When will Canada take action for girls who endure FGM?

Unfortunately, the Conservative government’s efforts to reduce, if not eliminate, honour killings and FGM were hampered by their communications strategy of “barbaric cultural practices” labelling, whether it be in Discover Canada or the infamous tip line.

The Liberal government, following public pressure by Immigration critic Michelle Rempel, indicated that language on FGM will be included in the new (long-delayed) citizenship guide in likely more neutral language. .

Portenier’s call for greater government action is welcome. A help line is different in tone and substance than a tip line, the former targeting those most at risk.

Status of Women Canada should take a lead on developing a government-wide initiative to reduce the practice.

But maybe I have been missing this, but I have not seen much evidence that “cultural relativists – mostly white – who argue that FGM is a cultural prerogative” as she asserts or that anyone serious in government would listen to those arguments.

Silence within the communities themselves is another matter and finding ways to encourage more open discussion are needed (CCMW has worked in this area):

Not long ago, I sat with Hadija (not her real name), a young Canadian woman, tears streaming down her face, as she told me about her summer holiday back to her birthplace in Somalia, where she came face to face with a razor blade in a mud hut and was forced to endure female genital mutilation at the age of 14.

Wednesday is International Zero Tolerance Day for female genital mutilation (FGM) with activities worldwide, but in Canada it will again be greeted with a deafening silence. This, despite the fact that the Canadian government knows Hadija’s case is not unique; FGM is an issue here too. Government documents released to journalists under the Freedom of Information Act show that thousands of Canadian girls may be at risk of this torture.

There’s evidence girls are taken abroad for “vacation cutting,” and that “cutters” with their razor blades are entering Canada to do their dirty work here; and yet our government, much of civil society and the media remain silent.

FGM is the single worst systematic human-rights abuse committed against girls and women in the world today. It predates both Islam and Christianity and is defined as the alteration of the female genitalia for non-medical purposes. It’s an extreme form of sexual control of girls, and is a fact of life in 28 countries in Africa, and elsewhere too; in Asia – Indonesia, Malaysia, parts of India; pockets of the Middle East, including Egypt; pockets of South America; Iranian and Iraqi Kurdistan; and now, with immigration from practising countries, in the West.

The most serious type of FGM, practised almost universally in Somalia where many Canadian immigrants hail from, involves removing the external part of the clitoris, the labia minora and majora, and then sewing everything shut, leaving only a tiny opening. It’s not difficult to grasp the serious health implications that result – post-traumatic stress, difficulty and excruciating pain passing urine and menstrual blood, complications in childbirth – even death. Never mind the right to pain-free, joyful sexual intimacy that every human being is entitled to.

According to the World Health Organization, there are 200 million FGM survivors worldwide, and more than three million girls at risk each year. Some of those girls are right here in Canada; recently a teacher in Greater Vancouver told me of a mother who confessed to having taken her own daughter to India to be cut; the teacher did nothing.

There’s been a law against FGM in Canada since 1997, but there hasn’t been a single prosecution. Unlike other Western countries, in Canada there are no protocols to save girls from FGM; no training for teachers, no systems in place to spot girls – and save girls – who are in danger. For survivors who came here already cut – and that includes young women who arrived here as small children – there is virtually no specialized help. No specific counselling, no specially trained doctors, nurses or midwives. Nothing. Contrast this with other Western countries: In Britain, survivor activists have forced the government into action. There are now helplines for girls at risk; specialized clinics for survivors; training for teachers to spot vulnerable girls; a mandatory reporting requirement of FGM cases for all health and social-services professionals and teachers. And just last week, they had their first conviction, of a mother who forced her three-year-old daughter to undergo FGM.

In Canada, there aren’t even any official statistics analyzing the scope of the issue.

An informal analysis of the 2011 Canadian Census looking at immigration from affected countries and UNICEF statistics on the prevalence of FGM indicates there may be upward of 80,000 survivors of FGM in Canada, and yet this is not an issue addressed by any government department. This distinct lack of action is fuelled in part by fear of stigmatizing the communities involved, and is encouraged by the adults of the communities themselves, who enforce a strict code of silence. The silence is also the by-product of cultural relativists – mostly white – who argue that FGM is a cultural prerogative, when in fact it’s an unacceptable abuse of a girl’s human rights, plain and simple. Indeed, in Africa the campaign to end FGM is driven by Africans themselves.

So far, no Canadian survivor has galvanized action on FGM. But that is no excuse for inaction. We are completely failing Canadian girls: those at risk, and young survivors such as Hadija crying out for help. It is a disgrace. By worrying so much about the cultural sensitivities of the adults, we are sacrificing the human rights of the children.

Source: When will Canada take action for girls who endure FGM? Giselle Portenier

Birth Tourism: S’attaquer aux consultants «sans scrupules» d’abord

The second part of the Journal de Montréal series. The most interesting nugget being Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel essentially disowning the CPC policy resolution calling for abolishing unqualified birthright citizenship (I may have missed an earlier reference).

As in the first article, some interesting local details:

Le gouvernement fédéral promet de s’attaquer aux consultants illégaux en immigration qui contrôlent une partie de l’industrie du tourisme obstétrique après les avoir laissés prendre racine au pays.

Le Journal rapportait hier qu’environ une femme étrangère accouche chaque jour au Québec après avoir fait des milliers de kilomètres pour donner naissance ici dans un seul but : offrir la citoyenneté canadienne à son enfant.

Le Canada et les États-Unis font partie des rares pays riches où il est encore possible d’obtenir la citoyenneté ainsi. Ce phénomène des « bébés passeport » est en pleine explosion au pays.

Certains des consultants auxquels ces mères étrangères ont recours font partie intégrante du stratagème (surtout localisé à Vancouver) permettant à des femmes — principalement chinoises — de venir accoucher ici en se faisant passer pour de simples touristes.

« Tout nous porte à croire que des consultants en immigration sans scrupules incitent les demandeurs à mentir sur la raison de leur visite au Canada », soutient un porte-parole d’Immigration Canada, Peter Liang.

Maisons de naissance

L’avocat montréalais Hugues Langlais soutient que ceux qui gèrent les maisons de naissance de Richmond, en Colombie-Britannique, pourraient être considérés comme des consultants illégaux en vertu de la loi.

Au Canada, seuls les avocats, les notaires et les consultants en immigration certifiés peuvent prodiguer des conseils en matière d’immigration, comme l’obtention de visas de voyage.

« Si des gens font de la promotion pour des naissances au Canada — comme les maisons de naissance de Richmond — et font des démarches pour solliciter ou renseigner des clients, ils pourraient s’exposer à des poursuites », croit-il.

Immigration Canada dit mener un examen afin de connaître la meilleure façon de serrer la vis aux consultants non autorisés. Or, jusqu’à présent, Ottawa a fait bien peu pour stopper leur progression.

Manque de ressources

C’est que l’agence fédérale responsable de mener ce genre d’enquête admet à mots couverts qu’elle n’a ni les ressources ni le temps de s’occuper de la lutte aux consultants œuvrant dans le domaine du tourisme obstétrique.

L’Agence des services frontaliers du Canada (ASFC), responsable de faire respecter la loi sur l’immigration, se concentre avant tout à assurer la sécurité nationale, et elle s’attaque uniquement aux plus gros délits.

« L’ASFC engage des poursuites pour les cas les plus sérieux de fausses déclarations commises par des consultants en immigration sans scrupules », fait-on valoir.

L’ASFC et Immigration Canada ont d’ailleurs été incapables de fournir des données sur les enquêtes en cours concernant la lutte aux consultants frauduleux.

« Far West »

Parallèlement, Ottawa refuse pour l’instant d’accorder plus de pouvoir à l’ordre professionnel qui régit le travail des consultants en immigration.

