2019 TRUDEAU REPORT CARD C+ Overall, Immigration B

The intro to the section on immigration, largely written by Howard Duncan (I participated in an earlier report card). A downgrade from last year’s A-.

A bit overly harsh, as any government whatever its stripe would have found the influx of asylum seekers difficult to manage given the legal, policy and operational constraints.

The critique of the government’s communications, while valid in terms of its overly downplaying the issue and too much “virtue signalling,” underestimates the challenge given the tenor of debates south of the border and in Europe, and their crossover into some Canadian debates:

The influx of irregular border crossers continued to rise this year,and so have public discourse and import. On the one hand, the Trudeau government should be commended for its response in balancing between two very different views on the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA); demands to ‘close the loophole’ and outlaw any asylum claimants from the US, and calls for the complete suspension of the STCA, questioning whether the US can be considered a ‘safe third country’ at all. The Trudeau Government managed these conflicting calls by upholding Canada’s legal and moral obligations to allow individuals claiming asylum to have a fair hearing.

While practically and programmatically, the government has done an acceptable job at responding, they haven’t done a good enough job of explaining what they are doing, and why they are doing it. The Liberals have allowed the Canada-US border issue to develop into a very volatile political issue due to an outrageous lack of communication and coordination.

This is exemplified in the way the government has responded to provincial governments that raised concerns (such as the Ford government in Ontario). The Liberal response was not aimed at addressing legitimate concerns of the governments, but rather deflected all concerns by pointing fingers and labelling governments as racist, exclusionary and a disgrace to Canadian values. This attitude along with the divisive comments has only antagonized those who don’t share Liberal political ideologies. Concerns from major host cities such as Montreal and Toronto about the mounting costs of refugees and the strain of refugees on public housing and social services reflects a complete lack of coordination in all levels of government.

The failures in communication are mounting. The failure by Minister Hussen to clearly communicate to the Canadian public what’s happening in Roxham Road (a favored border crossing in Quebec) and Emerson, Manitoba (another border crossing) is a case in point. Trudeau’s own town hall comments have further managed to blur the line between refugees and asylum seekers in public discourse.

These lapses reveal a very large weakness within the Liberal government in building
and sustaining the consensus and support necessary to see difficult policies through to fruition. By taking a moral high ground, the Trudeau government has yet to demonstrate true leadership on immigration. The Liberals have allowed a policy problem, key to realising Canada’s future prosperity, to become an issue of politics. As a result, immigration has become a deeply divisive political issue and will be a subject of much debate in the upcoming elections.

While practically and programmatically, the government has done an acceptable job at responding, they haven’t done a good enough job of explaining what they are doing, and why they are doing it. The Liberals have allowed the Canada-US border issue to develop into a very volatile political issue due to an outrageous lack of communication and coordination.

This is exemplified in the way the government has responded to provincial governments that raised concerns (such as the Ford government in Ontario). The Liberal response was not aimed at addressing legitimate concerns of the governments, but rather deflected all concerns by pointing fingers and labelling governments as racist, exclusionary and a disgrace to Canadian values. This attitude along with the divisive comments has only antagonized those who don’t share Liberal political ideologies. Concerns from major host cities such as Montreal and Toronto about the mounting costs of refugees and the strain of refugees on public housing and social services reflects a complete lack of coordination in all levels of government.

The failures in communication are mounting. The failure by Minister Hussen to clearly communicate to the Canadian public what’s happening in Roxham Road (a favored border crossing in Quebec) and Emerson, Manitoba (another border crossing) is a case in point. Trudeau’s own town hall comments have further managed to blur the line between refugees and asylum seekers in public discourse.

These lapses reveal a very large weakness within the Liberal government in building and sustaining the consensus and support necessary to see difficult policies through to fruition. By taking a moral high ground, the Trudeau government has yet to demonstrate true leadership on immigration. The Liberals have allowed a policy problem, key to realising Canada’s future prosperity, to become an issue of politics. As a result, immigration has become a deeply divisive political issue and will be a subject of much debate in the upcoming elections.

The concern is not with immigration numbers, but with the government’s ability to project the public’s opinion and manage these flows in a financially responsible way. Irregular border crossings have come to a halt during these vicious winter months, following several cases of frostbite. Yet another run at the border is expected in the coming months.

All eyes are focused on how the Liberal government will respond.

….

Source: Trudeau Government Report Card 2019

Highest ever number of Muslim Canadian MPs elected in new House | hilltimes.com

Good range of interviews on the large number of Muslim Canadian MPs elected:

In interviews last week, MPs, political insiders, and academics said the newly-elected legislators from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds will bring unique perspectives, community feedback and different life experiences to the table which will prove to be valuable in the overall legislation and policy-making process at the highest level of government. They also pointed out that these MPs are not just token representatives of their respective communities but people who have solid credentials in a variety of professions including law, medicine, and business.

