Looming season of immigration politics puts Liberals, Tories on edge

Good analysis by Campbell Clark (I think there is reason for the concerns within both parties):

Conservative Kellie Leitch is proposing a values test for immigrants. Liberal Immigration Minister John McCallum says he wants a substantial increase in the number of immigrants coming to Canada, including temporary foreign workers.

It looks like a season of immigration politics is coming. And it is making these politicians’ own parties, Liberals and Conservatives, nervous.

Some Conservatives worry that Ms. Leitch might undo years of party work to appeal to immigrants and minorities. But some Liberals think it might be foolish to assume Canada is immune to the resentments that fuelled Donald Trump’s campaign and Britons’ vote for Brexit: They fear greatly expanding immigration now is risky politics.

Look at Ms. Leitch: Her proposal to screen immigrants for “anti-Canadian values” has taken its roughest criticism from Conservatives. Interim leader Rona Ambrose panned it, every declared leadership aspirant except for Tony Clement has knocked it and Stephen Harper’s former policy director, Rachel Curran, called it “Orwellian.”

This, after all, is the kind of identity politics the Conservatives played with in the 2015 election campaign, when the “barbaric cultural practices” tip line announced by Ms. Leitch was a vote-loser.

There is fear that playing hot-button politics with immigrant screening threatens the gains Conservatives made under Mr. Harper, when former cabinet minister Jason Kenney led work to build support among immigrants and ethnic minorities. That was a winning formula: 40 per cent of Canadians are first- or second-generation Canadians, so if you can’t earn their votes, you can’t win enough ridings to take office.

For the most part, the Liberals have let Conservatives fight over Ms. Leitch. But Arif Virani, the parliamentary secretary to Mr. McCallum, the Immigration Minister, said he didn’t buy Ms. Leitch’s argument that her proposal aims to promote tolerance. “It’s valid to be concerned about your nation. It’s valid to be concerned about gender equality,” Mr. Virani said. “I think it’s a bit ironic to describe screening people’s views and thoughts as promoting tolerance.”

And though he acknowledged that many Conservatives have opposed Ms. Leitch’s proposal, he argued it still suggests a political divide: “I do think there’s a big difference between the most recent inclination of the Conservative Party and what the Liberal government is doing now,” he said.

Not all Liberals are sanguine about their government’s immigration plans, however.

Canadians have generally approved of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s high-profile initiative to bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees. But the Liberals have not only raised overall immigration targets, from 279,000 in 2015 to 300,000 this year; Mr. McCallum is talking about a big increase for the future – as well as increasing the number of temporary foreign workers.

If you think that’s traditional Liberal practice, it’s not. Former prime minister Jean Chrétien promised to expand immigration, to 1 per cent of the population, in 1993 – but when he took office in a postrecession economy, he actually cut it for years. It’s not the party in power, but the health of the economy, that has influenced immigration.

But Mr. McCallum is proposing something different – a major increase in a soft economy.

Some Liberal MPs worry it’s not wise. It’s not that they feel likely to be outflanked by proposals such as Ms. Leitch’s. It’s the bigger part of that Trump-Brexit brew: In an uneasy economy, they have economically anxious constituents who worry newcomers might take their jobs. Expanding immigration now, especially bringing in more temporary foreign workers, could be walking into a political storm.

Polls, including one conducted for the government in February, don’t suggest much support for expanding immigration. But Mr. Virani, who is taking part in public consultations, thinks it’s there – in particular when immigration is linked to economic growth strategy. “There’s an appetite for growth, and an appetite for immigration that’s geared toward growth,” he said. But in these times, that’s a political gamble.

Ms. Leitch has made some Conservatives worry they’ll be tarred with a nativist label. But immigration politics worries Liberals, too, who are nervous that embracing a big expansion means misreading the public mood.

Source: Looming season of immigration politics puts Liberals, Tories on edge – The Globe and Mail

Liberal appeal for expat donations offends those still barred from voting

Not the brightest move given the inevitable backlash from some. For my analysis of expatriate voting, see my earlier What should expatriates’ voting rights be? – Policy Options:

An appeal by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Canadians living abroad for donations to the Liberal party has struck a sour note with disenfranchised long-term expats.

The cash solicitation on Trudeau’s Facebook page calls on Canadians living abroad to be part of “Canada’s most open and progressive movement,” and says under a picture of the prime minister that “your donations help fuel our party.”

