Douglas Todd: Why the Greens don’t attract ‘ethnic’ voters

Interesting. There may be differences between first and subsequent generations:

Why do Green party candidates only win seats in ridings where the vast majority of voters are white?

Federal and B.C. Green candidates have won election in only one concentrated region of Canada, on Vancouver Island and the adjacent Southern Gulf Islands, in ridings that have scant visible minorities compared to most of the country’s cities.

In the Southern Gulf Islands — the heart of the region that has handed victories to the lone federal Green MP, leader Elizabeth May, and to B.C. MLA Adam Olsen — only two per cent of residents belong to a minority ethnic group. That compares to 51 per cent of people in Metro Vancouver, where the Greens struggle.

Political observers believe the Greens’ poor showing among immigrants, ethnic Chinese and South Asian voters, and others, is the result of a common perception the party puts environmental protection before economic prosperity. The Greens have also had fewer resources to woo ethnic voters.

“The first generation of immigrants often leave their homelands for economic reasons,” says Shinder Purewal, a Kwantlen Polytechnic University political scientist. “They’re willing to work in any sector that provides jobs. Early Sikh immigrants, for instance, worked in the lumber industry. Environmentalists calling for preservation of trees were often seen as a threat to their livelihood.”

Purewal routinely hears Indo-Canadians remark on how “the Greens would destroy the economy. Not only do they think this would mean lower living standards, it would lead to the state not being able to provide social programs. … Immigrants, who come from countries with almost no social programs, appreciate Canada’s health care and public education, along with workers’ compensation, employment insurance and old age pensions.”

Regardless of which factors are strongest, it’s clear that visible minorities in Canada, many of whom are immigrants, are far less inclined to vote Green than are whites. Along with Green candidates drastically under-performing in ridings in which ethnic groups predominate, polls have revealed the party’s demographic affliction.

A Mainstreet Research poll conducted last year found 21 per cent of Caucasian British Columbians were ready to vote for the Greens. But support for the Greens dropped to eight per cent among ethnic Chinese in B.C., seven per cent among South Asians, 10 per cent among Filipinos and five per cent among Koreans.

The so-called ethnic vote is a major factor in B.C. elections, since at least one in five provincial ridings contains fewer white people than the combined totals of ethnic Chinese, South Asians, Koreans, Filipinos, Koreans, Persians and Pakistanis.

Most people of Chinese origin in B.C. “are still under the impression that economic development and environmental protection are incompatible, or even mutually exclusive,” says Fenella Sung, former radio host of a Chinese-language current affairs program in B.C.

The more than 470,000 ethnic Chinese people in Metro Vancouver, who predominate in ridings in Richmond where the Greens performed badly in last year’s B.C. election, tend to believe, rightly or wrongly, that the Greens are a single-issue party, Sung said.

“Since prosperity is their main priority, they think the environment can take a back seat,” Sung said. Chinese-Canadians generally believe protecting nature is something to be addressed only “after economic growth is sustained and job creation is guaranteed.”

Sonia Furstenau, the B.C. Greens’ deputy leader, said, “We’re really committed to improving the diversity of our candidates. It’s a real priority.”

The party is stepping up its message to ethnic minorities and others that protecting the environment does not threaten personal livelihoods, but will help create “more stable, long-term jobs than we have now,” said Furstenau, MLA for Cowichan Valley, where nine of 10 report English as their mother tongue, the fourth highest proportion of B.C.’s 87 ridings. The Greens, she said, also want to strengthen public education and the high-tech sector.

Stefan Jonnson, communications director for the three-seat B.C. Greens, which is supporting the NDP government, said up until recently most candidates in the small party have lacked finances to publish Chinese- or Punjabi-language campaign material or to appear at ethnic events. But that, he said, has been rapidly changing.

Hamish Telford, a political scientist at the University of the Fraser Valley, said the Greens “have to become a multicultural party if they’re going to break out of Vancouver Island. It’s not a party that speaks to immigrants.”

The tip of Vancouver Island and the Southern Gulf Islands are Green strongholds in part, Telford said, because they’re home to many Caucasians who have moved there from others parts of the province and country “to retire and enjoy the beauty of the place, the peace and outdoors.”

After travelling to the Punjab in India, the homeland of hundreds of thousands of B.C. residents, Telford was strengthened in his perception that “Punjabis are a very political people.” While Sikh and Hindu nationalist parties are notable in the Punjab, he said, there are few signs of an environmental movement.

Since roughly a quarter of the students in Telford’s classrooms on the Abbotsford campus are South Asian, he has learned many are keen about economics, immigration, racism and social programs.

But hope for the Greens may lie in such students, he said. “The ones born and raised here tend to skew to the left and to have the same concerns as other young Canadians. Some are interested in the Greens. That’s not so much the case for the older generations.”

Source: Douglas Todd: Why the Greens don’t attract ‘ethnic’ voters

Douglas Todd: Canadian sovereignty faces challenge over foreign-buyers tax

Todd on the British Columbia foreign buyer tax:

Canadian sovereignty is on trial in a lawsuit against B.C.’s 20-per cent tax on foreign buyers of residential homes.

Jing Li — a Chinese citizen and international student who launched her case after using her family’s money to buy a townhouse in Langley in 2016 — is in effect challenging what some believe is Canada’s sovereign right to impose a targeted tax on foreign nationals, a B.C. surtax that is similar to many in other provinces and countries.

Arguing the tax illegally discriminates against people on the basis of their national origin, Li maintains in her claim it makes her feel “I am not wanted in Canada. … I feel that this anger has been directed toward people like me and other Asian nationals, due to unfair biases and stereotypes which the tax has further reinforced.”

In this era of globalization and free trade, in which trans-national corporations and libertarians often call for “open borders,” it is not fashionable to stand up for national sovereignty. Cultural liberals and even business leaders often characterize the concept as thinly disguised racism.

But some Canadians maintain it is ethical to discriminate against people who are not citizens or permanent residents (that is people who Canada have formally allowed to begin the immigration process). UBC law professor Joel Bakan, creator of the documentary The Corporation, says “in the past 30 years of economic globalization there has been an attack on the idea of the nation state.” But the sovereign nation, he says, remains the key structure through which a people can create a democratic community.

A B.C. Supreme Court judge will hear Li’s lawsuit in open court beginning June 25. In the meantime UBC professors Nathanael Lauster and Henry Yu are among those providing affidavits on behalf of Li, whose lawyer is Luciana Brasil, a specialist in class-action suits.

The B.C. government, in response to being sued, has obtained affidavits from, among others, UBC geography professor David Ley and SFU’s Andy Yan.

Should foreign nationals have the same rights and privileges as Canadian citizens and permanent residents, especially in regards to property?

In support of Li’s lawsuit against the B.C. government, Lauster claims the foreign-buyers tax reflects the kind of anti-Chinese sentiment that has become a “moral panic,” leading to “blaming the foreigner.”

