‘Naïve and dangerous’: Conservatives blast Liberal policy after U.K. strips ‘Jihadi Jack’s’ citizenship

Of the many articles on Jack Letts, I picked this one, given the Conservative’s implementation revocation provisions is C-24. During parliamentary hearings on C-24 (and the subsequent repeal under the Liberals in C-6), the risk of “beggar the neighbour” approaches between countries was raised by Audrey Macklin among others.

So no surprise that it has happened, and from an overall security perspective, offloading a suspected terrorist to another government, does not increase security. That Britain did so, when Letts only has a formal connection to Canada, having been raised and grown-up in the UK, only makes it worse.

Conservative leader Scheer did not include citizenship issues when he unveiled his immigration policy a few months ago:

The Conservatives on Sunday renewed their condemnation of the Liberal government’s position on citizenship rights for terrorists, following news that U.K. officials had stripped former ISIL member Jack Letts — known as “Jihadi Jack” — of his British citizenship.

Conservative public safety critic Pierre Paul-Hus did not commit to overturning a policy introduced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2015 that would prevent Canada from making a similar move, but said the Liberal government must fight to keep Letts out of the country. 

“The idea that anyone who signed up to fight with ISIS can be reformed is naïve and dangerous to the safety of Canadians,” Paul-Hus said in a statement on Sunday. Justin Trudeau must assure Canadians today that he isn’t trying to bring Jihadi Jack back to Canada.”

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale on Sunday confirmed reports that the United Kingdom had revoked Letts’ citizenship, saying in a written statement that Canada was “disappointed” by the move, and accusing Britain of trying to “off-load their responsibilities.”

The move means that if Letts is deported, he would become the sole responsibility of Canada.

The issue might have set off a behind-the-scenes diplomatic row between the two countries, according to media reports and private emails from Canadian consular officials unearthed by the National Post. It could also refuel debate over whether Ottawa should be allowed to revoke dual citizens of their status as Canadians if convicted of terrorism, treason or espionage.

Letts, who was dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by British media, is being held by Kurdish forces in northern Syria. The longtime U.K. resident, now 24 years old, converted to Islam at a young age and eventually left the country to join the extremist organization, eventually settling in the ISIL stronghold of Raqqa. He was arrested and imprisoned in 2017.

His entire family are dual British-Canadian citizens, including his father, John Letts, who was born in Ontario, and his U.K.-born mother, Sally Lane.

In June, Letts’ parents were found guilty of funding terrorism after they wired their son money in a bid to help him escape an ISIL-controlled region of Syria.

The court heard that a member of Letts’ mosque in the U.K. had warned the parents that their son might have been radicalized, and that they should take away his passport as a way to protect him. But Letts and Lane reportedly ignored the advice and bought him a plane ticket to Jordan in 2014 for a “grand Middle East adventure,” according to one recollection of events.

According to media reports, Letts became known to authorities after a spate of violent Facebook posts, in which he said he would “happily kill each and every one” of the members of a British military regiment of which a former schoolmate was a member.

There is no clear evidence whether Letts personally carried out any violent acts during his time with ISIL.

Citing private emails from Global Affairs Canada, the National Post reported last October that Canadian consular officials had been in contact with Letts’ parents for months. The officials went as far as to discuss possible escape routes for Letts out of Syria, and assured his parents they were “working diligently on your son’s file,” according to the emails.

But their tone shifted abruptly in early 2018, the emails show, leading the family to believe that British officials had struck down those efforts behind closed doors.

The diplomatic spat could refuel a long-standing debate in Canada. Because international law prevents governments from making anyone “stateless,” only people with two passports can have their citizenship stripped.

In 2014, former prime minister Stephen Harper amended the Citizenship Act to allow Canada to strip the status of any dual citizen who is found guilty of terrorism, among other things. The Liberal government under Trudeau reversed that decision in a bill that passed through the Senate in 2017.

Some experts say efforts by Britain are counterproductive and run afoul of human rights laws.

“I think there’s a real question here as to whether Britain is violating international law by doing this, and whether Canada could seek to hold the U.K to account,” said Audrey Macklin, a human rights law professor at the University of Toronto.

Macklin said moves to render people stateless can in turn stymie efforts to snuff out terrorist organizations.

“If you are serious about global co-operation in combatting terrorism, you would realize that citizenship stripping is inimical to that,” she said. 

Trudeau is due to meet the new British prime minister, Boris Johnson, at a Group of Seven meeting in France that starts on Aug. 24.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab met Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland in Toronto earlier this month. The two ministers discussed Letts during the visit, yesterday’s statement from Goodale’s office said.

“While we are disappointed in their decision, we do not conduct tit-for-tat diplomacy. Canada and the U.K. continue to work closely together on a number of issues, including the situation in Hong Kong,” the statement added.

Source: ‘Naïve and dangerous’: Conservatives blast Liberal policy after U.K. strips ‘Jihadi Jack’s’ citizenship

Sensible commentary by Doug Saunders:

The Easter Sunday atrocities in Sri Lanka have not only brought horror to the island’s tiny, impoverished Christian community and threatened an end to the country’s decade of unsteady peace. They’ve also struck fear in the governments and security agencies of many countries, including Canada, which have been struggling to deal with a steady trickle of their citizens seeking to return home from Syria and Iraq.

We don’t know whether reports are true that two or more of the Sri Lankan terrorists had gone to Syria to fight with the terrorist army that calls itself Islamic State (also known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh), and returned after that organization’s self-proclaimed caliphate was crushed and defeated last year. It is clear, however, that the attacks are linked to a desire among some of that organization’s former fighters to bring revenge to their own countries.

There are currently several hundred European, U.S. and Canadian alleged IS fighters being held in northern Syria by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (the number of Canadians may be as low as 10). Whether they should be returned to their home countries is the subject of an intense international debate.

