Metropolis 2017: Workshops of Interest – Notes

These rough notes capture the sessions that I either organized or attended to give others a sense of the topics and perspectives covered.

Integration – The Search for a New Metaphor: This session, prompted by the Canadian Index for Measuring Integration (CIMI) discussions on the meaning and definition of integration (and my Integration and multiculturalism: Finding a new metaphor – Policy Options) drew a good crowd(60-70 persons).

I opened with my critique of the “two-way street” metaphor by emphasizing that it did not capture the dynamic and ever-evolving nature of immigration, the Hegelian dialectic between thesis (host society) and anti-thesis (newcomers), resulting in a synthesis, and presented my preferred metaphor, harmony/jazz, where harmony represented the underlying framework of laws and institutions, and jazz the improvisation involved in resolving accommodation demands.

Mort Weinfeld of McGill drew from the personal experience of his parents and talking to cab drivers, noting that integration of the second generation was key. His preferred metaphor was the roundabout, with multiple points of entry and exit, with traffic moving smoothly.

Richard Bourhis of UQAM provided a Quebec perspective, looking at how Quebec language policies were characteristic of an assimilationist approach.

Elke Winter of UofOttawa drew from her analysis of European policies and practices and noted a third dimensions, that of outside actors and transnational forces (e.g., other countries, home communities of immigrants), and that integration was more a three-way than two-way process

The presentations prompted considerable discussion (although no one jumped to the defence of the ‘two-way street.’ The particular points I found most interesting were Richard’s noting the advantage of institutional diversity in terms of integration and others noting the need for metaphors and definitions to include indigenous peoples.

Thinking about next year, this is a topic that merits further exploration, perhaps involving some literary descriptions or metaphors (see the notes for Minority Voice, Identity and Inclusion – Media and Literary Expressions).

Citizenship – Factors Underlying a Declining Naturalization Rate: In the only session on citizenship, Elke WInter opened the workshop with an overview of how Canadian citizenship has evolved over the last 150 years, setting out four phases: colonized citizenship (pre-1947), nationalizing citizenship (1947-76), de-ethnicising citizenship (1977-2008) and re-nationalizing citizenship (2009-15) with a possible fifth phase emerging under the Liberal government. She presented some preliminary findings from an interview-based study.

I followed with my usual presentation of citizenship statistics, showing the impact of previous policy and administrative changes along with an assessment of the 2014 Conservative changes and Liberal partial repeal of these changes (currently in the Senate).

Jessica Merolli of Sheridan presented the key MIPEX naturalization indicators and data from the European Social Survey comparing immigrant/non-immigrant attitudes on issues such as self-sufficiency, interests in politics, LGBT acceptance and others and how over time in the country of immigration differences declined. The most striking exception was with respect to interest in politics, where immigrants, no matter how short or long the time, were more interested than non-immigrants.

Questions of note included do we need a citizenship knowledge test given that it presents barriers for some groups, and the impact that the  physical presence requirement has on families when one parent has to work abroad given difficulties in obtaining well-paying work in Canada.

Other workshops that I found particularly of interest included:

Inclusion, engagement partagé, participation – comment en rendre compte: Elke Laur of Quebec’s Minister de l’Immigration, de Latin American Diversity et de l’Inclusion presented their integration strategy and related measurement approach. Quebec has invested considerable time and resources on both aspects.

Of note is their definition below, capturing the complexities and dynamism of integration:

“Une participation réussie résulte d’un partage d’engagement mutuel de la personne et de la société dans son ensemble. Ainsi, la participation des personnes de minorités ethnoculturelles est conceptualisée sous forme d’un espace participatif dans lequel ces deux modalités se croisent dans une matrice. Cette matrice rend compte de l’articulation de différents degrés (allant de faible à fort), d’engagements individuels et de dispositions sociétales.”

Those interested in indicators should check out their report 2016 Mesure de Latin American participation des Québécoises et Québécois des minorités ethnoculturelles, an impressive report.

Enhancing the Potential to Analyze Immigration – Adding the Admission Category to Census Data: Laetitia Martin of Statistics Canada presented the detailed methodology of linking post-1980 IRCC administration data on immigrant admission categories, complemented by Lorna Jantzen of IRCC outlying the potential and challenges. Dan Hiebert of UBC provided an example for refugees of how this linkage could be used to analyze the economic outcomes of refugees, showing that in the long-term, economic outcomes are comparable to the Canadian average.

