Indo-Canadian leaders say Elections B.C. oversight would end questionable tactics in party races

Of note. Look forward to comments from British Columbia readers:

Leaders in the province’s Indo-Canadian community say the recent controversy surrounding B.C. Liberal party memberships would not be happening if a third-party organization such as Elections B.C. was given an oversight role in political party leadership elections.

Several long-time Liberals and New Democrats of Punjabi heritage are concerned that the blame for questionable memberships is being unfairly placed on racialized communities, instead of on the parties’ membership and voting rules.

“Punjabi-Canadians are a demographic that loves their politics, and you have the traditional loyalty to family and friends, so that is why this community is able to sign up large number of members in a very short period of time. It does not mean their memberships are illegal,” said long-time B.C. Liberal Barj Dhahan.

“Whenever this question comes up, it is Punjabi-Canadians who get stereotyped that they are not following the rules. The real question is: Are the rules being followed by the candidates and their campaign teams and volunteers?”

The controversy came to a head last month, after six of the seven B.C. Liberal leadership campaign teams demanded the party audit close to half of its new memberships over concerns that rules were not being followed. They pointed to addresses that were not residences, including one on a forest service road. One campaign said its canvassers found one residence where only one of the five people signed up using that addressed lived there. The campaigns questioned whether the party was capable of catching potential cheaters.

Since then, the party has been accused of singling out members from the South Asian and Chinese communities for review and audit.

Former NDP MLA Harry Lali said there is a long history of groups, including lawyers and teachers, that launched large membership campaigns for their favoured candidates, but those campaigns were never questioned. He believes all leadership elections over the past two decades in every party have been tainted by dubious membership recruitment tactics.

Lali said when that happens, the party suffers.

“What ends up happening is the old-guard membership is pitted against the new membership, so it often becomes white people being pitted against non-white people,” he said. “It’s time that political parties were dragged into the 21st century.”

That is why Lali recommended that Elections B.C. take over the process of vetting memberships and overseeing leadership votes more than a decade ago, when he was running for the NDP leadership.

Vikram Bajwa also supports calls for involvement by Elections B.C. Bajwa has been a member of the B.C. Liberal party for more than 20 years, and was one of the whistle-blowers in the so-called “quick wins” scandal in 2013, when the party under former premier Christy Clark planned to use government funds to target ethnic support.

Bajwa now claims more than 6,000 international students from India and China have been signed up as Liberal party members in the current leadership race. Bajwa said he and several other party members have sought legal advice and have written a letter demanding the party take action.

“The Liberal party membership form does not ask you to state your citizenship or permanent resident status,” explained Bajwa. “It was overlooked during Christy Clark’s time, and this time we want to put a stop to this.”

Bajwa said if the issue is not properly addressed at the final Liberal leadership debate on Tuesday night, as promised by the party, he and several concerned members will be filing a judicial review of the memberships in B.C. Supreme Court on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the party has not responded to a request for comment about foreign student memberships.

The leadership election organizing committee issued a public statement last week, saying that more than 3,000, or six per cent, of the party’s 43,000 current active members have been flagged for an audit. It said some audits were triggered when a non-Canadian IP address was used to buy a membership.

It added that, so far, no membership has been rejected.

Critics say they are not working for any of the B.C. Liberal campaigns and their only agenda is to rid the system of the abuses within it. They say it will take political will not seen so far to introduce legislation allowing Elections B.C. to oversee all party leadership elections.

“Not doing something about it, for all political parties, it ends up creating a schism and that erodes to less and less participation in the political process,” said Lali. “And on a wider scale, when you’re talking about someone who wants to be the premier of the province, you want to make sure that individual has won fairly and that the general public can have that confidence.”

Source: Indo-Canadian leaders say Elections B.C. oversight would end questionable tactics in party races

India’s surprise about-face on farming laws a ‘monumental moment’ for diaspora in Canada

Of note given the Indo-Canadian activism on the proposed farming laws:

A sudden announcement by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to withdraw the highly contentious farm laws in that country is being met with cautious optimism by many diaspora Indians in Canada. But some say they won’t feel relief until the laws are formally repealed.