Some have suggested stripping them of their citizenship – which was a legal option, rarely if ever applied, under Stephen Harper’s Conservative government – thus making them the responsibility of some other country. Others wonder why we should be responsible for investigating and trying Canadians who allegedly have committed grave crimes abroad; in other circumstances, they’d be tried and sentenced in the place where their crimes took place.

But they are, ultimately, our problem. They aren’t foreign – almost all the Canadians accused are Canadian citizens born here to Canadian families, and their radicalization took place here, in the dark corners of Canadian society. To attempt to dump them on another country, or on a poor and struggling Kurdish-led Syrian democracy movement that has already been betrayed by Canada and its allies, would be both immoral and dangerous.

There are good reasons why nobody is eager to see them returned. The probability of any returned foreign fighter committing violence is low – a 2015 study found that only 0.2 per cent of returned fighters, or one in 500, had been charged with terrorism offences. The return of IS fighters has not produced the wave of attacks that many had anticipated. But the few who do maintain their violent commitments are noted, in the words of a study published last year by the United Nations Security Council, for their “increased lethality, both as attackers and as attack planners,” making them responsible for “some of the most lethal terrorist attacks.”

But the flaw in the citizenship-stripping approach becomes apparent when you take a close look at those who have dual citizenship, and would therefore be eligible.

Typical of them is Syrian detainee Jack Letts, who holds both Canadian and British citizenship. Neither Canada nor Britain wants him back. Political leaders in both countries have suggested revoking his citizenship – and thus dumping his case, and the considerable security and justice costs associated with his case, on the other country.

As a result, he waits in Syria. If he is guilty of atrocities or war crimes – and simply being a member of IS could qualify as one – neither country is willing to expend the investigative and judicial resources to prove it and bring him to justice. If he is innocent, as he claims, neither country is willing to try to clear him.

The Kurds have made it clear that they do not want hundreds of people such as him on their hands. Ilham Ahmed, a leader of the Kurdish-led SDF, says it is straining their resources just to hold people such as him. “We have provided the support we can by arresting them and detaining them in prisons, but who is going to take them to court?” she told the Financial Times. “Who is going to [be] carrying out the prosecution?”

Another horrific news story this month illustrated the risk of not taking these people back. Germany is currently trying a 27-year-old woman from Lower Saxony known as Jennifer W. for allegations that she, as an IS “morality policewoman” in Syria, tortured a 5-year-old Yazidi slave girl to death. Prosecutors consider themselves lucky to have found a phone containing what they say are incriminating messages.

If kept in Syria or foisted on another country, she would never have been charged. Trials such as hers are expensive, difficult and risky, but the expense is necessary, and the risk would be greater if these people were left at large. Some of them may be the world’s worst people, but they are our people. If they are truly to be brought to justice, or at least kept under watch so they pose less danger, it is far more likely to happen here.

Source: Canadian extremists returning from Syria are a big problem – but they’re our problem

Doug Saunders: The politics of border-crossing bogeymen are unwise – and dangerous

Valid points:

There’s a trick, long known to certain politicians, to get an electoral boost when you’re down in the polls: You declare that dangerous people are about to come across the border, and you latch onto a conspiracy theory claiming that the other political party, or some dark forces associated with them, are responsible.

It can be an effective tactic. Immigration is often a popular election issue, especially when it’s mixed with atavistic fears of mysterious predators entering your territory. It is also a profoundly dangerous tactic.

On Wednesday night, we heard the U.S. President attempt this trick, for the umpteenth time. Americans, Donald Trump declared in an address, are being “raped, murdered and beaten to death with a hammer” by nefarious figures streaming across the southern border, and “thousands more lives will be lost if we don’t act right now” to build his wall.

Never mind that the threat is an utter fiction – illegal border crossings from Mexico to the United States are at their lowest rate in almost half a century, and those who make the crossings are measurably less murder-prone than Americans.

It’s also based on a wild conspiracy theory. Mr. Trump has repeatedly told voters that migrants approaching the U.S. border include “criminals and unknown Middle Easterners,” as well as terrorists, even though his own immigration officials deny this. He’s said that their march on the border is being funded by mysterious Democratic-linked forces; in October, he publicly endorsed an anti-Jewish conspiracy theory blaming Hungarian-American philanthropist George Soros for the “caravan.”

But Canadians can’t watch this with any sense of superiority. For the first time in decades, this tactic has crept into mainstream Canadian politics.

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer shocked many members of his own party last month by taking up a cause that had emerged from the fringes, denouncing a United Nations document known as the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.

That document, if you bother to read it, is an anodyne, purely symbolic statement of principles intended to reduce overall immigration numbers, and especially to discourage irregular – that is, illegal – immigration. Like other such UN compacts, its main purpose is to provide principled-sounding statements for preambles of other documents.

Instead, Mr. Scheer claimed that the Compact “gives influence over Canada’s immigration system to foreign entities.” He then denounced the “crisis at our borders” and “chaos at our borders” caused by “illegal border crossers” – suggesting that cross-border chaos, danger and criminality would be products of this document.

Where did this weird theory come from? As Laurens Cerulus and Eline Schaart found out in an investigation this week for Politico, it was the product of a calculated social-media campaign by “a coalition of anti-Islam, far-right and neo-Nazi sympathizers” based in Europe. It was taken up in September by far-right parties in Europe, and by figures in Mr. Trump’s circle.

Mr. Scheer’s decision to join Mr. Trump in picking up this ugly thread might have seemed like an expedient way to turn immigration fears into anti-Liberal sentiment. Yet, the larger danger of such conspiracy theories is not just that they are absurdly false – but that some people really believe them.

In October, 11 people were shot to death in a Pittsburgh synagogue by a man shouting anti-Semitic slogans. To judge by his social-media posts and statements, the alleged shooter, Robert Bowers, had come to believe that criminal migrants headed to the Mexico-U.S. border were being funded and supported by Mr. Soros and other Jewish figures and organizations – the same conspiracy theory Mr. Trump endorsed. A few days earlier, a Trump supporter in Florida had sent pipe bombs to Mr. Soros and other Democratic-linked figures in apparent support of this theory.

