Canada’s fiscal update may be feminist in its approach, but it’s not so intersectional

A bit of a tortured piece as the authors struggle between finding fault and faint praise. The government has made significant investments in anti-racism initiatives (even if more could be done) but these are targeted initiatives. The various benefit programs have been relatively generous in terms of their coverage, with the main inequalities being between front-line service workers (disproportionately women and visible minorities) and those being able to work remotely. And most of these are residence-based, not on being a citizen or permanent resident, contrary to their assertions:

On Monday, Canada’s first female Finance Minister delivered the fall economic statement (FES), and appropriately, she declared that Canada’s pandemic recovery “must be feminist and intersectional.” But while Chrystia Freeland’s proposed mini-budget arguably meets the former aspiration, it does not seem to meet the latter.

The FES provides a modest increase in child-care investments, additional dollars for the child-care work force, and a promise to make these increases permanent. The Liberal government deserves praise for making child care a priority for economic recovery.

But a feminist budget must also be anti-racist, or else the government would end up privileging a certain segment of the population while leaving groups that already experience pre-existing structural inequities in worse shape.

The government gave an encouraging nod to supporting anti-racism initiatives with $50-million over two years to expand the anti-racism action program and multiculturalism program. It also allocated funding to expand the anti-racism secretariat, restated a previously announced pilot program to build opportunities for Black-owned businesses, and promised to review the Employment Equity Act as it is applied to the federal public sector.

However, it lacks an overall anti-racist framework for budgeting, or targeted investments for communities of colour. The FES does not state how the government plans to redress long-standing racial gaps in the labour market, which have significantly widened during the pandemic.

Statistics Canada’s most recent labour-force survey confirms that Canadians in Arabic, Black, Chinese and South Asian communities experienced much higher unemployment rates and much higher increases in unemployment rates over the past year compared with white Canadians. The government promised to create more jobs through massive infrastructure investments, but it did not guarantee these jobs will be made equitably accessible to those under-represented in the labour market due to structural racism and other forms of discrimination.

It’s also worth noting that the government earmarked $238.5-million to be spent on body cameras for RCMP officers to “respond to concerns about policing from racialized communities.” That money could have been used to strengthen programs for racialized youth, or more directly combat systemic racism within Canada’s national police force.

The government rightly decided to boost the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) for low-income families, but has again failed to repeal the discriminatory provision under the Income Tax Act that links CCB eligibility to immigration status. Low-income racialized women with precarious status who dutifully file income tax still cannot access the CCB, even for their Canadian-born children.

They are the same mothers, along with others, who are denied access to almost all COVID-19 emergency benefits, including the CRB and CERB, because they lack permanent status in Canada – despite disproportionately being the ones who put their and their families’ lives at risk by doing essential work.

The FES promises long-overdue investment in long-term care to improve their infection control, but does nothing to enhance the sorely needed culturally appropriate long-term care facilities for racialized seniors.

The pandemic has amplified major racial inequalities in employment, health care, access to senior care, housing, justice and education.

While the government works on a “feminist and intersectional” pandemic recovery plan, we must also reimagine what a society founded on justice, equity and dignity should look like.

Let’s not revert to the common refrain of austerity and deficit fighting that will only benefit the privileged few at the expense of everyone else. We have here a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make government spending count.

The government can start by making anti-racism more than just the “plus sign” of its gender-based analysis and elevating it to equal footing with its stated feminist agenda. Specifically, it should create a national action plan against racism, with concrete strategies, actionable goals, measurable targets, timetables and necessary resource allocation to address all forms of racism including anti-Indigenous, anti-Black and anti-Asian racism, as well as Islamophobia.

The government claims to want to proceed with a recovery for all. Strengthening employment equity for the federal public sector, attaching employment equity measures to all federal investment and recovery programs through mandated Community Benefits Agreements (which would give racialized and other under-represented groups equitable access to any new jobs created and equal benefit from all investment), and eliminating immigration status as a gateway requirement to accessing federal benefits would be the place to start.

Avvy Go is the clinic director at the Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic. Debbie Douglas is the executive director of Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants. Shalini Konanur is the executive director of South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario.

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-canadas-fiscal-update-may-be-feminist-in-its-approach-but-its-not/

NGOs tell UN panel Canada is failing on racism: Paradkar

Shree Paradkar reports on the NGO critique of Canada’s record in combatting racism (Debbie Douglas of OCASI, Avvy Go of the Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic, Shalini Konanur, of the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario).