« Présentement, c’est le “Far West”, soutient le directeur de l’Association canadienne des conseillers professionnels en immigration (ACCPI), Dory Jade. Ça fait 10 ans qu’on demande une reconnaissance formelle. »

Il croit qu’avec un ordre professionnel comme celui des dentistes ou des ingénieurs, l’ACCPI pourrait mener des enquêtes dans le but de démanteler les maisons de naissance qui pullulent à Vancouver.

JUSQUE DANS LES PETITES ANNONCES

Les facilitateurs du tourisme obstétrique affichent leurs services un peu partout, des petites annonces jusqu’aux réseaux sociaux comme Instagram.

♦ Le Plus International Mother and Child club, situé à Vancouver, offre notamment dans son annonce des services « haut de gamme pour les mères d’outre-mer et leur bébé », précisant que les bébés sont canadiens.

♦ En plus du logement, de l’hébergement, du suivi médical, etc., le Canada Moon Centre B & B propose son aide pour le traitement des certificats de naissance, des passeports canadiens, des documents de voyage et des visas.

♦ Sur internet, le Canada Vancouver Ocean Baby Club écrit : « Bienvenue dans notre club pour la grossesse, la maternité, la formation postnatale, les visites tourististiques et le bonheur d’un bébé citoyen canadien ».

♦ Le Mansion Moon Center précise dans son annonce qu’une infirmière habite la villa qu’elle loue, et qu’on offre le transport depuis l’aéroport et vers les rendez-vous médicaux.

UNE PRATIQUE CHOQUANTE QUI DEVIENDRA UN PROBLÈME

Un important facilitateur du tourisme obstétrique au pays juge la pratique choquante, même si elle est légale, et voudrait la voir cesser.

« Je n’essaie pas de me justifier et de dire que c’est noble ce que je fais, affirme sans détour Alex Davidson en entrevue dans son bureau de Toronto.

« Mais la loi, c’est la loi, ajoute candidement l’avocat spécialisé en droit de l’immigration. Ça ne me concerne pas si ces familles souhaitent venir ici donner naissance pour avoir un passeport pour leur enfant. »

« injuste »

Me Davidson redoute les dérives d’un système qu’il juge « injuste » pour les candidats à l’immigration qui respectent le cours normal du processus. Les « bébés passeport » pourraient même « devenir un problème » pour le Canada, selon lui, s’ils choisissent de s’établir ici et de fréquenter les universités en grand nombre dans quelques années.

L’avocat torontois d’origine américaine et russe déplore que ces personnes aient accès aux systèmes d’éducation et de santé comme tous les autres Canadiens, simplement parce qu’ils sont nés ici.

Mais pour l’instant, la pratique est encore légale et Me Davidson a l’intention de continuer de profiter de ce lucratif marché en offrant ses services aux familles souhaitant entrer au pays en toute légalité avec un visa de voyage.

Il collabore aussi avec six médecins, qui touchent chacun une rémunération pour l’accouchement et le soutien prénatal et postnatal.

« Cadeau pour la vie »

Il y a quelques semaines à peine, il a publié une vidéo sur sa très populaire chaîne YouTube, dans laquelle il invite les familles qui envisagent de s’exiler pour accoucher d’agir avant qu’il ne soit trop tard.

Dans cet extrait, Me Davidson soutient que le Canada pourrait bientôt abolir le droit du sol, car « plusieurs pensent qu’il est injuste de conserver le système actuel », prévient-il.

Comme le président Donald Trump a promis de mettre fin au tourisme obstétrique aux États-Unis, le Canada pourrait bien emboîter le pas, précise-t-il. Mais pour l’instant, aucun parti politique fédéral ne compte aller aussi loin pour contrer le phénomène.

L’avocat qualifie au passage de « cadeau pour la vie » le passeport canadien, qui offre par ailleurs « de nombreux avantages ».

« Il vous reste un an pour vous décider, si vous considérez venir ici pour donner naissance. Il est encore temps d’en profiter », explique-t-il.

Me Davidson s’est fait connaître dans le monde entier grâce à sa chaîne YouTube, dans laquelle il offre des conseils pour immigrer au Canada. Il soutient toutefois que le tourisme obstétrique ne représente qu’une petite fraction de sa clientèle.

LE CANADA DEVRAIT-IL ABOLIR OU PAS LE DROIT DU SOL ?

Le Parti conservateur n’envisage plus d’abolir la citoyenneté à la naissance pour s’attaquer au phénomène des « bébés passeport » comme le souhaite une majorité de ses militants.

« Il y a clairement de l’abus, mais je ne crois pas que ce soit un problème envahissant à l’échelle nationale », croit la députée conservatrice responsable du dossier de l’immigration, Michelle Rempel.

Disant ne pas vouloir « minimiser » le phénomène, Mme Rempel soutient que des analyses plus sérieuses sont nécessaires pour connaître l’ampleur et les causes du problème.

Manchettes

Le tourisme obstétrique au Canada a fait les manchettes au cours des derniers mois après que les militants conservateurs aient voté en faveur, dans une certaine controverse, d’une motion non contraignante visant à abolir le droit du sol.

Un ex-haut fonctionnaire chez Immigration Canada croit que cette solution serait la plus efficace pour mettre fin au tourisme obstétrique. Or, il juge cette mesure trop radicale pour s’attaquer à un problème somme toute secondaire.

Un avis que partagent Mme Rempel, de nombreux experts ainsi que le gouvernement Trudeau.

Les troupes conservatrices ont d’ailleurs déjà tenté d’abolir la citoyenneté à la naissance au Canada. La démarche a été abandonnée puisque la mesure s’avérait trop complexe et coûteuse (entre 20 et 30 millions $).

Il n’en demeure pas moins que d’autres pays, dont la Grande-Bretagne, ont abandonné cette pratique, exigeant qu’un des deux parents réside dans le pays.

Le président Donald Trump a lui aussi promis de resserrer les règles. Mais ce droit est protégé par la constitution américaine, ce qui le rend presque impossible à abolir.

Qu’est-ce que le droit du sol ?

Au Canada, le droit du sol est protégé par une loi datant de 1947. Avant, les Canadiens étaient considérés comme des sujets britanniques.

Le droit du sol a été adopté dans la foulée de la Deuxième Guerre mondiale, durant laquelle beaucoup de Canadiens ont quitté le pays pour aller travailler aux États-Unis.

Le gouvernement canadien voulait donc s’assurer que les personnes qui revenaient au pays après la guerre soient considérées comme Canadiennes, puisque nées sur le territoire, explique l’avocat Hugues Langlais.

Source: SociétéS’attaquer aux consultants «sans scrupules» d’abord2019-01-20 – ArticleIl y a quelques semaines à peine, il a publié une vidéo sur sa très populaire chaîne YouTube, dans laquelle il invite les familles qui envisagent de s’exiler pour accoucher d’agir avant qu’il ne soit trop tard.

John Ivison: A most convenient misstep for the Liberals in Burnaby South – and other related articles

A good example of ethnic politics going wrong.

First, an interesting political analysis by Ivison:

Occam’s razor, the problem-solving principle dating back to the 13th century friar William of Ockham, states that, other things being equal, simple explanations are generally better than more complex ones.

A medical equivalent, Zebra, guides doctors to reject exotic medical diagnoses in favour of more commonplace explanations.

“When you hear hoofbeats, think of horses, not zebras,” runs the logic.

It’s a good guiding principle for analyzing politics too. It is more often incompetence, rather than scruples, that makes the simplest explanation most likely. The relationships underlying political events are so complex that predicting outcomes from any action is a dubious business.

Yet sometimes, a case comes along where the more complex theory cannot be ruled out.

Take events in the riding of Burnaby South in British Columbia. The Liberals hemmed and hawed about running a candidate in the Feb. 25 byelection there, conscious that if they did so, they might inadvertently win and put paid to the political career of Jagmeet Singh, the federal NDP leader who is seeking a seat in Parliament.

Singh has found the learning curve in federal politics particularly steep, making numerous missteps in the full glare of the national media.

This past weekend, he failed to answer a question on a topic that had been all over the news. He claimed he hadn’t heard the question, but he left the impression that it is only the hard questions that he mis-hears.