British Columbians have scapegoated Chinese buyers, Lauster says. “There are clear indications that the inception and implementation of the foreign-buyer tax has reflected and invoked xenophobic, racist and specifically Sinophobic tendencies and sentiments.”

Lauster, an American who writes about his process of immigrating to Canada, maintains foreign students, temporary workers and other non-permanent residents are unfairly impeded by the foreign-buyers tax, particularly because many eventually apply to become immigrants.

The foreign-buyers tax has evoked a “Yellow Peril” discourse, Lauster says, with modern-day “folk devils.” The “social epidemic” manifests itself in anonymous comments about media articles and on Twitter. “Chinese immigrants and home buyers have been the primary targets of rhetoric. A variety of historically rooted stereotypes and biases have been perpetuated targeting Chinese home buyers and immigrants.”

For some reason the affidavit of Henry Yu, a UBC historian who specializes in documenting discrimination against ethnic Chinese, is not available to the public. Li’s lawyer did not reply to questions about it. Judging from the responses to Yu’s affidavit, however, it is similar to Lauster’s in arguing the tax demonstrates Canadians’ racism.

Andy Yan, who heads SFU’s City Program, counters in his affidavit that Yu and Lauster ignore “the globalization and hyper-commodification of housing,” which has hammered cities such as London, New York and Sydney and led to, for instance, 23 per cent of Coquitlam’s new condos being bought by foreign nationals.

Yan maintains Yu and Lauster are also blind to the “agency” of minority groups in B.C., where Chinese-Canadians have been leading activists supporting the tax on foreign buyers. There are now 470,000 ethnic Chinese in Metro Vancouver. Asians make up two of three immigrants to Canada.

An Angus Reid poll found 89 per cent of the city’s ethnic Chinese support the foreign-buyers tax. Even the then-Chinese consul general in Vancouver, Liu Fei, said, “The Chinese government would have no hesitation in stepping in and regulating (house) price increases like this, unlike governments here.”

Indeed, China has a range of restrictions on foreign buyers. And Yan’s affidavit makes it clear that jurisdictions throughout the world limit the purchasing power of foreign nationals. Yan says Yu and Lauster should not have ignored curbs on foreign buyers in Prince Edward Island, Ontario, Manitoba, Singapore, Hong Kong, Britain, Australia and the U.S. He could have added Denmark, Mexico, France, Switzerland and others.

In his affidavit, David Ley, author of Millionaire Migrants, says a key tactic of pro-growth real-estate advocates has been to claim that opponents of rapid expansion are xenophobic.

Developers first began playing the racism card in Vancouver and Los Angeles in the 1990s, Ley says. He notes Bob Rennie, a famed condo marketer and former chief of fundraising for the B.C. Liberal party, has alleged racism is “a huge undercurrent” in the housing debate.

Ley accepts Lauster and Yu’s analyses of B.C.’s discriminatory history up to the repeal of the immigration act in 1947. But he laments neither acknowledge how attitudes have changed. “Unlike in the colonial period, there is no ethno-racial divide that neatly separates, homogenizes and penalizes people of East Asian origin,” Ley says.

“There is significant resistance within Vancouver’s Chinese‐Canadian community to inflationary pressures in the property market primed by foreign capital, dispelling innuendoes that such resistance is inherited from old racist attitudes held by white Canadians.”

We will find out later this month where this case goes. If the judge declares the foreign-buyers tax is illegal, a massive class-action suit is sure to follow. Li’s lawyer did not reply to questions about who has so far been paying for the lawsuit’s substantial costs.

Meanwhile, those of us who continue to value national sovereignty will think of people like Bakan. Even though the liberal-left is often distracted by identity politics related to ethnicity, Bakan says the nation-state remains the key structure to protect the common good of passport holders and permanent residents.

Defenders of sovereignty may also consider Nobel Prize economist Joseph Stiglitz, who says globalization will only benefit most members of a nation if it puts strong social-protection measures in place. That includes rules to protect Canadians from out-of-control housing costs.

Source: Douglas Todd: Canadian sovereignty faces challenge over foreign-buyers tax

Gary Mason provides an effective riposte to those house-rich opposing the tax:

…But, hey, let’s not worry about them. They’ll figure it out, I’m sure. Let’s turn our attention to the homeowners in Vancouver whose $3-million-plus abodes face a minor tax hike. Although they can defer it until after they sell, many don’t want to. So, let’s everyone get together and figure out how we can help these poor, poor multimillionaires.

Source: Opinion What about the poor multimillionaire homeowners?

 

Douglas Todd: Amazon’s Vancouver ‘news’ lacks facts on jobs, migrants coming this way

More on the Canadian advantage in hiring talent and the mobility in the tech sector, written from a somewhat ambivalent perspective:

….The extent to which Canadian high-tech companies rely on foreign workers, international students and would-be migrants is explained in the book Trans-Pacific Mobilities: The Chinese and Canada (UBC Press), edited by the University of Calgary’s Lloyd Wong, with a key contribution by SFU’s Karl Froschauer.

Although Wong and Froschauer have never responded to my requests for interviews, they wrote in Trans-Pacific Mobilities that Metro Vancouver’s high-tech companies assertively look abroad for workers, mostly from Asia, and especially in India and China.

They do so, the sociologists write, because it means they can “spend a very small fraction of their salary budget on training and because B.C. universities produce relatively few graduates in the technology field … High-tech computer programming and computer systems analysis have been the two most common intended occupations of all skilled immigrants to Canada.”

Some international financial experts, however, are beginning to be more upfront about how one reason Canada’s high-tech sector is growing, particularly with satellite U.S. companies, is it is easier to get a visa to work in Canada than south of the border.

To put it simply, Canada’s open attitude to tech talent is the opposite of Trump’s, where the current national motto is, “Buy America. Hire America.”

Trump talks about further cracking down on the country’s coveted H-1B visas, which are used to place foreign workers in high-skilled U.S. jobs. As the BBC reports, U.S. politicians place a tight cap on H-1B visas because many do not want to see them used to replace skilled American workers with cheaper overseas counterparts.

Trudeau, on the other hand, is fast-tracking offshore high-tech workers and students. He’s brought in efforts like the Global Skills Strategy, which builds upon the 2015 “Express Entry” program; a free, online process that allows skilled workers to apply easily to immigrate.

Of the 500,000 international students in Canada in 2017, which was a 20 per cent jump from 2016, many are studying in technology fields.

One advantage in their coming to Canada is that — unlike in the U.S. where they are normally not allowed to stay in the country after they graduate — they can stay at least three years extra in Canada to work and go to the front of the queue for immigration. Another advantage of starting in Canadian high-tech is that foreign nationals who work for an American satellite company for one year can then get an inter-company transfer to the U.S.