Minority Voice, Identity and Inclusion – Media and Literary Expressions: A mix of a case study (Punjabi media by Syeda Bukhari where she noted the ethnic media was getting more sophisticated in comparing what politicians said to English and ethnic media and thus holding them to account) and the overall contribution ethnic media does and can make to integration (Madeline Ziniak, current chair of the Canadian Ethnic Media Association (CEMA)).

Myer Siemiatycki of Ryerson gave a fascinating presentation regarding the person and poetry of Julian Tuwin, a Polish Jew (or Jewish Pole) whose loyalty and identity were attacked by both sides.

An example, Tuwin’s Poem, We, Polish Jews (1944)

I am a Pole because I want to be. It’s nobody’s business but my own. I do not divide Poles into pure-stock Poles and alien-stock Poles. I leave such classification to pure and alien-stock advocates of racialism, to domestic and foreign Nazis.

To be a Pole is neither an honor nor a glory nor a privilege. It is like breathing. I have not yet met a man who is proud of breathing.

A Pole – because I have been told so in Polish in my paternal home, because since infancy I have been nurtured in the Polish tongue; because my mother taught me Polish songs and Polish rhymes; because when poetry first seized me, it was in Polish words that it burst forth; because what in my life became paramount — poetical creation — would be unthinkable in any other tongue no matter how fluent I might become in it.”

A Pole – also because the birch and the willow are closer to my heart than palms and citrus trees, and Mickiewicz and Chopin dearer than Shakespeare and Beethoven.

A Pole – because I have taken over from the Poles quite a few of their national faults.

A Pole — because my hatred of Polish Fascists is greater than my hatred of Fascists of other nationalities. And I consider that particular point as a strong mark of my nationality.

He also presented Yolanda Cohen’s deck on the Sephardic press and diaspora identities.

Negotiating “fit” – Connections Between Employer Mindsets/Practices and Labour Market Success of Newcomers: Kelly Thomson of York provided an overview of the issue of “fit” and presented a case study of foreign-trained accountants. Aamna Ashraf of the Peel Newcomer Strategy Group (near Toronto) presented the results of a study on soft barriers, with focused and practical recommendations. Madeline Ng of Autodata and Nancy Moulday of TD Bank presented how their respective organizations encourage and facilitate diversity in their workforces. Unfortunately, Thomson took far to long for her presentation, reducing the time available for discussion with the practitioners.

Fitting In: Identity and belonging among second generation Canadians: Elizabeth Burgess-Pinto of MacEwan University organized  this roundtable discussion focussing on the second generation. A number of second generation (and generation 1.5) participants shared their experiences, challenges and identities.

Jonathan Kay: Don’t blame the media for Islamophobia | National Post

Jon Kay’s balanced assessment in response to Haroon Siddiqui’s column (Canada’s news media are contributing to mistrust of Muslims | Toronto Star), including his dismissal of B’nai Brith’s annual antisemitism report (I always find the police reported hate crimes to be more objective, although imperfect and likely understated).

However, Elke Winter has done some interesting parliamentary and media analysis related to citizenship revocation in cases of terror or treason, presented at Metropolis 2016, that showed that despite balanced coverage, the net effect of the examples used, understandably largely Muslim, did contribute to distrust of Canadian Muslims:

Jews and Muslims have more in common than most people think. And not just on the superficial level of pork avoidance, a love of shawarma and (male) circumcision. In Canada, both the Jewish and Muslim communities are periodically riled up with claims that they are being victimized by epidemics of acute anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. These claims are baseless in both cases.

I flipped a coin. Let’s start with the Jews.

Every year, B’nai Brith Canada releases its Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents. And every year, B’nai Brith assures us that its numbers prove that Jews are besieged by a “rising tide of anti-Semitism.”

“All one needs to do is look to the comment section of any major news site on a story examining the Israel-Hamas conflict,” declared B’Nai Brith CEO Michael Mostyn when the most recent report was published. “Almost without exception, legitimate debate and dialogue devolves to accusations of the murder of children, Zionist plots and the use of anti-Semitic language blaming the ‘Jews.’ ”

But when you examine B’nai Brith’s catalogue of supposedly horrifying anti-Semitic episodes, what you find is a menagerie of demented Internet crackpots and teenage graffiti artists spray-painting backward swastikas on fences. There is no “rising tide of anti-Semitism” in Canada. It only feels that way because whenever some loon in a strip-mall mosque does express a hate-on for Jews, the incident becomes a sensation on social media.

