UK: The Guardian view on immigration and Covid-19: old myths are exposed

Good editorial:

Covid-19 has accomplished in weeks something that UK governments spent a decade failing to do. It has drastically cut labour migration. Lockdown prevents the gathering of real-time data, but it is a reasonable assumption when international travel has stopped that net migration is currently happening at a rate well below 100,000 per year.

That was the target adopted by David Cameron in 2010 and pursued aggressively by Theresa May at the Home Office and in Downing Street. It was never met before being abandoned last year. What happens next is uncertain. This week would have seen the government’s post-Brexit immigration bill return to the Commons, but the timetable has been discarded, not least because parliament’s digital systems are not yet ready for remote voting.

There is no indication that ministers are reconsidering the new regime, which is based on a points system designed to select “skilled” workers over “unskilled” labour. The distinction is meant to favour what ministers call “the best and brightest” while deterring those whom decades of political rhetoric have cast as undesirable. The charges against that latter group are various: poaching jobs from British-born citizens, depressing wages, failing to observe cultural norms and generally upsetting people with conspicuous otherness.

The vilification reached its apogee in the campaign to take Britain out of the EU. The promise to “take back control” of borders had strong emotional appeal, but was never rooted in the reality of modern Britain, where migrants of all skill levels and income brackets keep the economic and social wheels turning. That awkward fact was always bound to emerge over time, but it has been revealed abruptly by the pandemic.

Farmers are already warning that fruit will rot in the fields without seasonal labour normally provided by EU citizens. Attempts to entice UK workers to fill the gap are failing. Immigrants have kept public transport running, delivered goods and, most poignantly, kept the NHS and social care services operational. They have put their lives at risk for a country that has been, at best, ambivalent about their entitlement to live here at all.

Source: The Guardian view on immigration and Covid-19: old myths are exposed

You don’t stop a virus by bleeding democracy

Why is it that governments, no matter their political stripe, cannot resist the temptation to over-reach and reduce oversight, whether with respect to bloated omnibus budget bills or during the current COVID-19 pandemic?

And while the federal Conservatives, supported by the NDP, correctly forced the Liberals to back down given a minority government, in Alberta, there is no such check on the UCP government as this Globe editorial details.

Even more shameful than the attempted federal Liberal element given the UCP’s majority and its disregard for parliament (ironic, given that Premier Kenney was an effective parliamentarian at the federal level).

Hopefully, the same conservative-leaning pundits that rightly condemned the Liberal attempted power grab will also call out the Alberta UCP power grab (the first one to do so, John Carpay: Alberta’s Bill 10 is an affront to the rule of law):

Three weeks ago, the Trudeau government tried to use the cover of the coronavirus crisis to give itself unchecked powers once enjoyed by 17th-century European monarchs.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had recalled the House of Commons on March 23 to debate and pass emergency measures to shore up the economy and help Canadians who were losing their jobs.

The opposition were willing to back the minority government’s economic measures, but once they saw the draft bill, they realized the Liberals had something more in mind.

Along with tens of billions of dollars in aid for Canadians in need, the bailout legislation also included clauses that would have given the government the power to raise or lower taxes, and to spend money, without going through Parliament. These extraordinary powers were to last until Dec. 31, 2021.

The opposition, along with many in the media, this page included, were having none of it. By the end of the day on March 23, the government relented. It removed the offending clauses, the opposition offered its backing and, the next day, the bill became law.

Team Trudeau has not explained its attempted end run around democracy, probably because it can’t. There is never any reason to usurp Parliament’s critical role as overseer of government and keeper of the public purse. Every Canadian government, provincial or federal, should get that.

And yet, barely a week later, it happened again.

In Alberta, the United Conservative Party of Premier Jason Kenney used its overwhelming majority to push through a bill on April 2 that gives cabinet ministers unilateral power to write and enact new laws in public health emergencies, with zero oversight by the provincial legislature.

Under Bill 10, the only requirement for enacting a new law is that the relevant minister “is satisfied that doing so is in the public interest.” The only limit on that power is that a new offence cannot be applied retroactively.

It is utterly wrong for democratic governments to seek unilateral powers under the cover of an emergency. It is also unnecessary. There is no justification for it – especially not the one that says governments need to move quickly in a crisis.

Alberta passed Bill 10 in less than 48 hours; the Trudeau government, having secured the support of the opposition, passed its original bailout measures in the same short period. Last weekend, it took less than a day for Parliament to adopt a wage subsidy package. The government shared the legislation with the opposition in advance and made changes to ensure it would pass.