While their points are largely valid, they portray a completely bleak picture when surely the reality is more nuanced. This may be the nature of the process when their role is to prevent an alternative view to the more positive portrayal of the government response.

But it is surprising, given that all three are Ontario based, that they do not mention the province’s anti-racism strategy as an example that the federal government should emulate.

And surely, is the change of federal language towards diversity and inclusion, the increased diversity of appointments, and other policy initiatives of the current government not worthy of note, while allowing for criticism where needed?

Every day when I read news from around the world, I have occasion to feel thankful to be in Canada.

Yet, I was surprised this weekend to hear many Canadians, revolted by the events unfolding in Charlottesville, Va., say: At least we’re not as bad. In reality, our history, too, involves slavery, indentured labour, brutal oppression and colonization. Our country, too, has thriving right-wing extremism.

It’s not Canadian to be flashy and to shout out our deeds from the rooftops. The flip side of this modesty is, when history judges those actions to be misdeeds, we are able to dismiss them as trivial because they were not as glorified as they were down south.

The dismissal allows us to masks the past and ease our collective conscience.

It’s precisely a recognition of those past misdeeds, their present consequences and a reckoning of current laws that a group of prominent Canadian NGOs are seeking in Geneva Monday, when they ask a UN body to hold Canada’s feet to the fire for failing to keep its promises to end discrimination.

The Colour of Poverty — Colour of Change and its members are asking the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) to recognize how Canada has “failed to comply with its international human rights obligations . . . and domestic human rights laws.”

“Racism is a matter of life and death,” for Indigenous peoples, their joint statement says, citing dismal socio-economic health indicators, suicides, murders and disappearances of thousands of people.

Both Indigenous and Black people are disproportionately poor and disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system.

“This is not the first time we brought this concern to the CERD committee, and yet very little has changed in more than a decade of our submitting shadow reports,” said Debbie Douglas, executive director of the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI).

The NGOs are calling for a national action plan on racism for Canada that would commit to combating discrimination in hiring, and funding anti-racist organizations.

Chiefly, it is seeking the collection of “disaggregated” data across all government departments.

This kind of data collection that specifies identities such as race, gender or disability is the minimum Canada needs so it can measure the impact of its policies whether in health or housing or jobs.

How do you try to solve a problem when you can’t quantify it?

“For instance,” says Avvy Yao-Yao Go, clinic director at the Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic, “Under the Federal Employment Equity Act, the federal government has data on the representation of women, ‘visible minority,’ Indigenous peoples and people with disabilities in the federal public service.

“However, we do not know, for instance, of the “visible minority” categories, what are the percentages for people of African descent versus people of Chinese descent versus people of South Asian descent. Or under (the category of) women, how many are women of colour and from which communities.” [Comment: Actually we do from census data – see my Federal Employment Equity and Religious Minorities in the Public Service)]

Or, take Canada’s immigration law that allows people detained for immigration purposes to be detained indefinitely. More than 6,000 people were held in 2016-17, the agencies say, although more than 90 per cent of them were not considered a security threat.

“We recently participated in a case in federal court that sought to challenge indefinite detention,” says Shalini Konanur, executive director of the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario.

“During that case we spoke with several detainees, and the vast majority were racialized. Currently, there is no race-based data being collected about detainees but we know anecdotally that racialized persons in Canada are disproportionately impacted by indefinite detention.”

The NGOs also want the federal and provincial government to remove barriers to the recognition of international training, and to amend the Ontario Human Rights Code to stop discrimination based on police data.

They are drawing attention to domestic laws that discriminate against specific groups.

In addition to immigrant detainees affected by law, migrant farm workers and caregivers such as nannies — the majority of whom are people of colour — are also vulnerable.

Migrant agricultural workers do not have access to permanent resident status. As for caregivers, their once guaranteed pathway to permanent residence was revoked in 2014.

Both groups have their work permit tied to a specific employer leaving them vulnerable to exploitation.

“While migrant workers contribute to social entitlement programs in Canada, their temporary status largely precludes them from accessing these programs,” said Amy Casipullai, an OCASI staffer.

The UN committee is expected to release its review on Aug. 25.