These incidents, and others like them, followed a 2011 massacre in Norway orchestrated by Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people – many of them children – because he had come to believe a theory, promoted by European right-wing politicians, that “globalists” and “cultural Marxists” (including his victims) were conspiring to bring in threatening Muslim immigrants.

That conspiracy theory has now reached Canada. In January, 2017, Alexandre Bissonnette walked into a Quebec City mosque and shot 19 people, killing six. In his police interview, he said he had been spurred to action after watching reports about Mr. Trump’s proposed Muslim ban, and after hearing conspiracy theories about Canada’s Syrian refugees. “I saw that and I like lost my mind,” he said. “I don’t want them to kill my parents, my family.”

Nobody but these killers themselves are responsible for their actions. But they all had been led to believe fictions about border-crossing bogeymen and the figures who supposedly back them. Given the dangerous implications of such inventions, to amplify them in the name of momentary political gain wouldn’t just be profoundly unwise. It would be absolutely reckless.

Source: The politics of border-crossing bogeymen are unwise – and dangerous

The culture war has been won, so now we fight about words: Doug Saunders

Words matter. And words have different meanings for different groups. So avoiding “trigger” words and finding less polarizing language and labels should be part of any conversations:

Are you a social justice warrior? Not if you can help it, I bet. You are unlikely to find anyone who will self-identify as an “SJW,” an annoyingly popular internet putdown aimed by angry trolls at the earnest slogans of left-leaning people.

In response to such scorn, people have dropped the words “social justice.” Liberal-minded politicians now studiously avoid the phrase. This despite the fact that a large and growing majority of people believe in, well, social justice.

The idea has divorced itself from the words. Social justice, the concept – broad equality and opposition to unfair discrimination – is more popular than ever. But “social justice,” the phrase, has become hotly contested and, to many, off-putting and doctrinaire. It joins such polarizing formulations as “systemic racism” and “Islamophobia” – terms that inspire distaste among big segments of a public who otherwise support the concepts behind those phrases.

And that’s led to a misconception. The long-running fight over language – in which the words and phrases of the ideologically earnest are rejected as “politically correct” – is being mistaken for some larger and more irreconcilable battle over underlying ideas and beliefs.

Those who are truly intolerant and opposed to pluralism – those who think social justice is not just an awkward phrase but a bad idea – are a small and declining group. But that group is manipulating language conflicts to their political advantage.

That has become vividly evident as a new study of political tribalism has inspired a bewildering range of reactions from scholars and journalists. The study, titled Hidden Tribes, examines 8,000 U.S. citizens from a wide range of backgrounds in lengthy surveys and focus-group discussions. The aim of the study (and of the organization behind it, More in Common) is to show how countries have become divided into multiple tribal factions.

But the study doesn’t really end up showing that. For the most part, it shows that there are exactly two factions: a large, increasingly united majority ranging from the left to the centre-right who believe in social justice and its sister concepts, and a small group, making up 25 per cent of Americans on the devout ideological right (certainly smaller in other English-speaking countries) who oppose those ideas completely.

There is, however, another divide visible – one around language. Last month, the political scientist Yascha Mounk analyzed one of the study’s secondary findings in an essay carrying the headline “Americans strongly dislike PC culture.” Indeed, 80 per cent of Americans agree that “political correctness is a problem in our country,” and that includes almost all ages and backgrounds. Only 6 per cent support “PC culture” and that group is mostly wealthy and white.

But the “PC culture” they’re opposing is not really a culture at all; it’s just the language. And it’s a narrow gripe: An even larger majority – 82 per cent – think hate speech is an equally big problem.

Indeed, what jumps out from the study is that the people who are against PC language are also overwhelmingly in favour of the broad ideas behind that language.

A majority of all Americans, and a really big majority who aren’t devoted conservatives, believe that “white people today don’t recognize the real advantages they have” – but most people say they dislike the popular millennial name for this thought, “white privilege.” A similarly substantial majority feel that “many people nowadays don’t take discrimination against Muslims seriously enough” – but most oppose the word “Islamophobia.” Most Americans believe “the police are often more violent toward African Americans than others,” but when you characterize this view as Black Lives Matter, suddenly six in 10 are opposed.

Six in 10 Americans believe that same-sex marriage should be legal, including majorities in most conservative camps. A similar proportion believe that “accepting transgender people is the moral thing to do.” And 69 per cent of Americans believe sexism today is “very serious or somewhat serious.”

That majority might not like the phrases used by gay- and transgender-rights activists and feminists, or even words such as “feminist,” but the underlying ideas have wide support.

However, people tend to vote based not on big ideas but on words – and the 25 per cent who ardently oppose the ideas of equality and pluralism are winning wider election victories, in the United States and elsewhere, by going after the words. The rise of Trumpism was propelled by manufactured outrage about political correctness run amok. This week saw U.S. majorities back ballot measures supporting transgender rights and black enfranchisement; they also voted for plenty of “anti-PC” candidates.

There is no “PC culture,” just words that become targets. If we want to win social justice, we might need to lose “social justice.”

Source: The culture war has been won, so now we fight about words: Doug Saunders

Europe’s multicultural fears hide an integration success story: Doug Saunders

While I haven’t read the Bertelsmann report yet, I am familiar with the OECD integration report as it is the best source of international comparisons. The above chart highlights some of the more significant indicators, showing overall a less positive picture for European countries than portrayed by Saunders:

It has become commonplace, in some circles, to seal an argument with a reference to “what is happening in Europe.” Many things are happening in Europe, but you know it isn’t a reference to the Eurovision Song Contest or the Swedish gender-equality laws or full employment in Germany.

No, “what is happening in Europe” implies that whatever collection of bad-news headlines you’ve seen involving bombs and riots and crime gangs and far-out political parties shouting about the collapse of Western civilization, are caused by the presence of darker-skinned Europeans with minority religious beliefs.