In other cases, the examples of anti-Semitism are padded out with hateful statements that aren’t really about Jews at all — but quite specifically about the Israeli government. The idea that criticizing Israel automatically qualifies as a form of disguised anti-Semitism has become a lazy debating trick.

Based on the scattered anecdotal reports I hear, I’d say that Islamophobia is somewhat more common in Canadian society than anti-Semitism. You rarely hear of some kid named Avi or Mordechai getting mistakenly put on a no-fly list, for instance. And this month, well-heeled spectators came out to a debate in downtown Toronto where the star performer promoted the thesis that Muslim refugees just can’t be trusted not to rape our Judeo-Christian babies. That’s bad. As was last week’s debunked and retracted Halifax newspaper story about little Muslim children plotting global Islamic conquest from the merry-go-round.

Nevertheless, hate-speech watchdogs take things too far when they suggest that the mainstream media are somehow cheerleading Canada’s fringe Muslim-haters.

This month, former Toronto Star columnist and editorial-page editor Haroon Siddiqui told an audience at the city’s Aga Khan Museum that — according to the Star’s summary — “the media have contributed to widespread Islamophobia by conflating Muslim terrorists with all Muslims.”

In his speech, excerpted in the Star, Siddiqui declared: “The biggest culprits have been the National Post and the Postmedia group of newspapers across the country, which now include the Sun chain. Hardly a week goes by without these publications finding something or other wrong with Muslims and Islam. These publications are forever looking for terrorists under every Canadian minaret. They are hunting for any imam or any Muslim who might make some outrageous statement that can be splashed as proof of rampant Muslim militancy or malevolence.”

Siddiqui and I have appeared on media panels together. I like the guy, and have found him to be quite moderate on most issues. But what he’s written here is unfair.

Yes, the media are fascinated with terrorism — because our readers are fascinated by terrorism. Just as they are fascinated with all forms of horrifying violence — including the kind caused by street gangs, natural disasters and Karla Homolka. It’s human nature. We pay attention when things go bang and boom and all bloody-like.

We also pay attention to questions of motive. And since Islamist terrorists from Islamic state of Iraq and the Levant, Boko Haram, al-Shabab and al-Qaida insistently, repeatedly and explicitly tell us that they are committing their slaughter in the name of Islam, we report that, too. When terrorists in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia stop praising Allah as they self-detonate — or, better yet, stop self-detonating altogether — we media types will be the first to report on that phenomenon, as well.

Moreover, it would be nice if Siddiqui might acknowledge that in the last two years, not one but two Canadian governments — Stephen Harper’s Tories and Pauline Marois’ Parti Québécois — have been booted out of office in large part because media commentators were disgusted by their Islamophobic fearmongering on the niqab issue. I myself was working at the National Post during the 2014 Quebec election campaign, and personally authored several articles denouncing the xenophobic messaging from PQ hardliners. In both cases, it wasn’t media Islamophobia that held sway at the polls, it was media anti-Islamophobia.

Canadians should be proud that they live in a tolerant country where both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are marginalized and discredited sentiments. Haroon Siddiqui is correct to advocate vigilance against these forms of hatred, but he greatly exaggerates the scope of the problem.

Source: Jonathan Kay: Don’t blame the media for Islamophobia | National Post

C-24 Citizenship Act Committee Hearings – 7 May

Shorter hearing given voting in the house which made the statements and Q&As shorter.

Supporting the Government’s approach were the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Canada, National Forum for Civic Action, and James Bissett, a retired immigration official who comments on immigration and related issues.

Predictably, supporting the opposition were the two academics, Elke Winter and Patti Tamara Lenard of University of Ottawa, with the most neutral advocacy coming from Pre-PR (Permanent Residents) Time counts, focussing on the Government’s proposed elimination of counting time in Canada for students, live-in caregivers, and refugees towards the residency period to become citizens.