Source: NGOs tell UN panel Canada is failing on racism: Paradkar | Toronto Star

Ottawa pilots ‘name-blind’ recruitment to reduce ‘unconscious bias’ in hiring

This pilot will provide some real world data to the existing blind cv studies that have been conducted by Oreopoulos and Reitz.

Wisely, the government has chosen to pilot this in a number of departments with different representation challenges, as shown in the table below:

As the government has largely met the goal of being representative of the population it serves, implicit bias may be less of a factor in the government sector. Representation is somewhat less at more senior levels, where implicit bias is likely less of an issue given that candidates are known.

It would be ironic indeed if the pilot, intended to test for bias against visible minorities, would show a bias for visible minorities, given some of the “over-representation” in some departments. In any case, a valuable exercise.

Ottawa has launched a pilot project to reduce biases in the hiring of federal civil services through what is billed “name-blind” recruitment, a practice long urged by employment equity advocates.

The Liberal government’s move came on the heels of a joint study by University of Toronto and Ryerson University earlier this year that found job candidates with Asian names and Canadian qualifications are less likely to be called for interviews than counterparts with Anglo-Canadian names even if they have a better education.

“It’s not just an issue of concern for me but for a lot of people. A number of people have conducted research in Canada, the U.K., Australia and the U.S. that showed there is a subliminal bias in people reading too much into names,” said Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, who first delivered the idea to Parliament last year as a rookie MP from Toronto.

“Name-blind recruitment could help ensure the public service reflects the people it serves by helping to reduce unconscious bias in the hiring process.”

Some companies in the private sector, including banks and accounting firms, have already adopted the practice, which removes names from application forms in order to stop “unconscious bias” against potential recruits from minority backgrounds.

In the United Kingdom, the government now requires name-blind applications for university admissions service and other applications for organizations such as the civil service, British Broadcasting Company and local government.

U of T sociology professor Jeffrey Reitz said the initiative is an important step forward but cautioned officials they must consult independent experts in developing the process and reviewing the results to make sure it is done correctly.

To conduct name-blind screening, he said, recruiters must remove any information on a resumé that would reveal the ethnicity of the person, such as name, birth place and membership in an association before coding the candidates in the talent pool.

“If the government is serious about it, they need to make the process transparent and allow researchers to look at the new procedures and the results,” said Reitz, a co-author of the Canadian study on name discrimination against Asians.

Debbie Douglas of the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants said she hopes the pilot could benefit other minority groups, given studies have shown that white English- and French-speaking able-bodied women have been the primary beneficiaries of current employment equity programs.

“We hope as the government moves proactively to ensure diversity in hiring it will review the existing program and strengthen it to ensure the intentional inclusion of racialized and indigenous job seekers,” said Douglas.

Treasury Board President Scott Brison, who championed Hussen’s initial idea, said he welcomed the opportunity to explore new ways of recruiting talent for the public service.

“A person’s name should never be a barrier to employment. Diversity and inclusion in the workplace is critical to building an energized, innovative and effective public service that is better able to meet the demands of an ever-changing world,” said Brison at the launch of the pilot at Ryerson Thursday.

The six departments participating in the pilot include Department of National Defence; Global Affairs Canada; Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada; Public Services and Procurement Canada; Environment and Climate Change Canada; and the Treasury Board Secretariat. A report on the pilot is expected in October.

Using data from a recent large-scale Canadian employment study that examined interview callback rates for resumés with Asian and Anglo names, U of T and Ryerson researchers found Asian-named applicants consistently received fewer calls regardless of the size of the companies involved.

Although a master’s degree can improve Asian candidates’ chances of being called, it does not close the gap and their prospects don’t even measure up to those of Anglo applicants with undergraduate qualifications.

Compared to applicants with Anglos names, Asian-named applicants with all-Canadian qualifications had 20.1 per cent fewer calls from organizations with 500 or more employees, and 39.4 per cent and 37.1 per cent fewer calls, respectively, from medium-sized and small employers.

Source: Ottawa pilots ‘name-blind’ recruitment to reduce ‘unconscious bias’ in hiring | Toronto Star

Shaping the future of Canada’s immigration system

A number of opinions on the issues set out in the current immigration consultations (see earlier Collacott: Immigration ‘conversation” is public relations exerciseIRCC Discussion guide on immigration: What about citizenship?).