Singh remains Justin Trudeau’s preferred opponent in October’s federal election and there was the very real prospect that, if defeated, he might be replaced by someone more seasoned.

The Liberals had the option of not running a candidate in Burnaby South — Elizabeth May’s Green Party decided to respect the old tradition of “leader’s courtesy,” not running against a federal leader trying to win a seat in the House of Commons.

Yet there were local pressures to run a Liberal candidate in the byelection, and it was decided it would be bad form for the ruling party to be so brazen about its preferences.

Step forward Karen Wang, a local daycare operator, who edged biotech scientist Cyrus Eduljee in a contested nomination.

Wang’s candidacy put Singh’s political future very much in doubt, given the seat was won by NDP MP Kennedy Stewart by just 600 votes over his Liberal rival in 2015.

It went unsaid by everyone that a Chinese-Canadian candidate might have extra cachet in a riding where nearly 40 per cent of voters are of Chinese descent.

At least, it went unsaid until Wang said it. Not only did she point out on a Chinese social media platform that she was “the only Chinese candidate,” she identified Singh as being “of Indian descent.”

It was a pretty blatant case of racism from the party that claimed so often in the last election that “a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian.”

Since Trudeau’s main line of attack in the next election will be to accuse the Conservatives of fomenting the “politics of division,” it was clear that he would not support a candidate emphasizing differences and playing on intolerance to get elected.

Wang said the “phrasing should have been different” and removed her Chinese language post but it was too late.

Early Wednesday Pacific time, the party issued a statement saying that Wang’s comments “are not aligned with the values of the Liberal Party of Canada” and said it had accepted her resignation. “The Liberal party has a clear commitment to positive politics and support for Canadian diversity and the same is always expected of our candidates,” it said.

Wang issued her own statement, apologizing to Singh, and saying her choice of words about his cultural background “was not well-considered and did not reflect my intent.”

Her resignation has left Singh alone on the left of the political spectrum in Burnaby South, facing Conservative Jay Shin and People’s Party candidate Laura Lynn Tyler Thompson. His victory would seem assured, if the Liberals don’t replace Wang. And yet they seem in no hurry to do so. When asked if there would be another Liberal candidate, Liberal communications director Braeden Caley said: “We’ll have more to discuss on that in due course.”

The most recent opinion poll in Burnaby South by Mainstreet Research suggested the byelection was turning into a two-horse race between Singh, with 39 per cent support, and Wang, with 26 per cent. The Conservatives will be more alarmed by the pollsters’ estimate of People’s Party support, at nine per cent, than the failure of their candidate to win the seat (Shin had the support of 22 per cent of the 740 people polled.)

Even with a margin of error of nearly four per cent, it’s clear that Burnaby South will stay orange if there is no Liberal in the race.

So back to Occam’s razor. Was this just a case of a reckless candidate gambling that if she played dog-whistle politics, it wouldn’t be heard beyond the Chinese community?

Or was the plan all along to throw the fight?

Nine times out of 10, it would be the former but the outcome of this electoral rumpus is extremely convenient for Trudeau. He has polished his own halo as the great unifier who will forge consensus and bridge divides.

And he has all but insured that an NDP leader yet to find his feet on the national stage staggers on to fight the general election.

This may be the rare occasion when the hoofbeats are made by zebras.

Source: John Ivison: A most convenient misstep for the Liberals in Burnaby South

Secondly, revelations by Michelle Rempel, not substantiated but believable, that Wang wanted to run as a Conservative but was rejected:

The Conservative Party of Canada rejected Karen Wang as a potential candidate before her short-lived Liberal Party candidacy in the Burnaby South byelection, according to MP Michelle Rempel.

Rempel said Wang approached her party, wanting to run in the 2019 federal election.

“The Conservative Party of Canada said no to this candidate over a year ago,” she said. “There was a reason for that.”

Rempel would not specify what that reason was.

“My understanding is that there were some discussions with this particular individual and the party decided for reasons regarding her judgment, that became clear today, to not allow her to run for us,” she said.

Rempel made the comments at a press conference in Burnaby Wednesday afternoon. She was joined by Conservative candidate Jay Shin, who is running in the Feb. 25 Burnaby South byelection. The Calgary-based Parliamentarian called the press conference to call on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to initiate a review of Canada’s immigration screening process.

Rempel’s comments came just hours after Wang dropped out of the race. She came under fire for a WeChat post in which she identified herself as the “only Chinese candidate” in the byelection and pointed out that her opponent, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, is of Indian heritage. The post was translated from Chinese and reported by StarMetro Vancouver.

“My choice of words wasn’t well-considered and didn’t reflect my intent, and for that, I sincerely apologize to Mr. Singh,” Wang said in a statement. “I have deep respect for him as the leader of his party and for his public service – and I would never want to diminish that in any way.”

Rempel condemned the WeChat post, calling it “racism plain and simple.”

Shin said he was shocked by Wang’s comments.

“I’m offended as a Korean person, as a Korean-Canadian,” he said. “There’s no place for that.”

The NOW has reached out to the Liberal Party and a representative of Wang’s for comment.

Wang ran for the B.C. Liberal Party in the 2017 provincial election, losing to New Democrat Anne Kang. When the NOW asked her earlier this month why she had chosen to run with the federal Liberals after running for a party often aligned with the federal Conservatives, she said she had always been a supporter of the Liberal Party of Canada due to its core values, including diversity, liberty, multiculturalism and national unity.

Source: Conservatives rejected Karen Wang before her short-lived Liberal candidacy, MP says

Third, two different columns in the Toronto Sun, the first by Candice Malcolm, not acknowledging similar practices by the Conservatives, the second by Brian Lilley basically a plague on all their houses with respect to courting ethnic votes:

This is what a postnational multicultural state looks like.

On Wednesday, the Liberal candidate in the Burnaby South by-election resigned after sending a controversial message through the Chinese social media platform WeChat.

In a Chinese-language post, Karen Wang told her supporters to vote for her because she is “the only Chinese candidate” in the race, and to vote against NDP candidate and party leader Jagmeet Singh, noting that he is “of Indian descent.”

This sort of crass appeal based solely on race and identity is off-putting and unwelcome to most Canadians. But it should come as no surprise that race-based ethnic politics takes place across Canada.

And while the Liberal Party can try to back away from Wang’s message, her appeal to identity politics is straight out of the Liberal playbook and echoes the politics and policies promoted by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

In late 2015, Trudeau was interviewed by The New York Times magazine about his vision for Canada.

The American publication fawned that “Trudeau’s most radical argument is that Canada is becoming a new kind of state, defined not by its European history but by the multiplicity of its identities from all over the world.”

Forget about our traditions of ordered liberty that date back to the signing of the Magna Carta. And forget about our constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy — arguable the most successful form of government in human history — or our commitment to Western liberal ideals.

That type of “European history” is unimportant in Trudeau’s Canada.

Instead, Trudeau said “there is no core identity, no mainstream in Canada… those are the qualities that make us the first postnational state.”

The race-based message from the Liberal candidate mirrors this type of thinking. Wang’s appeal is the inevitable conclusion of Trudeau’s identity politics and his dream of a post-national Canada.

For instance, in her WeChat message, Wang does not call herself “Canadian” or even “Chinese-Canadian.” Instead, she identifies as “Chinese” and calls Singh “Indian.”

Just like Trudeau said, there’s no mainstream, no core identity in Canada. Newcomers don’t have to change anything about themselves when they move to Canada, so why would they bother to adopt a Canadian identity?

Likewise, Trudeau has downplayed the emphasis on language — eliminating the citizenship language test for many newcomers. It’s no surprise, then, to see politicians pandering in different languages to various ethnic communities.

Trudeau’s fixation on identity politics led him to appointing cabinet positions based solely on gender. While 26% of MPs are women, Trudeau promoted 50% to his cabinet.