The surprise move comes over a year after Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party government instituted the laws, first by ordinance and then passing them without consultation with either farmers’ unions or state governments.

The farm acts sparked a year of massive protests in India — at times deadly — during which tens of thousands of farmers took part in a movement to march to the capital.

Demonstrations were also held in Canada, including rallies in front of the Indian consulate in downtown Toronto, where hundreds turned out in solidarity with Indian farmers, who were in many cases their own family and friends.

Opponents of the laws said they meant an end to guaranteed pricing, forcing farmers to sell crops to corporations at cheaper prices and leave them with no right to take disputes with those corporations to court, with conflicts instead settled by bureaucrats.

Friday brought an about-face from Modi, who promised that the laws will be repealed beginning in December.

“I want to say with a sincere and pure heart that maybe something was lacking in our efforts that we could not explain the truth to some of our farmer brothers,” he said in a televised speech.

“Let’s us make a fresh start.”

‘A crack’ in the edifice

At the Shromani Sikh Sangat Temple in Toronto’s east end, Gurshan Singh, who comes from a farming family, was wary of the announcement.

“I don’t consider it done yet because the prime minister has announced that it will be repealed but the procedure still has to happen,” Singh said in Punjabi, speaking to CBC News through an interpreter.

Singh said his entire village went out to protest against the laws.

“People were martyred … people lost their children,” he said.  And while some 700 people are believed to have died in the process, he said he’s thankful his own family is safe.

“I’m happy,” he said. “But I’m still not sure.”

For Sanjay Ruparelia, a professor of politics and public administration at Toronto’s Ryerson University, the sudden news is part of a much larger story about the rise of autocracy in India over the last seven years.

“I think a lot of people are wanting to see whether this movement now has made a crack in that edifice,” he said.

But farmers have good reason to be skeptical after the lengths the government went to sideline protesters, going so far as to suggest they had been infiltrated by Sikh separatists, he said.

“There’s no truth to these claims. The government just wanted to delegitimize and undermine the protests, and that really inflamed the situation and sowed even greater distrust among the farmers’ unions,” said Ruparelia.

“They already felt that they weren’t consulted on these laws, they already felt that the laws would harm their interests and now they were being painted as terrorists and anti-national forces.”

In recent years, opposition parties have won victories in some state elections but have been unable to “really weaken the dominance of the party and particularly its Hindu nationalist program,” he said.

In that sense, he says, this victory could be a turning point, Ruparelia said.

‘You can’t subtract the politics out of it’

Between a perceived mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic, the controversial farming laws and civil society groups being maligned, trust in India’s federal government is fractured, Ruparelia said. And with elections coming up in two important states — Punjab and Uttar Pradesh — the government may well have feared it might lose its grip on power.

As for the impact in Canada, he says, the reaction here is sure to be divided.

“There are many, many citizens and residents of Canada who are part of the larger diaspora with very strong connections to the parts of the country, which have really led this movement,” he said.

Jaskaran Sandhu, director of administration with the World Sikh Organization, agrees.

“You can’t subtract the politics out of it,” said Sandhu. “At the end of the day it’s hard to trust Modi, it’s hard to trust someone who has been fighting you tooth and nail for a year … it’s hard to trust a government that refused to consult with you from the beginning.”

Over the past year or so, Sandhu says he’s watched the the protests through the eyes of his own friends and family on the ground, while focusing his own efforts in Canada on advocacy. One of his own initiatives, he says, was to co-found and launch the platform Baaz News, which made it a priority to shine a light on farmers’ stories.

Sandhu says he awoke to dozens of messages from family and friends sharing congratulations over the move on Friday morning.

“This is an underdog story. To see them victorious, it’s hard to put it into words,” he said. “I think it’s a monumental moment for the diaspora.”

But amid that sense of victory is also trepidation.

“No one’s getting up and leaving just yet.”