Starting with Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Canada, one of the preferred Muslim groups of the governments (along with the Ismailis). After noting the pride members of his community have in Canada, Asif Khan emphasized that Islamic teachings require “absolute love and loyalty” to one’s country of residence. It was essential for the Government to have powers to deter aggression and protect against extremism. He supported the proposed approach to revocation, and argued that more attention and measures should be applied to those who used investment or trade opportunities to enter Canada and spread their “hateful ideologies.” He did express concern over increasing the number of applicants that would be required to take language and knowledge tests.

National Forum for Civic Action argued for even tougher citizenship requirements. Bikram prefaced his comments by saying that he was going to be “politically incorrect.” Canada’s approach placed original Canadians at a disadvantage, and the Government’s approach was half-hearted. Proficiency in English or French, not just adequate knowledge, should be required. Stop family reunification, seniors are “forced to come here” and are unhappy. Permanent Residents on welfare should lose status. Revocation should be broadened to include domestic abuse and should also apply to second generation immigrants and those elected to public office in other countries. Ministerial discretion on humanitarian and compassionate grounds should be ended.

James Bissett, in a somewhat rambling presentation, stressed his support for a longer residency period. He would have preferred five years but proposal goes in right direction. He supports the revocation provisions and (erroneously) stated that this is in line with most EU countries, and citing UK granting the Home Secretary considerable power in this regard. He dismissed that the provisions would create second class citizens as there was an inherent different between those born in Canada, whose citizenship is granted automatically, and those who choose to become naturalized and take the oath.

Opposing the bill, Elke Winter noted that immigration was fundamental to Canadian nation building, that Canadian Immigration was largely economically driven, and that multiculturalism and citizenship were huge factors in increasing belonging. Some elements of C-24 undermine success in integration by making citizenship as the end-point of integration, rather than part of the journey. The bill makes it harder for the less educated, socially and economically disadvantaged, including many women. Higher fees are an additional barrier. For the highly skilled and mobile, the longer and tougher residency requirements may result in this group becoming as “utilitarian as the selection process”, and adopt a more instrumental approach to citizenship. More flexibility over physical residency is required. She opposes the proposed revocation measures and fears that it will increase the suspicion of dual nationals.

Patti Lenard started off by correcting Bissett on revocation, noting that only UK had taken this approach. US and Australia had rejected it, most EU countries either didn’t apply revocation or were changing their approach. While 75 percent of dual nationals were naturalized Canadians, there was also a significant number of dual nationals by birth (i.e., they didn’t make a choice as Bissett asserted). The fundamental problem with revocation is that it made a group of Canadians more vulnerable to the coercive powers of the state, with Ministerial discretion in too many cases, creating the perception, absent a role for the Courts, of possible Ministerial abuse. UK illustrated the risks of what she called a “fundamentally corrupting power.”

Pre-PR Time Counts strongly opposed the elimination of credit for time as a temporary resident counting towards citizenship. Taisia Shcherbakova and Maria Smirnoff argued that Temporary Foreign Workers and equivalent were not newcomers to Canada but had already largely integrated into Canada. The change perversely would give preference to those without any Canadian experience. They noted that this change would place Canada at a disadvantage compared to Australia and the UK, and argued for similar credit of one year for every year of temporary residence (current legislation only provides for 50 percent credit).

Questioning by MPs  largely buttressed party positions, but there were some interesting moments.

In response to CPC/Menangakis, Bissett clarified that while he supported longer residency periods, there was a need for flexibility, as it may create problems for people who have to travel a lot on business.

NDP/Sitsabaiesan rather cleverly did a quick poll of  all witnesses on credit for time as temporary residents. All supported providing credit, notwithstanding their very different perspectives on citizenship. Liberal/McCallum picked up on that point, noting that Minister Alexander had refused to change approach when asked at the beginning of the hearings.

Will add links to briefs as they become available.


Andrew Cohen: Citizenship should mean more

Provocative commentary by Andrew Cohen on making citizenship more meaningful. Opposite perspective to the article by Elke Winter Becoming Canadian » Institute for Research on Public Policy.

Part of the challenge of citizenship policy is balancing the need for meaningfulness (and integrity) with the realities of today’s globalized world and individuals. If our immigration policy tries to attract more skilled and entrepreneurial immigrants, these are also likely to be more mobile and may have a more instrumental approach to citizenship.