“Every Member of Parliament will bring their values to the debates and values are shaped by religion, by experience, by the community that they come from. So, it will shape their values and values will shape what they have to say and their positions, no question,” said Prof. Donald Savoie, the Canada Research Chair in public administration and governance at the Université de Moncton and one of Canada’s leading experts on public administration, in an interview with The Hill Times.

He said Muslim MPs and MPs from other religious backgrounds will have important input in Parliamentary debates in the new Parliament.

“They will have very important points of view that need to be heard,” said Prof. Savoie, adding that Muslim MPs should also not be stereotyped.

“Let them come and debate the issue and let’s hear what they have to say. What they will have to say is as important, as relevant, and ought to be listened to, as much as a white MP from Newfoundland, or from British Columbia.”

Meanwhile, pollster Greg Lyle of Innovative Research said that MPs from different cultural and religious backgrounds will offer valuable input in legislative debates on social and economic issues that affect all Canadians.

“When you are in the room, you don’t have to wait for someone to think about you. You’re right there to bring your concerns front and centre,” Mr. Lyle said.

He said that newly elected MPs from a variety of demographic groups won their ridings because they were the best candidates. Using the example of Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould (Vancouver Granville, B.C.), Mr. Lyle said she is an indigenous woman who ran in a riding that has almost negligible presence of aboriginal people, but won by a margin of about 9,000 votes.

 “In a lot of cases, people are just nominating the best person for this job and they happen to come from different backgrounds,” Mr. Lyle said.

“When you look at their resumés, they’re not getting appointed as tokens. These are people who have really impressive stories to tell,” Mr. Lyle said.

Muslim MPs interviewed for this article said that the previous government’s Anti-Terrorism Bill C-51, the so-called Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act Bill C-24, the niqab debate, and the barbaric cultural practices snitch line affected the Muslim community directly and motivated it to get engaged a lot more actively than in past elections.

“The community is reaching a new level of maturity, overall. The Muslim community in Canada tends to be a newer community. It’s going through various levels of growth and sophistication, maturity as a newer Canadian community,” said Mr. Alghabra who represented the riding of Mississauga-Erindale, Ont., from 2006 to 2008, lost the two subsequent elections and was elected again on Oct. 19.

“This was a new milestone in that growth process. There’s a greater level of sophistication, greater level of awareness about the importance of getting involved. It was demonstrated through various groups and organizations and individuals,” said Mr. Alghabra.

Ms. Ratansi, who represented the riding of Don Valley East from 2004 to 2011, lost the 2011 election but was re-elected last month, also reiterated that the divisive issues that the Conservatives pushed in the campaign made the Muslim community get involved more actively.

“People got a little concerned about the negativity against Islam. A lot of intelligent people who are lawyers, [legal scholars] who teach law in universities, who are accountants, businesspeople like me, got a little fed up with this constant badgering of Muslims as if we were a homogenous group and we all work the same way. We don’t,” said Ms. Ratansi, adding that unlike the impression portrayed by some in the last government and some news organizations, the Muslim community, overall, is a peaceful hardworking community trying to make the world a better place.

Carleton University Prof. Howard Duncan, who has conducted extensive research on immigration integration theory, multiculturalism theory, globalization, and migration, in an interview, predicted that the election of MPs from different religious and cultural backgrounds will encourage those who did not participate in this election to get engaged in the political process.

“What you’re going to find as time goes by is that immigrants from other countries and other religious and ethnic backgrounds are also going to participate more in politics,” said Prof. Duncan.

Andrew Cardozo, president of Pearson Centre for Progressive Policy, told The Hill Timesthat in the current international political scenario, a number of political conflicts are religion based. He said he hoped that the newly-elected MPs from different religions will prove they can all work together.

“If you think of it in global terms, the biggest division that’s taking place amongst people in the world is around religion. It’s good when you have a country that’s religiously diverse. It’s good to have so many religions represented. With many of them in the same caucus, there should be room for discussion and accommodation when there are differences,” said Mr. Cardozo.

Source: Highest ever number of Muslim Canadian MPs elected in new House | hilltimes.com

Canada offers unique training in managing migration | Toronto Star

Howard Duncan, a former colleague in my CIC days, on his Metropolis immigration training initiative:

Unlike other academic programs in immigration studies, Metropolis Professional Development training, through its international faculties, is intended to avoid academic discussion and instead focus on finding the systems that get the best results through monitoring and evaluation tools.

“Many new countries are getting into the immigration game and don’t know what to do,” said Howard Duncan, executive head of Metropolis, an international network of immigration policy-makers and researchers based at Ottawa’s Carleton University.

“Migration is no longer a one-way permanent flow from Italy to Canada or Germany to the United States. With the shift in global economic strength, the old immigrant source countries have now become destinations of returned migration. Some are struggling in managing reintegration.”

The not-for-profit program aims to give policy-makers, international migration organizations, community groups and private sectors that deal with immigrants a broader understanding of the global phenomenon and guides in problem solving — like an MBA in immigration.

“The global competition for talents and migrants is heating up. There is a huge demand and need for this kind of training,” noted Duncan.

Canada offers unique training in managing migration | Toronto Star.