That was the non-subtle suggestion when the U.S. President deployed the phrase in one of his tweets last year: “Our country needs strong borders and extreme vetting, NOW. Look what is happening all over Europe.” It’s the subject of popular books such as The Strange Death of Europe by the right-wing British author Douglas Murray, which uses random anecdotes and factoids to persuade the reader that everything was grand and harmonious in Europe – during some non-conflict-dominated era that is hard to find in history books – until those Muslims arrived, at which point “the culture” fell apart. Many of his arguments resemble German author Thilo Sarrazin’s Germany Abolishes Itself, which additionally used long-discredited racial-science concepts to claim that Turks had lowered his country’s IQ.

A version has seeped into more moderate conversations. Many people now believe what British author David Goodhart coined the “Progressive’s Dilemma” – the notion that growing ethnic diversity inevitably erodes civic trust and support for social programs, because we don’t want our tax money going to people not like us. Of course, you have to believe that darker-skinned Europeans are “not like us.”

This all ignores what is actually happening in Western Europe – which is one of the most successful and rapid stories of cultural and economic integration the world has seen.

There certainly are many white Europeans who think their brown-hued neighbours are poorly integrated aliens. The migrant influx of 2015 and 2016 didn’t help – those hundreds of thousands of lost souls stole attention from Europe’s tens of millions of immigrants and minorities, whose stories are entirely different.

We now have very comprehensive data showing just how well-integrated Europe’s minority groups are becoming. Most recent, published late last year, is a big study of Muslim populations by Germany-based Bertelsmann Foundation. It was preceded by an even larger-scale study of integration by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

The German study found that “religious affiliation does not impede integration” in European countries. Not only that, but, as the OECD observed, “integration challenges do not increase with the share of immigrants in the population” – in fact, the countries with the largest immigrant populations tend to have the most total cultural and economic integration.

Immigrants and their offspring in Europe almost exclusively feel loyal to – and connected to – the country where they live; only 3 per cent of German and French Muslims and 8 per cent of British Muslims identify with their countries of ancestry (this is a lower rate than, say, European immigrants in Canada).

And they’re not forming “parallel societies”: Three-quarters of European Muslims spend their free time daily with European Christians, Jews and atheists – and that rate of contact increases with each generation.

Education is where Europe has often lagged: Its school systems often contain built-in incentives for minority children to fall behind or drop out. The Bertelsmann study found that the best educational integration is in France, where only 11 per cent of Muslims leave school before turning 18 (not much more than the ethnic-French population).

Germany and Switzerland, with their rigid and old-fashioned systems, have higher dropout rates – but they make up for this in employment, as immigrant-descended citizens in those booming economies have employment rates identical to the established population. Across Europe, the OECD says, immigrant employment is only three points lower than among the native-born.

Both studies found gaps and shortcomings in some places, especially educational success – but those are caused by European failures in policies and tolerance, not in lack of immigrant ambition.

Notably, both studies found populations who urgently want to be European, not “multicultural.” That’s a big difference: As historian Rita Chin observes in her book The Crisis of Multiculturalism in Europe, multiculturalism has largely been opposed by Europe’s minorities because of its “surprisingly undemocratic effects” – they’ve seen it as a barrier to integration; as a result, she writes, we now see “former colonials, guest workers, refugees and their descendants … woven into virtually every aspect of European public life.”

That – more than anything else – is what is happening in Europe.

via Europe’s multicultural fears hide an integration success story – The Globe and Mail


ICYMI: Is Canada’s population too small? My review of Doug Saunders’ Maximum Canada 

For those interested, my take in Policy Options on Doug Saunders’ Maximum Canada.

Source: Is Canada’s population too small?

ICYMI – New immigration quotas: Too low and no long-range plan: Saunders

Saunders critiques the modest increase in levels against the perspective of his Maximum Canada:

Two shocking facts about the Liberals’ new immigration targets: First, they’re not high. Not by any measure. And second, they’re not well-planned.

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen’s announcement of a gradual increase in immigration numbers drew the usual mix of alarmist and exultant headlines: More than a million newcomers by 2020! Saved from the devastation of an aging population! But Mr. Hussen was proceeding with the sort of tiptoe-step caution that has come to characterize his government. His plan is to raise skilled and family immigration by far less than 1950s, 1980s or 2000s increases, while letting refugee numbers fall back to their usual tiny slice of the immigration pie (after a 2016 peak caused by the Syrian emergency). It’s not out of line with the immigration and population-growth thinking of every Tory and Liberal government of the past half century.

Indeed, the initial response from the Conservatives, via immigration critic Michelle Rempel, was not to criticize the numbers as too high but to predict that the Liberals will be incapable of meeting their economic-immigrant targets and filling the labour shortages that both parties complain about. The NDP response, also reasonable, was that more of those immigrants need to be less-skilled, because that’s also where our economy needs people.

Both Mr. Hussen’s proposal and the opposition responses are based on the most short-term vision of immigration: filling jobs now and meeting demographic challenges a decade from now. What is missing is the longer view of a larger, more sustainably populated Canada – one that concentrates rather than sprawls, one that uses population growth for ecological efficiency rather than waste. (This also happens to be the subject of my new book, Maximum Canada). We can hope that some such plan is in the works.

In the meantime, it’s best to think of Mr. Hussen’s targets as a temporary holding pattern. Since the late 1980s, Canadian immigration rates have remained fairly consistent, hovering around 0.8 per cent of the population each year (that is, around eight immigrants per 1,000 people). Rates declined somewhat in the 1990s – not out of policy desire (Prime Minister Jean Chrétien wanted that rate to increase to 1 per cent annually), but because the economy was poor, and when that happens, immigrants don’t come. Then they rose again at the turn of the century, and have held at around 0.8.

