the world, Scheer has frustrated his critics and given the Conservative Party the prospect of growing support beyond its base.

Similarly, the decision to drop a previous pledge to balance the budget within two years blunts Liberal claims that Scheer will cut billions from public services. The acknowledgment that he will not be able to make $20 billion deficits disappear in two budgetary cycles is a recognition of voters’ fundamental hypocrisy – they want lots of government spending and lower taxes.

In a previous speech, Scheer said dramatic spending cuts are not necessary to balance the budget – “simply taking a responsible, measured approach to spending growth will go a long way”.

That sounds a lot like the budget balancing itself. But it is very much in keeping with his predecessor’s approach – incremental progress, rather than smash-the-system revolution. That doesn’t seem particularly scary or weak.

Source: John Ivison: Andrew Scheer slowly revealing policies that appear neither scary nor weak

From Campbell Clark of the Globe:

Andrew Scheer’s big immigration-policy speech was not about immigration policy, but about telling the country that he’s not a bigot.

That section of the speech, laying out the Conservative Leader’s personal commitment to diversity and equality, and telling racists they have no place in his party, was personal, and it was important.

Good thing, too. The parts about immigration policy were a bust.

Still, at this particular juncture in politics, it is notable that a big chunk of the Conservative Leader’s speech could have fit in one of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s familiar paeans to diversity as our strength. Mr. Scheer’s speech was entitled Unity in Diversity.

That’s not only because Mr. Scheer has been accused by Liberals of stirring up divisions over immigration, and of being unwilling to unequivocally distance himself from anti-immigrant extremists. It’s also because there’s the People’s Party of Canada – headed by Mr. Scheer’s former leadership rival, Maxime Bernier – trying to feed off anti-immigrant sentiment and take Tory support.

Mr. Scheer presented a tribute to Canadian diversity that ran through the contributions of Indigenous peoples and successive waves of immigration from all parts of the world, closing the list with “Muslims afflicted by oppression and civil war,” and “Gays and lesbians escaping literal extermination simply for being who they are.”

He was going out of his way to respond to what he called “dangerous” false accusations that his party accepts extremism.

He has said that before. But this time, Mr. Scheer rooted that in his personal beliefs and his faith, describing respect for diversity and equality as “one of my most deeply held convictions.” He talked about his late mother volunteering to help Syrian refugees.

“I believe that we are all children of God. And therefore there can be no inferiority amongst human beings. And that equal and infinite value exists in each and every one of us,” he said. “I find the notion that one’s race, religion, gender or sexual orientation would make anyone in any way superior or inferior to anyone else absolutely repugnant.

“And if there’s anyone who disagrees with that, there’s the door. You are not welcome here.”

Those words alone won’t be enough to convince everyone. Yet, they certainly aren’t the kinds of phrases you will find in Mr. Bernier’s speeches, or on his Twitter account. He rooted diversity and equality in his own beliefs. And it is important for Canadians to hear leaders of their major political parties say that.

The problem is that the rest of his speech was so full of unclear, empty phrases that it won’t reassure anyone about how he will apply those principles to immigration.

After all, Mr. Scheer wasn’t entirely wrong when he complained the Liberals paint his party as a bunch of extremists. Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, for example, accused the Conservatives in January of planning to “militarize” the border to keep out asylum-seekers. Mr. Hussen had twisted a preposterous Conservative proposal – to turn the whole border into an official border crossing – into gun-toting fear.

Yet, Mr. Scheer still uses dramatic rhetoric about the immigration system breaking down, but proposes such vague or half-baked solutions that it allows his adversaries to fill in the blanks.

On Tuesday, he bemoaned the fact that tens of thousands of asylum seekers have crossed the border at unauthorized locations. He suggested, somewhat obliquely, that they are queue-jumpers. But he didn’t propose a real solution to change things, anyway. He said he would close a loophole in a Canada-U.S. agreement so those people could be returned to the United States, without acknowledging the obstacle: The U.S. doesn’t want to do that.

Mr. Scheer said he’d “emphasize” economic immigration, but extolled the virtues of every other category.

How many people should Canada let in each year? Mr. Scheer criticized people who promise to lower the numbers, “without considering the economic impact.” Presumably, that was a shot at a rival, Mr. Bernier, but it also applies to a politician he has courted as an ally, Quebec Premier François Legault. Mr. Scheer also criticized the Liberal government for setting higher immigration targets “without adequate services in place.”

So what should the number be? Whatever “is in Canada’s best interests,” Mr. Scheer said.