But why stop at gender? The next logical step is to expand this thinking to other identities, like ethnic background and language groups. Why wouldn’t a postnational Canada have quotas to proportionately represent every ethnic group?

In November, Trudeau said he rejected Canadian nationalism, seemingly conflating it with ethnic nationalism found in Europe and throughout the world.

Canadian nationalism, however, is not based on race or ethnicity, since Canada has always been pluralistic and racially diverse. Instead, our nationalism is defined by patriotism — a love of country and commitment to our heritage and shared values.

Patriotism is the glue that holds our diverse country together, and without it, we devolve into tribalism — divided by bloodlines and ancient feuds from foreign lands.

Trudeau has engineered these changes and created a toxic brew in Canada: lax integration policies juxtaposed with a forced multiculturalism that downplays Canadian values and divisive identity politics that demonizes Canadian heritage and identity.

Source: MALCOLM: Raced-based politics natural outcome of Trudeau’s ‘postnational state’

Karen Wang’s career as a Liberal Party of Canada candidate came to disastrous end on Wednesday as the party dumped her over stupid, and quite frankly racist comments.

It was such a change for a woman whose Twitter profile bragged about being the Team Trudeau candidate in the Burnaby South byelection. The party itself had just the evening before tweeted its support of her.

The official Liberal Party account tweeted “Add Women Change Politics” and called Wang an incredible candidate just hours before this story broke.

Now she’s out, brought down by a crass attempt to use race and tribal politics to win the byelection.

In a posting on Chinese social media platform WeChat, Wang spoke of the size and importance of the Chinese community, then she made the stupid, racist comments.

“If we can increase the voting rate, as the only Chinese candidate in this riding, if I can garner 16,000 votes I will easily win the by-election, control the election race and make history! My opponent in this by-election is the NDP candidate Singh of Indian descent!”

I love the flourish with the exclamation point on Singh’s Indian heritage, she is screaming loud and clear that she means don’t vote for the brown guy.

Well that wouldn’t work for Justin “Diversity is our Strength” Trudeau and after about 15 hours of hand wringing, Wang was fired.

The official line is she resigned, I’m sure her resignation was what I call “voluntold.” Give us your resignation or else.

In her statement, Wang apologized to NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, kind of.

“My choice of words wasn’t well-considered and didn’t reflect my intent, and for that, I sincerely apologize to Mr. Singh,” Wang said in a statement.

In its own statement the party said Wang’s comments, “are not aligned with the values of the Liberal Party.”

No kidding, they shouldn’t be aligned with anyones values.

Yet in some ways Wang thrust into the open the kind of ethno-politics that all the parties have played for years.

Every party has pandered to ethnic, religious or linguistic communities for votes. They will make sure certain ridings have candidates from a specific group if that group is a large enough voting bloc.

I’ve always found it off-putting and wished the parties would stop.

Voters should be picking candidates to vote for with the best policies for their riding, not the same skin colour or ethnic background.

Parties should pick policies to run on that align with their values and are in the best interests of Canada, not so they can attract certain ethnic voting blocs.

Ms. Wang was in many ways playing the game that has been played too long in Canadian politics, albeit more crassly.

Her statement and apology are weak and she needs to say more.

If this were a white candidate, especially a white male candidate, the fury over these comments about not voting for Singh because he is of Indian descent would be deafening.

Wang cannot be allowed an easy escape, nor can the Liberal Party be let off the hook, simply because she is an Asian woman.

There is the idea that I have heard from anti-racism activists that racism only comes from white people. It’s a foolish claim. Anyone can be racist and Wang’s comments show that.

Saying, “My choice of words wasn’t well-considered” does not gloss over the fact that she told supporters vote for me, I’m Chinese and he’s not.

Wang’s initial reaction to the media stories on this also shows she doesn’t understand why it was wrong, she told the Toronto Star it was just bad communication.

“The phrasing should have been different,” she said.

It wasn’t the phrasing that was the problem Ms. Wang, it was the intent of your post.

This kind of politics has no place in Canada. I’d like to say I hope we never see it again, but that is wishful thinking.

The best we can do is call it out when we see it.

Source: LILLEY: Wang’s resignation shows dangers of playing ethno-politics 

Lastly, some good on the ground reporting on the reaction of the Chinese Canadian community in Burnaby South: ‘It makes us look bad’: Burnaby’s Chinese-Canadian community reacts to Karen Wang’s resignation over WeChat post

Wang’s effort to rescind her resignation was rightly rejected: Ousted candidate’s story takes another strange turn, this time into a parking lot

Conservatives call for audit of immigration system after gangster twice released in Canada

His case should not have fallen through the cracks, suggesting communications issues between CBSA and the IRB, particularly in terms of timeliness. While in the end, the system did work, the issues should have been caught and acted upon earlier.

But it is somewhat ingenuous for Conservative immigration critic to state that the Liberal government is undermining public confidence in the immigration system while ignoring the contribution that some of her over-the-top language and positions (e.g., opposition to the Global Compact on Migration) also play. Fine line between legitimate criticism and stoking the fires:

Abdullahi Hashi Farah had an extensive criminal record, ties to a violent gang, and a long history of breaching probation. But Canadian immigration officials still released him after he crossed illegally into Canada in October 2017. (Supplied)

Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel is again calling for a complete review and audit of the immigration screening system in response to a CBC News investigation that revealed a Somali gang member with an extensive criminal record was twice released in Canada.

“The government has to acknowledge that there are serious flaws in the process and commit to fixing the system,” the Calgary MP said in a telephone interview Thursday.

In an earlier scrum outside the House of Commons, Border Security Minister Bill Blair was asked about the case of Abdullahi Hashi Farah.

Blair conceded Farah would not have been released had the full extent of his gang ties and criminal record been known. But he said he took “some comfort in the fact that the system has worked and we’ve identified the individual, and he is subject to deportation.”

Rempel said Blair’s response will only serve to further undermine public faith in the system.

‘This is pretty bad’

“People will read [the CBC News story] and they will look at the minister’s response and go, ‘This is somebody who is not taking this situation seriously, and it is a serious situation,’ ” Rempel said.

“And I worry that by doing this, the Liberals are actually eroding public confidence writ large. And that is not where we want to be in a pluralism like Canada. They need to restore order to the system. This [case] is pretty bad.”

As CBC News first reported Thursday, Farah was fleeing an arrest warrant and deportation in the U.S. when he crossed illegally into Canada at Emerson, Man., in late October 2017.

Then 27, Farah told Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officials about his criminal record and gang ties. The agency wanted him held for a few more days until it could retrieve his full criminal record from the U.S.

But an Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) hearing officer, impressed with Farah’s seeming honesty, ordered his release.

As a condition of release, Farah surrendered his cellphone to the CBSA so that it could be checked for evidence of criminal activity

Six days after Farah was set free in Winnipeg, he breached his release conditions and was arrested again.

That same day, the CBSA gained access to Farah’s cellphone. They found recent photos and videos of Farah playing with loaded handguns, doing cocaine, concealing cocaine, and flashing wads of cash. There were also photos of what authorities believed was a stolen credit card.

Released despite evidence of criminal activity

The CBSA has declined to explain why the evidence from Farah’s cellphone was not immediately provided to the IRB.

Without that evidence, another IRB hearing officer again released Farah in March 2018 and allowed him to move to Calgary.

In June, Edmonton police arrested Farah as a suspect in a string of armed convenience store robberies after a CBSA officer in Winnipeg picked him out of robbery photos taken from store security camera footage.

Edmonton police have declined to say why Farah is no longer a suspect in the robberies. He is now jailed in the Edmonton Remand Centre, awaiting deportation to Somalia.

The CBC News investigation revealed Farah had lied repeatedly about the extent and seriousness of his criminal record and the length of his involvement with the Somali Outlaws gang in Minneapolis and Nashville.

The investigation also revealed Farah had breached immigration and parole conditions more than 30 times in the U.S and in Canada. He had also been imprisoned for contempt after he reneged on a promise to testify against his former gang in relation to a major sex-trafficking case in Nashville involving girls as young as 12.

