Ottawa’s contract for $200-million fund not transparent, Black business group says

Not a good look:

A prominent Black business group is accusing the federal government of running a rushed and opaque procurement process to administer a $200-million endowment program for Black-led charities and community organizations.

The Liberal government first announced the Black-led Philanthropic Endowment Fund in the 2021 budget, but only put out a request for proposals to run the fund last fall. Groups had until Nov. 25 to apply. The fund is meant to be self-sustaining for at least 10 years and the administrators have access to only $9.5-million of the fund for early operating and granting activities.

One group that applied is the Black Opportunity Fund (BOF), which was started by a coalition of Black executives in 2020 to tackle systemic anti-Black racism in corporate Canada and invest in Black-led organizations and businesses.

BOF is funded through programs with corporate partners, including Toronto-Dominion Bank and Walmart Stores Inc. It does not currently take government funding.

Executive director Craig Wellington said BOF had been one of many groups with whom the government had consulted in designing the philanthropic fund.

He said BOF wrote up a proposal of more than 500 pages to describe in detail how the fund could be used effectively, and had arranged a consortium of partners that included the Toronto Foundation and RockCreek, a global investment firm with $16-billion in assets under management.

He said after the group filed its application in November, it heard nothing until Jan. 27, when it was informed it was not selected for the fund in a short e-mail signed from “Service Canada.”

“We had received no phone calls, no communication, no e-mails, regarding the proposal. Not a question,” Mr. Wellington said.

He said the short timeline – compared with the length of time it usually takes the government to do its due diligence on large procurement processes – suggested to him that Ottawa already had a winner in mind.

“What we are starting to hear is that they’ve already selected the agent,” Mr. Wellington said. “Which would be shocking, because we’re talking about Nov. 25 to a week ago. You’re talking eight weeks total, including the holiday closure. For a $200-million procurement. That is not possible. The government cannot buy computers in six weeks.”

In a letter sent Monday to a group of Liberal ministers that includes Minister of Housing, Diversity and Inclusion Ahmed Hussen, BOF asked for the government to make a detailed account of how it is reviewing and selecting applications. BOF also asked the federal Auditor-General to review the procurement process.

“It was our expectation that the government would undergo a thorough, rigorous and transparent process to select the steward for the fund, particularly in light of recent controversies with respect to other procurement processes,” said the letter signed from BOF board chair Ray Williams, managing director and vice-chairman of National Bank Financial.

One of the most prominent federal initiatives for Black-owned businesses to date is the $160-million Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund, which was slow to roll out funds after it launched in the summer of 2021. A frequent criticism from members of the Black business community has been that the entrepreneurship fund was rushed out the door before it was ready, and not enough due diligence was done in selecting the administrators, which led to poor results.

Brittany-Anne Hendrych, a spokesperson for Mr. Hussen, defended the selection process and said it built on earlier consultations the government had held with Black organizations on the design of the program.

“Let us be clear, all applicants were assessed by officials at Employment and Social Development Canada based on their capacity to deliver on the goals of the endowment fund in a fair, transparent and objective manner,” Ms. Hendrych said in a statement.

She said a fund administrator had indeed been selected and more information would be announced soon.

The Michaëlle Jean Foundation, which was a partner on the BOF application, said it supported the call for more government transparency.

“It is a deep disappointment that the federal government has not had any questions for BOF or its partners with regards to their well-considered and action-oriented proposal for this fund,” executive director Tara Lapointe said in a statement.

Mr. Wellington said he thinks the government is putting optics ahead of its concern for proper spending.

“They’re getting prepared to make an announcement during Black History Month,” he said. “So Black History Month, and making a photo-op or whatever, is more of a priority than a rigorous, transparent process.”