Giving legislators the chance to study, debate and vote on bills doesn’t result in unacceptable delays – if anything, as shown time and again, it improves legislation. More importantly, the transparency and accountability that comes from having to pass a bill through Parliament is the foundation of our system of government.

The Liberals and the opposition parties are now arguing about how often the House of Commons should sit during the remainder of the crisis, and whether sessions should be held in person with a skeleton crew of members, or with all MPs, via teleconferencing.

However it does so, Parliament must sit. Committees, too. And Question Period must happen, so that the government remains answerable to the House and to Canadians. That holds in Ottawa and in each of the provinces. It goes for both minority and majority governments.

Under no circumstances should any government see this emergency as an excuse to sideline the elected representatives of the people.

Thanks to their daily crisis briefings, government leaders are dominating the news coverage. Opposition voices have been sidelined, but they must be given their due in order for our democracy to function properly. That happens best in Parliament.

This crisis is demanding a lot of Canadians. They are self-isolating at home with their families. Many have lost their jobs, or are watching their businesses teeter on the precipice.

They will be able to decide for themselves whether federal and provincial opposition parties have helped the situation, or simply been a partisan nuisance. But Canadians must not come out the other end of this only to discover that their institutions and rights have been compromised by governments that grabbed for powers they were not entitled to.

Source:    You don’t stop a virus by bleeding democracy Editorial <img src=”×0:4746×3055/600×0/filters:quality(80)/” alt=””>     

PPC defined by anti-immigrant stance

Editorial in the Winnipeg Free Press, highlighting an ongoing challenge:

For a party allegedly trying to distance itself from accusations of xenophobia, if not outright racism, the People’s Party of Canada isn’t exactly covering itself with glory.

PPC Leader Maxime Bernier and numerous candidates have made no secret they want Canada to decrease immigration. And while discussions of immigration limits and border protection are legitimate political conversations, the PPC leader has also said he is against a policy of multiculturalism — a defining element of the Canadian identity.

The immigration question, however, seems to be the thin edge of the PPC’s rhetorical wedge.

PPC candidate Jane MacDiarmid (Winnipeg South Centre) has said she dislikes the Liberal government’s handling of immigration and that it “has to be done the right way, and we have to bring the right people in that are going to support our country.” Ms. MacDiarmid has previously run as a candidate for the Christian Heritage Party, whose platform in 2017 included a “moratorium on immigration from any Sharia-based countries.”

Elsewhere, attitudes about the “right kind” of Canadians were shown in tweets from PPC candidates Jeff Benoit (Chateauguay-Lacolle) and Cody Payant (Carlton Trail-Eagle Creek).

In a since-deleted tweet, Benoit wrote, “We have to ensure that our children have a right to exist and to their identity. We have to ensure that our children have the right to access good jobs and not be limited to quotas and missed opportunities. This fundamental applies to all Canadians from coast to coast!”

The wording strongly echoes the infamous white supremacist slogan known as the “14 words”: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”

Mr. Payant, meanwhile, tweeted out a photo collage of a Caucasian baby with bizarrely blue eyes, the Canadian flag and a mountain range, adding “PPC stands for the future of your kids.”

Meanwhile, Winnipeg South PPC candidate Mirwais Nasiri — himself an immigrant from Afghanistan — says he agrees with the party’s promise to reduce Canada’s annual immigration targets by more than 50 per cent. Mr. Nasiri, who works as a settlement facilitator for immigrants, says having fewer immigrants means we can better take care of them. One can’t help wonder if such a philosophy, had it been in place as official government policy, might have affected his arrival in Canada.

It’s safe to assume all the PPC’s candidates — since none appear to be Indigenous — are descended from immigrants. Throughout Canada’s history, many immigrant groups have experienced xenophobia, including the Chinese head tax levied in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, resistance to allowing Mennonites fleeing Stalinist purges in the 1930s to settle on the Prairies, the Japanese internment camps of the Second World War and perhaps most infamously, the turning away of Jews fleeing the Holocaust.

Canada’s policies on immigration and refugee acceptance have evolved over the decades. Under recent Conservative and Liberal governments, initiatives such as the provincial nominee program and the federal government’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis have added to Canada’s cultural mosaic — just as previous waves of immigrants and refugees have.