Rempel stressed her party is pro-immigration but said this case, and others like it, show the system can’t handle the volume of immigrants while ensuring adequately rigorous screening.

“While certainly not every case is going to be like this, even one is unacceptable, and even one puts the integrity of the system — and the perception of the integrity of the system — at risk.”

Source: Conservatives call for audit of immigration system after gangster twice released in Canada

John Ivison: Will the Canadian consensus on immigration fall victim to Liberal bungling on border-crossers?

Ivison on the Michelle Rempel’s critique of the Liberal government’s immigration policies and approach and their communications challenges.

Federal immigration minister Ahmed Hussen’s announcement last week that Canada will increase its immigration target to 350,000 by 2021 seems designed to flush out the Conservatives.

With Maxime Bernier’s fledgling party promising to cut the number of permanent residents arriving in Canada from the current target of 330,000 next year to around 250,000, there is growing pressure on the Conservatives to follow suit.

The party’s immigration critic, Michelle Rempel, admits it might be the politically expedient thing to do. “If I was taking the easy route, I’d just say ‘Cut immigration’ … But the reality is we have to reform the system. It isn’t working by any metric,” she said in an interview.

Rempel said she is desperate to avoid what she called an “Americanized” debate about immigration levels.

“What Bernier doesn’t understand is that for the people looking at his party, there is only one number that is sufficient — and that’s zero,” she said.

An August survey by the Angus Reid Institute set off alarm bells that the consensus that has characterized Canadian attitudes towards immigration for the past four decades is in danger of shattering.

The poll found that the number of respondents who felt immigration levels should stay the same or be increased, which has registered at over 50 per cent for forty years, had fallen to 37 per cent. Half of those surveyed said they would prefer to see the federal government’s 2018 immigration target of 310,000 new permanent residents be reduced.

Rempel said the consensus is under pressure because the Liberals have bungled aspects of immigration policy like the “irregular” border-crossing file.

“The consensus is not breaking down, but the public is looking at what is happening with the asylum seekers and they don’t think the social contract criteria are being met,” she said. “The debate shouldn’t be about numbers but about the process by which we set those numbers.”

It’s clear that immigration will be one of the key battlegrounds in the 2019 election. The Conservatives would seek to close the loophole in the Safe Third Country Agreement that allows people to enter Canada illegally from upstate New York, and expedite the removal process of those people whose refugee claims were rejected. Rempel admits there is also pressure coming from within her own caucus to put a number on what immigration levels would be under a Conservative government.

“But I’m not going to treat this like an auction for votes,” she said, noting that on the Syrian refugees issue, her party had pledged to admit 10,000, which persuaded the NDP to raise its commitment to 15,000 and the Liberals to trump them all with a promise to admit 25,000. Yet, as she points out, unemployment rates among Syrian refugees remain stubbornly high more than two years after most arrived.

“It’s irresponsible to set a target without ascertaining how much it will cost to adequately process the huge backlog of asylum seekers,” she said.

Unlike many other centre-right parties, the federal Conservatives have long been pro-immigration. In 2015, levels remained at a historically high rate, with 271,833 new permanent residents landing in Canada.

During the Harper government’s term of office, 2.8 million people arrived as permanent residents in Canada, mainly from countries like the Philippines, India, China and Pakistan.

The mix was heavily weighted towards those chosen for their skills and education levels— in 2015, 63 per cent were economic class migrants, 24 per cent arrived under the family reunification program, and 13 per cent were refugees.

The consensus is based on a broad recognition that Canada’s worker to retiree ratio — 4.2:1 in 2012 — is set to decline precipitously to 2:1 by 2031.

It is widely understood that a decade after they arrive the labour force participation rates for immigrants is comparable to those who were born in Canada. And it is accepted that immigrants and the children of immigrants are generally better educated that the Canadian-born population (almost half have a bachelors degree, compared to one quarter for the latter).

But the complexion of the immigration system is set to change. The mix planned by the Liberals will by 2021 see economic class migrants fall to just 51 per cent of the total of 350,000, with family reunification numbers increasing by more than one third to account for nearly 30 per cent of the total and refugee numbers rising by 44 per cent to reach 19 per cent of the total.

[Note: The levels plan shows that the percentage of economic class immigrants is essentially flat at 57-58 percent, compared to the low 60s during the Conservative government).

The increased number of family members admitted into the country is likely to play well in ridings with large immigrant populations — as it did in the 2015 election.

But irregular migration is not playing well with anybody — particularly not immigrants, who see asylum-seekers as queue-jumpers, nor Quebecers, who are bearing the brunt of the refugee tide.

The government has allocated an extra $440 million to improve processing and settlement programs, and an additional $173 million specifically to manage irregular migration levels. A further $50 million has been given to provinces to pay for temporary housing for “irregular” migrants.

But as Rempel pointed out, throwing money at the problem does not make it go away. “The issue for many people is that they see higher numbers (of illegal migrants) at Roxham Road, and the higher social costs, and say we should reduce numbers,” she said.

Rempel is trying to hold a line that is under pressure from “open borders” policy on the left and “closed borders” policy on the right.

She needs to sharpen her messaging, if she is to succeed in persuading Canadians this is not just a numbers game.

But it is a line worth holding.

The debate over immigration in Canada has not descended into bigotry and resentment because it has worked for four decades. As Stephen Harper noted in his recent book, Right Here, Right Now: “Make immigration legal, secure and, in the main, economically-driven, and it will have high levels of public confidence.”

But public support is on the decline thanks to illegal migration, porous borders and an increase in the proportion of non-economic migrants.

Rempel’s argument is that Trudeau has lost the “social license” to increase immigration levels and only the Conservatives can restore it. Whether that can be done without giving a number on entry levels remains to be seen.

Source: John Ivison: Will the Canadian consensus on immigration fall victim to Liberal bungling on border-crossers?

Conservative immigration critique of the levels plan

When one takes away the partisan sniping, and the points that are easy to say but hard to implement (e.g., closing the loophole in the Safe Third Country Agreement with the Trump administration), the main points boil down to:

  1. establishing metrics to determine levels with transparent consultations with industry and provinces (agree, but all parties in opposition promise more transparency than they deliver once in power);
  2. Greater focus on privately sponsored refugees compared to government sponsored refugees or asylum seekers, a valid policy choice but the anti-United Nations role in selecting refugees is more playing to the base and picking up the tone of some of the debates South of the border;
  3. Promise to have difficult conversations regarding Temporary Foreign Workers to address concerns that Canadians are not first matched with available work; and,
  4. Vague language around economic levels matched to regions, and not providing a specific number (when in power, the percentage climbed to about 60 percent from about 55 percent, under the new levels plan, it will climb to 72 percent). Historic data shows that immigration has substantially responded to regional demands in the West, thanks in part to the Provincial Nominee Program but always important to consider and respond to regional needs.

As to numbers pulled out of a hat, my understanding is that has been longstanding practice under both Conservative and Liberal governments, so while I agree with her in substance, I am sceptical as to possible implementation:

So what would a Conservative government do differently? What levels would we set?