Source: Ottawa’s contract for $200-million fund not transparent, Black business group says

Diversity Minister condemns CRTC for not severing ties with consultant under fire for tweets

Needed but questions remain regarding how Canadian Heritage and CRTC decisions to provide funding to the Community Media Advocacy Centre were made. Recommended by officials (“activists on a pension”) and/or pushed by the political level:

Diversity Minister Ahmed Hussen says he is “surprised and disappointed” by the federal broadcasting regulator’s decision not to ban an anti-racism organization that employs Laith Marouf, a consultant who has been widely condemned for a series of derogatory tweets about “Jewish white supremacists” and francophones.

The Minister made his comments on Friday to the Commons heritage committee, which had summoned him so he could explain how his department’s anti-racism unit had granted the organization, called the Community Media Advocacy Centre, a contract to run an anti-racism project in which Mr. Marouf was to play a key role.

CMAC has been paid over $500,000 to participate in proceedings held by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, Canada’s broadcasting regulator. Most of the money was provided by the Broadcast Participation Fund, an independent body set up by the CRTC to administer payments to public-interest groups taking part in those proceedings.

The Broadcast Participation Fund told The Globe and Mail in a statement on Friday that it was “currently reviewing the CMAC matter.” The fund is paid into by broadcasting companies, which have no influence over who receives the money.

Opinion: Ahmed Hussen demands to know how someone else let his government partner with an apparent antisemite

A spokeswoman for the CRTC said on Thursday that the regulator would not ban CMAC from its proceedings because it would be inappropriate “to establish lists of parties that may or may not participate.”

At Friday’s committee hearing, Mr. Hussen told MPs that he had been warned by Liberal MP Anthony Housefather about Mr. Marouf’s offensive tweets on July 19th or 20th – a month before the Minister spoke out publicly.

Facing sharp questioning from MPs, the Minister admitted that the Heritage Department’s vetting process failed when it decided to pay $133,000 to CMAC to run the anti-racism project.

Mr. Hussen apologized to Jewish and francophone communities, which he said Mr. Marouf has “continuously attacked with his hateful comments.”

He said it was “completely unacceptable” that “this individual fell through the cracks” and was approved to run a government-funded project. The Heritage Department, which he said approved the funding before he became Diversity and Inclusion Minister, has now cancelled the initiative and is asking CMAC for its money back.

“The antisemitic, hateful and xenophobic comments made by Laith Marouf … I condemn them in the strongest possible terms,” Mr. Hussen said. “The fact that the Community Media Advocacy Centre received federal funding while employing Mr. Marouf is unacceptable and should quite frankly never have happened.”

CMAC describes itself as a non-profit organization supporting the “self-determination of Indigenous, racialized and disabled peoples in the media through research, relationship-building, advocacy and learning.”

Mr. Marouf denies he is antisemitic or racist. He said in an interview that CMAC is currently in discussions with the Heritage Department about the contract. CMAC and Mr. Marouf had already started the project when it was terminated.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in August that the government has launched a complete review of funding for CMAC. He added that it was unacceptable “that federal dollars have gone to this organization that has demonstrated xenophobia, racism and anti-Semitism.”

Mr. Hussen told MPs that CMAC would be blocked from applying for any future funding. He said he has introduced tighter vetting procedures for such contracts, including an obligation to check social media profiles for hateful speech. And he said his department’s contracts now include a clause that allows them to be terminated if hate speech comes to light. He said he has paused all new departmental contracts until more checks are made.

Jewish groups, including the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre, called on the CRTC to follow the government’s lead in severing ties with Mr. Marouf and CMAC, and to ban the organization from taking part in regulatory proceedings.

“Laith Marouf’s hateful statements should have disqualified him, and CMAC, from access to any government funding, let alone to money from an anti-racism program,” said Shimon Koffler Fogel, president of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. “It is imperative that the values promoted by the government be reflected in the orientation and work of their partners outside government.”

Conservative MP Kevin Waugh told the heritage committee that CRTC chairman Ian Scott and Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez should both be summoned to appear before the committee to explain their organizations’ links to CMAC.