Source: India’s surprise about-face on farming laws a ‘monumental moment’ for diaspora in Canada

Indo-Canadians tend to vote Liberal. But will they continue to do so?

Interesting discussion of the generational differences:

For nearly two weeks, pundits have scoured pre-election surveys and post-election exit polls to analyze the voting patterns of Canadians in granular detail. So it’s surprising that scant attention has been paid to how Canada’s burgeoning immigrant communities voted.

Among immigrant groups, Canada’s large and rapidly growing Indo-Canadian population deserves particular consideration. According to the 2016 census, there are nearly 1.4 million people of Indian origin residing in Canada, accounting for four per cent of the population. Those numbers have grown dramatically since then; today, Indians represent the largest group of new immigrants in the country. In 2019 alone, more than 80,000 Indians made their way to Canada from India — one-quarter of all immigrants arriving that year.

For years, the Indian community in Canada — much like other ethnic minorities — has been perceived as a strong votary of the Liberal party. But the community’s rising socio-economic profile and young demographic skew, combined with the emergence of the Indo-Canadian NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, have raised questions about its political leanings.

On the eve of the election, we collaborated with YouGov on a nationally representative survey of Indo-Canadians. Our survey of 724 citizens of Indian origin suggests that the Indo-Canadian community continues, in large measure, to support the Liberals, with 38 per cent of respondents indicating their support of the party — twice the number that planned to vote Conservative. One in five (21 per cent) backed the NDP.

Remarkably, this breakdown is nearly identical to the distribution of Indo-Canadian votes in both 2015 and 2019, according to our analysis of the Canadian Election Study. How do we explain the voting habits of Indo-Canadians?

For starters, on a standard left-right ideological spectrum, Indo-Canadians strongly skew left. Nearly three in four Indo-Canadians self-identify on the liberal half of the scale. When it comes to the issues topping their agenda this election season, respondents identify the same bread-and-butter issues that weigh on most Canadians’ minds: health care and COVID-19, the cost of living, the state of the economy. 

If the Indian diaspora exhibits a leftward tilt, why don’t more of them vote for the NDP? Indeed, for many Indo-Canadians, Singh’s allure is undeniable. Nearly half of respondents reported that Singh’s leadership of the NDP makes them more enthusiastic about the party, in large part due to his Indian and/or Sikh roots. Furthermore, when asked to rate their views of Canadian political leaders on a sliding scale from 0-100, Justin Trudeau and Singh are virtually deadlocked — Singh earns an average rating of 67, with Trudeau at 65 and Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole lagging at 49.

However, Singh is handicapped by the one impediment that has arguably prevented many Canadians from voting NDP: the party is perceived to have little shot at forming the government. One in four Indians say the primary reason they do not vote NDP is because they do not want to waste their vote. 

On the other end of the spectrum, when asked why they do not identify with the Conservatives, survey respondents reported that the party is too influenced by big business and seeks to cut public services. On everyday economic issues, Conservatives appear out of step with the left-of-centre policies Indo-Canadians favour. Misaligned policies on the right and limited electability on the left seem to funnel Indo-Canadian voters to the Liberal camp. 

The seeming stability of the votes of the Indo-Canadian community, however, elides deeper changes underway. While older voters (above 30) favour the Liberals over the NDP by a two-to-one margin, younger Indo-Canadians split their vote almost evenly between the two. The divide between first-generation Indo-Canadians (who came as immigrants) and second-generation citizens (born and raised in Canada) is starker. While half of naturalized citizens support the Liberal party, just one in three born in the country do so. The NDP is the principal beneficiary of this shift: the party’s vote share among second-generation Canadians is twice as large as among their first-generation counterparts. Indeed, country of birth is the single most important predictor of whether Indo-Canadians are likely to vote Liberal, even after controlling for age, education, gender and religion. 