In addition to my comments below, views of Debbie Douglas (faster processing of family reunification), Harald Bauder (more funding for settlement, pathways from temporary to permanent residency), Jeff Reitz (greater efforts on employment) and the Conference Board (increased immigration levels, spread across the country):

Having inherited an immigration system plagued with backlogs and heavy-handed enforcement, the Liberal government says it’s keen to hear what you think needs to be done about Canada’s immigration future.

Since the beginning of the summer, Immigration Minister John McCallum and his parliamentary secretary, Arif Virani, have held more than two dozen roundtable meetings across Canada with settlement services organizations, businesses and community groups to get their thoughts.

Although the meetings are by invitation only — more are coming in August — the public can submit ideas by email to the minister. Since early July, more than 2,500 online submissions have been received. Submissions end Aug. 5.

“Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada will be reviewing the feedback from Canadians to help guide decisions on how many people we will welcome in the coming years and the future of immigration in Canada,” said a department spokesperson.

While the final report won’t be ready till at least the fall, the Star interviewed a group of immigration experts to weigh in on the national dialogue by identifying gaps in the system and offering solutions.

Meaningful and accessible citizenship:

Andrew Griffith, a former director general at the immigration department, said Canada largely has its immigration policies and programs right, but an independent review by a royal commission would be helpful.

He said the consultation questions are biased towards economic class immigrants and miss out on important areas such as citizenship.

“Most immigrants choose to become citizens as part of their integration into Canadian society. If we believe in immigration integration, we should support political integration, in addition to economic, social and cultural,” said Griffith.

“The main instrument for doing so is citizenship, given that allows for full participation in the political process.”

Canada’s naturalization rate has been declining, from the peak of 93.3 per cent for immigrants who came before 1971, to just 36.7 per cent among those who arrived between 2006 and 2007.

Griffith said Ottawa must set targets for naturalization as a benchmark, to assess whether its policies strike the right balance in making citizenship accessible and meaningful.

Officials must also regularly review citizenship requirements to ensure that different ethnic groups and immigration classes (economic, family and refugees) have comparable outcomes. Reducing the hefty application fee from the current $530 would make citizenship more financially accessible.

Source: Shaping the future of Canada’s immigration system | Toronto Star

The Hill Times has the political reaction to the (trial balloon?) of differential immigration fees:

The federal government is seeking public feedback on letting some immigration applicants pay more for faster processing.

That idea is one of many put forward in an online consultation document the government is asking members of the public to fill out as it gears up for an overhaul of the immigration processing system.

The NDP’s immigration critic and a pair of Liberal and NDP MPs say bringing in a two-tiered Canadian immigration system is out of the question.

“I wouldn’t support it,” said NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan (Vancouver East, B.C.). “By doing that, effectively you’re saying you can buy your way into the system and bypass everybody.”

“They’re absolutely creating a two-tiered system if that were to proceed,” she said.

However, Liberal MP Peter Fonseca (Mississauga East-Cooksville, Ont.) and a Toronto immigration lawyer say such a system could help to improve immigration processing.

The issue is one close to MPs’ hearts as much of their constituency work is tied up in helping constituents with immigration questions, including application processing.

Many MPs have two staffers in their riding offices and at least one attends to constituents’ immigration needs. The most common complaints of constituents about immigration issues are related to long delays in the processing times of applications for family reunification, refugees, spousal sponsorship, temporary foreign workers, visitor visas, and Canadian citizenship applications.

Immigration reform

Gloomier future seen for Canadian immigration

IRCC analysts are asking many of the right questions:

With 35 per cent of male newcomers returning home and a growing middle class in developing countries less inclined to migrate, an internal government review is calling the future of Canadian immigration into question.

The report by Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada also points to the challenge of reconfiguring an immigrant-selection system in a rapidly changing labour market where a growing number of jobs are temporary and there’s “increasing mismatch” of available skills and the skills in demand.

“What changes, if any, does Canada want to make to its current ‘managed migration,’ ” asked the 23-page study, titled Medium-Term Policy: Balanced Immigration and stamped “for internal discussion only.” “To what extent is the current overall immigration level appropriate and/or necessary?”

With major changes made in the last decade under the former Conservative government, legal and immigration experts are calling on Immigration Minister John McCallum to have a “national conversation” on the future of Canadian immigration.

“Ottawa must take a step back to do a review of the whole immigration program and reach a national consensus in moving our country forward as a nation-building exercise rather than as an economic imperative,” said Debbie Douglas of the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants.

“The Liberals have good political instincts and like to be seen as doing more on the immigration front. It’s the right time to take a look at what is working and what is not working in the system.”