Data is not available on how many Canadian-born or raised young people are getting jobs in the high-tech sectors in Vancouver, Toronto and across Canada. While employers routinely claim there is not enough local talent to hire, some B.C.-based business professors counter that there aren’t enough jobs for students graduating out of Canada’s high-tech programs.

In the midst of such trans-national confusion, shortage of facts and sometimes fantastical claims, there are pros and cons to the way the high-tech sector in Canada has become key to what Brock University researcher Zachary Spicer calls a globalized “brain churn.”

The world’s skilled workers, whether in Asia or North America, are not just flowing in one direction. They’re “churning,” shifting rapidly from country to country while chasing the most strategic jobs, with the restrictive U.S. generally being most sought-after, in large part because of its stronger salaries.

Raza Mirza, a high-tech worker in Vancouver who was recruited from Pakistan by a U.S. high-tech company, is not following the lead of many of his colleagues and moving to the U.S., even though he could make at least $40,000 Cdn more.

Separate from his own interests, he’s among many convinced the United States’ relatively protectionist approach to foreign labour, compared to Canada’s open policy, is definitely  boosting the high-tech sector in Canada.

“I believe the shortage of U.S. talent, and the U.S.’s unwillingness to let companies bring in more global talent, has been a huge factor in why U.S. technology companies are increasing their Canadian footprint.”

Source: Douglas Todd: Amazon’s Vancouver ‘news’ lacks facts on jobs, migrants coming this way

Poll shows Vancouverites mixed on giving vote to ‘permanent residents’

Interesting divergence. The other interesting aspect is that giving the right to vote to PRs as proposed has no minimum residency period (the administrative complexity of implementation would not be simple). (Note: the residency requirement is three years out of five, not two, as reported in the article).

I suspect that most recent Permanent Residents have more immediate needs than municipal voting rights that may explain the difference.

A majority of the residents polled in the cosmopolitan City of Vancouver appear to support giving permanent residents the right to vote in a civic election — but many immigrants are not so sure.

A new opinion poll conducted by Research Co. found 57 per cent of those questioned in the City of Vancouver either “strongly” or “moderately” favour giving the city’s permanent residents the right to vote in a municipal election.

The Canadian government defines a permanent resident as “someone who has been given permanent resident status by immigrating to Canada, but is not a Canadian citizen. Permanent residents are citizens of other countries.”

In a city of 630,000 that has one of the highest portions of foreign-born residents in the world, a sample of Vancouver’s 262,000 immigrants found only 48 per cent ready to give permanent residents the vote in October’s municipal election.

“The level of support for the change is higher among Vancouverites who were born in Canada than among those who acquired citizenship after immigrating from another country,” said Mario Canseco, the president of Research Co.

The company conducted the survey in response to Vancouver City council passing an early April motion by Vision Coun. Andrea Reimer, seconded by Mayor Gregor Robertson, calling on the B.C. government to “make the necessary changes” to make it the first city in Canada to allow permanent residents to vote.

The Research Co. poll revealed partisan political fault lines over whether roughly 60,000 permanent residents of the city should be able to vote. People who voted for the Non-Partisan Association’s mayoral candidate in 2014, Kirk LaPointe, were 14 percentage points less likely than those who backed Robertson to want to make it possible.

While Canseco found a slim majority of Vancouverites think it makes sense to give the vote to permanent residents “who may contribute to the city by working, living and paying taxes,” he determined the strongest pockets of support were among residents aged 18 to 34 (68 per cent), those who live in the East Side of Vancouver (62 per cent), women (58 per cent) and people of East Asian origin (60 per cent).

On the other hand, the Research Co. survey revealed 49 per cent of City of Vancouver residents expressed concern that allowing permanent residents to vote “sets a dangerous precedent, as foreigners who have not sworn allegiance to Canada would have a say in the formation of governments.”

The issue of civic voting rights arises against the backdrop of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals raising immigration levels and last October bringing in Bill C-6, which makes it easier for permanent residents to become citizens. They now need to spend only two years out of five physically present in Canada before being eligible for citizenship (compared to the previous requirement of four years out of six).

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussein also made it possible last year for permanent residents to spend a portion of the two years they are supposed to be physically present in Canada in a foreign land — either for work, to attend school or for family reasons.

Even though it is rare around the world for non-citizens to vote for any elected representatives, some of those who maintain it is a good thing argue that, since many non-permanent residents pay taxes, they have a right to determine how taxes are spent.

Proponents also say it’s better to offer the vote at a municipal level, since local politicians have no control over issues of national security and foreign policy.

On the other hand, the few dozen countries around the world that welcome immigrants normally require newcomers to prove in multiple ways they have a “meaningful connection” to their new homeland before granting the privilege to vote.

Since permanent residents in Canada are already free to engage in political activity, opponents of giving them a civic vote argue it’s relatively quick to become a citizen and people should wait for the privilege while learning an official language and the political complexities of their potential new homeland.

The 2016 Census shows the City of Vancouver contains 325,000 people who are non-immigrants and 262,000 “immigrants” (which includes those who are permanent residents).

Fifty-two per cent of the residents of the City of Vancouver are people of colour, (including 167,000 ethnic Chinese, 37,000 South Asians and 36,000 Filipinos). People of  European descent total 297,000 and Aboriginals 14,000.

According to the 2016 Census seven per cent of the residents of the city speak neither English nor French.

The Research Co. poll surveyed 400 adults in the City of Vancouver and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

Source: Poll shows Vancouverites mixed on giving vote to ‘permanent residents’

Multiculturalism and related posts of interest

Last of my ‘catch-up’ series.

Starting with the Environics Institute’ Canada’s World Survey, which highlights the degree to which Canada has a more open and inclusive approach than most other countries, as highlighted in the Executive Summary:

Canadians’ views on global issues and Canada’s role in the world have remained notably stable over the past decade.

In the decade following the first Canada’s World Survey (conducted early in 2008), the world experienced significant events that changed the complexity and direction of international affairs: beginning with the financial meltdown and ensuing great recession in much of the world, followed by the continued rise of Asia as an emerging economic and political centre of power, the expansion of global terrorism, increasing tensions with North Korea and risks of nuclear conflagration; and a growing anti-government populism in Western democracies. Despite such developments, Canadians’ orientation to many world issues and the role they see their country playing on the international stage have remained remarkably stable over the past decade. Whether it is their perception of top issues facing the world, concerns about global issues, or their views on the direction the world is heading, Canadians’ perspectives on what’s going on in the world have held largely steady.

As in 2008, Canadians have maintained a consistent level of connection to the world through their engagement in international events and issues, their personal ties to people and cultures in other countries, frequency and nature of their travel abroad, and financial contributions to international organizations and friends and family members abroad. And Canadians continue to view their country as a positive and influential force in the world, one that can serve as a role model for other countries.

This consistency notwithstanding, Canadians have been sensitive to the ebb and flow of intenational events and global trends.