While there are further opportunities to strengthen citizenship, many of Cohen’s suggestions are either not real world solutions or reasonable. For example:

  • Five year continuous residency:  are we really going to deny someone citizenship if they visit their parents once a year?;
  • Taxation of dual nationals, and the determination of who should be taxed, is not easy. Some of the problems the Americans have in implementing the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act – FATCA (see The American Diaspora Meets a Polarized America) illustrate this;
  • Making the test tougher and language requirements harder will continue to disadvantage many non-English and non-French native speakers, as well as those with lower levels of education (e.g., family members). Under Minister Kenney, much of the looseness in the process was appropriately tightened and the rationale for further tightening has not be demonstrated.

I am sympathetic to his view on raising the citizenship test exemption back to 65 and over (the Liberal government changed the exemption to 55 and over), although politically this is likely untenable.

If we are serious about giving substance to our citizenship, let the government reinstate the residency requirement of five years, making it mandatory to remain in Canada the entire time. Let it find a way to tax dual citizens who have never lived in Canada.

Let it establish a tougher test on knowledge and language, and apply it everyone under 65, not 55 (as is the case now). And let it address the injustice of the “lost Canadians” who have been denied citizenship through loopholes in the law.

At the same time, we should re-examine our commitment to country, too. For many Canadians citizenship is no more than paying taxes and obeying the law. It isn’t even about voting.

To give new meaning to citizenship, we should consider universal national service (community or military) for young Canadians; national standards in education for the teaching of Canadian history; a new commitment to encourage lifelong volunteerism and civic activity; and mandatory voting in federal elections.

As Canada goes to the Olympics, expect the usual orgy of chest-thumping and fist-pumping with every gold medal. But don’t mistake cheering athletes, wearing red mittens and sipping double-doubles for patriotism. It isn’t.

Real patriotism, and real citizenship, is knowing who you are, how you got here, what you have, and what you would do to keep it all.

If we ask that understanding of others, shouldn’t we ask it of ourselves, too?

Column: Citizenship should mean more.

Becoming Canadian by Elke Winter » Institute for Research on Public Policy

The more classic citizenship as integration perspective by Elke Winter of University of Ottawa:

At the level of discourse, Winter observes that there has been a potentially troublesome shift in how Canadian citizenship is presented. In her view, depicting prospective citizens as fraudulent and mischievous can fan insecurity and distrust in the population. This holds true for singling out specific religions and cultures as potentially less adaptable than others. She also raises concerns about the increased emphasis — in the citizenship guide and elsewhere — on Canada’s military history, British traditions and the monarchy. In her view, this runs counter to the ethos of multiculturalism, which replaced the dominant ideology of conformity to Anglophone norms around 40 years ago. Winter concludes that we should monitor these developments, not least because they convey messages that may be counterproductive to the successful integration of immigrants from diverse backgrounds.

While there is merit to her views on the content of Canadian citizenship, there is much less so on her dismissal of the need for greater program integrity. Citizenship policy aims to balance facilitation – being relatively easy to acquire, and meaningfulness, being more difficult through a more consistent set of requirements and assessment. She is correct that the changes introduced by Minister Kenney remained within the overall Canadian approach to citizenship.

And a bit surprising that she didn’t read the sections in my book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias: Resetting Citizenship and Multiculturalism, that covered many of the changes that she described. But her reliance on media and other academics meant she missed some of the important details that would have nuanced her arguments, in some case reinforcing them, in others weakening them. Examples include:

  • Discover Canada focusses section focuses too much on the minor revisions and doesn’t discuss the language level of the guide (well above CLB 4, the required level);
  • Citizenship test does not mention absence of focus group testing, which contributed to a harder experience and requirement for retest (and education was the key determinant of success);
  • Winter’s discussion of fraud tends to discount the importance of program integrity, important by itself as well as to ensure general support for immigration, citizenship and multiculturalism;
  • Citizenship ceremony changes were more widespread than the presence of the military and/or RCMP. Rather than distributing the Charter, a new booklet was provided, with about half of the content referring to the Crown. And the niqab was a secondary issue, and Minister Kenney’s position on religious freedom and the niqab evolved over time. Citing the court challenge to the Oath to the Queen as indicating increased support for change is an overstatement at best; and,
  • Changes to the language requirements were changes to the process, as the formal requirement – administered inconsistently in the past – remained at CLB 4, unchanged.

Becoming Canadian » Institute for Research on Public Policy.

Citizenship changes work against immigrant integration, report finds – The Star