Your name may dictate your apartment, degree, and career: Kutty

Ironically, although singling out the federal public service and its pilot project, Kutty is silent on the overall numbers which are largely representative of the visible minority population who are also Canadian citizens – 15 percent (some visible minority groups do better than others).

Above chart shows the 25 year trend for women, visible minorities and Indigenous peoples:

Having found the perfect rental property near the law school, a student of mine could not get a call back from the landlord despite repeatedly leaving messages. When a friend of his called, the call was returned within minutes.

Why?

Well, my student’s name was Mohamed. His friend used the name “Joe.”

Many Canadians with non-Anglicized names can speak of similar experiences. A CBC Marketplace segment from last year, for example, explored the idea of implicit bias affecting shoppers, apartment-seekers and job-hunters across Canada, finding that those with “foreign-sounding” names tended to face challenges that the “Joes” of the country did not.

That phenomenon in mind, then-rookie MP Ahmed Hussen — who has since been named immigration minister — introduced the idea of bringing name-blind recruitment to the civil service in Parliament last year. At the time, he said the move would “assist in our fight to end discrimination and attain real equality in our country.”

Ottawa has now adopted as a pilot project involving six federal ministries: National Defence, Global Affairs, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Public Services and Procurement, Environment and Climate Change and the Treasury Board.

According to the Treasury Board, the initiative will “conceal an applicant’s name, email addresses, employment equity information (i.e., gender, visible minority, person with a disability, Indigenous peoples), names of educational institutions, and country of origin at the initial screening stage.” The results will then be compared to outcomes from traditional applicant shortlisting and will be made available in a report due in October.

There is not much available data yet other than figures showing there has been a slight decrease in the number of visible minority applicants from the year 2012-13 to 2013-14 and subsequent years. One can hope that this initiative would reverse that trend.

As with most government pilots, there are surely some critics wondering why the federal civil service is busying itself with such projects.

Well, first off, there shouldn’t be any dispute that this is indeed a problem. A joint study from the University of Toronto and Ryerson University found that job applicants with Asian-sounding names received 20.1 per cent fewer calls from large organizations than those with Anglo names, and 39.4 per cent and 37.1 per cent fewer calls, respectively, from medium-sized and small employers.

A similar study by the U of T in 2011 — one called “Why do some employers prefer to interview Matthew, but not Samir?” — found that employers in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver were about 40 per cent more likely to interview candidates with Anglo-sounding names, as opposed to those with Chinese or Indian-sounding names, even if the candidates were equally qualified. The government’s pilot project aims to remedy this.

The idea is not new, in fact. Countries such as the U.K. and Australia have led the way in this regard. The British Civil Service and some of the large corporations including HSBC, Deloitte, BBC, and the U.K.’s National Health Service, initiated such a program in 2015. Last year, the Victoria Police, Australia Post and Ernst & Young (Australia) joined a recruitment program that strips out gender, age and cultural details.

Here in Canada, many law schools have implemented a blind grading system whereby students’ names are replaced by numbers to avoid instructor bias. And the Toronto Symphony Orchestra has demonstrated the success of blind auditions for years — evolving from a white, male orchestra in the 1970s to one that is now half female and much more diverse.

A name-blind recruitment process for the federal government is hardly more cumbersome in procedure, and the makeup of the civil service only stands to gain. A more reflective service will have more credibility with the populace but will also better understand the public it is serving. Moreover, as a recent study demonstrated there is a positive correlation between diversity and increased productivity.

That said, as many critics point out: name-blind screening is not a panacea — unconscious biases can’t be eliminated with one little recruitment remedy, and candidates will eventually be evaluated face to face. But removing a barrier to diversity in the federal civil service is a positive step, even if it is a minor one.

Let’s hope that this is just one component of a more comprehensive strategy involving: management acknowledging and confronting their own biases; better training on how biases impact decision-making; more objective hiring processes; and a more diverse group involved in the actual hiring process.