While Canadians’ perspectives on many issues have held steady over the past decade, there have also been some shifts in how they see what’s going on in the world and how they perceive Canada’s role on the global stage, in response to key global events and issues. This suggests Canadians are paying attention to what happens beyond their own borders, and that Canadian public opinion is responsive to media coverage of the global stage.

Canadians today are more concerned than a decade ago about such world issues as terrorism, the spread of nuclear weapons, and global migration/refugees. And the public has adjusted its perceptions of specific countries as having a positive (e.g., Germany) or negative (e.g., North Korea, Russia) impact in the world today. Canadians are also shifting their opinions about their country’s influence in world affairs, placing stronger emphasis on multiculturalism and accepting refugees, our country’s global political influence and diplomacy, and the popularity of our Prime Minister.

Canadians increasingly define their country’s place in the world as one that welcomes people from elsewhere.

Multiculturalism, diversity and inclusion are increasingly seen by Canadians as their country’s most notable contribution to the world. It is now less about peacekeeping and foreign aid, and more about who we are now becoming as a people and how we get along with each other. Multiculturalism and the acceptance of immigrants and refugees now stand out as the best way Canadians feel their country can be a role model for others, and as a way to exert influence on the global stage.

Moreover, Canadians are paying greater attention to issues related to immigration and refugees than they did a decade ago, their top interest in traveling abroad remains learning about another culture and language; and they increasingly believe that having Canadians living abroad is a good thing, because it helps spread Canadian culture and values (which include diversity) beyond our shores. Significantly, one in three Canadians report a connection to the Syrian refugee sponsorship program over the past two years, either through their own personal involvement in sponsoring a refugee family (7%) or knowing someone who has (25%).

Young Canadians’ views and perspectives on many aspects of world affairs have converged with those of older cohorts, but their opinions on Canada’s role on the world stage have become more distinct when it comes to promoting diversity.

It is young Canadians (ages 18 to 24) whose level of engagement with world issues and events has evolved most noticeably over the past decade, converging with their older counterparts whose level of engagement has either not changed nor kept pace with Canadian youth. Young people are increasingly following international issues and events to the same degree, they are as optimistic about the direction of the world as older Canadians, and they are close to being as active as travelers. At the same time, Canadian youth now hold more distinct opinions on their country’s role in the world as it relates specifically to diversity. They continue to be the most likely of all age groups to believe Canada’s role in the world has grown over the past 20 years, and are now more likely to single out multiculturalism and accepting immigrants/refugees as their country’s most positive contribution to the world.

Foreign-born Canadians have grown more engaged and connected to world affairs than native-born Canadians, and are more likely to see Canada playing an influential role on the global stage.

Foreign-born Canadians have become more involved in what’s going on outside our borders over the past decade, opening a noticeable gap with their native-born counterparts. They continue to follow international news and events more closely than people born in Canada, but have developed a much greater concern for a range of issues since 2008, while native-born Canadians’ views have not kept pace. Canadians born elsewhere have grown more optimistic about the direction in which the world is heading, while those born in the country have turned more pessimistic. And Canadians born in other countries have also become more positive about the degree of influence Canada has on world affairs, and the impact the country can have on addressing a number of key global issues.

Source: Canada’s World Survey 2018 – Executive Summary, Canadians believe multiculturalism is country’s key global contribution: study 

Some other stories that I found of interest:

The very different pictures of how well integration is working for visible minority and immigrant women between Status of Women Canada (overly negative) and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (not enough granularity between different visible minority groups, captured by Douglas Todd: Secret immigration report exposes ‘distortions’ about women  .

Todd continues with some of his interesting exploration immigration issues, including regarding different communities (Douglas Todd: Canadian Hindus struggling with Sikh activism) and highlighting the work of Eric Kaufmann (Douglas Todd: Reducing immigration to protect culture not seen as racist by most) who, in my view, overstates “white flight” and related ethno-cultural tensions and has an overly static view of society.

Timothy Caulfield asks the questionIs direct-to-consumer genetic testing reifying race?:

From a genetic point of view, all humans are remarkably similar. Indeed, when the Human Genome Project was completed in 2003, it was confirmed that the “3 billion base pairs of genetic letters in humans [are] 99.9 percent identical in every person.” There are, of course, genetic differences that occur more frequently in certain populations — lactose intolerance, for example, is more common in people from East Asia. But there is simply no reason to think that your genes tell you something significant about your cultural heritage. There isn’t a lederhosen gene.

More important, we shouldn’t forget that the concept of “race” is a biological fiction. The crude racial categories that we use today — black, white, Asian, etc. — were first formulated in 1735 by the Swedish scientist and master classifier, Carl Linnaeus. While his categories have remained remarkable resilient to scientific debunking, there is almost universal agreement within the science community that they are biologically meaningless. They are, as is often stated, social constructs.

To be fair, DTC ancestry companies do not use racial terminology, though phrases like “DNA tribe” feel close. But as research I did with Christen Rachul and Colin Ouellette demonstrates, whenever biology is attached to a rough human classification system (ancestry, ethnicity, etc.), the public, researchers and the media almost always gravitate back to the concept of race. In other words, the more we suggest that biological differences between groups matter — and that is exactly what these companies are suggesting — the more the archaic concept of race is perceived, at least by some, as being legitimate. A 2014 study supports this concern. The researchers found that the messaging surrounding DTC ancestry testing reifies race as a biological reality and may, for example, “increase beliefs that whites and blacks are essentially different.” The authors go on to conclude that: “The results suggest that an unintended consequence of the genomic revolution may be to reinvigorate age-old beliefs in essential racial differences.”

Other research has found that an emphasis on genetic difference has the potential to (no surprise here) increase the likelihood of racist perspectives and decrease the perceived acceptability of policies aimed at addressing prejudice.

Some less-than-progressively-minded groups have already turned to ancestry testing as a way to prove their racial purity. White supremacists in the United States, for example, have embraced these services — often with ironic and pretty hilarious results (surprise, you’re not of pure “Aryan stock”!).

But I am sure most of the people who use ancestry companies are not thinking about racial purity, the reification of race or antiracism policies when they order their tests. And I understand that these tests are, for the vast majority of customers, providing what is essentially a bit of recreational science. In fact, I’ve had my ancestry mapped by 23andMe (I am, if you believe the results, almost 100 percent Irish — hence my love of Guinness). It was a fun process. Still, as the research suggests, the messaging surrounding this industry has the potential to facilitate the spread and perpetuation of scientifically inaccurate and socially harmful ideas about difference. In this era of heightened nationalism and populist exceptionalism, this seems the last thing we need right now.

So, don’t believe the marketing. Your genes are only part of the infinitely complex puzzle that makes “you uniquely you.” If you feel a special connection to lederhosen, rock the lederhosen. No genes required.

