CIC turns to corporate Canada to help promote citizenship

Expanded considerably since my time when there was concern about having Tim Hortons provide free coffee and Timbits at citizenship ceremonies. A fine line between sponsorship, to strengthen citizenship ceremonies (which these appear to do) and diminishing the civic role and symbolism:

It’s all part of an ongoing effort by CIC to partner with corporate Canada to promote Canadian citizenship. In 2012, CIC’s communications branch began to look at private-sector partnerships as a way of promoting “two-way integration” between newcomers and the Canadian public, while also reducing the costs associated with hosting citizenship ceremonies and promoting Canadian values.

That same year, the department received an unsolicited “promotional opportunity” from retailer Canadian Tire to “leverage CIC messaging around Citizenship Week 2012 and throughout the NHL hockey season,” according to a briefing note from then-deputy minister Neil Yeates to Jason Kenney, and obtained by Embassy through an access-to-information request.

“Canadian Tire is willing to make some of its marketing channels available to us,” the briefing, sent to Mr. Kenney in August 2012, states. “CIC will explore with [Canadian Tire] the promotion and distribution of relevant CIC information products using appropriate communication channels.”

Later that year, Canadian Tire sponsored an enhanced citizenship ceremony for 50 new Canadians at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

“In August, you approved moving forward with Canadian Tire on this pilot project,” a subsequent memo from Mr. Yeates to Mr. Kenney states. “CIC will be fully responsible for all aspects of the citizenship ceremony at the [Hockey Hall of Fame]. Canadian Tire will be formally thanked for its sponsorship of the ceremony, and will host the post-ceremony reception. Canadian Tire signage could be displayed in the reception area.”

The undated memo, sent to Mr. Kenney in the weeks before Citizenship Week celebrations in October 2012, also highlights an agreement by Canadian Tire to help the department distribute government-produced promotional materials at its stores across the country.

“The collateral material will encourage patrons to visit the Discover Canada guide on CIC’s website. Collateral material will include both CIC and Canadian Tire logos and will be centred on the concept of hockey as part of Canadians’ shared heritage,” Mr. Yeates told Mr. Kenney at the time. “The collateral material will link to a landing page that CIC will create on its website, highlighting the Discover Canada guide, hockey and a link to Canadian Tire Hockey School website.”

… NDP MP Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe, her party’s critic for citizenship and immigration, called the corporate sponsoring of citizenship ceremonies “unbelievable,” especially in light of the government’s decision to increase the citizenship application fee from $300 to $530 at the beginning of this year.

“Citizenship should not be used as a marketing tool or to connect individuals to private companies,” Ms. Blanchette-Lamothe said. “The Conservatives [nearly] doubled the fees needed to obtain citizenship. I think they should be able to offer proper services with no other interests than new citizens’ interests and the promotion of Canadian citizenship.”

CIC turns to corporate Canada to help promote citizenship | Embassy – Canada’s Foreign Policy Newspaper.

Canada quiet on shariah law in Brunei

The age-old problem of balancing human rights with trade interests, whether it be China, Saudi Arabia or Brunei:

Critics say Canada is turning a blind eye toward the enactment of shariah law by Brunei, a small Southeast Asian country that the Harper governments trade strategy has prioritized.

Brunei announced its decision to adopt a shariah-based penal code in the fall of 2013, and began to phase in the new legal system gradually in May of this year. Citizens of Brunei are currently subject to fines and imprisonment for a range of “indecent acts,” including pregnancy out of wedlock and failure to attend Friday prayers.

The government in Bandar Seri Begawan is expected to phase in tougher, corporal punishments in 2015, including floggings for consuming alcohol and amputations for theft. A third phase establishing stoning as an acceptable form of execution for rape, adultery, and homosexuality is planned, but Brunei’s Sultan, Hassanal Bolkiah, has yet to declare when the third phase will be introduced.

Brunei’s shift towards shariah law has become a cause célèbre for LGBT groups, human rights activists, and high-profile celebrities who have launched a boycott of the Dorchester luxury hotel chain, which is owned by the Brunei government’s investment agency.

The International Commission of Jurists has called the new laws “clearly incompatible with international human rights law,” while Amnesty International has said the decision will send the small, oil-rich Southeast Asian country “back to the dark ages when it comes to human rights.”