Various comments reflect the displeasure of those unable to vote in federal elections because of a law — only enforced by the previous Conservative government under Stephen Harper — that strips voting rights from those who have lived outside Canada for more than five years.

“Asking for my donation after removing my right to vote is just offensive,” wrote Ian Doig, who lives in Houston.

Another commenter, Angus McGillicuddy, offered a similar sentiment.

“Not going to waste my money until our constitutionally guaranteed right to vote is restored,” McGillicuddy said.

The disenfranchising of an estimated 1.4 million long-term expats has been a running legal battle since Canadians abroad found they could not vote in the 2011 election. While the rules were first enacted in 1993, they had not been enforced until then.

Two Canadians living in the U.S. went to court to argue the relevant parts of the Canada Elections Act were unconstitutional.

In May 2014, an Ontario Superior Court justice ruled in their favour. However, the Harper government appealed on the grounds that it would be unfair to resident Canadians to allow those abroad to elect lawmakers. Ontario’s top court sided with the government. The Supreme Court of Canada is slated to hear the expats’ appeal of that decision in February.

“Canadians living abroad should be able to vote with more than their pocketbooks,” Gillian Frank, one of those who launched the constitutional challenge, told The Canadian Press.

The voting issue became a flashpoint for many expat Canadians during last year’s election that propelled Trudeau to office. He has since indicated a willingness to review the ban, and a spokesman has said the government believes “more Canadians should have the right to vote, not the opposite.”

However, nothing has changed and the Supreme Court case remains pending.

“You have some gall asking for expats’ money when you’ve done nothing to restore our vote, despite promises during the election by your members that you would rectify the situation,” Kate Tsoukalas wrote in a post.

Source: Liberal appeal for expat donations offends those still barred from voting – The Globe and Mail

How the Big Red Machine became the big data machine: Delacourt

As someone who likes playing with and analyzing data, found Delacourt’s recounting of how the Liberals became the most data savvy political party interesting:

The Console, with its maps and myriad graphs and numbers, was the most vivid evidence of how far the Liberal party had come in its bid to play catch-up in the data war with its Conservative and NDP rivals. Call it Trudeau 2.0. Just as the old Rainmaker Keith Davey brought science to the party of Trudeau’s father in the 1960s and 1970s, the next generation of Trudeau Liberalism would get seized with data, science and evidence in a big way, too.

And in the grand tradition of Davey, Allan Gregg and all the other political pollsters and marketers who went before them, this new squad of strategists set about dividing Canada’s electoral map into target ridings, ranked according to their chances of winning in them. In a 21st-century-style campaign, though, the distinctions would be far more sophisticated than simply “winnable” and “unwinnable” ridings. Trudeau’s Liberals divided the nation’s 338 electoral districts into six types, named for metals and compounds: platinum, gold, silver, bronze, steel and wood.

Platinum ridings were sure bets: mostly the few dozen that the Liberals had managed to keep in the electoral catastrophe of 2011. Gold ridings were not quite that solid, but they were the ones in which the party strategists felt pretty certain about their prospects. Silver ridings were the ones the Liberals would need to gain to win the election, while bronze ridings, the longer shots, would push them into majority government territory. Steel ridings were ones they might win in a subsequent election, and wood ridings were the ones where the Liberals probably could never win a seat, in rural Alberta for instance.

The Console kept close track of voter outreach efforts on the ground, right down to the number of doorsteps visited by volunteers and what kind of information they had gathered from those visits — family size, composition, political interests, even the estimated age of the residents. By consulting the Console, campaigners could even figure out which time of day was best for canvassing in specific neighbourhoods or which voters required another visit to seal the deal.

When the Liberal team unveiled the Console to Trudeau, he was blown away. He told his team that it was his new favourite thing. He wanted regular briefings on the contents of the program: where it showed the Liberal party ahead, and where fortunes were flagging and volunteers needed to do more door-knocking. Actually, he wondered, why couldn’t he be given access to the Console himself, so that he could consult it on his home computer or on his phone while on the road?

And that, Trudeau would say later, was the last he ever saw of the Console. “My job was to bring it back, not on the analysis side, but on the connection side — on getting volunteers to go out, drawing people in, getting people to sign up,” Trudeau said. Clearly he was doing something right on that score — Liberal membership numbers had climbed from about 60,000 to 300,000 within Trudeau’s first 18 months as leader.