Lack of diversity in highlighted is sectors as varied as entertainment (The Billion-Dollar Romance Fiction Industry Has A Diversity Problem) and education (Lack of diversity persists among teaching staff at Canadian universities, colleges, report finds). Chris Selley: Granting Sikh bikers ‘right’ to ride without helmets only adds to religious freedom confusion provides a good critical take on whether religious freedom extends to riding motorcycles (Ontario does not allow, British Columbia and Alberta do).

Kim Thúy on how ‘refugee literature’ differs from immigrant literature provides an interesting perspective:

“Refugee and immigrant are very different,” she says in an interview. “A refugee is someone ejected from his or her past, who has no future, whose present is totally empty of meaning. In a refugee camp, you live outside of time—you don’t know when you’re going to eat, let alone when you’re going to get out of there. And you’re also outside of space because the camp is no man’s land. To be a human being you have to be part of something. The first time that we got an official piece of paper from Canada, my whole family stared at it—until then, we were stateless, part of nothing.”

Letters from Japanese-Canadian teenagers recount life after being exiled from B.C. coast enriches our understanding of the impact of their uprooting and exile under Japanese wartime internment (similar to Obasan):

“I don’t know of any other archival collections that are like this,” she said. “They might exist, but I don’t know of any. The combination of young people’s letters and letters to a non-Japanese Canadian person is just incredible to me. This is really special.

“One of the things I love about them is that they’re so clearly ordinary people. I think sometimes when the story gets told, that gets missed — that these are teenagers who are bored, and curious. It’s just really touching.”

And a variety of interesting articles on Islam and Muslims: Why so many Turks are losing faith in IslamCan Muslim Feminism Find a Third Way?  Ursula Lindsey and Gender parity in Muslim-majority countries: all is not bleak: Sheema Khan.

One of the most interesting is The Conversion/Deconversion Wars: Islam and Christianity using Pew Research data to assess respective trends:

It turns out that (American) Islam is losing Muslims at a pretty high rate. About a quarter of adults raised Muslim deconvert.

The problem is, from a secularist’s point of view, is that just as many convert to the religion. It has a high conversion rate, especially when compared to Christianity. Islam is growing by about 100,000 per year.

Per Research recently released a report that said:

“Like Americans in many other religious groups, a substantial share of adults who were raised Muslim no longer identify as members of the faith. But, unlike some other faiths, Islam gains about as many converts as it loses.

About a quarter of adults who were raised Muslim (23%) no longer identify as members of the faith, roughly on par with the share of Americans who were raised Christian and no longer identify with Christianity (22%), according to a new analysis of the 2014 Religious Landscape Study. But while the share of American Muslim adults who are converts to Islam also is about one-quarter (23%), a much smaller share of current Christians (6%) are converts. In other words, Christianity as a whole loses more people than it gains from religious switching (conversions in both directions) in the U.S., while the net effect on Islam in America is a wash.

A 2017 Pew Research Center survey of U.S. Muslims, using slightly different questions than the 2014 survey, found a similar estimate (24%) of the share of those who were raised Muslim but have left Islam. Among this group, 55% no longer identify with any religion, according to the 2017 survey. Fewer identify as Christian (22%), and an additional one-in-five (21%) identify with a wide variety of smaller groups, including faiths such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, or as generally “spiritual.”

The same 2017 survey asked converts fromIslam to explain, in their own words, their reasons for leaving the faith. A quarter cited issues with religion and faith in general, saying that they dislike organized religion (12%), that they do not believe in God (8%), or that they are just not religious (5%). And roughly one-in-five cited a reason specific to their experience with Islam, such as being raised Muslim but never connecting with the faith (9%) or disagreeing with the teachings (7%) of Islam. Similar shares listed reasons related to a preference for other religions or philosophies (16%) and personal growth experiences (14%), such as becoming more educated or maturing.”

There is perhaps an interesting explanation for some of this deconversion data:

“One striking difference between former Muslims and those who have always been Muslim is in the share who hail from Iran. Those who have left Islam are more likely to be immigrants from Iran (22%) than those who have not switched faiths (8%). The large number of Iranian American former Muslims is the result of a spike in immigration from Iran following the Iranian Revolution of 1978 and 1979 – which included many secular Iranians seeking political refuge from the new theocratic regime.”

How does this compare to people who converted to Islam?

“Among those who have converted to Islam, a majority come from a Christian background. In fact, about half of all converts to Islam (53%) identified as Protestant before converting; another 20% were Catholic. And roughly one-in-five (19%) volunteered that they had no religion before converting to Islam, while smaller shares switched from Orthodox Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism or some other religion.

When asked to specify why they became Muslim, converts give a variety of reasons. About a quarter say they preferred the beliefs or teachings of Islam to those of their prior religion, while 21% say they read religious texts or studied Islam before making the decision to switch. Still others said they wanted to belong to a community (10%), that marriage or a relationship was the prime motivator (9%), that they were introduced to the faith by a friend, or that they were following a public leader (9%).”

 

Douglas Todd: Canadians are more happy than xenophobic

One of the more positive overall indicators, but one that does not mean the absence of racism and discrimination, just the relative incidence compared to other countries (Globe editorial: The problem with Ottawa’s plan to consult the public on racism? Ottawa itself presents more realistic view):

Immigrating to Canada makes people happier, according to the United Nations’ 2018 World Happiness Report, which confirms Canadians are among the most tolerant and welcoming people in the world.

The Happiness Report reveals Canada is “the fourth most accepting country for migrants.” That’s out of 117 nations for which data is available, behind only Iceland, New Zealand and, surprisingly, Rwanda. It’s basically an A+ grade for Canadians.

Despite the media frequently reporting on accusations that Canadians are inclined to be “xenophobic,” this imperfect but generally kind country has been a beacon of light, at least to a fraction of the 700 million people who say they want to permanently leave their homelands.

The annual Happiness Report, which includes a groundbreaking and largely ignored new section on migrants, shows most of the roughly 300,000 immigrants who have been arriving each year in Canada become happier than they were before leaving their country of origin.

Migrants to Canada end up with virtually the same life-satisfaction levels as native-born Canadians. That lead the UN Report to rank Canada as the overall seventh happiest nation on the planet, bested only by Finland, Norway, Denmark and other northern European countries.

The UN’s Happiness report adds more weight to previous international surveys, such as one done by Britain’s Legatum Institute, which found global respondents naming Canada the most “tolerant” nation in the world.

While most Canadians continue to recognize that acts of hatred and racism occur, including the murderous attack in early 2017 on worshippers at a Quebec City mosque, the UN report might remind Canadians that discrimination is on a continuum, and Canada is at the more positive end of it.

The UN’s remarkable figures counter claims by many activists, academics and real-estate industry lobbyists, who routinely throw out the accusation that Canadians are racists. Such critical Canadians don’t seem to recognize, for one, how bad things are elsewhere, especially in big countries. The Happiness Report found Russians are among the most antagonistic toward foreigners. Attitudes are also at rock bottom in South Korea and Pakistan, which are among the top six source countries of emigrants to Canada, and which themselves take in almost no migrants.