The relative absence of a religious divide is worth emphasizing, as it stands in contrast with the voting attitudes of Indians in another large, English-speaking country — the United Kingdom. There, Hindus have abandoned the left-of-centre Labour Party in droves and embraced the Conservatives, which has given British Indians prominent cabinet berths and adopted pro-India policies. In Canada, partisan polarization on religious lines is not so evident in the Indian community. But differing views over how Canada should engage with India’s government and concerns that the Liberal party favours Sikhs over the Indo-Canadian community at large could trigger a realignment.

Looking forward, the voting behaviour of the community will be shaped by two competing demographic trends. As the size of the diaspora increases, so will the number of young, Canadian-born Indians who are eligible to vote — increasing popular support for the NDP. At the same time, the sharp increase in recent Indian immigration will boost the numbers of naturalized citizens, who are more likely to support the Liberal party. The net effect of these trends, and how the Conservatives respond, will determine if the stability in the voting preferences of the Indo-Canadian community continues.

Caroline Duckworth and Milan Vaishnav are with the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Devesh Kapur is Starr Foundation Professor of South Asian Studies at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.


Contrasting reactions to Air India 1985 bombing and Ukraine International Tehran crash: From “Indians” to Canadians

Following the coverage of the UIA PS752 crash and the devastating number of Canadian victims, it struck me just how much Canada has changed in terms of how it characterizes the victims.

In the Air India case, the initial reaction was to dismiss the victims as Indians and it was only some 20 years later that is was formally recognized as a Canadian tragedy.

“During his first term, the Air India Flight 182 bombing occurred. This was the largest terrorist act of the time, with the majority of the 329 victims being Canadian citizens. Mulroney sent a letter of condolence to then Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, which sparked an uproar in Canada since he did not call families of the actual victims to offer condolences. Gandhi replied that he should be the one providing condolences to Mulroney, given that the majority of victims were Canadians. There were several warnings from the Indian government to the Mulroney government about terrorist threats towards Air India flights, which arised questions remain as to why these warnings were not taken more seriously and whether the events leading to the bombing could have been prevented. (Brian Mulroney – Wikipedia)”

In contrast, UIA PS752 coverage and commentary named the victims as Canadians, full-stop, as did PM Trudeau’s statement and subsequent press conference. The federal, some provincial and municipal governments are flying the  Canadian flag at half-mast to commemorate this Canadian tragedy.

The personal descriptions of the lives lost illustrate the breadth of the Iranian Canadian community across Canada and their impressive contributions to Canada. Moreover, there have been calls for Canada to be part of the crash investigation and the commitment by the PM in his press conference for Canada to be involved.

“This morning, I join Canadians across the country who are shocked and saddened to see reports that a plane crash outside of Tehran, Iran, has claimed the lives of 176 people, including 63 Canadians.

“On behalf of the Government of Canada, Sophie and I offer our deepest condolences to those who have lost family, friends, and loved ones in this tragedy. Our government will continue to work closely with its international partners to ensure that this crash is thoroughly investigated, and that Canadians’ questions are answered.

Today, I assure all Canadians that their safety and security is our top priority. We also join with the other countries who are mourning the loss of citizens. (Statement by the Prime Minister on the fatal plane crash in Iran)”

Full press conference statement:nJustin Trudeau’s statement after plane crash in Iran: Full transcript

An encouraging reminder how Canada has changed in how we view our fellow citizens.

TD Bank takes down ads targeting South Asians after complaint about word ‘desi’

The complexities and sensitivities in multicultural marketing:

TD Bank has stopped running online advertisements that use the word “desi” to target the South Asian community after at least one person complained about the ads.

Jatin Patel demanded the bank take the ads down after he saw one of them while scrolling through an Indian news app.

“At first, I couldn’t believe my eyes,” Patel said.

“In India, it is used as an offensive term,” he told CBC Toronto, adding that some Indians use the word to describe people as “not very modern” and “from the countryside.”

“Desi” originates from the Sanskrit word “desh,” which means “nation.” It’s commonly used, mostly by young people, to describe people and culture as truly or typically South Asian. It’s even made its way into the titles of many South Asian films.

TD’s ad, which could be seen on both social media platforms and the web, featured videos and pictures with the tagline: “62 per cent of desi Canadians don’t know how much to save for retirement.”