He didn’t give the slightest hint of what that means.

No, there wasn’t much immigration policy there. But there was something else – a public embrace of diversity and equality as a core principle. In today’s politics, that matters.

Source: Andrew Scheer’s diversity speech is personal, but short on immigration policy details
The Toronto Sun take by Brian Lilley:

Andrew Scheer says Justin Trudeau has undermined support for immigration in Canada, and he wants to fix that.

Speaking in Toronto’s northern suburbs in the immigrant-heavy area around the airport, Scheer laid out his plan for fixing the system while criticizing Trudeau’s handling of the file.

“Under Trudeau, a record high number of Canadians believe that immigration should be reduced,” Scheer said.

“Worse, Canadians have lost faith in the fairness of our system.”

This has happened, Scheer said, because of the inability of Trudeau and his team to deal with illegal border crossers that — in his words — “game the system.”

Under the previous Conservative government, immigration levels stayed at near-record levels and support for the system remained strong.

While the Conservatives were happy to bring in more than 250,000 landed immigrants per year, they also cracked down on those who abused the visa system or tried to get around the rules.

The Liberals increased the annual immigration target to 340,000 by 2020.

While doing that, though, they have also allowed 43,000 people to cross into the country illegally — mostly at a single irregular border crossing in Quebec.

They have also loosened visa rules meant to stop bogus claims, including from countries like Mexico.

According to reports, more than 400 criminals have entered Canada to traffic drugs for Mexican cartels, and asylum claims have spiked from 260 when the visa requirement was lifted in 2016 to more than 3,300 in 2018.

Scheer says these types of abuses have prompted Canadians to lose faith in a system that, at one time, was a success story for the world to emulate, “of different people — humanity in all its diversity — living together, working together, succeeding and celebrating together as one.”

“One country — the true north, strong and free,” he added.

Source: LILLEY: Scheer strikes right note on immigration

Colby Cosh: Vancouver’s birth-tourism issue could soon become Ottawa’s problem

More on birth tourism and good summary of some of the issues involved.

Will remain to see if the Conservatives decide to address the issue or not in their election platform or one of Andrew Scheer’s policy speeches beyond his earlier policy statement (SCHEER STATEMENT ON BIRTH TOURISM | Press & Media, “ending birth tourism will be among the objectives of our policy”):

It would be faintly ludicrous to suggest children born in Canada to mere visitors cannot have their entitlement to auto-magical citizenship compromised or questioned

Is birthright citizenship doomed in Canada? An omen appeared in Friday morning’s Vancouver Sun: B.C. Liberal MLA Jas Johal did some research and presented the paper with a number of examples of online advertising from Chinese websites that tout the benefits of intentionally delivering an anchor baby on Canadian soil.

The ads suggest that brokers are offering “one-stop shopping” for pregnant women: they promise to set up housing, transportation, and perinatal care, all so that the blessed event itself can happen in a comfortable, clean, high-quality Canadian hospital. This gives your child the golden ticket of Canadian citizenship — coming as it does with access to superior Canadian education, Canadian welfare and social insurance, and widespread visa-free international travel.

In turn, your Canadian infant can one day serve as your own access point for Canada’s family-reunification immigration stream. Or you may set your eyes on higher vistas: one ad says enticingly that “Canadian passports mean immigration to the U.S.” (The Sun says that it checked Johal’s translations from the Chinese.)

Last year there was a controversy over birth tourism when the Conservatives voted at their annual convention to eliminate automatic citizenship for the children of non-citizens born in Canada. This policy plank was contentious at the time, and the Conservatives were denounced for even discussing the issue. Nobody, of course, was willing to defend birth tourism as such. You would have to be a pretty extreme advocate of open borders to say, on being presented with Chinese ads for birth-tourism brokers, that these are legitimate businesses serving a noble purpose to the benefit of Canada. (Although it might be true!)

The complaint against the Conservatives was not that automatic “jus soli” citizenship for everybody born here makes sense as an eternal, universal principle, but that birth tourism just doesn’t happen enough to be a problem. The question now being raised — the question that Johal’s folder of ads is likely to emphasize — is whether anybody was really bothering to check.

In November, Andrew Griffith, a former senior bureaucrat in the federal Citizenship and Immigration department, did some research using hospital finance statistics from the Canadian Institution for Health Information (CIHI). Griffith found that the numbers of non-residents giving birth in Canadian hospitals was growing, that they are approaching 10 per cent of all births at a few urban hospitals, and that for one enormous outlier they are twice that. And, surprise! The outlier is the Richmond Hospital in Richmond, B.C.