Rachael Thomas, a Tory MP, and Melissa Lantsman, deputy leader of the Conservative Party, issued a statement saying “Canadians deserve answers” from Mr. Rodriguez.

Source: Diversity Minister condemns CRTC for not severing ties with consultant under fire for tweets

Ottawa improving vetting process to keep Heritage grants away from groups promoting hate: Hussen

Failure at the bureaucratic or political level, or both? Will the results of this review and the new vetting procedure be made public?

Housing, Diversity and Inclusion Minister Ahmed Hussen says the Department of Canadian Heritage will be improving its vetting process to make sure it doesn’t give money to organizations that espouse hatred — and those that do could be banned from future funding.

In an interview with CBC’s The House airing Saturday, Hussen said the federal government giving $133,000 to the Community Media Advocacy Centre to develop and run an anti-racism strategy for broadcasters indicated a failure of the vetting process.

In posts on social media, CMAC’s senior consultant Laith Marouf talked about “Jewish white supremacists,” referred to some Indigenous and Black individuals using the term “house slave” and spoke about francophones in Quebec using the slur “frogs.”

“The fact that this slipped through the cracks is a slap in the face to the Jewish community and the francophone community, and many other communities, and for that I sincerely apologize,” Hussen told host Catherine Cullen.

The Liberal government has cut funding to an outside group it hired to deliver anti-racism training after it was discovered that one of the group’s leaders made antisemitic remarks in social media posts.

“This incident reflects a failure in the vetting system that not only missed Marouf’s despicable language online but failed to reveal this information later on to correct the error.”

Hussen said department vetting processes will be strengthened and any organization found to have spread hateful views could be barred from receiving future funding.

Organizations would “not only have their [existing] funding cut, but they will be ineligible to receive any future federal dollars — they will be ineligible to apply to any programs from the Department of Canadian Heritage,” Hussen said.

He said no new federal money will be granted by Canadian Heritage until the new processes are in place.

Diversity and Inclusion Minister Ahmed Hussen talks about how the federal government ended up granting money to the Community Media Advocacy Centre and what he is doing to make sure similar mistakes can be avoided in the future.

Liberal MP criticizes initial response

Liberal MP Anthony Housefather flagged the comments to Hussen’s office in July and has said he was “disappointed” in the department’s response prior to the announcement that funding would be cut. Hussen said Saturday he quickly tasked his office with investigating and coming up with solutions, but now wishes the process had moved more quickly.

Prominent Jewish figures in the Liberal Party have been outspoken about the need for action on the funding. Former Liberal MP Michael Levitt, now president and CEO of the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre, said on Twitter he was “utterly disheartened” by the Marouf affair.

“Taking a stand against antisemitism should be a given and yet so few of my former Liberal colleagues have done so. This truly hurts. Jewish MPs shouldn’t be left to call this out alone,” he wrote.

Shimon Koffler Fogel, president and CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said earlier this month the tweets showed a need for revamped oversight policies at Canadian Heritage.

The Canadian Press reported last month that a lawyer acting for Marouf asked for his client’s tweets to be quoted “verbatim” and distinguished between Marouf’s “clear reference to ‘Jewish white supremacists”‘ and Jews or Jewish people in general.

Marouf does not harbour “any animus toward the Jewish faith as a collective group,” lawyer Stephen Ellis said in an email.

Source: Ottawa improving vetting process to keep Heritage grants away from groups promoting hate: Hussen

‘Powerful tools of White Supremacy’: Embattled anti-racism group speaks out to supporters

Their website is certainly on the extreme woke side, with no information on the board of directors or consultants (which may have been scrubbed following the justified criticism of its orientation and tweets of Marouf).

Hard to understand how their public website info didn’t raise any flags, even if Marouf’s racist tweets were not known:

The organization embroiled in a scandal after receiving a $133,000 government contract for an anti-racism project, even though one of its founders had sent a slew of bigoted tweets, has finally spoken out, issuing an email to supporters that says “online and mainstream media are powerful tools of White Supremacy.”