Source: Your name may dictate your apartment, degree, and career: Kutty | Toronto Star

Barbara Kay: Actually, one needn’t be a hysterical bigot to have concerns with M-103, other commentary by Lorne Gunter and Chris Selley

Barbara Kay continues not to understand, or appear not to understand, what M-103 includes and what is do not. Coyne is on much sounder ground than she, despite her examples of unacceptable comments:

In December, for example, Georges Bensoussan, a Morocco-born scholar on Jewish communities in Arab countries, was prosecuted in France, because a complaint was filed against him for incitement to racial hatred by the “Collective Against Islamophobia.” His crime? Two quotations were cited in the charge, taken from an interview last year on a French cultural radio show. Bensoussan said, “Today, we are witnessing a different people in the midst of the French nation, who are effecting a return on a certain number of democratic values to which we adhere,” and “This visceral anti-Semitism proven by the Fondapol survey by Dominique Reynié last year cannot remain under a cover of silence.” (Here he was referring to a 2014 survey finding Muslims in France were nearly three times more likely to be anti-Jewish than French people as a whole.)

If these are not fair comments by Andrew Coyne’s standards, then I do not know what is. But Bensoussan is in the dock for them. His story frightens me — with reason.

Ironically, I happened to come across this story at the same time as it was revealed that in at least two sermons distributed on Youtube, imam Sayyid al-Ghitaoui of Montreal’s Al-Andalus Islamic Centre called for Allah to “destroy the accursed Jews,” to “kill them one by one” and to “make their children orphans and their women widows.” (Has he been fired yet? I ask because only Jewish media considered it a story worth covering.) It’s not as if this imam is unique here either. Imams all over the world say the same and much worse about Jews, citing sacred Islamic texts. ISIL members too tell journalists they are following the prophet Mohammed “in the strictest way.” They feel their Islam is as “real” as those who wrote E-411.
So I say to the petitioners of E-411 that I have received their opinion loud and clear. And now I would like to make up my own mind about Islam, as I do with all contentious issues: that is, according to primary sources, credible commentators, legitimate opinion surveys and so forth.

I do not wish to be told by a petition or by the recommendations of a study based on that petition what I must think — or say in a considered and thoughtful way — about any ideology or belief system in deference to the sensibilities of a specific group in order to earn a seal of non-Islamophobic approval from agenda-driven advocacy groups and their political allies.

I greatly admire Andrew Coyne for his exegetical brilliance in the hermeneutics of electoral reform, but on the subject of creeping Shariah-based blasphemy laws across the Western world, it grieves me to say that he has revealed himself as an authority of rather lesser stature.

Source: Barbara Kay: Actually, one needn’t be a hysterical bigot to have concerns with M-103 | National Post

Lorne Gunter picks up the same slippery slope argumentation:

After arguing it was wrong to tar all Muslims – extremists and moderates – with the same brush, Prof. Kutty then added I was way off base for linking the treatment of suburban Montrealer Antonio Padula with the effects M-103 may have.

Padula is just some guy from the Montreal-area community of Kirkland. One evening shortly after the horrific murders at a Quebec City mosque, Padula saw three police cars pull up outside his home. He was arrested, taken away in cuffs and put in jail for the night, all because police misinterpreted some tweets he posted as promoting hatred toward Muslims.

Kutty said Padula’s treatment had nothing to do with the intent of M-103, that he was being charged under hate crimes and other laws, not under a Parliamentary motion offering support for Muslims.

But that’s how these things start. Too often they begin with well-meaning intentions. Yet once they get into the hands of politically correct bureaucrats, Parliamentary committees and human rights commissioners, they morph into something unrecognizable.

Tremont asked me whether, perhaps, Padula’s treatment was justified given that his indelicate tweets came just days after the bloody shooting. But isn’t that just promoting a climate of fear – fear that everyone who posts politically incorrect tweets is a potential murderer who deserves to be arrested and throw in a cell, and possibly face months of expensive legal defence to clear his name?

The supporters of M-103 insist there is an increasing public climate of hatred and fear against Muslims. But wasn’t the treatment of Padula just as much an overreaction based on fear?