These numbers are still not enormous (against a national background), and they include some births that obviously are not “tourism,” within families that are in Canada for study or business. Nonetheless, it is hard to imagine a non-tourism explanation for the patterns Griffith found. The situation at the Richmond Hospital had already been noticed locally, and had become a pet issue of local Liberal MP Joe Peschisolido.

Johal challenged B.C.’s health minister, the former provincial NDP leader Adrian Dix, on birth tourism in a legislature committee this week. Dix did not give the natural New Democrat answer that jus soli citizenship is sacred. He said he was concerned about the tourism issue, that he doesn’t support or favour birth tourism, and that only Ottawa can do something about it — “if they want to act.”

This does not sound to me like an issue that is likely to remain confined to B.C. in the long run, or to be easy for the federal Liberals to deflect if it emerges. It is hard to imagine the provinces being able to limit birth tourism at the hospital level: a woman standing in a Canadian emergency room in a pool of amniotic fluid is going to receive care whatever her own citizenship or other bona fides are. Preventing anchor-baby births by means of the visa process, Griffith acknowledges, “would be virtually impossible.” The humane solution to the problem, if it is a problem, must involve putting new restrictions on birthright citizenship.

Canada’s constitution does not specify automatic jus soli citizenship, explicitly or otherwise. The enterprising gadfly lawyer Rocco Galati tried to argue the opposite in a case that reached the Federal Court in 2015, and he got his head handed to him by Justice Donald Rennie, who piled up eons of British and Canadian law and concluded that “Nationality and citizenship are entirely statutory constructs.” Canada has tinkered with the rules concerning the children of its citizens born abroad several times, and now restricts “jus sanguinis” (inherited citizenship) to one generation in most cases.

It would be faintly ludicrous to suggest that we can make such a change affecting persons descended solely from undoubted Canadian citizens, but that children born in Canada to mere visitors cannot have their entitlement to auto-magical citizenship compromised or questioned. I sense, however, that making exactly this argument will be the initial instinct of a Trudeau government, if it comes to that.

Terry Glavin: The Tories insist racists aren’t welcome in their party. What are they doing about it?

Strong commentary, capturing the unfortunate missteps and resulting perceptions:

There’s no way around it: Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives have a racist jackass problem.

This is not to say that Scheer or any of his MPs have consciously invited the affections of the country’s racist jackasses, and there are far fewer votes in Canada’s racist jackass constituency than you might think. But it’s a problem. And Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives have it, in spades.

The most recent evidence is quite jarring. It comes in Ekos Research Associates’ latest annual findings about Canadian attitudes about immigration. Nothing much has changed in the long-term trends, but for the first time, the proportion of Canadians who say immigration rates are too high has merged with the percentage of Ekos poll respondents who say too many non-white people are coming to Canada. And that bloc is coalescing, for the first time, behind a single political party: Scheer’s Conservatives.

This is what it has come to. Sixty-nine per cent of the “too many non-whites” respondents say they back Scheer’s Conservatives. It only stands to reason that a fairly high number of these people are racist jackasses. And there’s growing evidence that sociopaths from that creepy white-nationalist subculture that congregates in obscure 4chan and 8chan chatrooms are hoping to mainstream their contagion into conservative parties. Scheer’s Conservatives insist they’re not happy about any of this.

“Mr. Scheer is clear. These types of views are not welcome in the party,” Brock Harrison, Scheer’s communications director, told me. “He’s stated that view many, many times. Sure, there are fringe elements who will tell a pollster they support the Conservative party, but, you know, those fringe elements who hold to these extreme ideologies have no place in the party. That’s clear.”

Fair enough. But if there’s nothing wrong with the Conservative message on immigrants and refugees and visible minorities, there sure is something wrong with the signal.

It’s not hard to make the case, for instance, that Justin Trudeau’s Liberals have disingenuously attributed racism and xenophobia to public anxieties and otherwise reasonable Opposition criticisms of the way Ottawa has handled the upsurge in “irregular” asylum claimants who have crossed the Canada-U.S. border since 2017. “This kind of rhetoric drives these people [racist jackasses] to us, whether we like it or not,” Harrison said. “The denunciations from Mr. Scheer are clear. Every time something flares up and the Liberals try to pin this on us, we stand firm and we denounce.”

