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

Mohawk bloodline rule is indefensible – Simpson

Jeffrey Simpson on the bloodline rule:

The band council argues that mixed relationships dilute the Mohawk blood line. The council insists that residents be pure Mohawk, defined as having four Mohawk great-grandparents. But in other contexts, this bloodline business has a long and tattered history. It has led to grievous examples of racial discrimination and pseudoscience.

Mohawk bloodline rule is indefensible – The Globe and Mail.

Lawrence Hill, in his Massey Lectures, Blood, takes a similar line:

Let’s drop the idea of what you are not allowed to be, or to do, because of who you are, but encourage each other to look for the good in our blood, and in our ancestry. We should let hatred and divisiveness spill from us as if it were bad blood, and search for more genuine and caring ways to imagine human identity and human relations.

Lawrence Hill on the power of blood – Life – Macleans.ca

More Ottawa Shooting Commentary

Further to yesterday’s round-up of the recent shootings, more of the better commentary or more interesting commentary that has crossed my eye.

Wesley Wark: Reducing the risk of terrorism provides a sober assessment of the ongoing risks and the need neither to over or under act, but learn the lessons from any failures and gaps in security.

In the theme of let’s not get carried away, André Pratte in La réponse and Stephen Maher Time to reflect on the courage of our ancestors remind us to have balance and perspective. Doug Saunders notes how the public space around parliaments the world over has been whittled down by successive security threats in Don’t let the seat of government become a fortress.

On the other side, Journal de Montréal’s Richard Martineau is characteristically alarmist in Terrorisme: appelons les choses par leur nom.

More on the common elements to the two most recent cases of radicalization, Martin Couture-Rouleau  and Michael Zehaf-Bibeau:

Martin Couture-Rouleau et Michael Zehaf-Bibeau partagent plusieurs points en commun : ils étaient jeunes (25 ans et 32 ans), ils s’étaient récemment convertis à l’islam radical, la GRC avait confisqué leur passeport par crainte qu’ils rejoignent le groupe État islamique, et ils auraient agi tels des « loups solitaires ».

Pour les autorités policières, c’est le cauchemar. Les deux jeunes ont agi de leur propre chef, sans même avoir été initiés au combat par des groupes extrémistes à l’étranger. Ils sont difficiles à repérer et à neutraliser.

Un loup solitaire aux motivations inconnues

And further details about the troubled life of the shooter, Zehaf-Bibeau in the Globe in Drugs and religion key themes in Ottawa shooter’s troubled life and in the Post in Details of Zehaf-Bibeau’s life paint picture of a man derailed by homelessness, crime and addiction, detailing his drug addiction, quarrelsome personality and his failed efforts to use his faith to control both.

Canadian Muslims are quick to respond and express outrage in Canadian Muslims denounce recent attacks, fear backlash.

Matt Gurney challenges the military’s decision in Canadian soldiers don’t hide in their own damn country — rescind the order to not wear uniforms in public.

Barbara Kay covers a different angle in The unique anguish of a terrorist’s mother:

If it is inevitable, why feel guilty about these “bad seeds”? And yet, inevitably, parents do. Our sympathetic embrace for the real victims should therefore be wide enough to include their murderers’ collateral damage.

A great deal of favourable commentary on Parliament yesterday, how each leader struck the right tone, the hugs of support, and the deserved standing ovation for Sergeant-at-Arms Vickers starting with Jeffrey Simpson in Tribute, solidarity and back to politics (with some barbs at the difference between Government rhetoric and funding).

Jonathan Kay noted the contrast between this time and 30 years ago, when the then Sergeant-at-Arms was able to talk armed Denis Lortie into surrendering in Two Sergeants-at-Arms, two kinds of heroism.

Rick Salutin, similarly praises Kevin Vickers, but provocatively, and accurately, rubbishes the idea of Canadian innocence in We didn’t lose our innocence. We never had it.

Andrew Coyne, perceptively noted the nuances in the various positions and how that hopefully portended more serious political dialogue and debate in Politics weren’t put aside during the Ottawa hug-out, they were just made over for the occasion:

For Mr. Harper, it was “to identify and counter threats and keep Canada safe here at home,” as well as “to work with our allies” in the fight against “the terrorist organizations” abroad who hope “to bring their savagery to our shores.” For Mr. Mulcair, it was “our commitment to each other and to a peaceful world.” For Mr. Trudeau, it was “staying true to our values” of “fairness, justice and the rule of law.”

“We will not be intimidated,” Mr. Harper vowed. “That is not going to happen,” Mr. Mulcair seconded. “We will not be intimidated into changing that,” Mr. Trudeau agreed. But they meant very different things.