“It constitutes an authoritarian move towards brutal medieval punishments that have no place in the modern, 21st century world,” Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, wrote in an email to Embassy.

Canada quiet on shariah law in Brunei | Embassy – Canadas Foreign Policy Newspaper.

Tories target diasporas in foreign-aid talk tour | Embassy – Canadas Foreign Policy Newspaper

Good piece in Embassy Magazine on some of the diaspora politics of the Government and “shopping for votes”:

Harper government members have reached out to immigrant communities in places where their numbers are strong: Haitians in Montreal; Ukrainians in Saskatoon and Winnipeg; Somalis in Edmonton; Asians in Vancouver and Surrey, BC; and people of Caribbean origin in Brampton, Ont., for instance.

They’ve dropped by the Calgary Afghan Charitable Society to announce money for UNICEF in Afghanistan; stepped on stage at a Vancouver festival, billed as the largest Filipino cultural event in Canada, to say they’re doling out $500,000 to help a conflict-affected island in the Philippines; and sat across from Ukrainian-Canadians at St. Vladimir Ukrainian cultural centre in Windsor, Ont.

…. Pollster Nik Nanos of Nanos Research said he saw the roundtables as part of the Conservatives’ broader “segmentation strategy” to piece together a winning coalition.

“This is quite, what I’ll say, niche politics: where one single group will not put them over the top, but a combination of successful outreach initiatives to these groups could incrementally help the Conservatives,” he said.

He pointed to the government’s staunch support for Ukraine in its conflict with Russia, for instance.

“There are ridings in Saskatchewan where in very close races, a one, two, three or four per cent shift of public opinion in favour of the Conservatives can just make it a little better for them in that particular riding,” he said.

Tories target diasporas in foreign-aid talk tour | Embassy – Canadas Foreign Policy Newspaper.

Feds walking fine line on temporary foreign workers, say diaspora groups

One of the few articles I have seen with reactions from some community groups:

Several industry lobby groups, including Farmers of North America and the Canadian Restaurants and Foodservices Association, have publicly defended the program.

However, leaders of two community organizations serving target constituencies for the Conservative Party opposed widespread use of the program.

The expansion of the program under the Harper government is creating a two-tiered society in Canada, whereby foreigners are brought in but not afforded the same rights as other immigrants or citizens, said Jagdeep Perhar, president of the India Canada Association, in a phone interview.

“I think this is a fundamentally wrong approach,” he said.

“The government should adapt their policy to maybe bring less immigrants to the country, that is fine. But once the immigrants are in, then we should not discriminate,” he said.

Diaspora youth, like all Canadians, are facing trouble with unemployment, while temporary foreign workers continue to stream in, said Victor Wong, executive director of the Chinese Canadian National Council, in a phone interview.

“I think in the end when the government puts its jobs record on the line, I think people will see that it’s failed,” he said.

The government has alienated business owners and employees alike in the Chinese and other communities with its management of the program, he said.

“They’ve been trying to talk out of both sides of their mouth for six years now, and to just kind of get away with it, and now it’s blown up in their face,” he said.

Feds walking fine line on temporary foreign workers, say diaspora groups | Embassy – Canada’s Foreign Policy Newspaper.

Embassy Magazine List of Top Reads – Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias

Made the list (under books for Policy Wonks)!

Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias: Resetting Citizenship and Multiculturalism

Andrew Griffith

Anar Press

Sept. 8, 2013

This former director general responsible for the federal government’s multiculturalism portfolio gives readers a glimpse into the sometimes uncomfortable gap between public service expertise and ministerial direction. Mr. Griffith says he witnessed a fundamental reset of multiculturalism policies and programs between 2007 and 2011 under Jason Kenney’s direction (who was first secretary of state and then minister responsible for the file). “Given the sharp nature of the policy reset, and the entrenched views of many public servants, this book aims to provide a small case study of how public servants adjusted to the new reality—one in which their expertise was fundamentally challenged, discounted, and at times ignored,” he writes. Mr. Griffith’s book is making waves in the Ottawa bubble.–international-reads-of-2013/44604?page_requested=1