Volunteers for the party would learn — often to their peril — that the leader was fiercely serious about turning his crowd appeal into useful data. Trudeau wasn’t known for displays of temper, but the easiest way to provoke him was to fall down on the job of collecting data from the crowds at campaign stops. Few things made Trudeau angrier, for instance, than to see Liberal volunteers surrounding him at events instead of gathering up contact information. “That was what I demanded. If they wanted a visit from the leader they had to arrange that or else I’d be really upset,” Trudeau said.

Source: How the Big Red Machine became the big data machine | Toronto Star

Election 2015: Party Platforms Immigration, Citizenship and Multiculturalism

Now that all the political platforms are out, I prepared this comparative table of the three major parties and their commitments on immigration, citizenship, multiculturalism and related issues.

A number of aspects worthy of note with respect to the Liberals and NDP (Conservatives are largely reinforcing existing policies):

  • Neither party mention repealing C-24 (2014 Citizenship Act) either in whole or in part (e.g., revocation), despite having been clear on the campaign trail and in the debates to do so (save for the Liberals committing to restore pre-Permanent Resident time for international students for residency requirements);
  • The main focus is immigration, with the Liberals emphasizing rolling back some of the changes, the NDP foreign credential recognition;
  • General agreement on refugee policy with some nuances;
  • No real discussion of multiculturalism save for the need for community outreach and engagement as part of a counter extremism strategy, with the NDP also calling for non-discriminatory consular service; and,
  • Both calling for the restoration of the long-form Census.

The link to the pdf version of the table is below (doesn’t translate well into WordPress):

Liberal, NDP and Conservative Platforms

I have tried to summarize accurately the individual commitments. Needless to say, if any readers have any corrections, comments or suggestions, happy to revise this accordingly.

Statement by Liberal Party of Canada Leader Justin Trudeau on the anniversary of multiculturalism

To note the language used (have not seen comparable statements by Conservatives and NDP – 44th anniversary after all is not a significant milestone save for the election!):

The Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement on the 44th anniversary of Canada’s official policy of multiculturalism:

 “Today marks the 44th anniversary of Canada’s adoption of an official policy of multiculturalism.

 “Since 1971, our policy of multiculturalism has proudly reflected Canada’s unique cultural diversity. Canadians are united by our shared values and steadfast commitment to freedom and equality. Multiculturalism reaffirms our belief that individual and cultural community contributions enhance and enrich our national fabric.

 “Canadians have proven that a nation can be strong not in spite of our differences but because of them, and we all have a responsibility to be custodians of this country’s character. Canada’s success is rooted in its unique approach to liberty through inclusive diversity. While we have built vital institutions like the Charter, sustaining this liberty requires continued political leadership.

 “On behalf of the Liberal Party of Canada, I join Canadians from coast to coast to coast in celebration of the anniversary of Canada’s official policy of multiculturalism.”

Source: » Statement by Liberal Party of Canada Leader Justin Trudeau on the anniversary of multiculturalism

Political Parties Respond to OCASI Questions for General Election 2015

OCASI [Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants] surveyed the major parties regarding immigration-related issues. The following excerpts their responses to the question below on citizenship. The Conservative Party did not submit a response given that it has largely implemented its policies:

“3. Citizenship

Only 26 per cent of permanent residents who settled in Canada in 2008 acquired Canadian citizenship, compared with 44 per cent for immigrant who arrived in 2007 and 79 percent for those who arrived in 2000. These are the findings of research on citizenship acquisition released earlier this year. Access to citizenship has become more restricted, and naturalized citizens and those with dual citizenship are treated differently under the law.

Question: How will you ensure access to citizenship and exercise of citizenship is equitable?”

NDP:  Under Stephen Harper and the Conservatives, it has become harder and harder for immigrants to come to Canada and succeed. They’ve created huge backlogs, increased fees, politicized the citizenship test, made children and seniors pass language tests, and created new categories of citizenship rights. An NDP government will work with stakeholders to restore fairness and transparency to our citizenship and immigration system and to undo harmful Conservative changes. We will repeal Conservative legislation that treats naturalized and dual citizens differently from other citizens. We will review the citizenship test. And we will remove the requirement for 14-17 year olds and 55-64 year olds to pass a language test in order to receive citizenship.

Liberal:

Citizenship application wait times have ballooned during Mr. Harper’s time in office. Not content to quadruple fees and double processing times, the Conservatives have unnecessarily erected new barriers for aspiring citizens. We are witnessing ever more difficult language testing imposed on older potential Canadians, and the scrapping of the credit for time spent in Canada, which was previously extended to international students. In all of these areas, a combination of Conservative cynicism and budget cutbacks have abandoned those people who find themselves in the immigration system.