Canada’s new level of 300,000 makes for an immigration rate of 8.3 per thousand. Mr. Hussen’s gradual increase, to 340,000 per year by 2020, would be a far smaller increase than we saw in one year alone under Brian Mulroney (who raised it by 50,000 in 1986-7) and identical to the one-year rise we experienced in 2000. It would give Canada a rate of 9 immigrants per 1,000 citizens.

That’s not high by Canadian standards, and it sure isn’t by world standards: It’s less than the 2015 immigration rates in Britain (9.7), the Netherlands (9.9), Sweden (13.7) or Switzerland (18.5). This is not mass immigration by any stretch. We tried that a century ago: If we were to have the immigration rate of 1913, we’d have to take in 1.75 million immigrants a year. Nobody is returning to those times.

But we’re stuck with a way of thinking about immigrants that’s often rooted in the previous century.

Canadians, and often their government, still think of immigrants as units of labour to be plugged into factories and labs. But the typical immigrant to Canada today is not an employee; she’s someone setting out to employ people, or at least manage them.

Six out of 10 male immigrants and five out of 10 female immigrants today arrive with university degrees – twice the rate of Canadian-born people. More than half of them own a house within four years of arriving – despite the very high costs of housing in the big cities and their suburbs where immigrants settle.

In other words, we should no longer think of immigrants as sources of (or competition for) jobs, but as primary sources of new economic activity.

On the other hand, we remain mired in another legacy of 20th-century thought: that immigrants will find their way into the middle class on their own.

Children of immigrants do succeed, to an enormous degree. But the first generation tends to get lost, its members often unable to realize their potential as creators of employment. A generation ago, immigrants saw their incomes converge with Canadian averages within 15 years. Today, immigrants are 1.5 times more likely than average Canadians to live in poverty, and twice as likely to earn less than $30,000 a year, after 15 years. Only 24 per cent of immigrants with professional degrees ever get work in that field. We waste talented people.

We need to invest ahead of population growth, so it delivers benefits rather than trapping people in isolation and low incomes. We should not talk about population growth without a significant new cross-government, cross-jurisdiction program to plan and invest for it.

via New immigration quotas: Too low and no long-range plan – The Globe and Mail

Canada needs a fuller house to thrive – but population growth isn’t enough: Saunders

While I am a great fan of Doug Saunders, I think he makes many of the same fallacies as other boosters of large increases in immigration and population in his latest book, Maximum Canada: Why 35 Million Canadians Are Not Enough.  (See my earlier How to debate immigration issues in Canada where I discuss the respective fallacies of immigration boosters and critics).

However, unlike many others, he recognizes the large public and private investments needed to integrate successfully large number of immigrants along with the associated infrastructure and other needs of a much larger population.

Yet surprisingly, he is silent on the likely impact of technology on labour market needs.

However, will read his book to get a fuller appreciation of his arguments (have just excerpted his conclusion but recommend reading the full long read):

The challenges of family policy, like most of the obstacles examined here, are already being experienced by Canadians, and will be growing problems, regardless of what happens to the population. The changes in the structure of the work force, in the cost and accessibility of housing, in the geographic isolation of major cities; the obstacles to getting credentials recognized, and of lost educational opportunities – all these barriers to equality and social mobility need to be confronted by Canadians and their governments, whether we triple our population or not.

It is therefore worth asking: If the time has come for Canada to train its sights on institutional reform, infrastructure expansion and policy reassessment, why shouldn’t we also make plans to build a population commensurate with those ambitions and resources? The changes we need to undertake in order to maintain and empower a Canada of 35 million will be far easier to bring about, and yield far greater benefits, if they are applied to a population that is gradually growing to a larger and more self-sufficient scale by the end of the century.

With that population – and by instituting the reforms needed to create it – Canada promises to become a place with the tools and resources to do many things better, more fairly, more cleanly and more co-operatively: a more comfortable, and more intensely Canadian version of the Canada we know.

Source: Canada needs a fuller house to thrive – but population growth isn’t enough – The Globe and Mail

ICYMI: Canada has a border problem. Here’s how to fix it: Doug Saunders

Published in February but remains relevant given ongoing border crossings. Not convinced, however, re full suspension of safe-third country agreement with USA given signals it would send to future border crossers:

Stop illegal entries by creating a legal path. People aren’t making these crossings because they’re an easy way into Canada. In fact, illegal foot crossings are an exceptionally difficult and expensive way into Canada: Some migrants have paid drivers enough to buy business-class airfare.

People make them because they’re the only way into Canada. Under the 2004 Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement, Canada does not allow foreign refugee claimants who landed in the United States through its official border crossings: You’re required to apply for asylum in the first country in which you arrive. But if they can get themselves physically onto Canadian soil, they will be arrested, detained, released and given an assessment, a hearing and a right to appeal.

This is not, as some have said, a flaw in the act; rather, it is a feature of the Canadian Constitution: Once in Canada, you are entitled to the full suite of rights – including due process and a fair hearing.

We can deal with this in two ways. One, as suggested by some MPs, would be to secure the border more, by adding hundreds or thousands more police and border agents. They would probably spend their days and nights processing a rising tide of border-crossers, at great expense.

The other would be to stop the illegal flow completely by creating a legal entry method, with processing centres at border crossings. The numbers would increase somewhat, but it would be far less expensive and much less dangerous – and it would look secure, fair and rational to Canadians.

Consider suspending the Safe Third Country Agreement. The treaty made sense when it was signed, because the United States and Canada both treated refugee claims similarly, and offered similar treatment to people pursuing those claims. (The worry then was that claimants would try to sneak from Canada into the United States.) That has changed under the Trump administration. Refugee claimants fear, first, that their claims will get a less generous hearing under the refugee crackdown, and second, that they might be held in awful detention centres while awaiting a decision.