The new government has already announced reviews of certain immigration programs involving temporary foreign workers and the Express Entry processing system, but critics say such reviews must be done in a holistic manner rather than a piecemeal fashion.

“This is the most thoughtful brief (on Canada immigration) I’ve seen in 10 years,” said Queen’s University immigration law professor Sharry Aiken. “It’s asking all the right questions that are useful starting points for a wide-ranging discussion of the future of our immigration system.”

The internal report, obtained by the Star, also devotes attention to the estimated 2.8 million Canadian citizens — 9 per cent of the population — who live abroad, including a million people in the United States, 300,000 in Hong Kong and 75,000 in the United Kingdom.

Some 35 per cent of male immigrants to Canada return home, many within the first year. Between 1996 and 2006, the annual exit rate for citizens born in Canada was 1.33 per cent compared to 4.5 per cent for naturalized citizens.

“There has been a rather negative view of these expatriate Canadians, as they have been regarded as evidence of ‘brain drain,’ Canada’s lack of competitiveness in retaining high-skilled professionals and business leaders, and our insufficient success in integrating new arrivals,” the report noted. “Canada could choose to take a more proactive stance with expatriates.”

Measures implemented by other countries include: extending voting right to expats, providing non-resident representation in the national legislature, facilitating business and research networks, doing outreach to communities abroad to promote ties as well as creating tax treaties with other countries to facilitate work abroad.

The report also points to the greater emphasis the former Tory government put on selecting economic immigrants based on in-demand occupations in a so-called “project economy” marked by limited length of employment based on the duration of a contract or project.

“This environment makes it a significant challenge to target occupations and industries that are priorities for addressing through immigration,” it said.

While the report forecast does mean potentially lower immigration to Canada in the longer term, University of Toronto professor Jeffrey Reitz said global migration is still driven by “inequality” from poor to rich countries.

Although Ottawa introduced the Express Entry system in 2015 to let employers pick prospective immigrants from a pool of candidates to ensure newcomers are quickly employed, Reitz said the uptake of candidates outside the country has been small.

“Anything that improves the employment situation contributes to immigrant retention, but there is an aspect of retention in the family class. When you lose your job and you have no family, you move. A support group gives people a reason to stay,” explained Reitz, the director of ethnic, immigration and pluralism studies at U of T.

Hence, the immigration report raised the question over the strict differentiation of “economic” and “social” immigration in the current system, which channels applicants into the skilled and nonskilled streams.

“Regardless of how their application was accepted, immigrants make many contributions to Canadian society; economic migrants make social contributions; social immigrants make economic contributions,” it said.

“Given the somewhat artificial distinction between social and economic immigration, there may be grounds for giving greater weight to ‘non-economic’ criteria and on criteria related to the success of subsequent generations.”

Ryerson University professor John Shields said recent immigrants are caught up in the same “new economy” faced by young Canadians entering the workforce.

“All immigrants including the refugee class contribute to the society economically. They pay dividends economically in five, ten years as integration is a long-term process that can take a lifetime,” said Shields, whose research focuses on labour markets and immigrants.

“Recent immigrants and young Canadians face a different kind of roadblock from those who are already established in Canada. The issue we need to deal with is creating higher quality employment in Canada and educate Canadian employers of the values of one’s work experience from somewhere else.”

Source: Gloomier future seen for Canadian immigration | Toronto Star

Various Commentary on Citizenship Act Changes

Commentary on the Liberal government’s planned changes to citizenship (Bill C-6), from those advocating a more facultative approach (including myself) and former Minister Alexander:

“We are very pleased with the government’s decision to rescind the previous government’s Bill C-24 that made it far more difficult to obtain citizenship and far easier to lose,” said Debbie Douglas of the Ontario Council for Agencies Serving Immigrants.

“We are particularly pleased that we are moving away from two-tier citizenship where dual citizens could have their citizenship revoked. We commend the Liberal government for taking this principled decision.”

The new citizenship bill also makes some new changes by extending immigration authorities’ power to seize documents suspected of fraud and barring those serving conditional sentences from seeking citizenship or counting the time toward the residency eligibility.

Andrew Griffith, a former director-general with the immigration department, said the proposed legislation surprisingly retained many of the provisions passed by the previous government to improve enforcement and integrity of the citizenship system while reducing unreasonable hurdles for would-be citizens.