Over and over during the Harper decade we have heard how Canadians cannot get access to the services they need in a timely manner. A Liberal government will create new performance standards for services offered by the federal government, including streamlining applications, reducing wait times, and money- back guarantees. Performance will be independently assessed and publicly reported, including immigration processing. After years of cuts, all of these services take too long and do not provide the service that Canadians deserve.

Liberals believe that leading this country should mean bringing Canadians together, not dividing them against one another. We will repeal the parts of Bill C-24 that introduce unnecessary barriers and hardships for people to become Canadians. With C-24, the Conservative government has created a second class of citizen—dual nationals whose Canadian citizenship can revoked by the government without due process. Liberals believe in a Canada that is united and strong not in spite of its differences, but precisely because of them. These values have been abandoned under Stephen Harper, who wants us to believe that some of us are less Canadian than others.

Liberals believe that citizenship is a fundamental building block of Canada. No elected official should have the exclusive power to grant or revoke this most basic status. This bill devalues Canadians citizenship and undermines Canada’s economic well-being by making it harder to attract international talent and expertise to Canada.

Green:

The research clearly demonstrates that access to citizenship is rapidly becoming an unrealizable pursuit for many immigrants to Canada. Our immigration and refugee protection system is not prepared for 21st­century realities or challenges. A system with more than 50 entry streams that by 2010 had produced a backlog of one million applications ­ many of which languished in the queue for up to five or six years ­ is a dysfunctional nightmare at best. It is an embarrassment to a country like Canada that increasingly depends on interconnectedness with the rest of the world.

Immigration is first and foremost about citizenship. The Green Party is the only federal party to have concluded that the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) is irredeemably flawed and must be scrapped. Weak mechanisms for assessing labour shortages have allowed the TFWP to undermine wage and labour standards. At the same time, the program exploits foreign workers.

Any reforms to Canada’s immigration system must strengthen our social fabric and be consistent with our fundamental values of the rule of law, equality, and fairness. The Green Party will initiate a comprehensive overhaul of Canada’s immigration and refugee protection system. Our reforms will ensure an efficient and predictable path to citizenship for all immigrants and their families. In addition to the policies discussed in depth here, we will establish pathways to citizenship for temporary foreign workers and the families of new Canadians. Greens will work with municipalities and provinces to improve the integration of new Canadians. We will also repeal Bill C­24 which allows the minister of citizenship to revoke citizenship. Citizenship is a category that cannot have classes.

New Democratic Party response to OCASI – Election 2015 [PDF]

Liberal Party response to OCASI – Election 2015 [PDF]

Green Party response to OCASI – Election 2015 [PDF]

Federal Liberals cultivate Mandarin powerhouse in GTA

This is not good, by any standard, relying exclusively on one ethnic community to win party nominations.

Even if in ethnic communities like Surrey, Richmond, Brampton, Markham etc, most candidates from all parties are from the largest community as part of “Shopping for Votes,” this is not an example to be emulated.

And as noted in the article, this may not help in the election when more than one community’s votes are needed:

By either grand design or ferocious grassroots organization, Toronto’s suburbs are shaping up to be a Mandarin-speaking powerhouse for the federal Liberal Party.

Four ridings around the GTA have Chinese-Canadians candidates, and in sharp contrast to the Conservatives’ top-down ethnic strategy of wooing voters through messaging that appeals to a specific minority, the Mandarin community is fielding its own candidates. In Don Valley North’s nomination contest, scientist Geng Tan upset presumed front-runner Rana Sarkar, a veteran party member and friend of Gerald Butts, Leader Justin Trudeau’s top adviser. Mr. Geng accomplished this by appealing almost solely to a monolithic base of Mandarin-speakers in Mandarin only.

On one hand, this trend represents the essence of the multicultural experiment. Arnold Chan, elected in Scarborough-Agincourt last month, is the GTA’s first Liberal Chinese MP. On the other hand, pursuing a single group for support, as Mr. Geng appears to have done, may alienate other minorities. It strikes critics as anti-pluralistic.