Canada, meanwhile, maintains its reputation as a tolerant country while being home to 8.2 million foreign-born people (7.5 million of whom are immigrants). That’s one in four of all residents. The foreign-born population of Greater Vancouver is even higher, at 45 per cent, while its 32 per cent in Calgary and 49 per cent in Greater Toronto.

In contrast, foreign-born people make up only 3.3 per cent of the residents of all countries on average, says the UN report, co-written by University of B.C. economist emeritus John Helliwell.

“Of the 12 countries with populations exceeding 100 million, only three had foreign-born population shares exceeding one per cent — Japan at 1.7 per cent, Pakistan at 1.9 per cent and the U.S. at 15 per cent.” The two most populous countries, China and India, have virtually no foreign-born.

The UN, relying on pollsters from Gallup, tallied each country’s quotient for tolerance by asking 36,000 people three questions: Whether it was a “good thing” or “bad thing” that immigrants were living in their country, were becoming their neighbours and marrying into their families.

UN chart shows the most-accepting countries for immigrants in dark green, followed by light green. The least-accepting nations are in black, followed by grey.

While Canada came out as the fourth most accepting, a bit ahead of the Netherlands, Australia and the U.S., some of the least-accepting countries for migrants were Pakistan, Greece, Egypt and Poland. (The report generally avoids using the term xenophobic.)

India and China were not as hostile as South Korea, Pakistan and Eastern Europe, but still ranked poorly. Another troubling finding was that these two major immigrant-source countries to Canada rank low for happiness, with China coming in 86th and India 133rd.

The main conclusions of the UN Happiness Report were that people who leave “unhappy” countries, where people lack trust, to go to happier countries such as Canada and Austria wind up matching the host society for happiness, with the second generation remaining at the same level as the first generation. But there are many winners and losers in the process, including among family members left behind.

And, despite Canadians’ open attitude to the foreign born, they seem to have limits. Most Canadians are not as ebullient as Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who recently raised the country’s immigration levels from 240,000, in 2014, to 340,000.

In February, Trudeau said in Mumbai, India: “Quite frankly, the most common complaint I get from Canadians, from Canadian businesses, from people in general, is that you’re not bringing in enough immigrants. And that’s a rare thing in this world.”

Trudeau was ignoring, however, polling done in late 2017 by the Angus Reid Institute, which found 57 per cent of Canadians believe the country “should accept fewer immigrants and refugees.”

And it’s even possible some surveyed Canadians were acting more positively than they actually feel. A much-cited study by Alexander Janus, of the University of California, Berkeley, found people “dramatically underestimate” their worries about immigration when directly asked by pollsters. Using a “list” technique to tease out respondents’ authentic feelings from those they believe socially desirable, Janus found roughly one third of liberal Americans, for instance, say they’re satisfied with immigration rates when they actually want them reduced.

Noting that “one of the most difficult issues in all social science” is dealing with how migration affects members of a host society, the Happiness Report cautions that certain policies are needed to ensure Canadians and others remain open. The report said leaders of immigrant-receiving countries should be aware that “moderate flows of migrants are more tolerable for the native-born than big influxes of new arrivals.”

Finally, the UN Report recognizes that, with 700 million people wanting to permanently leave their home country, it’s not possible for the few dozen countries that welcome immigrants to make them all happier by taking them in.

Therefore the Happiness report suggests the best way for rich countries to help is to find more ways to support unhappy people in their homelands.

“There are clearly limits to the annual flows which can be accommodated without damage to the social fabric that provides the very basis of a country’s attraction to immigrants,” says the Happiness report.

“One obvious solution, which has no upper limit, is to raise the happiness of people in the sending countries — perhaps by the traditional means of foreign aid and better access to rich-country markets, but more importantly by helping them to grow their own levels of trust, and institutions of the sort that make possible better lives in the happier countries.”

via Douglas Todd: Canadians are more happy than xenophobic | Vancouver Sun

Douglas Todd: Aboriginals and whites leaving Metro Vancouver

Kind of interesting that some of the debate is now focussing on white enclaves as much as ethnic enclaves:

Aboriginals and whites are leaving Metro Vancouver for other regions of B.C., particularly to live in the Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island and the Okanagan, according to Statistics Canada.

A net total of 9,345 whites and 460 Indigenous people left Metro for other parts of the province in the one-year period ending July, 2016, according to newly released Statistics Canada data.

Two other demographic groups that are tending to say goodbye to Metro Vancouver are those who are born in Canada and those between ages 55 and 65.

It’s been more than two decades since Metro Vancouver has experienced so many residents depart for other regions of the province, according to data provided by Patrick Charbonneau, a senior analyst at Statistics Canada.

Out-migration trends similar to Metro Vancouver have also occurred in Toronto and Montreal. In all three cities, said Charbonneau, “there were more non-visible minorities (i.e. whites) leaving those regions for elsewhere in the province than the opposite.”

While Metro Vancouver is generally losing people to the rest of B.C., Statistics Canada reports that Victoria and Kelowna have become the only cities in Canada that are growing because of inter-provincial migration.

Meanwhile, people of colour (which StatsCan refer to as “visible minorities”), are generally not moving out of Metro Vancouver to other parts of the province. They are, however, arriving in the city in large numbers through immigration.

Several reasons are being offered for the exodus of whites, aboriginals and older people from Metro Vancouver. Some mayors say Metro Vancouver residents are seeking lower-cost housing outside the city. Others point to how retirement-age homeowners are cashing out on Metro Vancouver dwellings that have skyrocketed in price. And scholars point to demographic trends in which people of the same ethnicity often choose to live among each other.

“Across the Western world, white majorities, especially those with children, have a tendency to gravitate to neighbourhoods that are both relatively white and have limited ethnic change,” said Eric Kaufmann, a University of London, Birkbeck, professor, who was born in Hong Kong and raised in Vancouver by parents of mixed ethnicity.

“This is true in the U.S., Canada and Britain. In diverse London, England, for instance, around 600,000 white Britons left the city in the 2000s, while 1.6 million non-white British arrived. Ethnic own-group attraction, rather than white flight or economic forces, best explains the pattern,” said Kaufmann, an often-cited specialist on global migration patterns.

Through extensive research, Kaufmann and his colleagues have found that diverse cities, like Metro Vancouver, “tend to lose white populations at a faster rate, while less diverse cities gain them, or lose whites at a slower rate.” His findings could explain one of the reasons Victoria and Kelowna, which have far less ethnic diversity than Metro Vancouver, are growing as a result of inter-provincial migration.

Figures from the 2016 Canadian census show that whites recently became a minority in the metropolises of Toronto and Metro Vancouver. The relatively small Aboriginal population of Metro Vancouver is also declining proportionally.

