Illegal border-crossers could erode confidence in Canada’s immigration system – and in the Trudeau Liberals: @JohnIbbitson

Ongoing political management issue (real and perceived):

All three national political parties, and a majority of Canadians, support high levels of immigration, and the multicultural matrix through which these new arrivals integrate into the Canadian fabric. All of this could be at risk.

Last year, more than 20,000 people entered Canada from the United States by avoiding regular crossings, where they would have been turned back. If the first four months of 2018 are any indication, the number this year could reach 60,000, which would threaten to overwhelm existing settlement services in Ontario and Quebec.

These are not conventional refugees. Some are migrants who fear being deported from the United States. Some are arriving in the United States on visas, and then heading straight for Canada. This is wrong.

But the Liberal government is playing down a situation that could soon become a crisis.

Unless Ottawa can re-establish control over the border, the public could lose confidence in the government and, far worse, in the immigration system itself.

In recent days, we learned that the Canada Border Services Agency wants to construct temporary housing units for more than 500 irregular crossers.

The Conservatives call the housing “a refugee camp” and blasted the secretiveness of the operation.

“I’m not sure any Canadian would think that this is an acceptable response,” Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel declared, according to The Canadian Press.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale dismissed the refugee-camp label as “misleading,” because “most irregular crossers do not spend long in custody before being released.” This will not reassure people.

Previous waves of new arrivals from the United States originated in Somalia and Haiti. This year, people appear to be arriving in the United States from Nigeria, and then heading for the Canadian border. There are also fears that Hondurans at risk of being deported from the United States might also seek shelter in Canada.

Does the Conservative proposal − that the entire border be declared a point of entry under the Safe Third Country Agreement between Canada and the United Sates − have merit? This would allow officials to apprehend and deport anyone crossing the border, regardless of where they crossed. The Liberals say such a proposal is unworkable and dangerous because migrants would seek riskier crossings to avoid detention. What else could be done? Is it within the law to expedite the claims of border-crossers, reject those claims and return them to the United States, counting on the grapevine to send the message that seeking refuge in Canada is no longer an option?

That sounds cruel, but even crueller is forcing legitimate refugee claimants to languish overseas because the system has been overwhelmed by queue-jumpers.

Cruellest of all would be to close the Canadian border to immigrants and refugees entirely, because the public loses confidence in the ability of government to control the system. Nativist populists have come to power in the United States and Europe for exactly that reason. Canada is not immune to such demagogues.

The goal here is not to keep people from coming to Canada − quite the opposite. Canada’s future depends on bringing in hundreds of thousands of people each year to fill job vacancies, to innovate and invest, to make Canada stronger and wealthier and even more tolerant and diverse.

If we lose that openness, we lose our future. This is what the people crossing into Canada in hopes of gaming the system are putting at risk. Yes, it doesn’t help that the Trump administration appears uninterested in co-operating on border security. But ultimately, this is a Canadian problem and it’s up to the Canadian government to solve it.

It feels as though the Liberal plate is overflowing with difficulties, these days. Despite many months of talks, there is still no renewed North American free-trade agreement. The May 31 deadline for persuading Kinder Morgan not to walk away from the Trans Mountain pipeline project is fast approaching. The refugee-claimant situation at the border is getting worse instead of better. If Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford wins the Ontario election, Canada’s largest province may pull out of the national plan to fight global warming by taxing carbon.

More than anything else, Canadians expect their government to manage the store. If voters become convinced that the Liberals can’t handle the job, they will look for someone who can.

via Illegal border-crossers could erode confidence in Canada’s immigration system – and in the Trudeau Liberals – The Globe and Mail

Asylum seekers and commentary

Given the ongoing and continuing issue, this National Post basics article is helpful in understanding the trends although point 5 (government response) overstates the effectiveness of the government response even if there are no easy solutions:

The number of illegal border crossings is up significantly this year compared with the same period last year, so federal and law enforcement officials have been preparing for possibility of another spike as the weather warms up.

Departmental, RCMP and border officials provided a technical briefing this week on the plans they have developed as a result of lessons learned from pressures and concerns arising from last year’s spike in irregular migrants coming across the Canada-U.S. border.

Here’s what was learned:

1. The numbers are trending upward. Last year, RCMP intercepted a total of 20,493 people who crossed the border illegally. That means they did not present at an official port-of-entry and instead came across the border through unofficial paths to make a refugee claim in Canada. So far this year, 6,373 irregular migrants have arrived in Canada this way. That’s an increase of 128 per cent over the number who arrived in Canada between January and April 2017, which was 2,784.

2. Quebec is the hotspot. Of the 6,373 border crossers that have arrived so far in 2018, the majority — 5,609 — have done so in Quebec. However, about 40 per cent of say they are planning to settle elsewhere in Canada, mainly in Ontario. That’s why Quebec and the federal government are working on a plan to try to encourage asylum seekers away from highly saturated areas like Montreal and Toronto, in the hopes they might instead settle in outlying regions of the two provinces where labour shortages exist and migrants could find more employment opportunities.

3. Housing remains a question mark. Quebec has told the feds it will only open four temporary shelters for refugee claimants this year, with a total of 1,850 spaces. The province says it will not open Olympic Stadium or the nine other temporary shelters it operated last year for migrants because these were spaces not intended for accommodations, such as school gymnasiums. That’s why Ottawa is now working with Quebec and Ontario on processes that could be used to triage asylum seekers from the unofficial entry point in Lacolle to other shelters in those provinces.

4. Countries of origin are shifting. Last year, the majority of irregular migrants who arrived in Canada were Haitian, which is largely attributed to the Trump administration’s decision to lift the temporary protected status for immigrants from Haiti living the U.S. This year, the majority of illegal migrants in Canada are Nigerians with U.S. travel visas. Other countries of origin this year include: Columbia, the United States and Pakistan.