In the email, the Community Media Advocacy Centre (CMAC) says it received a letter from the Department of Canadian Heritage suspending the anti-racism project for the broadcasting sector they had been working on.

It marks the first time CMAC has spoken publicly about the scandal.

The scandal first broke last week when The Canadian Press reported on a series of anti-Semitic tweets from Laith Marouf, a senior consultant with CMAC. At the time, Ahmed Hussen, the minister of diversity, inclusion and youth, said the government would “look closely at the situation involving disturbing comments made by the individual in question.”

Still, months earlier, in April 2022, when the project was announced, Hussen praised it in a press release: “In Canada, diversity is a fact, but inclusion is a choice. Our government is proud to contribute to the initiative,” Hussen said.

While Marouf’s tweets are private, The Canadian Press reported on screenshots. One such tweet said: “You know all those loud mouthed bags of human feces, aka the Jewish White Supremacists; when we liberate Palestine and they have to go back to where they come from, they will return to being low voiced bitches of thier Christian/Secular White Supremacist Masters.”

Marouf’s lawyer, Stephen Ellis, asked that The Canadian Press quote Marouf’s tweets “verbatim,” and said there was a difference between Marouf’s “clear reference to ‘Jewish white supremacists,’” and Jews or Jewish people in general.

Marouf does not harbour “any animus toward the Jewish faith as a collective group,” The Canadian Press reported.

By Monday, Hussen announced the government had cut funding to the CMAC project.

“The antisemitic statements made by Laith Marouf are reprehensible and vile,” Hussen said in a statement posted to Twitter. “We call on CMAC, an organization claiming to fight racism and hate in Canada, to answer to how they came to hire Laith Marouf, and how they plan on rectifying the situation given the nature of his antisemitic and xenophobic statements.”

Then, Anthony Housefather, a Liberal member of Parliament, said he had warned Hussen about Marouf’s statements prior to the media catching wind of them.

“I said the contract had to be cancelled. I alerted him and I persistently communicated with the minister in his office, from the day I learned about it, until today, and aggressively demanded that action be taken,” Housefather told the National Post. “Action could have been taken more quickly.”

Housefather also said there needs to be a “thorough review in the department of Heritage as to how this happened” and processes need to be put in place to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Friday’s statement does not address the questions raised by Housefather or Hussen.

“From Turtle Island to Palestine, CMAC continues to see the need for an anti-racism strategy for broadcasting that disrupts settler-colonialism and oppression in the media,” it said.

The email also urges patience on the part of organizers for events across Canada, and said it would be suspending events for the time being while it considers how to respond to Canadian Heritage.

Marouf has a long history of edgy tweets: He has claimed Israel was the creation of “White Jews who adopted Nazism,” and said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is the head of an “Apartheid” colony.

Irwin Cotler — a Jewish-Canadian and former Liberal justice minister — was called the “Grand Wizard of Zionism” and a man who “looks like a d–k without makeup.” In 2021, Marouf said “Jewish White Supremacists” deserve only a “bullet to the head.”

Source: ‘Powerful tools of White Supremacy’: Embattled anti-racism group speaks out to supporters 

Urback: Ahmed Hussen demands to know how someone else let his government partner with an apparent antisemite

Fair comment and good advice as to how the Minister should have handled it “A reasonable response from Mr. Hussen would be for him to come out and explain that the Heritage Ministry did not do its due diligence in this case, but that it is developing specific protocols, which will soon be publicly disclosed, to vet grant recipients.”

Screw-ups happen, but bureaucratic and political-level vetting needs to improve.

Non-accountabilities, as non-apologies, that shift the blame to others undermine trust and credibility:

Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion, is demanding accountability: How could someone else have let his government pair up with a guy who spews noxious, hateful views on Twitter for an anti-racism project? What will someone else do to make it better? And how can someone else ensure that this sort of thing never happens again?