In the Vancouver suburb of Richmond, the ethnic Chinese population has expanded in a few decades by more than 80,000, while the white population has declined by more than 30,000.

A Postmedia series showed that Metro Vancouver is developing distinct ethnic enclaves. Ethnic Chinese now predominate in large sections of Richmond and South Asians make up three-quarters of many neighbourhoods in north Surrey. Meanwhile, whites tend to make up large majorities in suburbs such as White Rock, North Vancouver and Langley.

Despite significant inter-provincial migration trends, immigration from outside the country is changing the ethnic face of Metro Vancouver and Canada’s largest cities the most quickly.

The cities of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver are projected to have fewer people of European origin, according to StatsCan. More than 60 per cent of all immigrants to Canada have moved to these three major cities, and more than four of five of all recent immigrants come from Asia, the Middle East, South America and Africa.

Metro Vancouver took in 142,000 new immigrants between 2011 and 2016 — and about 85 per cent of those immigrants were people of colour. Many choose to live in ethnic enclaves.

Working with political scientist Gareth Harris, Kaufmann has tracked “white withdrawal” in Britain and Canada, monitoring how whites tend to “unconsciously” move out of neighbourhoods when a large influx of non-white immigrants moves in.

In their book, Changing Places: Mapping the White British Response to Ethnic Change, Kaufmann and Harris don’t use the American term, “white flight,” to describe this pattern because they don’t think it is normally fuelled by racism or xenophobia.

“White conservatives and liberals, racists and cosmopolitans, all move to relatively white areas at similar rates,” Kaufmann and Harris say in Changing Places, published by Demos, which describes itself as “Britain’s leading cross-party think-tank.”

Comparing Metro Vancouver to Toronto and Montreal, Statistics Canada data reveals that in the one-year period ending July, 2016, Greater Toronto, had a net loss of 22,555 whites to other areas of Ontario, which was more than it lost of people of colour (5,265).

Montreal had a net gain of people of colour from other areas of the province of Quebec, while experiencing a net loss of 7,075 whites.

 

Source: Aboriginals and whites leaving Metro Vancouver

Douglas Todd: Why Sikhs are so powerful in Canadian politics

Another interesting piece by Todd. Their political impact is greatly helped by their concentration in a number of ridings in the Lower Mainland and the 905. All parties tend to run Canadian Sikh candidates in these ridings:

The Sikh connection had been working well for Justin Trudeau, as it did for Jean Chretien. Punjabi Canadians, most of whom are Sikh, gave Trudeau a big leg up in nabbing the leadership of the federal Liberal party, which soon led him to the commanding heights of the prime minister’s office.

But Punjabi/Sikh support has come back to haunt Trudeau’s popularity. It ignited controversy in his January visit to India, where he appeared linked to backers tied to Sikh militants, some wanting to carve out a theocratic homeland in India called Khalistan.

How did it get to this? Why do Canadian Sikhs punch so much above their weight? How, to the envy of other minority groups, are they so adept at turning grassroots activism into serious political clout?

After all, the country only has 500,000 Sikhs, accounting for a little more than one per cent of all Canadians.

But more than 12 per cent of federal Liberal cabinet ministers are Sikhs, including Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan. There are 14 Liberal Sikh MPs, says Kwantlen Polytechnic University political scientist Shinder Purewal. Liberals hold all nine federal ridings in which Punjabi Sikhs predominate, says Purewal, plus 11 more in which the South Asian population is significant.

Sikhs also profoundly shape the New Democratic Party. They played a huge role in the elevation of Jagmeet Singh to leadership of the federal NDP.

This is not to mention their over-sized clout in provincial politics in Ontario and also in B.C., where Sikhs were early supporters of former NDP premier Ujjal Dosanjh and recent Liberal premier Christy Clark. Purewal counts six current B.C. MLAs who are Sikh (five NDP and one Liberal).

Most of the time Sikhs’ impressive ability to shape Canadian politics stays below the public’s radar. But it came to an embarrassing head for Trudeau in India – in part because of the shady figure of Jaspal Atwal, a one-time Sikh terrorist convicted decades ago of shooting an Indian politician who was visiting Vancouver Island.

Neither Trudeau nor any Liberal can explain how Atwal was invited to high-level Trudeau functions in India. The Atwal affair, which sparked outraged headlines across India, has many people in India worried that Trudeau and other Liberal MPs are too closely tied to Sikh separatists, some of whom appear to glorify the man who masterminded the bombing of an Air India flight in 1985, which killed 329 innocents.

And such incendiary connections are not confined to Trudeau’s Liberals, since similar suspicions have been levelled at the NDP’s Jagmeet Singh, whom India refuses to give a visa, in part because he has a history as a lawyer of defending militants fighting for a separate Sikh homeland and because he lobbied for a 1984 pogrom against Sikhs in India to be labelled a “genocide” by the government of Ontario.

Here’s a short primer on how Sikh politics often works in Canada.

The grassroots process typically begins with board elections at hundreds of Canadian gurdwaras; especially in Vancouver suburbs such as Surrey, in neighbourhoods of Calgary and in Toronto suburbs such as Mississauga and especially Brampton (where Singh is centred).

The competition to run a gurdwara, which acts like a community centre even for non-religious Punjabis, often pits so-called moderate Sikhs against fundamentalists, a minority of whom want to create a separate Sikh homeland. The faction that ends up controlling a gurdwara, Purewal says, “gains the upper hand.”

The 10 to 20 individuals (almost always men) who run the gurdwara not only gain access to pools of money (typically religious donations made in cash), Purewal says, they’re also able to influence a circle of 40 to 50 extended families. The group that operates a gurdwara, Purewal says, can effectively obtain funds and temple volunteers on behalf of their partisan favourite. They often man a table in the temple on behalf of their politician, “particularly on weekends when devotees come by the hundreds.”

Another little-understood factor that enhances the effectiveness of many Sikh leaders is their traditional caste, says Purewal. “The dominant caste among Punjabi Canadians is Jatt, which is a landowning warrior caste,” he says. The high status of a Jatt leader “makes it easier for certain politicians of Sikh faith to mobilize their relatives, extended families and friends.”

The NDP’s Singh, despite playing down his family’s upper-caste origins, has proved adept at gurdwara politics, particularly at winning the “backing of Sikh temples with (Khalistan) secessionist tendencies,” Purewal says. “As they say, ‘money is the mother’s milk of political campaigns,’ and temples have a lot of it, in cash.” Before winning the leadership of the NDP, Singh signed up an astonishing 10,000 party members in B.C. alone.

Barj Dhahan, a noted Punjabi philanthropist, also has first-hand experience of how temple politics works among Canadians Sikhs, since he competed in 2014 for the federal Liberal candidacy in the riding of Vancouver South.

“Punjabi Sikh voters are very much into their politics,” Dhahan confirms. At one level, Dhahan admires the grassroots activism. At another level he’s concerned many can be manipulated by it.