A strong indictment of the PPC’s platform came from within the party in July, when prospective Elmwood-Transcona candidate Willows Christopher and his riding board all quit, citing what they saw as bigotry against immigrants and the LGBTTQ+ community within the party’s ranks.

This much is clear: the unsettling statements are not mere gaffes. For the PPC, it seems xenophobia is not a problem; it’s part of the brand. And that’s not something Canadians should embrace.

Source: PPC defined by anti-immigrant stance

Toronto Sun Editorial: Immigration concerns about the process, not people

Ongoing conservative theme, one that has a certain resonance given the importance of perceptions of border management to public support of immigration (polling responses depend in part on how the question is formulated as illustrated by this famous Yes, Minister episode 1:38Survey (Yes, Prime Minister S1E2).

And while the “hectoring” of the PM is not helpful, neither is some of over-hyped rhetoric of the Conservatives, as both understand some of the complexities involved and the lack of simple solutions:

Canadians have largely been supportive of immigration for many years. How can they not be? So many Canadians are either immigrants themselves or have parents or grandparents who were born elsewhere.

So it’s concerning that public support for immigration has started to slip.

A new Ipsos Global Public Affairs poll shows that while Canadians back immigration more broadly, they’ve have significant concerns about how immigration is being managed.

The poll reveals 44% of people say that there are now too many immigrants coming to Canada. And a majority of respondents believe Canada is too welcoming to new arrivals.

Where is this coming from? What drives this perspective?

Brian Lilley explained in a Sun column that “a full 57% of Canadians agree with the statement that “immigration has placed too much pressure on public services in Canada.” That includes 77% of Conservative voters but also 51% of Liberal voters and 48% of NDP voters.”

In other words, at a time when people are anxious about issues, such as their economic future and the rising cost of living, they also worry about the economic costs and tax burdens that come with increased immigration.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has taken to hectoring those who express such concerns, last month divisively rejecting as immigration concerns as “fear-mongering” and anti-immigrant bias.

This is a naked, political smear tactic — aimed in an election year primarily at federal Conservatives — because the Trudeau Liberals have so utterly botched the care and settlement of refugees who are arriving daily at our borders.

But whether it’s the various measures the Liberals have taken to make it easier to get citizenship to Canada or their failure to take financial responsibility for migrants, Canadians increasingly are losing confidence in our immigration system.

We highly doubt frustrations with immigration are about the immigrants themselves. It’s about the way things are being done. It’s not about people but process.

One of the best ways we can enhance the popularity of immigration in Canada is being enhancing the integrity of the immigration system in Canada.

If the system has holes, if it looks like it’s easy to game, if the government acts like borders don’t matter, confidence will erode.

Let’s have a welcoming but well-managed immigration system that will make everyone proud.

Source: EDITORIAL: Immigration concerns about the process, not people

ICYMI: Federal government to launch Canada-wide consultations on systemic racism

Needed and appropriate follow-up to M-103 report broad emphasis on racism and discrimination across all groups and Budget 2018 funding for multiculturalism and measures targeted issues related to Black Canadians.

But will be difficult to manage and I don’t envy the public servants tasked with devising the consultations strategy and approach. I remember the Bouchard Taylor hearings about 10 years ago, and the recent town hall that MP Iqra Khalid held, that was far from being a respectful conversation:

Ottawa is set to launch pan-Canadian consultations on racism, a topic that has stirred controversy and divisions across the country in recent months.

The exact form and nature of the consultations is still being developed in the Department of Canadian Heritage and has yet to be unveiled to the public. Still, the government said it wants to create a new strategy to counter “systemic racism” and religious discrimination.

As the format for the new round of consultations is being debated, some federal officials are worried the forum could lead to acrimonious debates similar to last year’s controversy over a motion (M-103) to condemn Islamophobia across Canada. The motion, which did not affect existing legislation, was nonetheless roundly criticized in right-wing circles and conservative media as preventing any legitimate criticism of Islam.

Similar consultations have proven controversial in Quebec, where the government scrapped planned consultations on “systemic racism” last year over an outcry among media commentators and talk-show hosts. Instead, the Quebec government rebranded the mandate of the exercise to “valuing diversity and fighting against discrimination.”

According to last month’s federal budget, the coming “cross-country consultations on a new national anti-racism approach” will be funded out of a new $23-million envelope that is geared toward new multiculturalism programs.