At the end of August, I sat in this very room and outlined some key changes an Andrew Scheer led government would make to Canada’s immigration system. To recap, our approach to setting immigration would:

  • First recognize that how we allow people to enter the country, and who we allow to do so, matters. Justin Trudeau has failed to recognize this principle.
  • End the practice of setting immigration levels by an auction for votes or a seat on the UN Security Council.
  • Immediately seek to dramatically decrease the number of people entering Canada illegally via upstate New York and subsequently claiming asylum. We would do so by seeking to close the loophole in the safe third country agreement, and significantly expedite the processing and removal of those who Trudeau allowed in. The lengthy process between entering Canada illegally and being removed, all while being able to access social welfare programs, is an incentive for this behaviour that must be ended. It is not acceptable that Trudeau has planned on this being a permanent situation.
  • We would also establish a set of metrics to determine what Canada’s immigration levels should be, based on transparent principles, with integration and self-sufficiency at the forefront. For Canadians to see immigration as a positive thing, they should be able to easily see the employment and social welfare statistics for immigration levels for any given year and stream.
  • We would also establish a transparent system for consulting with industry and the provinces to set immigration levels.
  • We would focus on setting humanitarian immigration levels that focus on higher utilization of the privately sponsored refugee program, where individual Canadians through their own funds, not taxpayer funds, support the entry of refugees, and would restrict the utilization of the government assisted refugee program to instances of the four atrocity crimes.
  • We would end the practice of allowing the United Nations to be the sole agency for selecting humanitarian immigrants to be resettled to Canada, and we would not cede our sovereign right in setting immigration levels to this agency.
  • We would reform the Temporary Foreign Worker program and not shy away from difficult conservations [nice to know even MPs occasionally make typos – should be conversations] around employment insurance, working conditions, and wage depression associated with the program and other reasons why Canadians don’t take or aren’t skilled for certain jobs, and ensure that Canadians are first matched with available work.
  • We would also change our immigration programs and support to better focus economic immigration levels and retention to regions with acute labour shortages. It is not enough to cite the Conference Board of Canada in saying that the economy needs more immigrants; immigration levels should be set to ensure that newcomers are matched with jobs in regions where Canadians are not out of work.

In short, a Conservative government would not pull a number out of the air in terms of how many people we would allow into the country. The number we would present to Canadians would be shaped by the above principles, and would be answered as follows:

  • There are X number of job vacancies in a certain industry or region, here’s the reason why Canadians aren’t doing the job, here’s what we did to try to fix that problem, and as such we are allowing X number of people to enter Canada, with X skill set, to fill this need. Then we would track our outcomes to make sure our programs are working.
  • On the humanitarian side, we would not allow people to enter Canada illegally and abuse our asylum system. The target number for that stream of entry should be zero. All other targets would be met by gaining consensus from Canadians that we should help a certain cohort of people (for example, genocide survivors), and then gaining consensus from Canadians on how much money we should spend to support the initiative, in terms of the cost of integrating into Canada, and in the context of putting the needs of Canadians first. We wouldn’t take a false morally superior position that excludes Canadians from helping to decide how our humanitarian immigration system should function, and be funded.

The levels Justin Trudeau has put forward in this report are unfocused, unplanned, and ill thought out. There is no justification included herein on how he would change the system to make it more just, fair, or lawful. It is simply a continuation of his failed  immigration policies. The reality is that Canada can’t sustain high immigration levels under Justin Trudeau’s failed immigration policies. A change in government must occur before Canadians will be able to regain faith in our immigration system.

For all the reasons I’ve given you today, the Conservative Party of Canada strongly opposes the levels set out in this report.

Source: Canada Can’t Sustain High Immigration Levels Under Justin Trudeau’s Failed Immigration Policies

And CTV’s reporting:

One day after the Liberal government unveiled plans to ramp up immigration levels to 350,000 people by 2021, the Conservative immigration critic won’t say what she believes the figure should be.

The number is not the point, according to Michelle Rempel.

“Justin Trudeau has no credibility to set Canada’s immigration levels,” she said Thursday at a news conference.

Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Ahmed Hussen announced on Wednesday that Canada will increase its immigration target to 350,000 by 2021, up from the current level of 310,000.

Hussen told CTV’s Power Play on Thursday that the plan is “responsible and ambitious” and focuses on bringing in “highly-skilled talent that creates middle class jobs for our country.”

“Canadians are asking us to provide them with more workers, more skilled immigrants who can grow our economy and create good-quality, full-time middle class jobs,” Hussen said.

Hussen added that the Federal Skilled Workers program, which offers residency to people like international students who find work, makes up the single biggest component of immigration.

“The vast majority of those folks are people applying from within Canada,” he said. “They already have a job.”

At her press conference, Rempel cited an Angus Reid pollfrom August which found that 49 per cent of Canadians wanted to see the country reduce its immigration intake – up from 36 per cent four years earlier and the highest number in the 43-year period since the question was first asked.

She said that Canadians’ appetite for increased immigration has hit its lowest level on record because of how the Liberals have handled an influx of people crossing the border and claiming asylum.

Federal numbers show that 15,726 people crossed into Canada irregularly at all points in the first nine months of 2018, up from 15,102 in the same time period one year earlier.

The Safe Third Country Agreement between Canada and the United States requires most people seeking refugee protection to file their claim in the first of the two countries they arrive in. It means people cannot pass through the U.S. to seek asylum at the Canadian border checkpoint, but does not apply to people who cross at places other than standard border checkpoints.

Rempel argued that people who are not legitimate refugees are taking advantage of the Safe Third Country Agreement “loophole,” knowing that they can live in Canada for years before their claims are even processed.

“Having reached upstate New York, these people are not fleeing persecution and should not be treated as such by Justin Trudeau,” she said.

Rempel said the Conservatives would crack down on irregular border crossings by closing the loophole. The Liberals say they have repeatedly asked the U.S. government to reopen the agreement.

Rempel also accused the government of spending “hundreds of millions” to normalize the crossings, including $50 million on temporary accommodations for people. Many of them are now living in Toronto hotels.

Hussen told Power Play that the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) is in charge of deciding whether irregular border crossers are legitimate refugees and that those who are not legitimate refugees will be told to leave.

“We’ve reinvested in the Canadian Border Services Agency as well as the IRB to make sure that these claims are heard expeditiously,” Hussen said.

“A big percentage of those found not to be genuine refugees voluntarily leave Canada,” he added.

Rempel also singled out the temporary foreign worker (TFW) program for criticism. Under the government’s new plan, the number of migrant workers allowed into the country will rise to nearly 250,000.

Rempel said that the TFW program was “rife with abuse,” and that it lowered wages and working conditions while keeping certain jobs out of the reach of out-of-work Canadians.

“That this government has made no move to radically change Canada’s economic dependence on this abusive and ill-thought-out system also undermines the credibility of the numbers in this levels report,” she said.

She said the Conservative preference would be to have migrant workers instead “settling in those communities and staying employed” – or to have those positions be filled by people already in the country.

“Is there a way that we can reform that program such that Canadians are matched with those jobs?” she added.

A Conservative government would also look to increase the focus on having refugees be sponsored privately by Canadian citizens, with the government-assisted refugee program being reduced to people fleeing the “atrocity crimes” of war crimes, ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity and genocide, according to Rempel.

Source: Rempel says Trudeau has ‘no credibility’ on immigration

New citizenship guide to warn against ‘abhorrent’ practice of female genital mutilation

Good. Now the question remains how this will be presented and what language will be used.

Hopefully, the guide will place this in the context of spousal and child abuse, sexual assault, and a short summary of the evolution of women’s rights in Canada, without the identify politics label of “barbaric cultural practices.”

While one would have hoped that the government would have done this in any case, one has to give credit to Conservative Immigration Critic Michelle Rempel for pressing the issue:

Canada’s updated citizenship guide will include a warning to newcomers about the illegal practice of female genital mutilation.

In a statement provided to CBC News, Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen called it an “abhorrent practice” that is against the law in Canada.

“While the content for the new guide is still being developed, Canadians can be assured that the new document will include information on Canada’s laws against gender-based violence, including FGM,” he said.

“We would normally not comment on a product still under development, but given the interest in this specific issue, I felt it was important to update Canadians on where we stand.”

The issue has become politically charged, with the Conservatives suggesting the revamped guide would drop a reference to the practice.

Immigration critic Michelle Rempel has repeatedly pressed Hussen on the topic, and sponsored an e-petition in the House of Commons that calls on the government to ensure the new guide condemns the practice.
Petition E-1310, which is open until Feb, 3, now has nearly 25,000 signatures.