And the still and video images of the citizens of Ottawa paying their tribute to fallen soldier Nathan Cirillo (as well as the accounts of those who tried to save him in ‘You’re breathing — keep breathing’), as well as to democratic values, were moving.


ICYMI: Why a flag has New Zealand in a flap

Our flag debate was controversial and divisive at the time. While there is still some nostalgia in some quarters for the red ensign and flying the Union Jack, comment by New Zealand Prime Minister Kay on how it is accepted is correct:

Prime Minister John Key, an avowed monarchist (and a buddy of Prime Minister Stephen Harper), wants a new flag. Last month, he pledged a referendum on the matter if he’s re-elected this fall, which is highly likely.

“Back in 1965, Canada changed its flag from one that, like ours, also had the Union Jack in the corner, and replaced it with the striking symbol of modern Canada that all of us recognize and can identify today,” Mr. Key said last month.

“Fifty years on, I can’t imagine many Canadians would, if asked, choose to go back to the old flag. That flag represented Canada as it was once, rather than as it is now.”

Mr. Key is right about that. Many Canadians will recall the “flag debate” in which former prime minister John Diefenbaker led his Progressive Conservatives in a ferocious and protracted parliamentary battle to preserve the Red Ensign. Mr. Diefenbaker was on the wrong side of history (as he often was, despite today’s Conservative attempts to lionize him). Today, almost no one wants to return to the Red Ensign. Apart from hard-core Quebec secessionists, the red Maple Leaf is liked and admired both in Canada and abroad.

We sometimes had discussions with Minister Kenney’s staff on which flags should be on stage for various events. Their general preference was to have the historic flags as well as the current flag.

Why a flag has New Zealand in a flap – The Globe and Mail.

Charte des valeurs: Some Good Opinion Pieces

Starting to blink as the Quebec Minister for Montréal, Jean-François Lisée signals open to compromise. However, what sort of compromise, and how do you compromise fundamental human rights, is another matter. A suivre:

Charte des valeurs: porte ouverte aux compromis | Le Devoir.

And a range of commentary in The Globe, ranging from Jeffrey Simpson on the Charter being a wedge issue, one that seems to be backfiring on the PQ,  and not even working well, Jack Jedwab of the Association for Canadian Studies provides a solid critique, contrasting with Canadian multiculturalism, and Lysiane Gagnon reminds us of the different histories of France and Quebec, and how France is hardly a model to follow. Francine Pelletier in Le Devoir also notes the generational gap on how the Charter and related issues are seen..

The Quebec charter is a wedge issue solely of the mind

No thanks Ms. Marois, I’ll take Canada’s brand of multiculturalism

Could Quebec go further than France?

La Charte de la chicane

Less profound commentary comes from Robert Sibley in The Citizen, who focuses on easier issue of the niqab/burqa, and is silent on the hijab. Not one word. And the issue in the Quebec Charter is more the hijab and other head coverings (kippa, turban etc.), rather than the niqab/burqa.

Targeting one religion without making a distinction between the two is intellectually dishonest at best. There is a wide range within the Muslim Canadian community from the secular to those who wear the hijab, and how they wear the hijab a similar range between extreme versions (no hair showing) to colourful and flirtish versions.

Might Quebec’s “charter of values” serve real Islamic values

Tarek Fatah repeats his call in The Sun for banning the burqa/niqab, citing the reason court decision in the UK that allowed for a woman to wear the niqab during her trial. This was a more permissive ruling than the recent Canadian Supreme Court ruling which set some tests. I am with Fatah on this; when it involves government identification requirements, working in a government office, or implicated in the legal system, accommodation is not appropriate. Walking down the street is one thing, compliance with government and legal requirements and practices is another thing.

West should ban niqab

From census to wireless, a lesson in intransigence – The Globe and Mail

Jeffrey Simpson on the Census. Perhaps the best or worst example of a decision driven by ideology.

From census to wireless, a lesson in intransigence – The Globe and Mail.

Quebec seeks singular identity in a polyglot world – The Globe and Mail

Another commentary on long-standing identity issues in Quebec by Jeffrey Simpson of the Globe. Quote:

There is something deeply French, in the widest sense of the term, in this proposed charter. The approach springs from civil law, Catholic and even Cartesian inspirations: that there are abstract values and universalistic rules to which the complexity of the human experience must be adapted – in contrast to the common-law approach, whereby the law emerges from real-life situations and evolves over time.

Fitting reality to concept, rather than the other way around, has contributed over the past 50 years to the existential debates over Quebec’s identity – debates that have also played out in federal politics with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and vocabulary such as “distinct society” pushed by Quebec politicians.

Quebec seeks singular identity in a polyglot world – The Globe and Mail.

Conservatives in power, but out of step – The Globe and Mail

Conservatives in power, but out of step – The Globe and Mail.