Last year, a group called the Community Media Advocacy Centre (CMAC) received a grant of $133,800 from the Department of Canadian Heritage to develop an anti-racism strategy for Canadian broadcasting. Laith Marouf, a senior consultant with CMAC, was spearheading the project according to a news release from April, though he still found time to tweet about “loud mouthed bags of human feces aka the Jewish White Supremacists,” and why they deserve “a bullet to the head.” In other tweets, Mr. Marouf also called former justice minister Irwin Cotler the “Grand Wizard of Zionism” and former U.S. secretary of state Colin Powell a “Jamaican house-slave.”

A lawyer acting for Mr. Marouf told CBC that while his client’s tweets target “Jewish White Supremacists,” the consultant does not harbour any animus toward Jews in general – which is true only if you ignore tweets such as the one where Mr. Marouf explained why he “stopped sharing the works of Jewish White people, even if anti-Zionist/anti-Imperialist.” Perhaps he’s one of those “do as I say, not as I do” diversity and inclusion lecturers.

Canadian tech blogger Mark Goldberg had been writing about Mr. Marouf’s zany interpretation of anti-racist activism for at least a year, but it wasn’t until his observations were amplified by Quillette editor and former National Post columnist Jonathan Kay that thousands of Canadians became aware of the person the Canadian government had contracted to teach others about prejudice. Yet it still took more than a week – and one false start with a vague statement from Mr. Hussen about his ministry looking to “rectify” the matter – before the government announced that CMAC’s funding would be cut and its project suspended.

In that announcement, Mr. Hussen was adamant that there would be accountability: Not from his ministry or from Canadian Heritage to explain how they vet grant recipients and/or what they will do to make sure this sort of thing doesn’t happen again, but from CMAC, “to explain how they came to hire Laith Marouf, and how they plan on rectifying the situation given the nature of his anti-Semitic and xenophobic statements.”

“We look forward to a proper response on their next steps and clear accountability regarding this matter,” Mr. Hussen’s statement concluded, affirming that with this government, the buck stops elsewhere. “I want to assure Canadians that our government has and will continue to fight anti-Semitism and hate in all its forms.”

By this government’s telling, then, the feeble Ministry of Heritage – with its billion-dollar budget and more than 1,800 employees – was hoodwinked by an organization harbouring an antisemite right there on its public list of consultants. Maybe Google was down for the many months Mr. Marouf was working with the Heritage department, thus preventing anyone from searching his name. Or maybe they just thought Mr. Marouf’s Twitter persona was an elaborate bit because no anti-racism lecturer with any knowledge of right-wing white supremacy would seriously use the phrase “Jewish White Supremacists,” since bona fide white supremacists obviously do not consider Jewish people to be white.

For a government that has made self-flagellation a matter of routine – that declared itself complicit in Indigenous genocide and rarely shies away from an opportunity to apologize for a past injustice – its cabinet ministers seem awfully shy to take responsibility now. Perhaps that’s because this is not something that can be blamed on Canada generally, but on this government specifically – a government that accidentally gave an apparent frothing antisemite permission to lecture Canadian broadcasters on racism.

The expectations for this government are not high. A reasonable response from Mr. Hussen would be for him to come out and explain that the Heritage Ministry did not do its due diligence in this case, but that it is developing specific protocols, which will soon be publicly disclosed, to vet grant recipients. But such a response could only be expected of a government actually interested in accountability. This government is only keen on the appearance thereof – that and foisting the blame on an organization that apparently hoodwinked an entire ministry.

Source: Ahmed Hussen demands to know how someone else let his government partner with an apparent antisemite

Liberal government cuts funding, suspends anti-racism group’s project after tweets

Should never have happened.