“Diversity is one of our greatest strengths and has contributed significantly to our country. We recognize the need to counter all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination and we are taking action to address the ongoing challenges and discrimination that still exist in our society,” said Simon Ross, a spokesman for Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly.

“We will also be consulting with Canadians to develop a national strategy to combat racism in Canada, and we look forward to speaking with experts, community organizations, citizens and interfaith leaders to find new ways to collaborate and combat discrimination as we develop this strategy,” he said.

The new round of consultations will enact a key recommendation made earlier this year by the Heritage committee of the House, which called on the government to engage in consultations as part of efforts to create Canada’s Action Plan Against Racism.

According to the Heritage committee’s report, an action plan against racism would ensure that the government would consider the impact of all policies on visible minorities, similar to existing gender-based analysis.

“Systemic racism occurs when government actions fail to address the needs of certain racialized groups within the population, resulting in unfair, discriminatory practices and outcomes. To expose and prevent systemic racism, a number of witnesses suggested the development of a race equity lens as a key element of a national action plan,” the report said.

Jasmin Zine, a professor of sociology and Muslim studies at Wilfrid Laurier University, said the government should learn lessons from the debate over M-103 that was “hijacked” by concerns over the definition of Islamophobia.

“They have to be handled better than the initial parliamentary hearings were,” she said in an interview. “In the best-case scenario, the consultations could be a way to recuperate what was lost in the committee process. In the worst-case scenario, it will only reproduce the divisions and the political divides that were derailing this process from the beginning.”

She added the government cannot ignore Islamophobia as part of its study of racism and must not be afraid of confronting the root causes of racism.

“We can’t just wrap things up in nice, liberal, Kumbaya sentiments. We have to look at the issues that are critical for marginalized communities, such as questions of social inequality, power, privilege and the way racism is embedded in all institutions and levels of society,” Ms. Zine said.

Tensions are running high among federal politicians over the issue of racism, with Conservative MP Maxime Bernier accusing the government of exploiting the debate to win support in various communities.

“I thought the ultimate goal of fighting discrimination was to create a colour-blind society where everyone is treated the same,” Mr. Bernier said on Twitter earlier this month.

Liberal MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes shot back that research has shown that pretending not to see someone’s skin colour “contributes to racism.”

“Please check your privilege and be quiet,” she responded to Mr. Bernier on Twitter, before apologizing for her language.

The Conservative Party said in a statement that the coming consultations on racism need to be established in a way that unites Canadians.

“We hope that consultations on a subject as sensitive as this one will be conducted in an orderly fashion. It is now up to the government to ensure that they are well structured and constructive,” Conservative spokeswoman Virginie Bonneau said.

via Federal government to launch Canada-wide consultations on systemic racism – The Globe and Mail

John Ibbitson on the political risks:

With its message of hope transmuting dangerously into hectoring, the Trudeau government needs to be wary about the upcoming national consultations on racism. The exercise could further damage an already-weakened Liberal brand.

Justin Trudeau won the 2015 election on a promise of transformative change after a decade of Conservative inaction. The new government pledged to tackle climate change, forge a more respectful relationship with Indigenous Canadians and rescue refugees in peril.

Two-and-a-half years later, the national carbon tax, which is the chief strategy to combat global warming, is in peril from provincial conservatives in Ontario and Alberta who vow to scrap it if they come to power.

The inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women is behind schedule and beset with inner turmoil, even as Indigenous protesters and environmentalists vow to prevent the Trans Mountain pipeline from ever being built.

And instead of feeling good about rescuing refugees, we’re told we should feel guilty because so we’re so racist.

Ottawa committed $23-million in the last budget to new multiculturalism programs, including funding that will go to a national consultation on “systemic racism” and religious discrimination. The goal will be to develop a “national strategy to combat racism in Canada.”

This comes in the wake of Motion 103, the non-binding resolution that asserted “the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear,” and to “condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination.”

Conservatives complained the resolution would prohibit any form of criticism of Islam. It would not. More problematic, though, is the notion of an “increasing public climate of hate and fear.” Who says? There is compelling evidence that Canada, with its wide-open immigration policy, is the most tolerant country on earth.

Nonetheless, a committee crisscrossing the country in search of intolerance is bound to find it, and to publicize that finding. This is of a piece with this government’s fondness for making people feel bad about themselves.

You may be proud of your home and your community, but you’re living on unceded Indigenous land, as Liberal cabinet ministers insist almost everywhere they go.