Patel says he gets that TD is attempting to target a specific community, but he believes the wording was “inappropriate and insensitive.”

He immediately contacted the bank to complain about the ad, and TD responded by taking it down the same night.

Patel says he’s hoping for a personal apology, but he also says the damage has been done.

“If you slap someone, and then you say, ‘Sorry,’ what does it mean? The action has already been completed.”

TD Canada says it pulled the ads to show it respects the community.

“Inclusion and diversity are core values at TD, and we continuously make every effort to ensure we respect our customers and colleagues in everything we do,” the bank said in an email statement to CBC Toronto.

Patel is not the only one who thinks the advertisement may have taken the wrong path.

Tushar Unadkat, chief executive of Mukta Advertising in Toronto, said TD’s ad failed because it doesn’t connect with the entire community.

“If someone calls me desi, I’m OK, but I’m very sure that within Canada and within India, as well, there’s a section of people who would use the term to look down upon a different class of people,” he said.

“You’ve got to understand how the community relates to that term locally.”

But Sharifa Khan, chief executive of Balmoral Multicultural Marketing on Toronto, disagrees.

Sharifa Khan, chief executive of Balmoral Multicultural Marketing, thinks ‘desi’ is an acceptable term. ‘It’s certainly not derogatory,’ she says.

“The language has to be 100 per cent authentic for a marketing campaign to be successful,” she said.

“TD has been around long enough to know how to target a multicultural audience.”

Khan says TD likely did its research before crafting the ads.

“Lots of social marketers will use relevant and key words to appeal to their market,” Khan told CBC Toronto.

“And the word ‘desi,’ people within the community will connect with this word all the time,” she added.

“It’s certainly not derogatory.”

Douglas Todd: Indo-Canadians in uproar over surge of foreign students

Another interesting profile by Douglas Todd of some of the tensions and debates within one of the ethnic communities:

The Indo-Canadian community is in turmoil over a recent surge in foreign students from India, whose presence is feeding community tensions amid allegations of financial exploitation, an Indian brain drain, exam cheating, mistreatment of young women, employer abuse, drug dealing and the “stealing” of South Asians’ jobs.

The number of international students from India in Canada has jumped by roughly five times in the past few years, after the federal government in 2012 bucked the trend of other Western nations and made it easier for international students to work and to go to the front of the immigration queue.

In the past it was mostly well-off Indian families who sent their children to Canada to study. But now tens of thousands of low-income Indians, including farming families, are stretching their meagre finances to get their children into the Canadian education system, job market and family immigration stream.

South Asian media outlets in Canada and India are buzzing with articles and commentary on the changes, often revolving around debate on whether the 130,000 foreign students from India, mostly from the Punjab region, are being victimized by the system or exploiting it. Canada’s South Asian population numbers more than 500,000, mostly in Metro Vancouver and Greater Toronto.

Indian education officials, especially in the Punjab, are complaining about losing students to Canada. They’re also alleging many of the foreign students are being exploited by unscrupulous immigration agents and English-language trainers in India, as well as by money-hungry colleges and universities, landlords and South Asian business owners in Canada.

Meanwhile, Indo-Canadians concentrated in Greater Toronto and Metro Vancouver have been holding public meetings to complain about how many students from India are skipping classes to work longer hours in Canada than they are permitted, leading to the Times of India running the headline: “Indo-Canadians say international students ’stealing their jobs.’”

Desi Today, an Indo-Canadian magazine, said in an editorial “There has been a simmering reaction of anger and protest by the Indo-Canadian community, especially of Surrey, against these students.

“There are YouTube videos made by Indo-Canadians displaying the behaviour of the students (and) their unhygienic lifestyle, criticizing them for their focus on earning money instead of studies. A few are leaving studies altogether to enter into illicit activities, like drug trading,” said Desi Today.