Since the agreement no longer serves its intended purpose, it mainly creates perverse incentives. Illegal foot crossings are one. Another is an exemption provided in the treaty to “unaccompanied minors” – which might tempt someone to send a child alone across the border. Suspending the treaty wouldn’t overwhelm us with migrants: There’s a very limited supply of asylum seekers who’ve made it into the United States. And under current conditions, it is easier for them to fly directly to Canada.

Get people processed fast. Many of those border-crossers – perhaps most – won’t qualify as refugees. They’ll wait months for a hearing, then years for an appeal, before they go home or are deported (by which time they’ll have roots in Canada, creating a second set of crises). Those who are legitimate refugees will also wait, in ambiguous status, in border towns for long periods and possibly in large numbers.

To avoid this becoming an enduring, high-visibility crisis with grave political implications, Ottawa should bring on board extra Immigration and Refugee Board staff and judges to work the border stations, so hearings can be made in weeks rather than months and appeals in months rather than years. This would cost, but not as much as supporting thousands of ambiguous people for years, or rebuilding the reputation of our immigration system. By making it legal, rational and quick, we can make the border act like a border again.

Source: Canada has a border problem. Here’s how to fix it – The Globe and Mail

Various articles of interest: urban Indigenous peoples, how Canada has changed, explaining Canadian immigration to Americans

A number of articles I found particularly interesting over the past few weeks.

Starting with Joe Friesen of the Globe’s overview of how increased numbers of urban Indigenous peoples are shaping our cities, particularly but not exclusively in the Prairies:

Look around Winnipeg’s downtown and it’s clear the city is in the midst of a demographic shift. In the elevated walkways that offer shelter from the legendary winds, it seems roughly half the people shopping, walking or stopping to chat, are indigenous. In fact, more than 70,000 residents identify as aboriginal. Like many the other cities with a growing indigenous population, Winnipeg has seen more than its share of racially charged conflict, but the signs of an increasingly prominent indigenous community are apparent.

Storefronts in Winnipeg’s downtown now bear messages of greeting in indigenous languages, ranging from Cree to Dakota, Michif and Inuktitut, distributed by the local business association. At the University of Winnipeg, students who began their studies this year are now required to take a course on indigenous peoples and culture. A community group is petitioning to rename a street in Ojibwe. The national aboriginal broadcaster, APTN, headquartered on Portage Avenue, plans to expand to the United States. On the main street of the predominantly aboriginal North End, Selkirk Avenue, once the heart of the city’s Eastern European communities, schools of social work and urban studies from the province’s two largest universities offer off-campus degree programs for indigenous students, producing a stream of graduates and nourishing a growing middle class.

Every home game for the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets now opens with an announcement recognizing that the MTS Centre is located on Treaty One land, and the homeland of the Métis Nation. It also pledges that the Jets ownership, True North Sports and Entertainment, is committed “to a spirit of reconciliation for the future.” Winnipeg’s mayor, Brian Bowman, is Métis. In the provincial legislature, speculation about who might lead the Official Opposition has swirled almost exclusively around several indigenous contenders.

Just 10 years earlier, in 2001, there were only 17 communities with indigenous populations of that size. The list will almost certainly grow once the results of the 2016 long-form census are available, and not just because indigenous people living off-reserve were among the groups considered at risk of being undercounted in 2011. First Nations and Inuit people tend to have higher fertility rates than the rest of the population: In 2006, it was 2.7 children per woman for Inuit women and 2.4 for First Nations women, compared to 1.8 for Métis women, and 1.6 for the population overall.

The city with the highest proportion of indigenous people in Canada is Prince Albert, Sask., a community of roughly 35,000 located 140 kilometres north of Saskatoon. It’s considered a hub for many Northern communities, including 12 nearby First Nations reserves in the Prince Albert Grand Council. Over the decade, the city’s indigenous population grew by 37 per cent, far faster than growth in the city overall.

On the city’s police force, a little less than 40 per cent of officers self-identify as indigenous, and the chief of police is Métis. One member of the eight-seat city council is Métis, and in the last election there was an indigenous candidate for mayor, though he did not win, the city manager, Jim Toye, said.

“The relationship with First Nations is very important to us,” Mr. Toye said. “This is their lands that we are operating on.”

He said the city acknowledges the Treaty relationship at public gatherings and, in its 2016 cultural plan, recognizes its history as a meeting place, known by its Cree name Kistahpinanihk, long before European arrival. The city officially defines itself as a multicultural community with indigenous roots.

As I start to think about my update to Multiculturalism in Canada: Evidence and Anecdote with 2016 Census data, I plan on using more economic, social and political data at the municipal level to help me incorporate this development.

Source: Canada’s growing indigenous population reshaping cities across the country – The Globe and Mail

Next, a good long read by Doug Saunders arguing that 1967 marked the emergence of the new Canada, driven largely by the changed and increased diversity by post-war immigration:

Yet to look back from Canada’s 150 th year is to realize that this feeling is not just solipsism: 1967 is the hinge upon which modern Canadian history turns and, in certain respects, the key to understanding the challenges of the next half-century.

Today, we live in the country shaped by the decisions and transformations of 1967, far more than by the events of 1867. Anniversaries are usually symbolic moments of reflection, but Canada’s hundredth was a very real bid to create an almost entirely new country, and, to a large extent, it succeeded. If you spend some time immersed in the Canada of a few years before 1967, and then in the Canada of a few years after, you feel like you’ve visited two countries – the former still colonial, closed, dependent, paternalistic and pretending to be homogeneous, a place whose sleepy streets you’d have to leave if you wanted to make something of yourself; the latter a country of self-invention and iconoclasm, a North American place whose several peoples began to build something much bigger, more complex, but also safer and more educated and urban, and something entirely their own.

Pierre Berton, the historian, famously referred to 1967 twenty years ago as “The Last Good Year” – a book title that appealed to a nostalgic belief in a placid antediluvian Canada that even he admitted had never existed. The centennial euphoria, he argued, gave way in later years to “the very real fear that the country we celebrated so joyously … is in the process of falling apart.”