A pivotal figure in this wider political development is Michael Chan, an influential Ontario cabinet minister and fundraiser who stepped outside his daily sphere during June’s provincial election to bolster his community’s voice in the federal party. Mr. Chan’s involvement, along with the number of Chinese-Canadian candidates, indicates the growing demographic power of the Mandarin vote, whose participation has long been seen as dormant. The Conservatives and New Democrats have vowed to conduct open nominations as well – meaning the party leadership does not protect its preferred candidates – clearing the way for other ethnic groups to launch similar campaigns.

In the case of Mr. Geng’s campaign, his website was mostly in Mandarin and was changed to English only after a conversation with The Globe and Mail last week. His membership list, which The Globe reviewed, was composed exclusively of Chinese names.

Federal Liberals cultivate Mandarin powerhouse in GTA – The Globe and Mail.

Contrasting Party Statements on Multiculturalism Day

Worth reading all three messages as they all have a different take. Conservative stress common values and standing on guard, NDP focus on tolerance, compassion and equality, Liberal emphasis on equality and inclusion:

Ministers Jason Kenney, Chris Alexander and Tim Uppal issued the following statement on Canadian Multiculturalism Day:

“Canadian Multiculturalism Day is an opportunity to appreciate our country’s longstanding tradition of peaceful pluralism, and the constitutional protection of our liberties.

“Since before Confederation, immigration has helped shape our country into one of the most culturally diverse in the world, and Canada continues to have the highest per-capita level of immigration among developed countries.

“Canada’s approach to multiculturalism encourages all Canadians to celebrate their cultural heritage, while actively integrating into Canadian society and committing to our common values of freedom, democracy and the rule of law.

“Let us continue to celebrate our unity in diversity, while standing on guard for the freedoms so many have fought to protect, both at home and abroad.”

Ministers Jason Kenney, Chris Alexander and Tim Uppal issue statement to celebrate Canadian Multiculturalism Day – Canada News Centre.

The Official Opposition:

“Multiculturalism is a fundamental Canadian value and on this Canadian Multiculturalism Day, the New Democratic Party is proud to celebrate our nation’s rich diversity.

“The values of tolerance, compassion and commitment to equality are shared by all Canadians and allow everyone to realize their full potential. The NDP has always been a staunch supporter of these values.

“We are proud to acknowledge the important contributions of our society’s many groups and multicultural communities, and the NDP will continue its efforts to promote our multicultural heritage, so that Canada may remain a land of possibility for all those who call it home.”

Statement by the Official Opposition on Canadian Multiculturalism Day

And from the Leader of the Liberal Party:

“Today we celebrate the ethnic, religious, and cultural diversity that has come to define Canada’s national fabric.

“Canadians can be proud of the progress we have made in promoting inclusion and equality in this country – from adopting an official policy of multiculturalism in 1971, to including it as a fundamental principle in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“Canadian multiculturalism embodies the freedom and democracy upon which our country was built. Today, the success of our diverse communities in fostering innovation and prosperity has proven that we are made strong not in spite of our differences, but because of them. We are reminded to neither take our diversity for granted nor become complacent. We must continue on a path where every citizen feels equal and embody a nation of citizens who respect one another.

“On behalf of the Liberal Party of Canada and our Parliamentary Caucus, I join with all Canadians in celebrating Multiculturalism Day.”

Statement by Liberal Party of Canada Leader Justin Trudeau on Multiculturalism Day

Ontario Liberals to target ethnic voters with demographic database software

More on “shopping for votes” and targeting key demographics, this time ethnic communities:

A Liberal source said the software processes census data that can then be fed into Liberalist and matched to individual addresses. It would show, for instance, which houses or apartments are likely to contain Italian-speaking residents, allowing a campaign to target them with Italian-speaking volunteers.

The software lets users see where particular cultural groups are clustered, so they can tailor their campaign efforts to the community. If the tool identified a neighbourhood with a high number of Muslim residents, for example, a campaign can structure its canvassing efforts around prayer times, the source said. The program has already been used by the federal Liberals.

Pitney Bowes makes a range of commercial software generally used by companies for marketing campaigns or to analyze demographic data when determining where to do business.

Provided with a sketch of her briefing, including the software, Ms. Sorbara declined to be interviewed.

“I don’t comment publicly on campaign strategy and would therefore not have had anything to add to your outline,” she wrote in an e-mail.

The PCs are believed to already have sophisticated technology for determining where key voting demographics are and how to reach them. Their techniques are a closely guarded secret, but one insider said the party overhauled its program after the 2011 election and further tweaked it after two by-elections last winter.

Ontario Liberals to target ethnic voters with demographic database software – The Globe and Mail.