Feds fund 85 anti-racism projects that target economic barriers, online hate

Will look forward to the eventual evaluation of the program to assess its impact (when I worked in multiculturalism, the small size of the projects helped the various organizations but the longer-term impact was questionable):

The Liberal government has announced new funding for 85 anti-racism community projects designed to lower socio-economic barriers for racialized Canadians, tackle online hate, and monitor extreme-right groups.

Diversity and Inclusion Minister Bardish Chagger announced the projects on Thursday that would together receive $15 million under the federal Anti-Racism Action Program, the community-project component of the three-year, $45-million anti-racism strategy the federal Liberals launched last year.

Since its unveiling, the Liberal government has come under increasing pressure to boldly tackle systemic racism in Canada, particularly after anti-Black racism protests were held in American and Canadian cities following the death of George Floyd last summer.

In a scene captured on video and shared on social media to mass outrage, Floyd was a Black man who died while being aggressively pinned down by a Minneapolis police officer.

“We’ve seen the reality of racism at the front of global and national attention,” Chagger said in her virtual announcement.

“We can’t pretend systemic racism doesn’t exist in Canada. We’ve also seen how the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and amplified the many systemic inequalities present in our country.”

Projects include the Nova Scotia-based Black Business Initiative, which is getting $151,000 to tackle discriminatory structures in hiring and employment, and an initiative by Legal Aid Ontario, which is receiving $285,000 to improve race-based collection of data on the bail system.

The Canadian Anti-Hate Network is also getting $268,400 to hire four people to help monitor extreme-right groups and report on their activities.

The work of the network has taken on new urgency since its founding two years ago, said one of its board members, Amira Elghawaby, during Chagger’s announcement.

“There are more members and supporters of hate groups and dangerous conspiracy groups than there have been in at least a generation,” she said. “They’re harassing people. They’re killing people, and they need to be stopped, or at least contained.”

She said the money it’s getting from Ottawa, the first for the organization, will help it continue its exposure on social media of far-right activities, and its promotion of multiculturalism. The money will also allow it to actively fight hateful activities, not just research them.

B.C.-based Justice for Girls will get $206,970 to help Indigenous women and girls access justice, education and employment.

The Anti-Racism Action Program received a total of 1,100 applications in late 2019. Around 80 projects will likely involve Black and Indigenous communities.

The Liberal government has said the strategy is its first step in tackling systemic racism. In early July, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked his cabinet to create a “work plan” with concrete actions to fight the problem.

Last month’s speech from the throne outlined in broad strokes the Liberals’ plan. It included new legislation meant to: tackle systemic inequalities in the criminal justice system; do more to combat online hate; and increase economic opportunities for members of marginalized communities.

In a statement on Thursday, Trudeau spokeswoman Ann-Clara Vaillancourt said the government’s plans to tackle racism “will be further outlined in ministers’ mandate letters, which will be release in due course.” She said the government had made addressing systemic racism a “top priority” in the speech.

Chagger did not say when Canadians can expect more details of legislation that would enact those measures.

However, she said community organizations have told her it’s critical they get funding for more local anti-racism projects.

“We will continue ensuring that we work with community in partnership, because it’s instrumental that the decision-making table reflects the diversity of the country, and at minimum, be informed by the lived experiences of Canadians,” she said.

Unlike other anti-racism initiatives the Liberals campaigned on in the 2019 election, the promise to double funding for the anti-racism strategy wasn’t mentioned in the throne speech.

When asked about the election commitment on Thursday, Chagger would only say, “We will continue to build upon our commitments.”

Source: Feds fund 85 anti-racism projects that target economic barriers, online hate

Alberta Tories launch new program to subsidize “multiculturalism” and “inclusion”

Sounds familiar to Kenney’s reboot of the federal multiculturalism program in 2010-11 and its objectives (which were needed in their re-emphasis on the civic integration purpose of multiculturalism):

Alberta’s UCP government has created a new grant program to provide up to $25,000 a year in subsidies to organizations promoting “cross-cultural understanding, celebrating diverse backgrounds and helping Albertans understand the impacts of discrimination.”

In a news release, Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women Minister Leela Aheer said that the new Multiculturalism, Indigenous and Inclusion Grant will make Alberta “a place where all people feel their culture is valued and respected.”

Organizations can apply for the $25,000 matching grant if their proposal supports multiculturalism, indigenous issues or “inclusion projects.”