Sikh-Canadians’ political power is greatest at the local party level, Dhahan says — at determining who is nominated to represent ridings, and in gathering bulk members to vote for a candidate to become a provincial or national leader of a party.

Despite Dhahan’s high profile and good standing in the party, Dhahan says the federal Liberals in 2015 pressured him not to run for a seat in the riding of Vancouver South, which has a large Punjabi Canadian population. Instead, Dhahan said Liberal officials manoeuvred for the only declared candidate to be Sajjan, whom Trudeau appointed minister of defence.

Punjabi Canadians, Dhahan said, “mostly punch above their weight at nomination battles and for political party leadership. They can attract new members very effectively. This is where they put their energy. This is where they can do mass recruitments. And this is where they can deliver.”

Looking into the future of Sikh-Canadian politics, however, Dhahan suggested it is Sikhs above age 55 who are most “driven by personalities.” They’re the most inclined to vote for a political candidate based on little more than the recommendation of a strong Sikh leader, mostly because of family, ethnic, caste or religious loyalties.

The younger generation of Sikhs are more willing, Dhahan said, to quiz candidates on their actual principles. Like most Canadians, Dhahan says, younger Punjabi Sikhs “are more likely to ask, ‘What do you stand for?’ They’re less likely to join a political party because their father tells them to do so.”

Source: Douglas Todd: Why Sikhs are so powerful in Canadian politics

Douglas Todd: Immigrants’ children, Canadians of colour most educated

A further nuance to the data presented in the two studies mentioned can be seen in the above chart showing unemployment rates for 25-34 year olds for visible minority groups compared to non-visible minorities by level of education showing generally higher unemployment rates for college and university educated visible minorities (I don’t yet have the data table by generation).

The gender gap between non visible minority men and women with university education (12.8 percent for 25-34 year olds) is also characteristic, to varying levels, among visible minority groups:

….Contrary to widespread claims that white males are “privileged” in Canada, an earlier study by Picot and Feng Hou, of the University of Victoria, found that Canada’s 3.2 million women of colour are the most educated group in the country.

“The children of immigrants from many Asian countries, such as China and India, register remarkably high educational outcomes, with 50 of Chinese and 60 per cent of those from India holding university degrees,” Picot says.

When Jedwab zeroed in on the education levels of middle-aged adults in Metro Vancouver, he found 46 per cent of immigrant men and 48 per cent of immigrant women in the city had university degrees. That ratio was 41 per cent for Canadian-born females (between the ages of 35 and 44), and only 31 per cent for Canadian-born males.

As well as being accomplished at universities, a high portion of children of immigrants tend to find success once they venture out to work in Canada.

“On average, the children of immigrants are doing as well or better (as adults) in the labour market than the children of the Canadian-born,” said Picot. “Furthermore, because of their higher educational attainment, the children of immigrants are more likely to be in professional occupations and less likely to be in blue collar jobs than children with Canadian-born parents.”

The results do not offer good news for all immigrants and their children, though. The studies by Picot and Jedwab show that immigrants to Canada are tending to divide into two polarized groups: Some are unusually strong at the high end of the economic spectrum, others are over-represented at the low end.

Jedwab found immigrants and visible-minority Canadians are far more likely than the Canadian-born and whites to report low incomes. In Metro Vancouver, for instance, Jedwab found almost 15 per cent of immigrants had low incomes, compared to just 9.4 of non-immigrants. In addition, 24 per cent of Metro’s ethnic Chinese reported low incomes, compared to 10 per cent of non-visible minorities.

In an era where some North American academics, activists and media commentators are emphasizing “white male privilege,” the census data raises questions about the usefulness of such a broad concept. It highlights contradictions and disagreements over which groups are privileged and which are disadvantaged.

Jedwab, for instance, does not think much of the arguments of those who worry that males who are “non-visible-minority Canadians” (a Statistics Canada category that is largely made up of whites, but also includes aboriginals) are disadvantaged, or under performing. He says many are simply going into blue-collar work.

“In the case of the non-visible-minority male population,” Jedwab said, “there is a growing trend we see towards getting trade certificates, where there is a sense that job opportunities are better.”

Picot’s emphasis is on maintaining the success of immigrants’ children. “Taking steps to maintain the positive attitude of Canadians towards immigration can help, since a population backlash can negatively affect second generation outcomes,” he writes. “Canada is one of the few western where researchers, policy developers and the public are little concerned about immigrants ‘stealing the jobs of Canadians.’ This is a prominent issue in most western nations.”

While economists like Collier and educators such as Bennett also appreciate the many positive achievements of immigrants and people of colour, they don’t necessarily want Western societies to abandon the domestic-born population.

Bennett, a university instructor who maintains the website Educhatter, is concerned about the “lack of motivation” among average students of Canadian background, including whites and Aboriginals. His research has found many are languishing.

Collier says high-immigrant Western countries such as Britain, the U.S. and Canada have never figured out how to address the problems of the under-achieving domestically born. Such countries, he said, have developed either universal programs for everyone, or affirmative-action plans for immigrant, ethnic or other minority groups perceived as vulnerable.

No Western country, he suggests, has ever designed a way to respond to the more nebulous needs of those in the mainstream domestic population — whom many consider to be privileged, but who are under-achieving.

Is there any chance policy-makers in Canada will be the first to take up the challenge they offer?

via Douglas Todd: Immigrants’ children, Canadians of colour most educated | Vancouver Sun

The rise of Indigenous members of the Baha’i faith

Interesting (the 2011 NHS shows that over three-quarters of Indigenous peoples are Christian, with most of the balance responding “no religious affiliation” – Aboriginal spirituality being under five percent):

As Canadian members of the Baha’i faith continue to bask in the glow of the 200th anniversary of the birth of their Persian founder, Baha’u’llah, they take particular pride in the many Indigenous people among their faith, which emphasizes the divine origins of all religions.

To that end one of Canada’s most prominent Baha’i, Bob Watts, former chief of staff to the Assembly of First Nations, will be taking part in festivities and discussions on Thursday, Feb. 2, at the Aboriginal Friendship Centre in East Vancouver.

Hailing from the Mohawk and Ojibway Nations, and residing at Ontario’s Six Nations Reserve, Watts recently completed his duties with the AFN. Before that he was the interim executive director of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which makes recommendations regarding the Indian Residential School era and its legacy.

The invitational event with Watts in Vancouver will include remarks from Chief Robert Joseph, one of the most truly reconciling voices in Canada’s truth and reconciliation process, which sometimes descends into politics and division.

Baha’i followers emphasize the ethnic diversity of their membership. When Metro Vancouver’s Baha’is marked their founder’s birthday last October, there was significant participation by large numbers of Baha’i who are Indigenous. (See drumming photo above.)

via The rise of Indigenous members of the Baha’i faith | Vancouver Sun