5. Lessons have been learned. After last summer’s unexpected influx caused some major headaches, a national strategic plan has been put in place to respond to any future spikes. It was described by a senior official as “collaborative, flexible, scalable and phased.” It allows for increased resources to be brought into an area quickly, as needed. It is designed to move asylum seekers through the system in a timely manner while also ensuring all of Canada’s rules for refugee claimants are properly followed. That being said, Ottawa continues to try to get the message out that entering Canada between ports of entry is “not a free ticket” into Canada.

Source: What you need to know about the ongoing influx of asylum seekers in Canada 

Good commentary by Ibbitson, highlighting that this is one of the three key political challenges facing the government (the other two being NAFTA and pipelines):

A third challenge is emerging, on the border. Last year, more than 20,000 people crossed from the United States into Canada by avoiding regular crossing points. Thanks to a legal loophole, by committing this illegal act, they stood a better chance of being accepted as refugees than if they showed up at a proper crossing. Mr. Trudeau may have worsened the situation when he tweeted in January, 2017: “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada.” It seemed like an open invitation to those fleeing the deportation efforts of the Trump administration.

If the past three months are any indication, the number of illegal crossers could more than double this year, beyond 40,000, putting the entire immigration and refugee system at risk. We could have more people flooding across the border illegally than arrive legally each year from the Philippines, Canada’s largest source country of immigrants. If the Liberals can’t find a way to stem this flow, voters will punish them.

Source: Trudeau must win three fights, or he could lose to Stephen Harper 2.0  

Australia PM makes the point effectively:

“So we know what works and what doesn’t. Migration programs, a multicultural society, need to have a commitment, an understanding and the trust of the people, that the government, their government, is determining who comes to the country,” he said.

“So being in control of your borders is absolutely critical. I think that is a fundamental foundation of our success as a multicultural society, as a migration nation as people often describe us.

“You have to exert your sovereign right to control your own borders.” 

Source: Border control is key to successful multiculturalism: Malcolm Turnbull 

Articles on racism and discrimination that caught my eye

In terms of articles focussing on racism and discrimination, there was a mix of anecdote-based reports on the presence and impact of visible minorities (Immigration minister says he was target of racial profiling, calls on Liberals to fight racism, ‘We’re not immune’ on the Hill: Sen. Bernard launches Senate debate on anti-Black racism) and evidence (Indigenous, Black children over-represented in foster care and group homes, inquiry says, Experiences of violent victimization and discrimination reported by minority populations in Canada, 2014 – General Social Survey which I look forward to reviewing the data in more detail).

Commentary in favour of the anti-racism consults included Brittany Andrew-Amofah: Keep expectations high for antiracism consultations on the need to ensure meaningful results (some of which Budget 2018 addressed):

The plan to undertake these consultations deserves and requires scrutiny, but not because it may be designed to search for a racism that doesn’t exist (a possibility suggested by Globe and Mail Ottawa bureau chief Robert Fife during a CPAC interview). We should be scrutinizing the consultations to make sure that meaningful outcomes are actually achieved. We should expect to see, just to name a few examples, a ban on police carding on the federal level; targeted funding to fight Islamophobia and other forms of hate; tougher sentences for hate crimes; increased investments in housing, health and social programs; an accelerated plan for safe drinking water on all reserves; and stronger independent police oversight bodies for the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency.

The timing of these consultations is also significant. With a federal election coming in 2019, a tour to study systemic racism could be used as a ploy to engage and garner support from racialized and Indigenous communities, with no intention on acting on the information shared. The Liberals are lucky that much of the research has already been done, but that means we must set high expectations for policy changes following the consultations. If real change does not result, the time spent in consultations will be wasted and another opportunity will be missed.

The contrary argument that greater political power of African Americans is ineffective in improving outcomes is made here (Williams: Black political power means zilch), essentially ignoring the impact that political power had in reducing some institutional barriers and systemic racism:

Jason Riley, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, tells how this surge in political power has had little beneficial impact on the black community.

In a PragerU video, “Blacks in Power Don’t Empower Blacks“, Riley says the conventional wisdom was based on the notion that only black politicians could understand and address the challenges facing blacks. Therefore, electing more black city councilors, mayors, representatives and senators was deemed critical.

…Riley says that the black experience in the U.S. has been very different from that of other racial groups. Blacks were enslaved. After emancipation, they faced legal and extralegal discrimination and oppression. But none of those difficulties undermines the proposition that human capital, in the forms of skills and education, is far more important than political capital.

Riley adds that the formula for prosperity is the same across the human spectrum. Traditional values — such as marriage, stable families, education and hard work — are immeasurably more important than the color of your mayor, police chief, representatives, senators and president.

As Riley argues in his new book — “False Black Power?” — the major barrier to black progress today is not racial discrimination. The challenge for blacks is to better position themselves to take advantage of existing opportunities, and that involves addressing the anti-social, self-defeating behaviors and habits and attitudes endemic to the black underclass.

As always, lots of antisemitism-related news, most notably France (‘Ethnic purging’: French stars and dignitaries condemn antisemitism), and the subsequent response by French Muslims (Accused of new anti-Semitism, French Muslims speak out) and Germany, where Rappers defend lyrics deemed anti-Semitic amid award backlash prompting Daniel Barenboim [to] return German music award in anti-Semitism row with the inevitable (?) result that Germany scraps music prize over antisemitism before ‘kippa march’).  As a show of public support, Germans of all faiths [participate] in ‘wear a kippa march’ against anti-Semitism. 

Some refreshing honesty from the former Anti Defamation League Director Abe Foxman (Former ADL Director: Trump has opened the ‘sewers’ of antisemitism.