If Muslims shouldn’t be condemned for the actions of a few extremists in their faith, shouldn’t it also hold that Antonio Padula shouldn’t be arrested just because officials are suddenly acting out of fear that everyone who tweets unkind ideas is a potential killer?

Prof. Kutty also said it was wrong to focus on the word Islamophobia because he had a good definition of it. And, I’ll admit, his wasn’t bad. But that’s the problem – everybody has his or her own definition. Give that much leeway to the human rights police and the broadest possible definition will be upheld. There will be more, not fewer, Antonio Padula’s rousted from their beds in the middle of the night for the “crime” of being politically incorrect, or even just ironic.

Source: M-103 could morph into something unrecognizable

Chris Selley nails it beautifully in this commentary, contrasting the federal conservatives with their Ontario counterparts:

Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown says he will support Liberal MPP Nathalie Des Rosiers’ private member’s motion asking the legislature to “condemn all forms of Islamophobia.”

“I think it’s pretty straightforward to condemn any form of hate,” Brown told reporters Tuesday morning. “In terms of Islamophobia, it is real.” He said he would encourage his MPPs to vote likewise. And there is no sign of significant dissent in the ranks.

That’s a good thing. Private members’ motions compel the government to do precisely nothing. They are not the soil in which legislation grows, nor are they fertilizer. They are farts in the wind. And on thorny issues like Islamophobia or Israel or transgender rights, their primary purpose is often to expose one’s political opponents as holding unsuitable positions and then denounce them.

Nothing good can come from falling into that trap — and if there was any doubt about that, Brown’s former colleagues in Ottawa are proving it in spades.

It is now lost forever in a toxic fog, but there were legitimate debates to be had about Liberal MP Iqra Khalid’s private member’s motion M-103, which calls on the government to “condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination,” and to “develop a whole-of-government approach to reducing or eliminating systemic racism and religious discrimination including Islamophobia.”

Perhaps the platonic ideal of this legislatively inconsequential motion would not single out any one religion. Perhaps it would be worded differently: were he still an MP, Irwin Cotler said he would have proposed replacing “Islamophobia” with “anti-Muslim bigotry” or “anti-Muslim hatred.” That’s perfectly reasonable. To some people Islamophobia means “anti-Muslim bigotry” or “anti-Muslim hatred,” but to others it means what it says: fear of Islam.

You’re allowed to be afraid of religions (though I wouldn’t recommend it), and you’re certainly allowed to criticize religions. Some Canadians spent the entire Stephen Harper era being afraid of evangelical Christians, for example. On Monday the Masjid Toronto mosque apologized for a supplication recorded on its premises asking Allah to “purify Al-Aqsa Mosque (on the Temple Mount) from the filth of the Jews.” (That’s as translated by Jonathan Halevi of CIJ News.) I’m certainly not going to sit here and condemn Jews for “fearing” Islam.

But these are delicate arguments to make even in a regular political climate. It’s quasi-suicidal in today’s political climate — one in which six parishioners were recently gunned down at a mosque in Quebec City; in which protesters have descended on Toronto mosques with signs reading “ban Islam,” “Muslims are terrorists” and the like; and in which some portion of Canadian conservatives who were already leery of Islam have followed Donald Trump’s tire tracks into a ditch of conspiracist madness.

Among the ditch-dwellers and those who flog merchandise to them, M-103 is an “Islamic blasphemy law” that prohibits criticism of Islam or it is the first step (or another!) toward the implementation of Shariah law in Canada. Ezra Levant’s Rebel Media held an entire “free speech” rally based on those premises last week, and four Conservative leadership candidates actually showed up — including whichever demons have seized the bodies of well-regarded diplomat Chris Alexander and orthopaedic surgeon Kellie Leitch. Enough has transpired in the past couple of weeks to fill an entire campaign’s worth of attack ads for the Liberals; they must be thrilled to pieces.