Officials need to do a better job in G&C applications vetting, including social media of the organization and key staff to reduce future risks:

The Liberal government has cut funding for an anti-racism group and suspended work on a project it was running after a member of the group made antisemitic remarks in a social media post.

“Antisemitism has no place in this country. The antisemitic comments made by Laith Marouf are reprehensible and vile,” Housing, Diversity and Inclusion Minister Ahmed Hussen said in a statement posted on Twitter Monday.

“We have provided notice to the Community Media Advocacy Centre (CMAC) that their funding has been cut and their project has been suspended.”

Marouf, a senior consultant on an anti-racism project that received $133,000 from the federal government, posted the controversial remarks on his Twitter account. The account is private but a screenshot of the post showed a number of tweets with his photo and name.

One tweet said: “You know all those loud mouthed bags of human feces, aka the Jewish White Supremacists; when we liberate Palestine and they have to go back to where they come from, they will return to being low voiced bitches of [their] Christian/Secular White Supremacist Masters.”

Last year, the Community Media Advocacy Centre (CMAC) received a $133,800 Department of Canadian Heritage grant to build an anti-racism strategy for Canadian broadcasting.

The Liberal government has cut funding to an outside group it hired to deliver anti-racism training after it was discovered that one of the group’s leaders made antisemitic remarks in social media posts.

Marouf is listed as a senior consultant on CMAC’s website and is quoted saying that CMAC is “excited to launch” the “Building an Anti-Racism Strategy for Canadian Broadcasting: Conversation & Convergence Initiative” with funding support from Heritage’s anti-racism action program.

He expressed gratitude to “Canadian Heritage for their partnership and trust imposed on us,” saying that CMAC commits to “ensuring the successful and responsible execution of the project.”

Marouf is not antisemitic, says lawyer

In Hussen’s statement, he called on CMAC to explain how it came to hire Marouf and how it plans to rectify the damage caused by his “antisemitic and xenophobic statements.”

“We look forward to a proper response on their next steps and clear accountability regarding this matter,” he said.

The Canadian Press reported last week that a lawyer acting for Marouf asked for his client’s tweets to be quoted “verbatim” and distinguished between Marouf’s “clear reference to ‘Jewish white supremacists”‘ and Jews or Jewish people in general.

Marouf does not harbour “any animus toward the Jewish faith as a collective group,” lawyer Stephen Ellis said in an email.

Source: Liberal government cuts funding, suspends anti-racism group’s project after tweets

Lilley of the Toronto Sun:

At noon Monday, Diversity Minister Ahmed Hussen tweeted out that he was cutting the funding from the Community Media Advocacy Centre.

The Montreal based group received a $133,822 grant last September for a program called Building an Anti-Racism Strategy for Canadian Broadcasting. It had already held workshops in Vancouver, Montreal and Halifax with events still scheduled for Calgary, Winnipeg and Ottawa.

A major problem, though, were the comments from the man leading these sessions, Laith Marouf. He has called “Jewish White Supremacists” “bags of human feces,” said that French is an ugly language, and that “Frogs have much less IQ.” He once called Colin Powell the “Jamaican house slave of the Empire.”

Marouf’s lawyer said that Marouf does not have “any animus toward the Jewish faith as a collective group” and said his tweets made a clear distinction between “Jewish White Supremacists” and Jews in general.  But that explanation is difficult to accept.

That’s not the kind of person who should be lecturing another human being on racism.

“The anti-Semitic comments made by Laith Marouf are reprehensible and vile,” Hussen said in a statement.

“We have provided notice to the Community Media Advocacy Centre (CMAC) that their funding has been cut and their project has been suspended.”

Hussen called on CMAC to explain how they came to hire Marouf, given that the group is supposed to be about fighting racism and hate while Marouf’s comments were “anti-Semitic and xenophobic.” The minister should be pushing CMAC to answer those questions, but he has to answer many himself.

How did this group and Marouf get funding in the first place?