John Ibbitson provides a thoughtful examination of the Canadian situation:

“The numbers stayed very high and are even up,” he said in an interview. “They’re not up as dramatically as they were last year, but they are higher than they were last year.”

An even bigger worry: While the lesser offence of harassment was the cause of the increase in 2016, in 2017 “the numbers of both violence and vandalism are up. The vandalism number is up quite significantly. It’s a serious proportional increase.”

But Ira Robinson, director of the Concordia University Institute for Canadian Jewish Studies, isn’t so sure. His book A History of Antisemitism in Canada, which was published in 2015, concluded that anti-Semitic activity in this country had greatly declined in recent decades. He continues to monitor the situation, and believes there has been no significant increase, despite what B’nai Brith says.

“In terms of the type of stuff that I see, it’s very much the same,” he reports. “There is very little new under the sun.”

Twenty-first-century anti-Semitism is in part a by-product of both right-wing and left-wing populism. Both groups detest globalization, which they blame for lost jobs at home. From there, it is only a small, noxious step to conjure a globalist Jewish conspiracy.

“The negative impacts of globalization are often laid at the feet of Jews and this global Zionist conspiracy,” said Barbara Perry, a sociologist at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology who specializes in hate crimes. “… It’s scarily similar from the left and the right, in that respect.”

Unfortunately, some Muslims harbour anti-Jewish thoughts, an import from their home countries. More often, though, Muslims and Jewish people are equally victims of racial hatred.

There is even an anti-Semitic variant that claims “Jewish privilege” contributes to systemic racism − though there is evidence that anonymous propaganda to that effect comes from the right, disguised as being from the left.

Anti-Semitism sometimes wears the mantle of anti-Zionism. But while criticism of the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians is entirely legitimate, the hate-filled rants that often accompany the BDS (boycott, divestment, sanction) movement, which depicts Israel as an apartheid state, are anti-Semitism cloaked in righteousness.

Too often, tensions between Israelis and Palestinians in the Middle East produce anti-Zionist screeds in Canada that can result in attacks on Jewish people. “Local, national and global effects come into play,” Prof. Perry observed.

If the rise of populism coincides with, and might contribute to, rising anti-Semitism, then the absence of a populist wave in Canada is encouraging. But this country is not immune from such waves. Mayor Rob Ford in Toronto begat Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford, his brother, who could well become a populist premier − although I am not suggesting in any way that Mr. Ford harbours racist sentiments of any kind.

But anti-Semitism can just as easily be found on university campuses as at right-wing rallies. It is present on the fringes of social democracy as well as conservatism. Elizabeth May has struggled to expunge it from the Green Party.

These are not harmonious times. Hatred of Jewish people is on the rise. It may be on the rise in Canada as well.

Vigilance.

Source: John Ibbitson: Could anti-Semitism be on the rise in Canada

Lastly,  J.K. Rowling Gave A Master Class In Identifying Anti-Semitism And It Was Magical:

“Most UK Jews in my timeline are currently having to field this kind of crap, so perhaps some of us non-Jews should start shouldering the burden,” she said. “Antisemites think this is a clever argument, so tell us, do: were atheist Jews exempted from wearing the yellow star? #antisemitism.”

Rowling’s head-smacking was almost audible as she sorted through responses to that tweet, including one that said arguing against anti-Semitism was “culturally insensitive” to Muslims.

“When you only understand bigotry in terms of ‘pick a team’ and get a mind-boggling response,” she said.

She also reacted with impatience — attaching a GIF of an exasperated Hugh Laurie — when someone argued that Arabs can’t be anti-Semitic because they are Semites. “The ‘Arabs are semitic too’ hot takes have arrived,” she said.

Split hairs. Debate etymology,” she said in a tweet attached to a definition of anti-Semitism as “hostility to or prejudice against Jews.” “Gloss over the abuse of your fellow citizens by attacking the actions of another country’s government. Would your response to any other form of racism or bigotry be to squirm, deflect or justify?”

ICYMI: Federal government to launch Canada-wide consultations on systemic racism

Needed and appropriate follow-up to M-103 report broad emphasis on racism and discrimination across all groups and Budget 2018 funding for multiculturalism and measures targeted issues related to Black Canadians.

But will be difficult to manage and I don’t envy the public servants tasked with devising the consultations strategy and approach. I remember the Bouchard Taylor hearings about 10 years ago, and the recent town hall that MP Iqra Khalid held, that was far from being a respectful conversation:

Ottawa is set to launch pan-Canadian consultations on racism, a topic that has stirred controversy and divisions across the country in recent months.

The exact form and nature of the consultations is still being developed in the Department of Canadian Heritage and has yet to be unveiled to the public. Still, the government said it wants to create a new strategy to counter “systemic racism” and religious discrimination.

As the format for the new round of consultations is being debated, some federal officials are worried the forum could lead to acrimonious debates similar to last year’s controversy over a motion (M-103) to condemn Islamophobia across Canada. The motion, which did not affect existing legislation, was nonetheless roundly criticized in right-wing circles and conservative media as preventing any legitimate criticism of Islam.

Similar consultations have proven controversial in Quebec, where the government scrapped planned consultations on “systemic racism” last year over an outcry among media commentators and talk-show hosts. Instead, the Quebec government rebranded the mandate of the exercise to “valuing diversity and fighting against discrimination.”

According to last month’s federal budget, the coming “cross-country consultations on a new national anti-racism approach” will be funded out of a new $23-million envelope that is geared toward new multiculturalism programs.

“Diversity is one of our greatest strengths and has contributed significantly to our country. We recognize the need to counter all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination and we are taking action to address the ongoing challenges and discrimination that still exist in our society,” said Simon Ross, a spokesman for Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly.