Back at Queen’s Park, there are many grounds on which to question whether Patrick Brown is the best man for the job of ending nearly 14 years of Liberal rule. The Liberals will cast him as the worst Conservative bogeyman since the last worst Conservative bogeyman: anti-abortion, anti-sex-ed, anti-government, the whole lot. Many conservatives, meanwhile, wonder whether there’s much conservatism to Brown at all — or much of anything that outranks political expediency.

But Brown’s outreach to immigrant communities remains one of his key accomplishments; there is no reason to believe he isn’t sincere in supporting Des Rosiers’ motion on principle. And if there are Ontario Tories who do have minor concerns, the Ottawa precedent makes it clear how best to proceed: express those minor concerns by all means, but vote for the motion. There is nothing to be gained by doing otherwise.

This is a low bar the Ontario Tories are clearing here, and it shouldn’t be a surprise. Given that their federal cousins are currently beating themselves around the mouth and ears with that same bar, however, it is nevertheless a reassuring sign of basic political competence, leadership and sanity. It’s quite a world Canadian Conservatives are living in all of a sudden.

Source: Chris Selley: On Islamophobia, Ontario Tories look to pass the very easy test their federal cousins failed

 

Factors to consider about Sharia law and M103: Kutty 

Faisal Kutty on the M-103 controversy:

For those who fear Sharia creep, it’s too late. It’s already here. For most, rather like “the golden rule,” the Sharia demands that they obey the laws of the land; live peacefully with their neighbours; don’t lie; don’t cheat; pay their taxes; respect each other; care for the underprivileged and the oppressed; and focus on making the world better for all.

In fact, scholars consider the thrust of the Sharia to be advancing human welfare. Muhamad Abdu, a prominent Al-Azhar jurist at the turn of the 19th century, once said: “I went to the West and saw Islam, but no Muslims; I got back to the East and saw Muslims, but not Islam.”

Getting past the Sharia hysteria is not enough, because opponents still have their trump card (pun intended). They don’t have a hate on for Muslims, they only object to the term “Islamophobia.” These newly minted word etymologists argue it is imprecise and precludes legitimate criticism. They counter that it is not a phobia because it is not a mental condition, but a grounded fear of bad ideas.

Au contraire, it is a phobia, because it is prejudice and bigotry towards Muslims and the irrational and exaggerated fear of an assumed, but non-existing monolithic Islam represented by the Sharia bogeyman.

It is exaggerated, because it takes the regressive interpretations of the few who justify terrorism and antimodern ideas and instinctively project it onto all Muslims.

It is irrational because it ignores the peaceful and progressive Sharia interpretations adopted by the clear majority of Muslims while authenticating only the extremist views. All 1.6 billion Muslims (except “moderates”) are painted with the same brush.

Respectful criticism of Islam and even Muslim practices is done daily by many, including Muslims. Yet the Islamophobia label is not used, because it is not done with loathing and contempt. Diversity of opinions are a recognized forte of Islamic jurisprudence.

For the past 26 years, I have critiqued the mainstream Islamic opinions on blasphemy, apostasy, the status of women, etc. I am challenged sometimes, but never have I been labeled an Islamophobe. Many in the Muslim world are persecuted for this, but it’s not for Islamophobia.

Yes, anti-Muslim hate or “Muslimophobia” work, but Islamophobia conveys the deeper, richer and more precise nature of the feelings and beliefs that drive the “othering” of Muslims.Faisal Kutty

Source: Factors to consider about Sharia law and M103 | Toronto Star

If Donald Trump were campaigning in Canada, could he be charged for hate speech?

Good comparative analysis:

On Monday Donald Trump called for a complete ban on Muslims entering the United States “until our country’s representatives can figure out what’s going on.” Despite universal outrage, the billionaire presidential candidate has only doubled down on his vow, the latest in a string of anti-minority comments ranging from the offensive to the downright absurd. Even respectable commentators have started calling him a fascist.

These comments are in bad taste at best and hateful at worst, why are there no legal repercussions for Trump making them? 

The short answer is because it’s the United States. The U.S. has extremely strong protections for free speech, which is only considered hateful if it will incite direct and immediate violence. Trump pontificating at a podium or in an interview doesn’t qualify. Until he starts an angry mob, he’s free to say whatever he likes.