Balraj Kahlon, of Guru Nanak’s Free Kitchen, a Surrey organization that helps low-income individuals, told Postmedia News his members were discovering that “many students from India are under financial stress and there is a problem of labour exploitation, and sexual exploitation of young women.” Some Indians students are alleged to be working 16 hours a day, when their Canadian study permit allows only 20 hours a week.

The number of Indian foreign students at Surrey’s Kwantlen Polytechnic University has skyrocketed in the past couple of years, while Langara College’s cohort of Indian foreign students has catapulted 40 times in just three years. Many students from India are also attending small private colleges in Canada, which some critics dismiss as “one-room” fake diploma-and-immigration factories.

Langara College sociology instructor Gagun Chhina said Canadian institutions can’t handle the extraordinary influx of foreign students, who are flocking here because of Ottawa’s simplified process for obtaining permanent resident status. Students from India make up the second largest cohort of international students in Canada, after those from China.

Chhina said Indian foreign students are struggling to balance study with long hours on their jobs, which many need to survive in costly Vancouver and Toronto. Some are sending money home to their Indian parents, many of whom hope their sons and daughters will sponsor them to come to Canada to work temporarily or immigrate.

Indian foreign students have unfortunately become big business in both India and Canada, say the critics, and some of those enterprises are illicit.

A radio station in the Punjab, SBS, reported that English-language schools have been fined for charging students $15,000 for phoney passing marks in English tests, so they can get into Canada. Punjabi officials have ordered a crackdown on immigration consultants, some of whom take large sums and make false promises to manoeuvre young people into Canadians schools. India’s Tribune newspaper also maintains Canada’s “relaxed immigration policy” is draining tens of thousands of young people and their low-income families’ hard-earned money out of the Punjab.

Things are so strained among some South Asians in Canada that fights have broken out between domestic and foreign students in Ontario colleges.

“This is the talk of the town in the Punjabi community. The newspapers and radio shows all talk about it,” Balraj Deol, editor of the Khabarnama Punjabi Weekly, told Postmedia.

While many Indo-Canadian landlords and business owners are financially exploiting and abusing foreign students from India, Deol said the other side of the phenomenon is that Indian foreign students who break the rules by working long hours are adding to large “underground” ethnic economies in Ontario and B.C.

Said Deol: “People are angry at this poor immigration policy in Canada.”

Source: Douglas Todd: Indo-Canadians in uproar over surge of foreign students

Study finds gender imbalance in children born to Indo-Canadian women

Important and disturbing study.

It would be interesting to know if second-generation Indo-Canadians continue this practice or not and I understand the researchers are planning to do just that:

Fewer girls than boys are born to Indian women who immigrate to Canada, a skewed pattern driven by families whose mother tongue is Punjabi, according to a new study.

One of the most surprising findings of the study, to be published Monday in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology Canada, is that the preference for boys does not diminish, regardless of how long women from India have lived in Canada.

“It’s counterintuitive,” said Marcelo Urquia, a research scientist at the University of Manitoba’s Centre for Health Policy and lead author of the study. “We know that the longer immigrants are in Canada, the more likely they are to align to the host country.”

But for many Indian immigrants who express a strong desire for sons, the study found, the practice of sex selection remains entrenched. Women who already have two female children are most at risk for abortions in the second trimester, when parents can learn the sex of the fetus. The study builds on previous research led by Dr. Urquia that found a deficit in Canada of more than 4,400 girls over two decades.

The latest study shows that women born in India who already have two daughters gave birth to 192 baby boys in Ontario for every 100 girls. The sex ratios are so distorted, they cannot be explained by natural causes, Dr. Urquia said. Across the globe, by comparison, the odds of having a boy over a girl are slightly higher: 107 boys for every 100 girls.

The preference for boys among many Indian immigrants reveals underlying gender inequities and will not change without intervention, Dr. Urquia said.

Amanpreet Brar, a third-year medical student at the University of Toronto who worked on the study, said gender-selection abortion was talked about openly in India’s Punjab province, where she grew up, but she was surprised to learn that it also happens in Canada.

Ms. Brar, who immigrated to Canada with her family when she was 14, remembers the traditional celebration called a Lohri in India for celebrating the birth of a boy.