“We will also be consulting with Canadians to develop a national strategy to combat racism in Canada, and we look forward to speaking with experts, community organizations, citizens and interfaith leaders to find new ways to collaborate and combat discrimination as we develop this strategy,” he said.

The new round of consultations will enact a key recommendation made earlier this year by the Heritage committee of the House, which called on the government to engage in consultations as part of efforts to create Canada’s Action Plan Against Racism.

According to the Heritage committee’s report, an action plan against racism would ensure that the government would consider the impact of all policies on visible minorities, similar to existing gender-based analysis.

“Systemic racism occurs when government actions fail to address the needs of certain racialized groups within the population, resulting in unfair, discriminatory practices and outcomes. To expose and prevent systemic racism, a number of witnesses suggested the development of a race equity lens as a key element of a national action plan,” the report said.

Jasmin Zine, a professor of sociology and Muslim studies at Wilfrid Laurier University, said the government should learn lessons from the debate over M-103 that was “hijacked” by concerns over the definition of Islamophobia.

“They have to be handled better than the initial parliamentary hearings were,” she said in an interview. “In the best-case scenario, the consultations could be a way to recuperate what was lost in the committee process. In the worst-case scenario, it will only reproduce the divisions and the political divides that were derailing this process from the beginning.”

She added the government cannot ignore Islamophobia as part of its study of racism and must not be afraid of confronting the root causes of racism.

“We can’t just wrap things up in nice, liberal, Kumbaya sentiments. We have to look at the issues that are critical for marginalized communities, such as questions of social inequality, power, privilege and the way racism is embedded in all institutions and levels of society,” Ms. Zine said.

Tensions are running high among federal politicians over the issue of racism, with Conservative MP Maxime Bernier accusing the government of exploiting the debate to win support in various communities.

“I thought the ultimate goal of fighting discrimination was to create a colour-blind society where everyone is treated the same,” Mr. Bernier said on Twitter earlier this month.

Liberal MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes shot back that research has shown that pretending not to see someone’s skin colour “contributes to racism.”

“Please check your privilege and be quiet,” she responded to Mr. Bernier on Twitter, before apologizing for her language.

The Conservative Party said in a statement that the coming consultations on racism need to be established in a way that unites Canadians.

“We hope that consultations on a subject as sensitive as this one will be conducted in an orderly fashion. It is now up to the government to ensure that they are well structured and constructive,” Conservative spokeswoman Virginie Bonneau said.

via Federal government to launch Canada-wide consultations on systemic racism – The Globe and Mail

John Ibbitson on the political risks:

With its message of hope transmuting dangerously into hectoring, the Trudeau government needs to be wary about the upcoming national consultations on racism. The exercise could further damage an already-weakened Liberal brand.

Justin Trudeau won the 2015 election on a promise of transformative change after a decade of Conservative inaction. The new government pledged to tackle climate change, forge a more respectful relationship with Indigenous Canadians and rescue refugees in peril.

Two-and-a-half years later, the national carbon tax, which is the chief strategy to combat global warming, is in peril from provincial conservatives in Ontario and Alberta who vow to scrap it if they come to power.

The inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women is behind schedule and beset with inner turmoil, even as Indigenous protesters and environmentalists vow to prevent the Trans Mountain pipeline from ever being built.

And instead of feeling good about rescuing refugees, we’re told we should feel guilty because so we’re so racist.

Ottawa committed $23-million in the last budget to new multiculturalism programs, including funding that will go to a national consultation on “systemic racism” and religious discrimination. The goal will be to develop a “national strategy to combat racism in Canada.”

This comes in the wake of Motion 103, the non-binding resolution that asserted “the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear,” and to “condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination.”

Conservatives complained the resolution would prohibit any form of criticism of Islam. It would not. More problematic, though, is the notion of an “increasing public climate of hate and fear.” Who says? There is compelling evidence that Canada, with its wide-open immigration policy, is the most tolerant country on earth.

Nonetheless, a committee crisscrossing the country in search of intolerance is bound to find it, and to publicize that finding. This is of a piece with this government’s fondness for making people feel bad about themselves.

You may be proud of your home and your community, but you’re living on unceded Indigenous land, as Liberal cabinet ministers insist almost everywhere they go.

You may consider yourself environmentally responsible, but that SUV you drive is an abomination, which is the whole reason behind the carbon tax.

You may consider yourself free of prejudice, but apparently this country suffers from systemic racism and Islamophobia, which is why we need a task force.

As conservative commentators and politicians are certain to point out, the worst example of religious discrimination under way right now might come from the Liberal government itself. Employment and Social Development Canada has cancelled funding for a summer-jobs program to churches and other religious organizations because they refuse to affirm on the application form that they respect “reproductive rights and the right to be free of discrimination” on the basis of, among other things, “sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.”

There are people of faith of all religions who oppose abortion and who do not condone same-sex acts. On that basis, faith-based organizations have been denied funding, even though the students they would hire would be serving as camp counselors and the like, and would not be asked to proselytize.

This writer can think of another government that believed it was morally superior to the people it served. Bob Rae’s Ontario NDP claimed affirmative action was needed to counter sexism; photo radar was needed because people drove too fast; an anti-racism secretariat was needed because of racial prejudice. Voters did not take this well.

If your government accuses you of being a bad person, you are unlikely to become a better person. You are more likely to change the government.

The Liberals’ sudden and dramatic decline in popularity is entirely reversible. Governing parties often slump mid-mandate, then rebound when earlier investments start to pay off. By this time next year, Mr. Trudeau could be back on top and looking forward to the fall election campaign.