So for argument’s sake, what if this were happening in Canada? Would anything be different?

Trump’s most recent comments might offend you, but they likely still couldn’t be prosecuted under Canadian law. Though hate speech laws in Canada are broader than they are south of the border, speech needs to meet some very specific requirements to be considered hateful here, too.

Section 319 (1) of the Criminal Code states that hate speech “incites hatred against any identifiable group where such incitement is likely to lead to a breach of the peace” and where the comments are made in a public place.

This would pose two problems for charges under hate speech law.

“[T]he immediacy of the breach of the peace would make it extremely difficult to convict someone for saying what Trump said,” said Faisal Kutty, a Toronto lawyer and human rights activist.

Trump also isn’t making any outright claims despite the subtext of his statements, said Richard Moon, a law professor at the University of Windsor.

“That’s the main problem with trying to fit his current statement under the hate speech law: it doesn’t have any real hateful content in the sense of making a claim about the nature of character of Muslims,” said Moon. “Of course, why should they be excluded other than, presumably, on the belief that they are somehow dangerous? But he leaves that slightly open.”

But I’ve seen and heard people call his comments hate speech. What does that mean?

That’s due to the technicality of law. While his comments might be considered hateful, the burden of proof under the law is higher. The comments must meet specific criteria to be prosecuted, and his comments likely don’t meet these standards.

What about some of his other comments? He’s said a lot more extreme things in the past.

Some of his previous remarks could more easily be prosecuted, like his remarks about Mexican immigrants during his announcement speech on June 16: “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

“That is the very stuff of hate speech, and a claim like that made in Canada might well constitute hate speech contrary to the Criminal Code,” Moon said.

So why are Canadian and American hate speech laws so different?

It’s probably due to a lot of factors, but part of it traces back to the founding of the country. America is old, and so are some of the laws, said David Matas, a Winnipeg-based lawyer and author of Bloody Words: Hate and Free Speech.

“In the United States you’ve got a bill of rights which is very old.  It comes from the 18thcentury. Everywhere else, the concept of rights is post-Holocaust, post-Declaration of Human Rights. Being ahead of the gun at the time has left them far behind when it comes to the 21st century.”

Source: If Donald Trump were campaigning in Canada, could he be charged for hate speech?

Harper policies undermine deradicalization

Reminder by Faisal Kutty of the complexities of combatting radicalization and how much of it depends on debate and discussion within the Muslim community, and how Government actions can undermine such efforts:

Radicalization must be confronted without undermining social cohesion, violating human rights and deviating from core democratic ideals.

The heavy lifting in this Herculean project must be borne by Muslims, who to their credit have repeatedly condemned violent extremism in the strongest of terms even before 9/11. In fact the National Council of Canadian Muslims NCCM recently even came out with a handbook titled “United Against Terrorism.”

However, more must be done to challenge some of the existing narratives fueling cognitive radicalization. Imams must be more proactive in undermining some of the classical texts glorifying violence and martyrdom, by emphasizing the ethical/peaceful vision of the Quran. This can only be done by deconstructing and better contextualizing the violent rhetoric in some of the Prophetic teachings and juristic interpretations adopted uncritically by too many. Parroting that Islam means peace is not enough. Teachings that may serve as the springboard to violent radicalism must be confronted head on. Such efforts must be internally driven. Any government meddling will only backfire.

Some souls may be forever lost, but this will help redirect the younger ones.

…It [the Harper Government] has ignored the death and devastation unleashed on Muslims around the world, be it through direct attacks or the unconditional support of our allies. At the domestic level Harper has targeted the community by going after its charities and organizations (defaming NCCM for instance), and even religious symbols. These play into the hands of Islamophobes and extremists alike. Ottawa is now busy tightening the already draconian anti-terror laws (preventive detention), introducing new hate laws restricting speech, amending the CSIS Act, etc. These will initially affect Muslims (as noted by leading former jurists last week) disproportionately but will eventually impact all Canadians.

Harper policies undermine deradicalization | Toronto Star.