Source: Alberta Tories launch new program to subsidize “multiculturalism” and “inclusion”

Program link: Multiculturalism, Indigenous and Inclusion Grant Program

Canadian Heritage gives bureaucrats more power over arts funding

This is a significant change with past practice and it will be interesting to see if that applies to all G&C programs at Canadian Heritage, including multiculturalism (readers let me know!).

Ministerial sign-off bedevilled the Multiculturalism Program, as then Minister Kenney and his staff would refuse to sign-off on projects that had been approved by officials. However inconvenient for officials and organizations, it was in retrospect understandable and necessary given the inertia and indeed resistance among officials (see Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias: Resetting Citizenship and Multiculturalism chapter 2):

Having the final sign-off on all cheques has long been emblematic of the minister’s absolute power over cultural grants and contributions at Canadian Heritage.

But Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly has decided to forfeit that power and allow her bureaucrats to approve 90 per cent of the 8,000 grants and contributions that the department awards each year.

In addition, Ms. Joly has decided to allow cultural groups to sign more multiyear agreements with Canadian Heritage, freeing them up from the obligation to send in an application every year for ministerial approval.

Ms. Joly said the measures will limit political considerations in the awarding of funding, such as favouring areas that voted for the government in power.

“There was often a lot of discretion built into our various programs, and that sometimes allowed for a more partisan approach,” Ms. Joly said at an event with reporters and representatives of cultural groups on Wednesday. “It’s not normal for some ridings not to receive any funding, when groups have a right to that money. It’s normal for us to support arts groups across the country.”

Historically, Ms. Joly said, ministers and their political staff rejected only about 2 per cent of the grants and contributions that had been approved by the bureaucracy. Still, she said partisan officials should not have the right to overturn the decisions of bureaucrats who operate in the same regions as the recipients and have greater knowledge of local needs and priorities.

Under the new system, Ms. Joly will continue to sign off on all funding awarded as part of next year’s celebrations of Canada’s 150th anniversary, and all deals worth more than $75,000, which account for about 10 per cent of the department’s annual output.

Source: Canadian Heritage gives bureaucrats more power over arts funding – The Globe and Mail

Tory MP given federal contracts months before, after failed 2008 election bid

Interesting story. In contrast to multiculturalism and  historical recognition grants and contributions (G&Cs), not delegated to officials, integration programming, largely language training, was delegated. When Minister Kenney became Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, officials had to explain why the sheer volume of G&Cs made Ministerial review impractical.

Minister Kenney had bad experience with the multiculturalism G&Cs as officials remained in denial mode, continuing to favour traditional organizations and approaches, leading the Minister to reject most proposals. Ministerial staffers would routinely Google organizations, to check for consistency between departmental descriptions of individual projects and the overall approach of the organization. It sometimes led to uncomfortable discussions, but his office was applying due diligence, more so than some of the officials (I eventually also would Google before approval).

Given the Minister’s concerns about delegation, a system was put in place to provide a heads-up on planned project approvals, an early detection system to avoid surprises and reduce the likelihood of project approval contrary to the Minister’s wishes. This was partially prompted by the Canadian Arab Federation case (Jason Kenney’s decision to cut funding to the Canadian Arab Federation):

When asked whether Diane Finley, who was the CIC minister at the time, was aware of the contract, spokesman Marcel Poulin said only that “officials award contracts, not ministers.”

That fall, Ms. Young ran in Vancouver South for the Conservatives, losing by just 20 votes to Liberal incumbent Ujjal Dosanjh.

The questions about the first contract didn’t deter Ms. Young’s consulting firm – her office declined to say how many employees the firm had beyond Ms. Young – from seeking a second one just over a year after the election. The November, 2009, pact totalled $452,900 for planning the same conference, this time in early 2010. It included $337,000 for “program delivery” and $115,900 for “administrative” functions. Again, the specific costs are redacted.

A spokeswoman for Jason Kenney, who had succeeded Ms. Finley as CIC minister when the second contract was awarded, said he had “no knowledge of or involvement” with the contracts.

A statement from the department echoed that. “Both contracts were assessed and approved by the appropriate delegated departmental official,” spokeswoman Sonia Lesage said.

Tory MP given federal contracts months before, after failed 2008 election bid – The Globe and Mail.

Millions in federal multiculturalism funding goes unspent each year

Thanks to ATIP, the numbers are public, showing ongoing lapsing funds, despite the Conservative government remake of the program in 2010, aligning program objectives to the government’s priorities, and putting into place a call for proposal process that generated a wide range of project proposals.

Millions in federal multiculturalism funding goes unspent each year.