But if the Grits really do want to get back in the voters’ good graces, they need to stop lecturing so much. We’re not as bad as they say we are, and they’re not as enlightened as they think they are.

This new consultation on systemic racism should keep a low profile. ​

Liberal investigation into systemic racism should keep a low profile

And appropriate caution regarding the government’s ability to manage these consultations given both its consultation record and the sensitive and uncomfortable nature of the subject. That being said, while yes it makes sense for the government to focus on issues and entities under its jurisdiction, there is place for a broader conversation regarding systemic racism and barriers across all levels of government and institutions in Canada:

Canada’s self-image is of an open, inclusive society – one of the planet’s most welcoming places.

And in relative terms, that’s mostly true. Ours is an unusually successful national story. But step back a few paces and the picture begins to look ever so slightly askew.

It’s time to face an uncomfortable fact: We have complex societal systems and, yes, they too often discriminate against people on the basis of skin colour, religion or national origin. It is not a collective moral failure to admit that systemic racism exists in Canada – that is, historically entrenched discrimination in the rules, policies and practices governing institutions. It is an acknowledgment of reality.

Anyone who claims otherwise or takes umbrage at the descriptor is invited to speak to an Indigenous Canadian. Or to any of the thousands of black Canadians who have been forced to submit to police carding. Or to an unemployed Muslim woman. The list could go on.

While we are a country of immigrants – Canada has the world’s highest per capita immigration rate; the 2016 census revealed 21.9 per cent of us were born elsewhere – our immigrants tend not to earn as good a living as the native-born.

According to Statistics Canada, new Canadians, who are also often visible minorities, are more than twice as likely to be jobless, and those who do find work earn 16 per cent less, on average, than so-called “old stock” Canadians.

The immigration income gap is real and the numbers indicate it is growing, even for second-generation Canadians. It’s not because Canada admits people with low education levels or insufficient skills – quite the opposite. We choose the best of the best, and then have them drive cabs.

Institutional barriers are part of the problem, the most obvious being a persistent unwillingness to recognize foreign qualifications.

But prejudice is also a factor. A 2011 study by University of Toronto economist Philip Oreopoulos found that fictitious resumes featuring foreign-sounding names or work experience were three times more likely to be tossed aside by would-be employers. The most-cited reason for doing so was concern over language skills, which other research has identified as a proxy for discrimination.

So what to do? For a start, our governments could stand to listen more closely to marginalized voices. As it happens, Ottawa is in the midst of planning a national public consultation on racism and religious discrimination. We hope the effort produces some benefit. But recent precedent gives us ample cause to fear it won’t.

The Trudeau Liberals took a worthy idea in the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women inquiry, made a hash of it and likely set it up to fail. It didn’t put enough care into the planning, hoping instead that the symbolic value of the inquiry would alone be enough to see it through.

This government is also insufficiently wary of the dangers of identity politics, as evidenced by the culture war it started after it denied summer-job grants to religious groups that are overtly anti-abortion or don’t support gay marriage.

Plus, it can be a challenge to keep any examination of racism from going off the rails. The Quebec government proposed a similar public discussion after six Muslims were shot dead in a Quebec City mosque last year. That quickly devolved into a partisan bun-fight over nomenclature – you’re painting everyone as racist! – and was subsequently watered down into empty banter about “valuing diversity.”

Ottawa can only avoid those pitfalls by focusing on itself – on institutions like the Canadian Armed Forces, the civil service and the RCMP, and on federal policies and programs.

It must not involve itself in provincial and local issues (such as municipal policing practices), or engage in sweeping conclusions about Canadian society at large. The terms of reference must be perfectly clear and appropriately narrow.

It’s critical to not get this wrong. Ottawa should examine the negative consequences of its policies on racial and religious minorities. All governments should.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, whose city is attempting to reckon with its racist history, said recently, “Here is what I have learned about race: You can’t go over it. You can’t go under it. You can’t go around it. You have to go through it.”

If Ottawa does that intelligently and constructively, Canada might become a better country for it. But we have real doubts about the Trudeau government’s ability to lead such an effort without making a hash of it.

Source: Globe editorial: The problem with Ottawa’s plan to consult the public on racism? Ottawa itself

What’s driving populism? It isn’t the economy, stupid – Bricker and Ibbitson

Bricker and Ibbitson further develop their 2013 thesis in The Big Shift: The Seismic Change In Canadian Politics, Business, And Culture And What It Means For Our Future in which they argued that there was a permanent shift towards more conservative politics, particularly among immigrant groups. Two years later, the 2015 election largely proved them wrong, as immigrant-rich ridings largely shifted to the Liberals.

Even so, they still maintain Conservatives have an advantage over progressives.

However, while their diagnostic relies overly on Putman and Kaufman, along with US and European examples, and less on understanding the significant differences with Canada (see Michael Adams, Could It Happen Here?: Canada in the Age of Trump and Brexit), their key policy prescriptions – need for respect for immigration-related concerns, downplay grand theories about immigration advantages (Barton Commission and Century Initiative to note) – are sound.

The current Ontario PC leadership convention and subsequent June election will provide an early test in Canada’s largest and most diverse province:

…So what is a better approach than simply dismissing the cultural insecurities of voters? First, leaders in politics and journalism and the academy and other fields need to respect where people are coming from – even when they profoundly disagree with where people are coming from.

“If people have concerns, and their concerns are being expressed in anti-immigration sentiment, then you’ve got to ask: Are these people just straight-out opposed to immigrants or do they have something else they’re fearful of or concerned about?” Prof. Loewen said. “And you’ve got to speak to those concerns in an even-handed and honest fashion.”

Second, play down the grand theories about the advantages of immigration, globalization and economic diversification. It’ll all be labelled fake news. And do not appeal to people’s compassion. There is little of it about. Instead, show – don’t tell, show – how immigration is making things better on your street, in your neighbourhood. Make it positive and make it personal. Micromessage.