“They are removing some of the worst abuses the Conservatives did, promoting its diversity and inclusive agenda, without changing the fundamental value of real and meaningful commitment to Canadian citizenship,” Griffith said.

“These proposed changes reflect, apart from revocation, relatively modest changes, in line with the Liberals’ public commitments, and that retain virtually all of the previous government’s integrity measures.”

While he is pleased with the proposed citizenship changes, veteran immigration lawyer Lorne Waldman said those who face citizenship revocation on the grounds of misrepresentation are still not entitled to a hearing – a practice that is under a legal challenge in the federal court.

“Why are we keeping this Harper legacy?” Waldman asked.

Under the Harper government, the citizenship application backlog had ballooned with processing time significantly lengthened. New resources were brought in last year to reduce the wait time.

McCallum said new citizenship applications are now being processed in 12 months and the backlog is expected to be cleared by the end of this year.

In an email to The Canadian Press ahead of the announcement, former Conservative immigration minister Chris Alexander said the changes his government made were in keeping with Canadian values.

“Terrorism, espionage and treason are serious crimes, representing gross acts of disloyalty. They are far more serious violations than covering up minor crimes from one’s past — a common form of misrepresentation,” he said.

The Conservative bill was attacked as setting a dangerous precedent and even challenged, unsuccessfully, as unconstitutional.

In the National Post, John Ivison harshly criticizes the repeal of the revocation provisions (as well as pandering to ethnic voters):

It’s true, as Immigration Minister John McCallum pointed out, that this fulfils an election pledge, made to drive a wedge between the Tories and the ethnic communities that supported them in three elections.

The Conservatives signed their own death warrant by tightening up the family reunification criteria, raising the income threshold necessary for new immigrants to bring in parents and grandparents.

The Liberals campaigned hard on easing those restrictions and on their intention to revoke the Conservative citizenship bill, exploiting fears in ethnic communities that they could be stripped of their citizenship and deported if convicted of a crime.

…. the central failing of this bill. Dual nationals can now be convicted of terrorism, high treason or spying and retain their Canadian citizenship.

You can be supportive of civility, tolerance and inclusion and still believe this move is dangerous and misguided.

Loyalty is the measure of good citizenship.

When you betray that trust, you should forfeit the rights, privileges and duties of being a member of Canadian society.

Dual nationals convicted of terrorism, high treason or spying don’t deserve to keep Canadian citizenship

I am waiting for Ivison’s colleague, Chris Selley, to weigh in given his previous strong criticism of revocation (National Post | Chris Selley: Stripping jihadis’ citizenship feels good. But what good does it do?)

Tasha Kheiriddin in iPolitics starts from the same place but ends with a more nuanced criticism, making a distinction between those who became citizens as children, which should be treated no differently from Canadian-born, and those who became citizens as adults:

But the fear of losing one’s citizenship struck a deep chord with immigrants and native-born Canadians alike. Trudeau’s impassioned defence of citizenship was widely seen as a highlight of that debate — that rare sort of knockout punch pundits and audiences yearn for. The Liberals carried that punch from the debate to the doorstep, where it — coupled with their defence of the niqab and opposition to the Conservatives’ barbaric cultural practices tip line — helped cement the Liberals’ reputation as pro-New Canadian, and the Conservatives’ image as anti-immigrant.
This week, Immigration Minister John McCallum announced that the government would be reversing Bill C-24. “Canadian citizens are equal under the law, whether they were born in Canada or were naturalized in Canada or hold dual citizenship,” McCallum said in a statement. …

The bill also will restore Canadian citizenship to anyone stripped of it under Bill C-24. As a result, Amara will have his citizenship reinstated once the Liberals’ new bill becomes law.

Opponents of the Conservative law decried the creation of two different “classes” of citizens — those born in Canada and those who have dual nationalities. But those individuals are arguably already in two different classes — in fact, more than two, depending on how they obtained their citizenships. Some did so by birth, some due to a parent’s move to Canada, and some by their own choice as an adult. And the implications of revocation for each group can be very, very different.

In Amara’s case, he came to Canada as a 13-year-old. While he arguably took his oath as a child, nothing would have prevented him from renouncing his Jordanian citizenship as an adult. Maintaining it, however, gave him certain advantages, including freedom to live, work and travel in Jordan, where he was born. Those advantages are not available to other Canadians. Should they complain that they’re second-class citizens, because they don’t have the same privileges? Should he complain that he received unequal treatment, when he himself maintains an unequal status?