You may consider yourself environmentally responsible, but that SUV you drive is an abomination, which is the whole reason behind the carbon tax.

You may consider yourself free of prejudice, but apparently this country suffers from systemic racism and Islamophobia, which is why we need a task force.

As conservative commentators and politicians are certain to point out, the worst example of religious discrimination under way right now might come from the Liberal government itself. Employment and Social Development Canada has cancelled funding for a summer-jobs program to churches and other religious organizations because they refuse to affirm on the application form that they respect “reproductive rights and the right to be free of discrimination” on the basis of, among other things, “sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.”

There are people of faith of all religions who oppose abortion and who do not condone same-sex acts. On that basis, faith-based organizations have been denied funding, even though the students they would hire would be serving as camp counselors and the like, and would not be asked to proselytize.

This writer can think of another government that believed it was morally superior to the people it served. Bob Rae’s Ontario NDP claimed affirmative action was needed to counter sexism; photo radar was needed because people drove too fast; an anti-racism secretariat was needed because of racial prejudice. Voters did not take this well.

If your government accuses you of being a bad person, you are unlikely to become a better person. You are more likely to change the government.

The Liberals’ sudden and dramatic decline in popularity is entirely reversible. Governing parties often slump mid-mandate, then rebound when earlier investments start to pay off. By this time next year, Mr. Trudeau could be back on top and looking forward to the fall election campaign.

But if the Grits really do want to get back in the voters’ good graces, they need to stop lecturing so much. We’re not as bad as they say we are, and they’re not as enlightened as they think they are.

This new consultation on systemic racism should keep a low profile. ​

Liberal investigation into systemic racism should keep a low profile

And appropriate caution regarding the government’s ability to manage these consultations given both its consultation record and the sensitive and uncomfortable nature of the subject. That being said, while yes it makes sense for the government to focus on issues and entities under its jurisdiction, there is place for a broader conversation regarding systemic racism and barriers across all levels of government and institutions in Canada:

Canada’s self-image is of an open, inclusive society – one of the planet’s most welcoming places.

And in relative terms, that’s mostly true. Ours is an unusually successful national story. But step back a few paces and the picture begins to look ever so slightly askew.

It’s time to face an uncomfortable fact: We have complex societal systems and, yes, they too often discriminate against people on the basis of skin colour, religion or national origin. It is not a collective moral failure to admit that systemic racism exists in Canada – that is, historically entrenched discrimination in the rules, policies and practices governing institutions. It is an acknowledgment of reality.

Anyone who claims otherwise or takes umbrage at the descriptor is invited to speak to an Indigenous Canadian. Or to any of the thousands of black Canadians who have been forced to submit to police carding. Or to an unemployed Muslim woman. The list could go on.

While we are a country of immigrants – Canada has the world’s highest per capita immigration rate; the 2016 census revealed 21.9 per cent of us were born elsewhere – our immigrants tend not to earn as good a living as the native-born.

According to Statistics Canada, new Canadians, who are also often visible minorities, are more than twice as likely to be jobless, and those who do find work earn 16 per cent less, on average, than so-called “old stock” Canadians.

The immigration income gap is real and the numbers indicate it is growing, even for second-generation Canadians. It’s not because Canada admits people with low education levels or insufficient skills – quite the opposite. We choose the best of the best, and then have them drive cabs.

Institutional barriers are part of the problem, the most obvious being a persistent unwillingness to recognize foreign qualifications.

But prejudice is also a factor. A 2011 study by University of Toronto economist Philip Oreopoulos found that fictitious resumes featuring foreign-sounding names or work experience were three times more likely to be tossed aside by would-be employers. The most-cited reason for doing so was concern over language skills, which other research has identified as a proxy for discrimination.

So what to do? For a start, our governments could stand to listen more closely to marginalized voices. As it happens, Ottawa is in the midst of planning a national public consultation on racism and religious discrimination. We hope the effort produces some benefit. But recent precedent gives us ample cause to fear it won’t.

The Trudeau Liberals took a worthy idea in the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women inquiry, made a hash of it and likely set it up to fail. It didn’t put enough care into the planning, hoping instead that the symbolic value of the inquiry would alone be enough to see it through.

This government is also insufficiently wary of the dangers of identity politics, as evidenced by the culture war it started after it denied summer-job grants to religious groups that are overtly anti-abortion or don’t support gay marriage.