“It was rare to hear about a girl’s birth being celebrated,” she said.

But some steps have been taken in Canada to end gender-based customs and celebrate the birth of girls. In Brampton, Ont., where 40 per cent of the population is South Asian, one hospital has started handing out Ladoos, a sugary Indian sweet, when a baby girl is born, Ms. Brar said. Traditionally in India, Ladoos were just for moms who delivered boys.

The study analyzed 46,834 birth records for Indian-born mothers who delivered up to three live births in Ontario hospitals between April, 1993, and March, 2014, and who immigrated to Canada between 1985 and 2012. Mothers who gave birth to twins or triplets were excluded. The study also looked at the mother’s birth place, her mother tongue and how long she had been in Canada.

Among all the mothers having their third child, nearly twice as many males were born compared with females if the previous two children were girls. The ratio was even higher among women whose mother tongue was Punjabi: 240 boys to 100 girls. The ratio of males to females did not differ according to when women arrived in Canada.

Source: Study finds gender imbalance in children born to Indo-Canadian women – The Globe and Mail

Politician’s cancelled visit causes tension in Indo-Canadian communities

I think the existing policy, implemented under the Conservatives, is preferred rather than reinforcing political attachment to countries of origin:

The planned visit of an Indian politician to Canada to campaign to non-resident Indians and its ensuing cancellation has caused tension in Indo-Canadian communities.

Amarinder Singh of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee had planned to visit Canada to hold rallies and events in the GTA and Vancouver, according to news reports out of India, but cancelled the visit after a complaint was made by a human rights group called Sikhs for Justice to Global Affairs Canada and the Indian High Commission in Canada.

Mr. Singh instead interacted with Indo-Canadians and non-resident Indians—known as ‘NRIs’—via Skype.

When asked about the Canadian government’s involvement in the re-routing of Mr. Singh’s North American political tour, foreign ministry spokesperson Francois Lasalle pointed to a government policy banning political campaigning by foreigners, and wrote in an email that “Global Affairs Canada has made this policy very clear to all foreign missions in Canada (including bringing it to the attention of the Indian High Commission in Ottawa) and will continue to do so.”

Canada’s government enacted a policy in September 2011 that reads “the Government of Canada will continue to refuse requests by foreign States to include Canada in their respective extraterritorial electoral constituencies. Also, the Department will not allow foreign governments to conduct election campaigns in Canada or establish foreign political parties and movements in Canada.”

Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Navdeep Bains (Mississauga-Malton, Ont.) appeared to disagree with the government’s policy, saying that his constituents are engaged in international politics and that allowing politicians to visit communities is a matter of Charter rights.

“I think we have a very vibrant diaspora here in Canada that’s very engaged in domestic and international politics. I think we’re a country that supports a Charter. Freedom of expression, freedom of opinion, freedom of assembly. These are all Canadian attributes and we welcome any opportunity that politicians have when they want to come and engage with the diaspora, and I think that’s the message I heard from my constituents and that’s the message I relayed on to them,” he told The Hill Times.

Mr. Singh himself characterized the ban on his political action in much the same way, writing a letter to Mr. Trudeau on the matter. “It feels like a gag order that has left a very bad taste,” he wrote, according to a report from India Today.

Source: Politician’s cancelled visit causes tension in Indo-Canadian communities |

Indo-Canadian women give birth to far more boys than women born in Canada

Interesting and disturbing study:

The research, presented in the Canadian Medical Association Journal and the online CMAJ Open, looks at more than 6 million births in Canada and reveals that a greater presence of boys among Indian-born mothers may in part be linked to abortions in the second trimester, when parents can learn the baby’s sex.

The birth data was compiled from databases administered by Statistics Canada and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Toronto between 1990 and 2011, and 1993 to 2012, respectively.

“The main implication is that among some immigrant communities, males are placed at a higher value than females. This is not just about abortions, it is about gender equality,” said lead author Marcelo Urquia of St. Michael’s Hospital. “I hope that this is conducive to a respectful debate on the value of girls and women in today’s Canadian society.”