But the issue flared up into a bonfire of the Conservatives’ own making last summer, when Maxime Bernier, Scheer’s primary challenger in the 2017 Conservative leadership race, got turfed from Scheer’s shadow cabinet for a series of weird anti-multiculturalism outbursts that put him in the crosshairs of the Conservatives’ capable immigration critic, Michelle Rempel. In a huff, Bernier founded his own rump political party, of the type that sometimes seems to specialize in anti-immigrant jackassery. It was a golden opportunity for Scheer to purge the party of its jackass wing and invite them to run off with Bernier. It was an opportunity Scheer didn’t take.

During the 2017 leadership race itself, the House of Commons was in an uproar over Liberal MP Iqra Khalid’s arguably outlandish motion to mount a national effort in the struggle against Islamophobia. But back then, the Conservative Opposition’s reasonable objections to Liberal hyperventilation were overshadowed by bizarre and paranoid alarums within the Conservative party itself. Several leadership candidates proved more than happy to cross deep into the territory of an Islamophobia they said didn’t even exist.

There was little separating Stephen Harper’s Conservatives from the Liberals and New Democrats on the issue of opening the door to Syrian refugees by the time voters walked into polling booths and turfed the Conservatives in the 2015 federal election. Even so, there was a bad smell about the party, coming from the fringes, and the occasional burst of air freshener out of Scheer hasn’t done the trick.

We’re only months away from another federal election, and with a spotty record to run on, Trudeau has given every indication that the question he wants on voters’ minds will be the same as it was last time around: what’s that smell?

Canada is changing dramatically. A lot of people don’t like what they see, and among them are voters who are predisposed to simple explanations and conspiracy theories. The rural white males drawn to white-nationalist propaganda are perched precariously on the bottom rung of every ladder the Liberal free-trade vision imagines, with its phasing-out of the oil patch and its preoccupation with gender equity, “political correctness” and the concerns of visible-minority communities.

While the Liberals deserve credit for attempting to craft policy that addresses the strains and stresses of globalization and migration, Team Trudeau has invested its political fortunes in a “liberal world order” that is broken. The losers in the shiny, happy world of the Liberal imagination are too easily written off by Liberal strategists. The New Democrats have lost their hold on voters from the old working class. The Tories have picked them up.

The promise of relatively open borders, the free flow of capital, people and ideas among and between liberal democracies and police states like China and gangster states like Russia and theocracies like Iran—all of this was already losing its sheen when Trudeau won his majority four years ago.

The urban millennials who carried Trudeau into office were already alert to the dismal prospect of a future planet convulsing in catastrophic climate change. Now they’re stuck in low-paying temporary jobs, and they’re dealing with out-of-reach housing, high daycare and transportation costs and university degrees that lead nowhere. Holding out higher immigration rates as some sort of magic road map out of this mess is at best a flimsy political strategy. It’s not convincing, for starters. But more importantly, it’s dangerous, because when the formula fails to fix things, it will be immigrants who take the blame, and Canada’s recent immigrants are overwhelmingly people of colour.

It’s not good enough for Scheer to get better at dealing with the occasional flare-ups that leave him looking like the hillbilly caricature Liberals like to make of him. He needs to openly admit that the Conservatives have a problem. He needs to clearly and emphatically demonstrate that he means what he says, that his party is not open to voters who scapegoat immigrants and hold fast to the view that there are too many non-white people coming to Canada. He needs to do something about it.

He needs to show them the door and invite them to leave. Whatever numbers he’ll lose to Mad Max Bernier, he’ll pick up from more centrist voters who’ve grown weary of Trudeau’s “woke” politics, with its wardrobe of groovy socks and a photo album filled with glamour magazine spreads where a portfolio of policy accomplishments should be.

But whatever the faults that can be laid at the feet of the Liberals, it’s Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives who have the racist jackass problem. And however much they genuinely don’t want it, they’re clearly not trying hard enough to shake it.

Source: The Tories insist racists aren’t welcome in their party. What are they doing about it?

White supremacy isn’t a problem just for conservatives — it’s a problem for everyone

Not sure that this commentary by Angela Wright really refutes the points made by Neil Macdonald given the essence of his article was the particular vulnerability of Conservatives to this risk, as demonstrated by some of the CPC missteps (as noted by Wright).

That being said, the overall issues related to white supremacy concern all political players and us all:

There has been no shortage of attention lately to conservative parties in Canada and their apparent ties to white supremacists and neo-Nazis. While it’s undeniable that some conservative politicians have found themselves in hot water over inappropriate statements, a disturbing trend is emerging: one that uses a broad brush to paint conservatives as racists— and racism as a form of conservatism — while ignoring the issue in other parties. This double standard is a political tactic with serious consequences.