In the case of dual citizens born in Canada, who hold dual citizenship by virtue of their parents, the situation is somewhat different. Saad Gaya, also one of the Toronto 18, was deemed to have Pakistani citizenship retroactively, due to his parents’ possessing Pakistani nationality. Unlike Amara, Gaya had no connection to his parents’ country, and claimed that he didn’t even have said citizenship. Furthermore, as a child born here, he did not choose Canada. Because of this, he claimed that sending him to Pakistan would constitute “cruel and unusual treatment”.

A better version of the law would be one that allows the state to cancel the Canadian citizenship of a person convicted of treason who obtained that citizenship consciously and deliberately as an adult. This would deter those seeking citizenship for no other reason than to enable them to strike back at their adopted country, or who used their ability to move freely in Canada to facilitate terrorist acts.

While there is no doubt that withdrawal of citizenship should not be subject to the whim of the state, neither should citizenship be completely taken for granted. For citizenship to have value, it must not just be a passport of convenience — or worse, a cover for crime.

Dual nationals convicted of terrorism don’t deserve to keep Canadian citizenship

Comparatively little to no coverage or commentary in Quebec media, unless I missed it.

Ontario’s anti-racism directorate is a promising start: Op-ed

Commentary from community activists on Ontario’s planned anti-racism directorate and their proposed additional measures to reduce racism. Overly ambitious, given resource and other constraints (e.g., across all ministries and institutions – some prioritization would be helpful), but helpful to internal and external discussion of scope:

The Ontario Anti-Racism Directorate, on the other hand, is understood to be part of the government apparatus and is tasked with, among other things, helping the government to “apply an anti-racism lens in developing, implementing and evaluating government policies, programs and services.”

A promising start, but this anti-racism lens should also be used to evaluate legislation. Moreover, we are not convinced that the adoption of an anti-racism lens alone will eradicate racism. Clearly, there are a few more things that the directorate should and can do.

The directorate can be a repository of anti-racism expertise that different government departments can draw on in order to address racism systematically, and be responsible for research, analysis, and policy development based on the data collected and expertise of staffers.

It should take the lead in the creation of provincial standards for race-based data collection, and intra-governmental and inter-governmental implementation of the disaggregated data collection policies.

It must support the policy, legislation and program development and design process across the Ontario government by applying a racial justice lens so as to mitigate any harmful impacts on racialized communities (both First Peoples and peoples of colour).

And finally it should be a point of contact for communities to share their experiences, concerns and ideas about identifying and dismantling all forms of racism in Ontario

And to ensure greater accountability and government support, the head of the Anti-Racism Directorate should have the same power and role as a deputy minister, and be given similar capacity and budget as that assigned to the Ontario’s Woman Directorate and the Office of Francophone Affairs.

The establishment of the Anti-Racism Directorate is an important first step to redress racial inequality in this province. More must be done, however, if the government is serious about eradicating racism.

The government of Ontario must implement other necessary structural, program and policy changes including:

  • Establishing an Employment Equity Secretariat fully mandated and adequately resourced in order to implement a mandatory and comprehensive employment equity program in Ontario.
  • Collecting and analyzing ethno-racially and otherwise appropriately disaggregated data across all provincial Ministries and public institutions.
  • Amending the provincial funding formula for publicly funded elementary and secondary schools by introducing an Equity in Education Grant – a more robust redistributive mechanism rooted in a range of relevant equity and diversity measures and considerations – to ameliorate Ontario’s growing ethno-racially and otherwise defined learning outcome inequities and disparities.
  • Applying equity principles to all current and future government infrastructure investments – particularly renewable energy and “green collar” job-creating initiatives – to best ensure stable and sustainable futures for all Ontarians.
  • Establishing both the Anti-Racism as well as Disabilities Secretariats as mandated under the Ontario Human Rights Code.

Minister Coteau has indicated that he will set up an advisory body to assist him with the next step. It is critical for the minister to engage in a full and meaningful consultation process to ensure that the voices of racialized communities are heard and included.