His study newly exposes a relationship between induced abortions and the previously reported large numbers of boys among Ontario’s Indian community, said Urquia, noting the data likely explains an imbalance in the rest of Canada too. Some of the “deficit” of girls may be due to “implantation of male embryos,” said Urquia, but the data is insufficient.

While the natural odds of having a boy over a girl are slightly higher, they are consistent across the globe: up to 107 boys for every 100 girls. But Indian-born mothers living in Canada with two children had 138 boys for every 100 girls. In Ontario, that number inflated even more among Indian-born women with two daughters, who then gave birth to 196 boys for every 100 girls.

After abortions, the numbers rise dramatically: 326 boys after one abortion, 409 boys after multiple abortions, and 663 boys for every 100 girls following multiple abortions in the second trimester, when doctors can determine the sex of the fetus.

Miscarriages, or spontaneous abortions, were not linked to the births of more boys, the study found.

The implication is that the disproportionate ratios are a result of “sex discrimination fuelled by son preference” among people from Asian countries, particularly India, whose immigrants have the highest documented male to female ratio in the world, the study says. The new research focuses on immigrants from India as they contribute the most to immigrant births in the country, though disproportionate male births have been observed in other communities as well. The research found an imbalance among Chinese immigrants, but this could not be linked to abortion.

Data did not indicate how long Indian immigrants had lived in Canada and whether that impacted the sex ratio. Nor did it indicate what country the baby’s grandparents were from. These are questions for future research, said Urquia.

“We are currently looking at whether the skewed sex ratios diminish with time after immigration. The idea is that exposure to a more gender equal environment, such as Canada, will result in placing more value on females over time,” he said.

With this new research, it’s no longer a question of whether prenatal sex discrimination exists. It is evident over the last two decades across Canada. The “real question,” said researcher Abdool S. Yasseen III in a published commentary on the studies, is “why this practice persists, particularly in a Canadian society that espouses sex equality.”

For Baldev Mutta, CEO of Brampton’s Punjabi Community Health Services, it’s a question he and other community leaders will have to face. With this new research, he says, it is “time for some soul searching,” in the country’s Indian community.

Source: Indo-Canadian women give birth to far more boys than women born in Canada | Toronto Star

Vancouver real estate titles reveal city’s racist history

A reminder of our not so distant past, and how it has been overtaken by reality (Vancouver, along with Toronto, are almost 50 percent visible minority):

Early immigrants to B.C. faced not only the hardship of settling into a new home, but also seemingly racist policies — Chinese and Indo-Canadians did not have the right to own property and only got the right to vote in 1947.

In Vancouver, West Vancouver and Victoria, owners tried to use restrictive land covenants to keep minorities from buying land — and many of those covenants remain in place to this day.

Realtor Wayne Hammil recently spotted a covenant in a land title dating back to 1928 when he was putting a Vancouver home up for sale.

“One of the clauses in the restrictive covenant makes reference to not selling to certain ethnic minorities in the world,” said Hammil.

The covenant prevents the sale or rent of the land to people who are of Chinese, Japanese, Indian and African descent or any other Asiatic race.

“[Theres a ] total irony because most of the buyers are from mainland China,” said Hammil. “If this was enforced, it would preclude them from purchasing the property.”

Ron Usher, general counsel for the Society of Notaries Public of British Columbia, says Sec. 222 of the Land Title Act makes the discriminating covenants void.

“I would imagine though there are probably hundreds if not several thousand lots covered by this,” said Usher. “Where they find these, they’ve already put on the title the Except for Clause X notation.”

If this note has not yet been made on the title, Usher says its simple to have title updated through a phone call to the province’s Land Title and Survey Authority.

The race-based covenants are still embarrassing because of what they stand for, he says, but getting them completely removed from the land title can be an expensive process as they almost always have other provisions that are valid restrictions on the use of the property.

Vancouver real estate titles reveal city’s racist history – British Columbia – CBC News.