There’s a better way to express that thought: After the centennial, we started to confront seriously the schisms and divisions and gross inequities that had been masked before beneath a patina of colonial gloss. We would have, over the next 50 years, two secession crises, a battle over our North American economic identity and a hard-fought political reawakening of our indigenous nations. Yet, these were the crucial struggles of becoming a real country, of finding a governing mechanism and a common culture to bring together those long-disparate peoples.

Let me make the case, then, that 1967 was Canada’s first good year. We should spend this year celebrating not the 150 th year of Confederation, but the 50th birthday of the new Canada.

But let me also make the case that our conventional story about the birth of second-century Canada is largely wrong. We like to believe that starting in the late 1960s, a series of political decisions, parliamentary votes, court rulings and royal commissions descended upon an innocent, paternalistic, resource-economy Canada and forced upon it an awkward jumble of novelties: non-white immigration, bilingualism, multiculturalism, refugees, indigenous nationhood, liberation of women and gays, the seeds of free trade, individual rights, religious diversity.

But the explosions of official novelty that were launched in and around 1967 weren’t a cause; they were an effect of profound changes that had taken place in Canadians themselves during the two decades after the war, in their thinking and their composition and their attitude toward their country, in Quebec and English Canada and in indigenous communities.

Canada was not remade by the decisions of 1967; it was reflected by them, for the first time. What began in 1967 was official Canada beginning to catch up with the real Canada. And that is also the lesson to be carried forward to 2017: Canadians tend to be ahead of their institutions, and every few decades it is time for a dramatic catching up, like the explosion of adjustment we saw in ‘67.

A War of Symbols

…Consider the ripples of change that took place on the day of my birth, as the centennial bash roared on.

Eight hours after I was born, the directors of the Canadian National Exhibition filed into a banquet hall for their annual luncheon. The exhibition’s president, W.H. Evans, asked them to remain standing to sing the national anthem – and then chaos ensued, as half the audience broke into God Save the Queen before the pianist had struck the first note of O Canada. A debate over Canada’s true national anthem, begun in 1964, had been winding its way through a special House of Commons-Senate joint committee all year and filling the media with debate. It wouldn’t fully be resolved until a law was passed in 1980, and many people (especially in Toronto) still considered the British national anthem “official.”

National symbols remained subjects of heated contention in 1967. The flag debate had officially been resolved two years earlier with the choice of the Maple Leaf, but defenders of the old colonial Red Ensign remained outspoken in Parliament, the press and even at Expo 67. Everything about the way Canada represented itself to the world was up for grabs.

But something deeper was taking place, involving not just the symbols but the realities they represented.

The postwar decades were defined by large-scale decolonization around the world: Across Africa, Asia and the Americas, scores of countries were freeing themselves from centuries of control by European masters, and struggling, sometimes violently, to find ways to represent and govern themselves as independent entities. People were learning to think of themselves not as colonial subjects but as autonomous individuals within self-created states.

In that light, 1967 can only be seen as the apex of Canada’s postcolonial moment. The wars over symbols were one small manifestation of a larger shift.

It’s worth remembering how new this all was. We still remained, in important ways, a colony. In 1967, Canadian citizenship had only existed for 20 years – before January 1, 1947, everyone in Canada was a British subject and had to travel with a United Kingdom passport. But it still didn’t quite exist: That 1947 law creating Canadian citizenship declared in its main clause that “a Canadian citizen is a British subject” (this would remain in place until 1977).

That idea was still hotly defended by many in the Ottawa of 1967: The Progressive Conservative leadership still opposed Canadian citizenship, and the flag, and the anthem. There was still a sizable political faction in Canada who supported the idea that all Canadians were simply a slightly different, less important flavour of British people.

But the great majority of Canadians had moved on – or moved in – and you could see the centennial struggling to catch up with them.

Two, Three, Many Canadas

The morning of my birth, opposition leader John Diefenbaker (still sitting, anachronistically, in the House four years after his prime ministership had ended) denounced prime minister Lester B. Pearson for having declared the previous week that “we are a nation of two founding peoples” (in French, the prime minister went further and called them “nations”).

Mr. Diefenbaker considered this a catastrophic blow to a country he had always insisted was purely British: “Adoption of the two-nation concept,” he explained to his fellow MPs that day, “would lead to the breakdown of confederation.” But he was swimming against his own party’s tide: a few days earlier, a Progressive Conservative policy conference had gone further than the Liberals by concluding that Canada should be seen as a federal state “composed of two founding peoples (deux nations), with historic rights, who have been joined by people from many lands.”

In other words: A hundred years into Confederation, the leader of the official opposition still did not seem to believe that French Canadians existed. The notion that Canada contained more than one language and people was still hotly contested in some circles.

But that era was ending fast. A day later, Ontario Premier John Robarts would announce that his province was to build a system of French-language secondary schools. This was not an act of expansive idealism: He was recognizing the reality of a population, including millions of Francophones outside of Quebec, who were no longer capable of seeing themselves, or their children, as subjects of a homogenizing foreign ruler.

These debates sprawled across Canada’s newspapers and TV screens all year. Everyone taking part in them knew there was a looming transformation about to take place. There was a name for it: “Bi and Bi,” the household name for the mammoth Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, the largest and most powerful government inquiry Canada had seen. It had been established by Mr. Pearson in 1963 to find a way to address growing Quebecois disenchantment with a Canada that tended to ignore its French fact, and was widely expected to endorse some version of the “two nations” model so hotly discussed that week.

On Oct. 8, 1967, it released its first report – a national event almost rivalling Expo in its media and political attention. And to the great surprise of many, the idea of Canada as two peoples and nations was not its most dramatic proposal – though it certainly did call for a fully bilingual country. That was expected. What was not expected was the very large part of the report, and the subsequent reports over the next two years, devoted to what the commission’s original mandate had called “Other Cultural Groups.” People who were neither British nor French in identity or origin had become a significant share of the Canadian population during the 20 th century.