On Nov. 28, 2017, Rempel urged people to sign the petition in a tweet that said: “Trudeau is removing references to female genital mutilation as being a harmful practice from Canada’s citizenship guide.”

Rempel was citing a report from The Canadian Press, which said a draft copy of the revised citizenship guide removed the reference to FGM. The current guide, brought in by the Conservatives in 2011, stresses that men and women are equal under the law in Canada.

“Canada’s openness and generosity do not extend to barbaric cultural practices that tolerate spousal abuse, “honour killings,” female genital mutilation, forced marriage or other gender-based violence,” it reads. “Those guilty of these crimes are severely punished under Canada’s criminal laws.”

via New citizenship guide to warn against ‘abhorrent’ practice of female genital mutilation | CBC News

The cynical roots of Rempel’s female genital mutilation crusade – iPolitics

Martin Patriquin on Michelle Rempel’s raising the issue of FGM and its inclusion or not in the revision of the Discover Canada citizenship guide:

The procedure by which a woman’s clitoris is surgically removed is usually performed without anesthesia and in unsanitary conditions. Unnecessary, retrograde and associated with a host of physical ailments, the surgery also can saddle a woman with a lifetime of psychological issues.

The very purpose of the surgery — to deprive a woman of sexual pleasure — is religiosity at its worst. Only a monster would support such a thing.

A monster — or the Liberal government, according to the blinkered thinking of Conservative MP Michelle Rempel. She seems to believe that the 23rd prime minister of Canada, along with its 20th immigration minister, are in favour of the practice.

Why? Because the Liberal government (she suggests) plans to remove from the pending new citizenship guide a reference to female genital mutilation, which is listed among other “barbaric cultural practices,” including honour killings and forced marriage.

“Those guilty of these crimes are severely punished under Canada’s criminal laws,” the current guide helpfully points out.

In fact, ‘plans to remove’ is too strong a statement, as the Liberals have yet to release the new citizenship guide, which newcomers use to study for the citizenship test. Nor have the Liberals said that the reference would be excised from the guide, despite the leak of a draft copy this summer that didn’t include it. Whenever he is asked about it, Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen typically spouts the words “consultation” and “stakeholders” ad absurdum.

Rempel, who serves as the party’s shadow minister for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, sees something altogether nefarious in all this bureaucratese. And should the Liberals indeed remove the mention of female genital mutilation, it will be a “tacit message to people that perhaps the Canadian government is OK with it,” Rempel recently said during a radio interview.

open quote 761b1bRempel’s line of questioning strongly suggested Hussen was a cypher, using his position to foist the practice of ritual mutilation on an unsuspecting Canadian public.

So, there you have it. Canada’s current government is in favour of the forced, ritual removal of a part of a woman’s anatomy, according to the Official Opposition. To be clear, Rempel says she doesn’t know why the Liberal government would be gung ho on such a thing. But that hasn’t stopped her from speculating — on the record.

During a recent parliamentary committee hearing, Rempel lobbed loaded questions at Hussen, the apparent goal of which was to suggest the Prime Minister’s Office had asked for the reference to be removed. After Hussen said the PMO hadn’t instructed him to do anything, Rempel aimed for the jugular — or rather, below the belt. “What is your personal view?” Rempel asked Hussen, before the committee chair mercifully cut her off.

Hussen hails from Somalia, where the rate of female genital mutilation is the highest in the world, according to UNICEF. He is a refugee who fled war and strife to become a Canadian citizen and eventually a federal cabinet minister. Rempel’s line of questioning strongly suggested he was a cypher, using his position to foist the practice of ritual mutilation on an unsuspecting Canadian public.

The reference to female genital mutilation in the citizenship guide is similarly loaded. Telling potential citizens that cutting off another person’s body parts is illegal and will be punished is … redundant. Worse still, the inference is clear, and is aimed squarely at a certain subset of would-be Canadian citizens: Muslims.

Not coincidentally, female genital mutilation is carried out in roughly 30 countries, nearly all of them in Africa and nearly all predominantly Muslim. The inclusion of the phrase in the 2011 citizenship guide, much like the Conservative’s “barbaric cultural practices hotline” gambit during the 2015 election, is the stuff of cynical wedge politics meant to leverage revulsion against an identifiable religious group.

It conveniently ignores the fact that immigrants and refugees often flee their countries of origin specifically because of such practices. And it vastly overstates the scope of the problem in Canada.

As in Europe, instances of genital mutilation in this country remain isolated tragedies, and often come to light as a result of arrests. Moreover, the rate of female genital mutilation among those 30 countries has decreased by 30 per cent since 1985, according to UNICEF.

Meanwhile, other types of crimes in Canada are far more common. There were 1,409 police reported hate crimes in 2016 — an increase of 20 per cent since 2013. The homicide rate has also increased by 20 per cent in that time period. There were over 220,000 assaults across the country in 2016, and roughly 159,000 instances of breaking and entering.

One wonders why Rempel isn’t pushing the federal government to remind potential citizens that murder, assault, thievery and race-based aggression are illegal in this country and will be punished. Because it’s obvious, perhaps?

via The cynical roots of Rempel’s female genital mutilation crusade – iPolitics

A Yazidi Refugee Family In Canada: When Safe Harbour Isn’t Enough

Good long read by Naomi Buck on the needs of Yazidi refugees.

Bringing them to Canada by itself not enough given the ongoing effects of their trauma and consequent need for more supports. German model of particular interest:

….It’s tempting to assume that survivors of war and displaced persons’ camps would be grateful for the relative safety of a hotel room in Canada. But the Dasnis didn’t know they were safe. All they knew was what they didn’t know: where to find food, how to use the television, whether hotel staff could be trusted, who or what would come next.

“We cried for two days,” Adiba recalls. “It was worse than in the camps. Our cellphones didn’t work, we couldn’t communicate with anyone. My nephew stopped eating. I thought he was going to die.”

On the third day, there was a knock on the hotel room door. Adiba’s older sister, Hadiya, answered. The man introduced himself as Hayder Essw. He was the first person in Canada to speak to them in their native Kurdish dialect. Hadiya’s first words to him were: “Please take us back to Iraq.”

Essw was there to help, but he wasn’t a caseworker or government employee. He’s a member of the tight-knit Yazidi community in Toronto, a volunteer who, since the first Yazidi refugees began arriving in early 2017, has spent much of his time tracking newcomer arrivals.

Essw reassured the women that things were going to be all right. Now that they had been “discovered” by the community, help would begin to flow. And it did.

It came from the government, in the form of financial support and health care coverage, as it does for all government-assisted refugees. But the arduous process of the Dasni family’s settlement has fallen largely to volunteers. This kind of civic engagement reflects well on Canada, providing such volunteers exist and, importantly, have the newcomers’ best interests in mind. But it’s leaving a lot to chance. And it raises critical questions about the government’s ability to meet the needs of a brutally traumatized people. As Jan Kizilhan, a German expert on trauma and the Yazidi, puts it, “It’s not enough to just offer them a safe country.”

Yes, the Canadian government provides Yazidi refugees with free health care, but who finds them a doctor and shows them how to get there? Yes, ESL classes are free, but who helps them make sense of Canadian customs and culture? The government prides itself on taking in a “vulnerable population,” but who makes sure they are getting the help they need to come to terms with their past? Without that, they can’t begin to shape a future.

Over the course of several visits spanning four months, Adiba tells me her story. It’s hard, but she’s determined. She wants the Canadian government to do more for her people. She can’t let go of her relatives back in Iraq — in camps, in captivity or whereabouts unknown.

The family now lives in a randomly furnished bungalow — the lamps are still wrapped in cellophane, a Canadian flag hangs on the wall — on a quiet suburban street north of Toronto. Hadiya, the mother of six, runs the household; she is perpetually cleaning or cooking. There are two constants to our visits. One is her offer of sweet black tea or food from her busy kitchen. The other is Majed El Shafie.