Plus, it can be a challenge to keep any examination of racism from going off the rails. The Quebec government proposed a similar public discussion after six Muslims were shot dead in a Quebec City mosque last year. That quickly devolved into a partisan bun-fight over nomenclature – you’re painting everyone as racist! – and was subsequently watered down into empty banter about “valuing diversity.”

Ottawa can only avoid those pitfalls by focusing on itself – on institutions like the Canadian Armed Forces, the civil service and the RCMP, and on federal policies and programs.

It must not involve itself in provincial and local issues (such as municipal policing practices), or engage in sweeping conclusions about Canadian society at large. The terms of reference must be perfectly clear and appropriately narrow.

It’s critical to not get this wrong. Ottawa should examine the negative consequences of its policies on racial and religious minorities. All governments should.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, whose city is attempting to reckon with its racist history, said recently, “Here is what I have learned about race: You can’t go over it. You can’t go under it. You can’t go around it. You have to go through it.”

If Ottawa does that intelligently and constructively, Canada might become a better country for it. But we have real doubts about the Trudeau government’s ability to lead such an effort without making a hash of it.

Source: Globe editorial: The problem with Ottawa’s plan to consult the public on racism? Ottawa itself

Massey College professor resigns over racially offensive remark, cites lack of ‘due process’ 

Opportunity for dialogue lost.

Who among us has never made any such missteps? Marrus’ comments below highlight his personal dignity in dealing with the complaint, as well as the serious process issues he raises.

There is something shameful here about the lack of willingness or openness for dialogue, and the lack of grace in acknowledging that someone can make an inappropriate comment without being automatically labelled as racist, irrespective of their personal and professional history:

Michael Marrus, the history professor whose racially offensive remarks have led to a public controversy at the University of Toronto’s Massey College, has submitted his resignation as a Senior Fellow from the college, but says he is “disheartened” by the lack of dialogue between him and those who asked for his resignation.

“Where was the due process, where was the effort to hear me out, where was the effort to relate to 30 years of scholarship that have a lot to do with human rights? There is something cruel and reckless about this campaign,” he said in an interview with The Globe and Mail.

He had been trying to apologize for the comment he made, e-mailing the person he hurt and offended and trying to talk to them, but his apology was not accepted, he said.

“I was so sorry for having wounded someone,” Dr. Marrus said. “But nothing availed,” he said.

The resignation comes after an incident during a lunch last week that gave rise to a petition that was signed by almost 200 students and faculty at U of T.

Dr. Marrus was seated with three Junior Fellows, graduate or professional students who live in residence at Massey. Hugh Segal, the head of the college, who has – until recently – carried the formal title “Master,” came to join them. As Mr. Segal sat down, Dr. Marrus said to a black student:

“You know this is your master, eh? Do you feel the lash?”

The students have filed a written complaint with the college. They have not spoken about the incident to The Globe and Mail. Mr. Segal could also not be reached.

The petition, which was made public on Thursday, demanded extensive changes and asked Massey to sever its ties with Dr. Marrus.

“In our eyes, the very legitimacy of Massey College hinges on the effectiveness of your response to this incident,” the petition stated. “We encourage you to approach this moment with the seriousness it demands, and with the courage and vision to make this an occasion for fulsome transformation.”

On Friday, Massey College agreed to almost all the demands made in the petition, temporarily suspending the title of “Master,” beginning anti-racism training and offering a “sincere and unreserved apology” for the incident.

On Sunday, Dr. Marrus sent a resignation letter to Mr. Segal, in which he conveyed his “deepest regrets to all whom I may have harmed.”

“I am so sorry for what I said, in a poor effort at jocular humour,” Dr. Marrus wrote in his letter. ” I want to assure those who heard me … that while I had no ill-intent whatsoever I can appreciate how those at the table and those who have learned about it could take offence at what I said,” he wrote, adding that he will leave his office of 20 years as soon as possible.

An emeritus professor and internationally respected Holocaust scholar, Dr. Marrus is retired from U of T. But he has maintained an office and senior fellowship at Massey College, an affiliated independent college at U of T which opened its doors in the late 1960s. The fellowship carries no financial stipend.

“The decision [to resign] is the best one for me, the best one for my family, the best one for Massey College, for which I have a lot of affection and respect, the best one for the students who are so angry,” he said. “If so many people have announced that they don’t want me at Massey College, why should I persist?”