Source: Ontario’s anti-racism directorate is a promising start | Toronto Star

The right way to settle refugees: Dench and Douglas

Janet Dench and Debbie Douglas on supporting the government’s decision not to convert government-assisted refugees into privately-sponsored refugees:

We are fortunate to be in a situation in Canada where so many citizens want to sponsor refugees. This current reality is almost beyond the most optimistic dreams of refugee advocates just six months ago. It is important that this energy be harnessed, to provide solutions for as many refugees as possible and to reinvigorate a private sponsorship program that has been in decline recently, weighed down by barriers and delays.

The sudden emergence of so many would-be sponsors has also created challenges, as the structures are not in place to orient and support them, nor are there adequate mechanisms ready to connect them with refugees in need of sponsorship. Experienced private sponsors, settlement agencies, members of the Syrian Canadian community and government officials have been working day and night for months now to respond to these new sponsors. The Syrian Family Links initiative, announced last week by the federal government, fills a gap by connecting sponsors with Syrian refugees who have family in Canada. It should be noted, however, that this role is already being played effectively by settlement agencies and private sponsorship groups in many regions of the country. The private sponsorship route is well-adapted to supporting people in Canada trying to reunite with their families overseas caught in dire situations and in need of protection.

If sponsors take over responsibility for government-sponsored refugees already here, that may very well result in the abandonment of refugees with family in Canada.

We must also remember that there are other refugee populations whose needs for protection are just as great. They should not be forgotten in the focus on the Syrian refugee crisis.

Source: The right way to settle refugees – The Globe and Mail

A ‘race lens’ for the labour market? Welcome to 2015, Ms. Wynne

While I am not sure that I agree with all of these recommendations as I am not familiar enough with existing structures to know whether these are needed, or more adjustment of existing mandates and roles would be more appropriate, this helps continue the conversation of the overall need for a diversity lens.

In Multiculturalism in Canada: Evidence and Anecdote, the Ontario data confirms some of the gaps and challenges (particularly economic), as do any number of issues (e.g., police carding, Toronto school outcomes, children aid society statistics).

My preference is for a lens that integrates all the different aspects of diversity (gender, ethnic origin, sexual orientation etc) into policy, program and service delivery (see my earlier post, Jim Maclean: In Ontario, a new race-based government | The Limits of Anecdote and Assertion):

Having a racial-equity policy framework is just the beginning, however. If the Premier is sincere about bringing racial justice to Ontario, the following foundational steps are critical:

  • Establish an equity and anti-racism directorate to provide for the collection and analysis of ethno-racially and otherwise appropriately disaggregated data across all provincial ministries and public institutions. The directorate – with a pan-provincial government-wide mandate – would complement this data analysis by providing an ongoing monitoring and program development role for the integrated implementation of comprehensive and inclusive equity and anti-racism policies and practices.
  • Establish an employment-equity secretariat, fully mandated and adequately resourced in order to implement a mandatory and comprehensive employment-equity program in Ontario.
  • Amend the provincial funding formula for publicly funded elementary-secondary schools by introducing an equity in education grant – a more robust redistributive mechanism rooted in a range of relevant equity and diversity measures and considerations – to ameliorate Ontario’s growing ethno-racially defined learning outcome inequities and disparities.
  • Apply equity principles to all current and future government infrastructure investments, particularly “green collar” job-creating initiatives, to best ensure stable and sustainable futures for all.
  • Establish the anti-racism secretariat as mandated under the Ontario Human Rights Code.

With these and other similar measures, first peoples and peoples of colour will have a fighting chance of finally becoming equal members of our society. By 2017, these diverse communities will make up close to one-third of Ontario’s population. The time for action is now.

Toronto election is missing a racial equity perspective | Toronto Star

The activist perspective on the upcoming Toronto municipal elections:

What’s more, we need leaders who are willing and able to put racial equity at the core of their campaign. This would mean, among other things, supporting employment equity at the city level and having a concrete plan for implementation; committing to inclusionary zoning and the expansion of affordable housing development; embracing the collection, analysis and use of disaggregated data by the city for all of its programs and services, including Toronto Police Services; and pushing for the extension of the municipal franchise to all city residents regardless of their immigration status.

It would indeed be a sorry state of affairs if Torontonians were to cast their ballots on Oct. 27 based solely on which candidate has the fewest skeletons in her or his closet.

As the most diverse city in North America, Toronto desperately needs a leader who can demonstrate true understanding and commitment to the city’s motto, “Diversity Our Strength,” with a plan to promote respect for equality, including an economic platform that is equitable, inclusive and sustainable.

Toronto election is missing a racial equity perspective | Toronto Star.