In these conversations, conservatives have one advantage over progressives. Conservatives share the same attitude toward economic issues as most middle-class immigrants from places such as the Philippines, India and China, Canada’s three top source countries.

Conservatives and many immigrants favour business over government, the private sector over the public sector. They want fewer regulations and less bureaucracy, more freedom and greater personal responsibility, including responsibility for protecting the family and community.

Stephen Harper’s decade-long tenure as a Conservative prime minister depended in part on his party’s ability to coalesce immigrant voters in suburban ridings in greater Toronto and Vancouver with traditional rural and Prairie conservatives.

Not only can that coalition be politically advantageous, it creates a space where people who might be tempted to embrace nativist sentiments can find themselves talking and agreeing with like-minded new arrivals. For social cohesion, such conversations are precious.

Some would say the best way to address concerns over immigration would be to scale back the number of people coming in, especially from countries whose cultures are far removed from Canada’s Christian, European settler heritage. We can’t endorse that view. We know how important immigration is to smoothing the curve of an aging society with low fertility rates. And personally, we adore the multicultural ferment of our big cities.

But we must understand and accept that cultural insecurity affects millions of our fellow citizens. We must address those concerns by celebrating the best of what they cherish and by showing how immigrants cherish the same things – perhaps even more than some of the more progressive of their fellow citizens.

We need to remind ourselves that we are all in this together, old stock as well as new, and we all need to listen to each other with respect.

Otherwise, the next Donald Trump, the next noxious referendum, the next wall of exclusion await us all.

via What’s driving populism? It isn’t the economy, stupid – The Globe and Mail

Canada stays civil amidst the polarization of American media: John Ibbitson

Good piece by Ibbitson:

CNN has a new commercial that features a picture of an apple. “Some people might try to tell you it’s a banana,” says the narrator. They might even scream that it’s a banana. “They might put BANANA in all caps. … But it’s not. This is an apple.”

The ad was, of course, immediately attacked by right-wing columnists. “Trump Derangement Syndrome has struck CNN and is taking a terrible toll,” wrote Thomas Lifson at American Thinker.

The American media have become so deeply polarized that each side has now lost any ability to listen to the other. Each accuses the other of committing fake news – stories based on false facts that are intended to deceive. But the deeper problem resides in columns and editorials and blogs and tweets that take implacable stands, distorting facts and belittling opponents, ignoring or disrespecting other points of view.

On Thursday, on the RealClearPolitics aggregator website, you could find headlines such as “The Bone Spur Bozo in the White House,” and “Does the Dems Dossier Trick Count as Treason?”

So why aren’t Canadians screaming at each other the way the Americans are?

One answer is that “we don’t have Donald Trump as prime minister,” observes Janni Aragon, who teaches political science at the University of Victoria. The President personifies the anger embedded within American discourse. But Prof. Aragon adds that the differences in media reflect differences in the political cultures of the two countries.

America, she says, is a land divided. In Canada, “divisiveness is not as strong.”

There isn’t a single political leader in Canada whose platform mirrors the nativist, anti-immigrant, authoritarian strains that we see in President Trump and his supporters. Nor, with a few minor, on-the-fringe exceptions (We’re talking about you, The Rebel), do Canadian media cater to racist phobias.

Why not? There could be several reasons.

Since the first Loyalist settlers arrived in the late 1700s, Canadian political culture has been tinged with what has been called a “tory touch,” an upper-class British tradition that stresses collective obligations over individual liberties. This sense of noblesse oblige underlies many of the value assumptions of the mainstream media.

Our small and scattered population also contributes, says Kirk Lapointe, who held a variety of positions in Canadian media (he was once my boss), and who teaches journalism at the University of British Columbia. There are so many Americans, he points out, that fringe publications can profitably publish, giving extremists a voice. But Canadian publications must cater to more moderate views in order to win a large enough audience to make a profit.

Mr. Lapointe hosts a Vancouver radio talk show. In his experience, extremists don’t attract listeners. “I see a fair amount of revulsion when someone like that tries to grab the microphone,” he said in an interview.

Canada’s large immigrant population is also a steadying influence. With four in 10 Canadians either an immigrant or the son or daughter of an immigrant, nativist voices have little hope of dominating the print, broadcast or digital conversation.

Pollster Michael Adams has published a book, Could It Happen Here? that compares Canadian and American political and social values in the age of Trudeau and Trump. To cite just one powerful statistic: According to one poll, 50 per cent of Americans believe that “the father of the family must be the master in his own house.” In Canada, the figure is 23 per cent.

To explain these differences, Mr. Adams refers to a chronic streak of paranoia that has long run through American politics, and Horatio Alger-like belief that anyone can make it to the top – so if you don’t, the system must be conspiring against you. He also cited the baleful influence of evangelical religion, gerrymandered Congressional districts and increasing income insecurity.

“In this paranoid atmosphere, people feel entitled not only to their own opinions but also to their own facts,” he believes. “And now, in the age of the internet, each is his own publisher and editor locked inside an ideological bubble with fellow travellers.”

This paranoid polarization infects the right more than the left in American politics. There is no progressive equivalent to Rush Limbaugh or Breitbart News. But the left is not immune to intolerance.

At the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) last week, a small group of protesters self-identifying as antifascists interrupted a forum on, of all things, how best to challenge hate speech. “No Trump, no KKK, no Fascist U.S.A.” they yelled, shutting down a question-and-answer session that resumed later in another room.

The discourse in Canadian politics and journalism is far from perfect. Indigenous Canadians, especially, do not see their values and priorities reflected in either Canada’s political culture or its media. Newsrooms are far less diverse than the communities they cover.