People may not believe him, Dr. Marrus added, but he is on the same side as those who launched the complaint against him. “I understand the anti-racist commitment of the people who have mobilized,” he said.

In addition to his scholarship, he has fundraised for Massey College’s Scholar-at-Risk program, which offers a haven for refugee researchers and has worked and written on international humanitarian law, he said.

“I feel uncomfortable citing all the work that I’ve done, but I have, and no one seems interested in it or interested in me,” Dr. Marrus said. “To be treated as a non-person is so wounding and so cruel. If you want to know what racism is it’s to treat someone as a non-person.”

 Source: Massey College professor resigns over racially offensive remark, cites lack of ‘due process’ – The Globe and Mail
Today’s Globe editorial says it well:

A senior fellow at a University of Toronto college made a stupid and hurtful racial comment to a black student last week and has been drummed out of his position. There is much to discuss here.

First, the comment. There is little dispute about what happened: Michael Marrus was sitting at lunch with three junior fellows at Massey College when the Master of the college joined them. Dr. Marrus turned to one of the students, who is black, and said, “You know this is your master, eh? Do you feel the lash?”

It is easy to imagine how hurt the student was. To find oneself the target of a bad joke about plantation owners and their tortured slaves, delivered by someone you barely know, at one of Canada’s leading academic institutions, would have been a deeply painful shock – one that absolutely required redress.

Now, the redress. Dr. Marrus has been forced to resign after a petition signed by fewer than 200 U of T students and faculty called for his removal.

He has not been given an opportunity to defend himself, or to apologize directly to the student. Nor is anyone on campus willing to take into account his much-praised scholarship about the Holocaust and anti-Semitism. That has been conveniently erased.

“I understand the anti-racist commitment of the people who have mobilized,” he said – something he would do, of course, given that he is a Jewish scholar who has spent a lifetime studying one of the greatest acts of racism in history.

In short, Dr. Marrus has been treated unfairly, which is as unacceptable as the remark he made. He has not sought to exonerate himself, but he deserved the right to make amends, just as the petitioners deserved the right to complain.

Instead, the professor has been summarily exiled by a widespread on-campus climate of illiberality that can fairly be characterized by “its self-exoneration from any and all contradictions; and its contempt for precedent, conventions… and civility.”

Those are Dr. Marrus’s words, from a piece he wrote in The Globe and Mail last July. He was describing the subtler traits of totalitarianism.

As for Massey College, it has announced that its head will no longer be called “master,” pending a search for another title, because the word, intended in this context to denote expertise – as in a Master of Arts degree – is presumed racist, and must be expelled.

Oh the irony. As Massey College was purging itself of Dr. Marrus, the Invictus Games for wounded warriors were holding their closing ceremonies a few blocks away. The event is named after a 19th-century poem, whose final lines are, “I am the master of my fate/I am the captain of my soul.” That is also the Invictus Games’ motto.

The poem was Nelson Mandela’s favourite and an inspiration to him during his long imprisonment, before becoming South Africa’s first black president. In 2013, Barack Obama, America’s first black president, speaking at Mr. Mandela’s funeral, closed his eulogy by quoting its last stanza.

If only they’d been educated at Massey College.

Source: Editorial Globe editorial: Massey professor showed terrible judgment, but the response was worse

Quebec’s Response to Hate: More Tolerance – The New York Times

NYT editorial notes the contrast between Canada and the US (but no reason to be smug):

No society is immune to acts of terrorism, especially by a lone wolf driven by deep hatreds. The United States has known many mass shootings; Norway had the mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik; in France last July, a man drove a truck into a crowd in Nice, killing dozens; the list could go on and on. When they strike, the measure of a wounded society is how it responds.

On Sunday, Quebec City was struck when, officials say, a 27-year-old student named Alexandre Bissonnette, known to be a right-wing extremist, walked into a mosque, began shooting and killed six people. The shock across Canada was immediate and tangible: Tolerance is a proud theme in Canadian identity — the country has taken in nearly 40,000 Syrian refugees since late 2015 when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took office. Now Canadians were wondering how this could have happened, and what it means — a question made more acute by their widespread revulsion at President Trump’s actions to block Muslims from the United States.

The response of Quebec’s premier, Philippe Couillard, is worth noting. “Every society has to deal with demons,” he said. “Our society is not perfect. None is. These demons are named xenophobia, racism, exclusion. They are present here. We need to recognize that and act together to show the direction we want our society to evolve.”