El Shafie, a stocky 40-year-old with plump jowls and a quick smile, is the founder and director of the Toronto-based human rights organization One Free World International. With his bespoke suits and buffed leather shoes, he seems out of place in this modest suburban setting, but Adiba insists he be here for our meetings. “Without him, we would go back,” says Adiba, speaking through a translator. “He is the only one who is helping us with everything.”

…El Shafie prefers not to discuss the details of Adiba’s release in her presence, but he put up half of the US$15,000 price tag and has promised to compensate Adiba’s father in full. Sitting in the downtown office of One Free World International, he speaks openly about the bleak — and controversial — business his organization has entered: buying back ISIS slaves. “That was the going price at the time,” El Shafie says, referring to the ransom. “It keeps going up…. But we’re talking human lives here.”

For El Shafie, freedom of religion must be defended at any cost. According to its website, his organization is active in 28 countries around the world and he is drawn to extreme cases, like that of the Yazidi. The mission is personal. Born into a prominent Egyptian family, he was imprisoned and tortured in Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt for publicly converting to Christianity and promoting the faith. After escaping to Israel, he came to Canada as a political refugee in 2002.

Since the 2014 massacre, El Shafie has been working with Kurdish partners on the ground in Iraq to help Yazidi families buy back their daughters, sisters and wives. He estimates that One Free World has helped to pay, in part or in whole, for the release of 600 women. The funds come from donations to his organization, from fees from his speaking engagements and out of his own pocket.

When he is not meeting with officials in Brussels or Washington, or visiting a war zone, El Shafie spends much of his time with the Dasnis and roughly 20 other Yazidi families newly arrived in Toronto. He sees himself as a kind of godfather to the Dasnis. Some of what he has provided might be considered frills: outings to Canada’s Wonderland, Niagara Falls and Toronto’s harbour, which the sisters cite as the highlights of their time in Canada. But he has also played, in practice if not on paper, the roles of settlement worker and social worker: finding the family a house, acting as guarantor on the rental agreement, providing cash infusions for several months until government benefits kicked in, sourcing doctors and specialists, intervening at the local school and attending to personal emergencies.

“Freeing them was one operation,” he says. “But what they face now is tremendously difficult: the stigma, the shame, the memories.” He has lobbied Ottawa forcefully, appearing before and making submissions to the House of Commons immigration committee, asking the government to boost aid to the camps, bring more Yazidi into Canada and provide better mental health support once they’re here.

Germany, home to the largest population of Yazidi outside of Iraq, was the first jurisdiction to focus an aid program on the women and children who had escaped sex slavery. Beginning in early 2015, a small German delegation travelled to camps in the region, screening former ISIS captives for the Special Quota Project, an unprecedented program that brought 1,100 women and children to the southern German state of Baden-Württemberg, where they were given protected housing and intensive medical and psychological treatment. After three years, they can choose to stay in Germany or return to Iraq.

…It’s a question architects of refugee policy grapple with constantly: Who needs it most? And who decides what those people most need?

Jan Kizilhan has spent the last few years finding answers. As the chief psychologist on Germany’s Special Quota Project, the 51-year-old was tasked with selecting which 1,100 Yazidi women would come to Germany for treatment. He interviewed every single one of them and has supervised their therapy in Germany over the last three years.

“The Yazidi suffer intergenerational, secondary and collective traumata,” he says over the phone from his office at the Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University of Villingen-Schwenningen. “Their treatment requires a high degree of specialization.”

Kizilhan, the grandson of Yazidi killed by Kurdish Muslims in Turkey, emigrated to Germany in the 1970s. His expertise is unique, and Canada’s parliamentary immigration committee consulted with him via video conference in November 2016 while IRCC was formulating its plan for the Yazidi. Having been very clear about the importance of addressing their psychological needs, Kizilhan has been perplexed to hear from colleagues and friends in Canada that therapy is playing a minor role, if any, in their settlement. “If you don’t help these people with their health, they have no hope of integrating,” he says. “Mentally, they are not in Canada, they are still in Kurdistan, in Iraq.”

IRCC turned down a request for an interview for this article, but department spokespeople responded to questions by email. They emphasized that the Yazidi “are a very vulnerable population” and that the government is “conscious of not doing anything that may re-victimize or re-traumatize them.” They also stated that “all resettled refugees are linked to appropriate support services,” and that their health coverage, the Interim Federal Health Program, covers 10 hours of counselling sessions, with the possibility of more, if required. More recently, an IRCC spokesperson added that “the department is following families closely,” and that staff meet weekly to discuss how the families are adapting.

via A Yazidi Refugee Family In Canada: When Safe Harbour Isn’t Enough

Tories Push Trudeau To Keep FGM Warning In Citizenship Guide

Of course, the citizenship guide should maintain a reference to FGM.

But this needs to be placed in the broader context of violence against women and the history of how Canadian society has evolved in terms of women’s rights, definition of sexual assault, employment equity and the like, not just with an identity politics bumper sticker of “barbaric cultural practices”:

Federal Conservatives are pressuring the Liberal government to ensure that the final draft of the new citizenship guide includes a warning that female genital mutilation (FGM) is a crime in Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not speak to the guide when pressed about the issue in question period Wednesday, but said he is committed to ending the “barbaric practice” around the world.

Tory immigration critic Michelle Rempel noted in the House of Commons that the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women — better known as UN Women — tweeted about FGM as part of its “16 days of activism.”

The UN group called FGM — the intentional cutting of female genital organs for non-medical reasons — a human rights violation that has been perpetuated against 200 million women and girls.

“Canada’s citizenship guide informs newcomers that FGM is a crime in Canada. However Canada’s prime minister has decided to delete this information,” Rempel charged.

The MP was referencing a working copy of the new citizenship guide the government is preparing. The draft, which was obtained by The Canadian Press in the summer, reportedly omits lines stating that certain “barbaric cultural practices,” such as FGM and honour killings, are illegal in Canada. The previous Tory government included those warnings in their overhauls of the guide.

Rempel urged Trudeau in the House to stand with FGM survivors and the UN by reversing what she called his “decision.” She made similar comments on Twitter shortly after question period.

Trudeau responded that he “personally brought up this issue” during a visit to Liberia last year, “challenging local leaders and governments to step up on the fight against FGM.”

Then he said something that drew an immediate reaction from Tories.

“We will continue to lead the way pushing for an end to these barbaric practices of female genital mutilation everywhere around the world. This is something… and here in Canada… this is something we take very seriously.”

Tories bashed Trudeau over comments in 2011

The use of the word “barbaric” harkens back to a controversy in 2011, when Trudeau was serving as the immigration critic of the then-opposition Liberals. He initially took exception to the way the Tories’ revamped citizenship guide described honour killings as “barbaric.”

Trudeau said at the time that the government should have instead called all violence against women “absolutely unacceptable” and made a better “attempt at responsible neutrality.” Top Tories, including then-immigration minister Jason Kenney, relentlessly blasted Trudeau over his remarks.

Trudeau later apologized and retracted his initial take on the guide.

“I want to make it clear that I think the acts described are heinous, barbaric acts that are totally unacceptable in our society,” he said in a statement at the time, according to CBC News.

The debate over so-called “barbaric cultural practices” also factored heavily in the 2015 election, when the Tories famously pledged to create a tip line for Canadians to call if they suspected a child or woman could fall victim to forced marriage, FGM, or polygamy. Liberals said then that the Conservatives’ campaign pledge was really about stoking “fear and division.”

PM brings up lessons from 2015 election

Trudeau referenced that ill-fated Tory promise in the House Tuesday while responding to Conservative questions about how his government is handling suspected ISIS terrorists after they return to Canada. The prime minister said Tories have learned nothing from the results of the last federal vote.

“They ran an election on snitch lines against Muslims, they ran an election on Islamophobia and division, and still they play the same games, trying to scare Canadians,” Trudeau shouted.

“The fact is we always focus on the security of Canadians, and we always will. They play the politics of fear, and Canadians reject that.”

via Tories Push Trudeau To Keep FGM Warning In Citizenship Guide