And Prof. Aragon warns of the tendency of American cultural influences to “trickle up” across the border. Polarized American media risk polarizing Canadian media through the sheer power of proximity.

Nonetheless, as President Trump sends out one angry tweet after another, Canadians retain deeper wells of moderation and goodwill than their American cousins.

In this country, just about everyone seems to agree that an apple is not a banana.

Source: Canada stays civil amidst the polarization of American media – The Globe and Mail

The fascists are mobilizing in Donald Trump’s name: John Ibbitson

Appropriately strong column by Ibbitson:

Not all the people who support Donald Trump are Nazis, white supremacists or more mundane racists. Some genuinely believe that the institutions of the republic have become so corrupt that only a wholesale, populist cleansing will redeem the American promise.

But for whatever reason they support him, Mr. Trump’s followers are enabling a President who stokes race hatred, who will not condemn Nazis and other fascists, whose words and deeds are leading white supremacists to kill on a street in New York, on a subway car in Portland and now during a melee in Charlottesville.

We can empathize with people cast adrift by the economic storms of globalization and the digital revolution; we can understand, though never condone, their resentment over the fact that a minority of children born in the United States today are white, that the evolution of the American myth embraces a racial and sexual diversity that they can’t comprehend.

But empathy has limits. The fascists are mobilizing in Donald Trump’s name. They may be few in number, but a larger, still-silent minority may come to approve their message, if not their methods or regalia. Unless this President’s malignant poisoning of the body politic is contained, there will be more riots, more confrontations, more deaths. Unless he is contained, future historians may see Charlottesville as an overture to something even uglier and deeper and more dangerous.

Donald Trump exhausts us. He tries to tear down the social safety net. He seeks to wreck the global trading system. He attacks a free press. He threatens war against other weak, dangerous men. And he does it all at once, day after day. His assaults on democracy and civility are so multifaceted – and his term has barely begun! – that it’s tempting to turn away, to hold your family tighter and just try to carry on.

But those who believe in democracy, in a free press, in racial harmony, in peace, have to fight back. What’s so frustrating for Canadians is that there is little we can do on this side of the border, except watch in horror and pray.

Source: The fascists are mobilizing in Donald Trump’s name – The Globe and Mail

Khadr is to Trudeau what the census was to Harper: John Ibbitson

Interesting parallel and difference. Note Ibbitson’s point on the census cancellation decision:

Fast forward to this summer. When news broke that the federal government had settled Omar Khadr’s lawsuit for $10.5-million and an apology, critics angrily alleged the government had turned a confessed terrorist into a millionaire. Caught off guard, the Liberals kept changing their story. Previous governments had violated Mr. Khadr’s Charter rights and this government was simply doing right by him, Justin Trudeau maintained. When that didn’t fly, the Prime Minister insisted that the government was saving the taxpayers money by settling for a smaller amount now, instead of a larger amount later. People aren’t buying that one, either. Seven in 10 oppose the settlement, according to an Angus Reid poll.

When the census story broke in 2010, the Liberals painted Mr. Harper as a philistine prepared to destroy knowledge for the sake of a blinkered ideology. Similarly, the Conservatives are using the Khadr settlement to paint Mr. Trudeau as not only soft on terrorists, but willing to pander to one. The census charge stuck to Mr. Harper, and the Khadr charge will likely stick to Mr. Trudeau.

There is, however, one crucial difference between the census scandal and the Khadr affair. In the former case, Stephen Harper was entirely in the wrong. Although he refused to admit it, he cancelled the census to starve the government of data that could be used to justify programs that Conservatives oppose. It truly was an act of political vandalism. But Mr. Trudeau can make a much better case for his actions.

You don’t have to believe, as some do, that Omar Khadr was an innocent child who suffered terribly in Guantanamo for a crime he never committed, and whose confession was forced from him in a travesty of justice. You can instead believe that Mr. Khadr is a piece of work. It doesn’t matter. The Supreme Court ruled that his Charter rights were violated. He was going to win the lawsuit. The Liberals were simply bowing to the inevitable.

The Conservatives believe that doesn’t matter, that the government should have battled to the end and paid what the court ordered grudgingly and without an apology. Reasonable people can disagree on this point. There was no reasonable case for cancelling the census.

Still, the Liberals are going to wear this. There is nothing for Mr. Trudeau to do now but what Mr. Harper did in 2010: hunker down and wait for the agenda to move on.

If Stephen Harper could survive the census, surely Justin Trudeau can survive the Khadr affair.

Source: Khadr is to Trudeau what the census was to Harper – The Globe and Mail

Immigration, intolerance and the ‘populist paradox’: Ibbitson on Banting

Good summary of Keith Banting’s talk at the recent Conference Board of Canada’s Immigration Summit (and his earlier talk on the Hill), although with more of a pessimistic spin than Banting:

We may think most Canadians support the federal government’s wide-open immigration policy, which has made Canada a beacon of tolerance in this increasingly intolerant world, but the reality is more worrying.

Support for immigration in Canada is soft and vulnerable. Governments must act to strengthen it, if this country is to avoid the polarization and conflict afflicting the United States and much of Europe.

These are the findings of Keith Banting, who researches public policy at Queen’s University. Prof. Banting and I each gave a talk on immigration policy at a recent gathering sponsored by the Conference Board of Canada. This column is based on his remarks, which were much more interesting than mine.

Six out of 10 Canadians support the federal government’s target of accepting 300,000 immigrants a year, the highest intake per capita of any country in the developed world, according to a 2016 Environics poll. But four in 10 do not, and almost six in 10 believe that “too many immigrants do not adopt Canadian values.” Support for both immigration and multiculturalism – which welcomes diverse cultures within the Canadian mosaic – is far from universal.