That was what Canadians sought to do. Thousands gathered at memorial services across the country, including Mr. Trudeau on Monday. Speaking earlier to Parliament, he addressed the more than one million Muslim Canadians: “Thirty-six million hearts are breaking with yours,” he said, referring to the population of Canada. “Know that we value you.”

In sad contrast, the reaction from Mr. Trump’s White House was to use the shootings to justify its anti-immigrant policies. The attack was a “terrible reminder,” said the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, of why America’s actions must be “proactive, rather than reactive.” The logic, or illogic, seemed to be that if Muslims had been kept out of Canada, they would not have been killed.

Canada is not perfect; it, too, has its demons, as Mr. Couillard said. But the response of a democratic society must be to reaffirm its fundamental faith in freedom, including the freedom to practice one’s faith and cultural traditions. In Quebec, the demons took a terrible toll, but the country’s commitment to inclusion was, if anything, strengthened.

Canadians living abroad should be allowed to vote: Editorial | Toronto Star

I disagree.

Long-term (over 5 years) expats may or may not remained connected to Canada (the various imperfect data sources I am looking at present a varied picture) but most  do not pay Canadian taxes and are disconnected from the day-to-day issues (e.g., healthcare, transit) that often drive elections and voters:

The rule used to deny the vote to Canadians who have lived abroad for longer than five years actually dates back to 1993. But it was only enforced by the government of former prime minister Stephen Harper after 2007. The decision was based on a claim that it was unfair to give equal voice to Canadians living abroad and those who live in the country because expatriates won’t live with the consequences of their choice.

It’s a flawed argument and one rejected by most other democracies, which place fewer restrictions on expatriates. Canadians abroad who are passionate about this country’s affairs — to the extent that they’re determined enough to vote — should have a say in the affairs of their homeland.

Given the vast information resources available online and the ease of international travel, Canadian expats can easily keep up to date with what’s going on at home. And their opinions have real value. Indeed, it can be argued that it’s in the national interest to allow these well-travelled and typically well-educated citizens a hand in the political process.

As reported by The Canadian Press, the constitutionality of existing law is being challenged by plaintiffs Jamie Duong and Gillain Frank, both Canadians working in the United States. Frank, from Toronto, teaches at Princeton University, and Duong, of Montreal, works at Cornell.

They won before the Ontario Superior Court in 2014; lost when the government appealed last July; and then took the matter to the Supreme Court of Canada, which has agreed to hear their case.

The court would do well to overturn an unfair law and bring Canada’s rules more in line with international practice.

Britons living abroad are allowed to cast a ballot if they’re citizens and had registered to vote within the last 15 years. Americans can vote all their lives, regardless of where they happen to live. And Italy goes so far as to set aside seats in parliament specifically to be filled by citizens living abroad.

It’s estimated that more than a million Canadians living outside the country are blocked from voting by the current rule. That constitutes a large-scale disenfranchisement and it’s manifestly unfair. If these people want a say in the affairs of their homeland they should be allowed to have it, regardless of how long they’ve been away.

Source: Canadians living abroad should be allowed to vote: Editorial | Toronto Star

Ignorance is cheap – but parliamentary knowledge costs – Globe Editorial

Globe editorial on ignorance and the Government’s (or at least of some of its MPs) wish to be less open and transparent:

Mr. Wallace posed his own written question asking for the estimated cost to the government of answering Order Paper questions. The answer he got, based on a formula that is dubious at best, was $1.2-million for 253 questions. “Are we sure we’re getting value for the dollar?” Mr. Wallace asked.

Well, let’s think about that. What value do Canadians place on knowing: the percentage of Employment Canada benefits applications that are rejected and how many people have to wait longer than 28 days for a response; which government department is responsible for monitoring the transporation of fissile radioactive material inside our borders; how much money Ottawa has spent developing software since 2011 and what the software actually does; and the amount the government spent on travel expenses while negotiating the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with the European Union.

These are just some of the opposition questions currently on the Order Paper, and all of them deserve an answer. Mr. Wallace’s suggestion that MPs should ask fewer questions, because ignorance is cheap, is pretty much one of the dumbest things a parliamentarian has come up with in recent memory.

And as most of us know from personal and professional experience, ignorance is expensive given the implications of bad and faulty decisions.

Ignorance is cheap – but parliamentary knowledge costs – The Globe and Mail.