And while the commission was clear in calling for two official languages, it found a Canada that could no longer be described as having merely one or two or three founding “peoples,” “nations” or “races” (a term still used to describe English and French communities in 1967). Its implication, not quite spelled out, was that Canada was becoming a place that could no longer be defined by its colonial origins.

Over the next several years, that reality would become impossible to ignore. So that when, in 1971, prime minister Pierre Trudeau first used the word “multiculturalism” to define Canadian policy, it was not simply a political ploy to defuse French-English rivalries and rising separatist sentiment (though it was certainly that). It was an inevitable, and perhaps even somewhat late, recognition of what Canada had already been for a long time.

While I would argue that it was a mix of the underlying realities and conscious political decisions that resulted in these changes, not just these realities as other countries were less successful in managing this transition, the contrast is clear.

Source:  In 1967, change in Canada could no longer be stopped 

Lastly, a good primer for Americans trying to understand Canadian immigration and related policies, and their relative success in integrating newcomers by Paul May in the LA Times:

To a lot of commentators, Canada looks like a sanctuary for progressive thinking on immigration, an exception to the nativist wave sweeping the United States and Europe.

A recent cover of the Economist put a maple leaf crown on the Statue of Liberty and proclaimed Canada “an example to the world.” Famously, on election day, the Canadian immigration website crashed because of the number of Americans reportedly considering a move to their northern neighbor as Donald Trump won the presidency. Year after year, polls show that Canadians are, by far, more open and more optimistic about immigration than the citizens in any other Western country.

But such optimism is perhaps easier to achieve in Canada than in other nations: For historical and geopolitical reasons, Canada does not have to cope with the same immigration challenges as the U.S. and Europe.

To start, Canada has pursued a much more selective immigration policy than the United States or any western European country.  It accepts far more immigrants legally than most Western nations, but under a policy designed primarily to dovetail with the economic interests of the nation.

In consequence, Canada accepts far fewer immigrants on the basis of family ties than in the U.S., for example, and the proportion of skilled immigrants is much higher. Further, the country sets a higher education standard for immigrants than the U.S. (which is in turn more demanding than Europe). This more-selective immigration policy is likely to lead to fewer integration problems and easier access to jobs.

Canada’s selectivity is helped by its geographical position. It does not share a border with a country where wages are much lower (as the U.S. does with Mexico), and it isn’t next door to unstable regions (as Europe is to North Africa and the Middle East). The result is that few undocumented migrants move across the country’s southern border, as is the case in the U.S.; and few migrants land on its shores by boat, as in Europe.

The points system and geography also have a noticeable effect on where Canada’s immigrants come from.

Official data show that the leading countries among foreign-born residents in Canada are the United Kingdom, China and India. In the U.S., 28% are Mexicans and 24% are from other Latin American countries. In Europe, foreign-born residents originate mainly from the Muslim world (in the Netherlands, for instance, Turkey, Suriname and Morocco; in France — Algeria and Morocco). Consequently, Canada does not have to deal (at least not on the same scale) with the complex problems associated with integrating newcomers from a rural and conservative Muslim background into a highly secular environment.

Not that Canada hasn’t welcomed Muslims. Between November 2015 and November 2016, it resettled more than 35,000 Syrian refugees; most European countries have been much more reluctant to extend permanent status to these immigrants. But again, Canada can and does exert a great deal of control over the process.

Europe’s Jews have reason to fear today’s political climate: Saunders

Interesting column by Doug Saunders:

To understand this, it’s worth following the work of Yascha Mounk, a Harvard University scholar. Mr. Mounk made headlines this week with a new study, co-authored with Roberto Stefan Foa at the University of Melbourne, which found that voters in most European countries and the United States are increasingly less likely to believe it is “essential” to live in a democracy. This effect is stronger among younger people and right-wing voters.

For Mr. Mounk, this is part of a larger phenomenon. Two years ago, he published Stranger in My Own Country, a memoir of his life as a young German Jew. It noted that the Christian Europeans around him, while professing liberal tolerance, were continuing to treat Jews such as himself as different, other or outside. In an essay titled “Europe’s Jewish Problem,” he linked these observations to the rise of the new right-wing populist movements.

“Europe’s political climate is more hostile to Jews now than at any time since the second intifada,” he wrote. But he concluded that it wasn’t Muslim anti-Semitism leading the trend; rather, it was the far larger populations of Christians. As he noted, the number of Spanish citizens who express unfavourable views of Jews is almost 50 per cent; Muslims make up less than 3 per cent of Spain’s population and aren’t growing fast. So “a European anti-Semite remains far more likely to be Christian than Muslim.”

The larger problem, he concluded, is “the tendency of wily politicians to play Jews and Muslims against each other for purposes of their own.”

A recent large-scale survey of French attitudes toward Jews by political scientist Dominique Reynié found that anti-Semitism in general is declining, but the country’s Muslims do indeed have higher rates of anti-Jewish beliefs than the general population. What really stood out, though, were the many people who support Marine Le Pen’s National Front party: They were even more likely than Muslims to agree with Jewish-conspiracy claims such as “Jews use their status as victims of the Nazi genocide for their own interest” or “the Jews are responsible for the current economic crisis.” And they were almost equally likely to support statements such as “there is a Zionist conspiracy on a global scale,” at rates twice as high as the general population. Muslims make up only 7 per cent of the population of France, but Ms. Le Pen commands at least one-fifth of the population, and her support is rising fast.

These parties and movements, Mr. Mounk concluded, attract those who are hostile toward both Muslims and Jews. “The very same revival of nationalism that has been fuelled by their invocation of Jews [as foils for their politics],” he wrote, “can, in this way, quickly turn into anti-Semitism.” And that, combined with a growing group of voters who don’t care about democracy, is something that Europe ought to fear.

Source: Europe’s Jews have reason to fear today’s political climate – The Globe and Mail