Canadians, Prof. Banting believes, are every bit as susceptible as Americans or Britons or Poles to a lethal combination of economic insecurity and cultural anxiety. Many of us fear we may lose our job to a machine or to a foreigner in an overseas factory, even as the 1 per cent accrue more and more of the common wealth.

And some descendants of Canada’s settler culture fear that their Christian, European heritage is being overwhelmed by new arrivals from developing countries.

Meanwhile, a string of terrorist attacks in Europe and elsewhere contributes to the fear that some newcomers or their descendants seek to do us harm.

Drawing on attitudinal research by former graduate students and the Queen’s University Multicultural Policy Index (http://www.queensu.ca/mcp), Prof. Banting paints a much more ambiguous picture of support for multiculturalism in Canada.

“The population could roughly be divided three ways,” he argues. “One third of Canadians really don’t support multiculturalism. One third are enthusiastic multiculturalists. And one third are what you could call ‘soft multiculturalists’: They support the current policies, but with reservations. And that support could change.”

Canadians living outside Quebec roughly correspond with Americans when asked whether they support such policies as allowing religious headgear for police officers and members of the military (about six in 10 oppose), requiring employers to make a special effort to hire minorities and immigrants (about four in 10 oppose), being allowed to wear a hijab (the Muslim head scarf) while walking down the street (about two in 10 oppose) and other markers of multicultural tolerance.

In responding to many of the questions, people in Quebec showed less multicultural tolerance than either Americans or Canadians outside Quebec.

Could such ambiguous support for multiculturalism lead to the creation of a populist, nationalist, anti-immigrant political party in Canada? Not immediately, Prof. Banting believes. For one thing, most Canadians who confess to economic insecurity do not blame immigrants for that insecurity. Eight Canadians in 10 agree with the statement: “The economic impact of immigrants is positive.”

As well, Prof. Banting refers to what has been called the “populist paradox.” There are so many immigrants and children of immigrants in Canada – 20 per cent of our population was not born in this country – that no political party can win government without their support.

These two factors make the rise of someone like a Donald Trump or a Marine Le Pen – the nativist French leader who came second in that country’s recent presidential election – less likely in Canada.

But the undercurrents of dissatisfaction are real. Canadian governments must repeatedly and convincingly demonstrate the importance of immigration to economic growth in this country. And they must confront the causes of income inequality and the fears fuelled by it.

Conservatives and progressives will address those priorities in different ways. But they must always keep them front and centre. Canada’s future depends on it.

Source: Immigration, intolerance and the ‘populist paradox’ – The Globe and Mail

Trump may praise Canada’s immigration model, but he would never adopt it: Ibbitson

Good analysis by John Ibbitson:

Although Donald Trump praised Canada’s immigration system in his speech to Congress on Tuesday night, he does not understand that system. To emulate the Canadian model, Mr. Trump would have to transform not only U.S. immigration, but his own thinking.

“Nations around the world – like Canada, Australia and many others – have a merit-based immigration system,” Mr. Trump observed in his address. “It is a basic principle that those seeking to enter a country ought to be able to support themselves financially.”

This is correct, as far as it goes, which is not very far. Yes, this country employs a points system that recruits immigrants based on their ability to integrate into the Canadian economy.

But if Mr. Trump truly wished to adapt the Canadian immigration ethos, he would have to embrace concepts he currently rejects. First and foremost, he would have to fling open the doors.

The United States brings in about one million legal permanent residents each year, about a third of one per cent of its population. Canada will bring in 300,000 immigrants this year, just under nine-tenths of one per cent of this country’s population. So to make the U.S. immigration system more Canadian, Congress and the Trump administration would need to almost triple the current annual intake, to around 2.8 million new arrivals a year.

That increased intake, if the Canadian way became the American way, would include 280,000 refugees. While most immigrants to Canada are either economic class or family class, about 10 per cent are refugees, brought in on humanitarian grounds. The United States typically brings in about 70,000 refugees a year, a quarter of the Canadian equivalent, and Mr. Trump wants to ban refugees entirely. That’s really not very Canadian of him.

The President believes immigrants should be self-supporting, and indeed they should. But the most successful immigrants to Canada often do not have the professional degrees or fat bank accounts Mr. Trump no doubt has in mind. As my colleague David Parkinson reported, Canada seeks immigrants not only for the professions and knowledge industries, but in the skilled trades and other blue-collar sectors.

Those sorts of jobs in the United States are often filled by illegal Latino workers. To emulate the Canadian system, the United States would have to convert the stream of illegal immigrants from Mexico into a legal stream. Mr. Trump is trying, instead, to choke off the flow altogether.

The President would have to welcome Muslim immigrants. The Canadian system is blind to ethnicity or religion. Muslims are as welcome as any others, provided they meet the criteria. Mr. Trump, in contrast, wants to ban the citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States in any circumstances.

Most important of all, Mr. Trump would have to embrace multiculturalism: the celebration of diversity within a united society. Such a concept would be alien to the President and his supporters.

Immigration is the key to prosperity and growth for any advanced country. Both the United States and Canada have a fertility rate below the replacement rate of 2.1 children per mother. (The United States is at 1.9 and Canada is at 1.6.) Efforts to increase fertility rates in Europe and in Quebec have mostly failed. (You cannot bribe a couple to have a child; it is insulting even to try.) Immigrants are the best – indeed, the only – way to keep an economy filled with young workers paying the taxes needed to sustain the growing ranks of the retired.

But Mr. Trump, however much he might praise the Canadian model, will never adopt it. That sort of openness to the world just is not in his nature.

Source: Trump may praise Canada’s immigration model, but he would never adopt it – The Globe and Mail