A couple of weeks ago, Neil Macdonald wrote a column for this page in which he posited that conservative politics seems to be a “natural home” for white supremacists.

He asked: “Why is it that white supremacists, from the neo-Nazis who threw celebratory salutes the night of [Trump’s] election, to former KKK leader David Duke, to the Charlottesville torchbearers, to the New Zealand murderer, or Cesar Sayoc, the Florida bodybuilder who sent explosives to Trump’s critics in 2018, gravitate right, rather than left?”

The assumption that certain parties are “natural” places for racists and white supremacists, however, ignores the fact many people within these parties are actively fighting against these ideologies, making their spaces anything but a “natural home.” What’s more, it gives other parties a virtual pass, allowing racism festering there to go unchecked.

Loosely organized groups

When I was in high school, my brother’s childhood friend was recruited by the white supremacist organization active on our campus. This high school was (and still is) an affluent, top-ranked public school in the city of Ottawa, located in one of the most staunchly Liberal ridings in the country. Local lore was that the father of one of the school’s students was part of a neo-Nazi group and used his son to recruit other boys who might be sympathetic to their cause.

This is just one anecdote, and it certainly doesn’t prove that neo-Nazism in Ottawa is a Liberal problem. My point, rather, is that white nationalism and white supremacy isn’t one single thing. It is a network of organized or loosely organized groups who actively promote hate, while attempting to recruit vulnerable people to their cause.

Until about 60 years ago, white supremacy and white nationalism were mainstream in North American politics. Human rights legislation started to change that, along with the removal of racist immigration policies by leaders such as former Progressive Conservative Prime Minister John Diefenbaker.

And so, over time, those who have advocated for a Canada dominated by white supremacy have been pushed to the margins. That means that white nationalists are constantly trying to gain relevance by playing with language and infiltrating political parties.

A recent investigation into the far-right in Canada published by The Globe and Mail shows how far white nationalists and white supremacists are willing to go in order to spread their message; they discussed targetting the Conservative party for recruitment by attending party events, as well as how they might push the limits of acceptable speech further to the right, so that their ideologies become more acceptable to the mainstream.

Because white nationalists specifically want to create a white ethnostate, successful recruiting is more likely to happen in political parties where some members are already apprehensive about immigration (some conservative parties) rather than other political parties (like the NDP) who want to rip up the Safe Third Country Agreement to allow more people to claim asylum here.

Inevitably, some white nationalists and white supremacists slip through the cracks, but that doesn’t mean party members or politicians become complicit. Conservatives, myself included, spoke out when the party crossed the line, including with a crass ad about border-crossers, and over Conservative leader Andrew Scheer’s appearance at the United We Roll rally in Ottawa.

And within caucus, Conservative MP and former cabinet minister Michael Chong has been one of the most outspoken politicians against white supremacy and white nationalism. He publicly disavowed Rebel Media for promoting anti-Semitism and white supremacy, and after the mosque shootings in New Zealand, Chong specifically named the problem of “white supremacists attacking minorities.”

Scheer initially seemed reluctant to come out strongly against white supremacy and white nationalism, but he did finally denounce it as a threat to Canada after Conservative Senator Leo Housakos suggested it wasn’t a threat (which the senator later corrected). Although arguably belated, this shows the party is beginning to take these issues more seriously (though it should be more proactive in the future, instead of waiting until it finds itself facing harsh criticism for tepid or non-responses).

Conservatives, however, are not the only ones who’ve had to contend with racist incidents. During the SNC-Lavalin affair, Liberals were accused of racism by many Indigenous peoples: the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs issued a statement over the party’s treatment of former cabinet minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faced harsh criticism for his dismissive attitude toward a Grassy Narrows protester.

So why is it, then, that conservatives are painted with a broad brush, but other parties are not?

If the goal is really to end white supremacy and white nationalism — rather than score cheap political points — we should be applauding conservatives who speak out against white nationalism and white supremacy, and encouraging others to do the same.

Conservative parties are essentially being targetted by a group of loosely organized individuals who want to use these parties to spread hateful ideas and recruit new members to their racist cause. It would benefit the entire country to extend these parties support, rather than simply dismissing them as white nationalist and white supremacist-sympathizers.

Source: White supremacy isn’t a problem just for conservatives — it’s a problem for everyone