How could Hussen end up being quoted in an April press release with Marouf when a simple search would have turned up many of his vile comments?

Will anyone be held accountable for this?

We used to have ministerial accountability in our government; ministers would resign when their departments messed up. There’s no doubt that the government did mess up, not just Hussen’s department, but also Canadian Heritage which approved the grant.

Speaking to government insiders to get a sense of how this came to be shows a series of missteps across four different ministers, two departments and many months. The grant was approved last September as Canada was in the middle of a federal election.

The grant had been making its way through the system at Heritage Canada which was then overseen by then-minister Steven Guilbeault. While the grant was funded by Heritage, it was handed out by the Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Youth which at that time was Bardish Chagger.

By the time the government got around to actually handing out the money and making and making an announcement, Pablo Rodriguez was the minister at Heritage and Hussen had taken over the diversity file. It appears that the vetting process wasn’t fully followed because the people in charge assumed others had or would do the vetting required.

On the one hand, I am tempted to cut the government some slack because their contract was with CMAC, not Larouf, but he’s been with them for years. This was not a new hire; he’s featured on their website and was likely central to their application.

According to government sources, had the contract been directly with Marouf, he could have been fired immediately. Since the contract was with CMAC, the government had legal advice they had to follow before the contract could be terminated.

There is now an internal review to see how this happened, and the government is looking at their options, including whether any funding can be recovered from the group.

They should be reviewing the entire anti-racism training industry they are supporting. As I’ve written previously, it appears to a sham.

It took the Trudeau government longer than it should have to fix their mistake, but at least they are fixing it.

Source: LILLEY: Firing anti-racism group took too long given trainer’s racist comments

Trudeau Turns the Page on #Immigration. About time! : Corriere Canadese

The Corriere Canadese and its editor, former Liberal immigration minister Joe Volpe (Martin government) has been advocating for Hussen’s ouster for some time (the criticisms are overblown IMO).

We will never know whether these concerns played a role in his replacement by an Italian Canadian, but as noted before, there has been tension for some time between traditional and newer immigrant groups supporting the Liberals. For example, the Saint Léonard-Saint Michel Liberal nomination contest between Italian Canadian and non-Italian Canadian candidates being a recent example.

The program actually plays little attention to citizenship or country of origin, contrary to what is asserted in the article. Moreover, Express Entry dramatically improved processing times for economic class immigrants. And visible minorities have formed close to 80 percent of all immigrants over the past 20 years.

But a good example of tension between historic and newer groups of new Canadians, and how they perceive their relative influence on Liberal immigration policies:

The first signs are positive. Justin Trudeau has decided to intervene in the immigration department chaos with the replacement of the now exminister Ahmed Hussen by promoting Marco Mendicino to the delicate post. During these last two years, Corriere Canadese has strongly denounced the systemic inconsistencies in the management of migration flows by the Executive – the Minister -responsible for those flaws, the contradictions and the endemic problems that have permeated the immigration sector in our country.

Our survey of the last two weeks has documented with numbers, data and statistics – all provided directly by the Ministry of Immigration – the poor state of health of the entire system, the absurdity of the results produced, the imbalances among geographic origins of the immigrants, the bizarre bureaucratic, linguistic and regulatory obstacles of the Express Entry.

The question was/is very simple: is the current system able to provide a trained and qualified workforce to meet the needs of the Canadian labour market in a timely fashion? The answer was/ is equally simple: absolutely not.

As it is structured, the system itself pays more attention to the citizenship of the newcomers than to their professional preparation, to their work experience or, above all, to the requirements requested by Canadian companies and businesses. It goes without saying that it is necessary to turn the page, intervening with significant structural changes – and not mere cosmetic operations. If that is not enough, then one should consider a complete repeal of the Express Entry program.

This program, envisioned by Harper conservatives, Jason Kenney and Chris Alexander, Conservative Cabinet Ministers, came into force in January 2015.

It has become quite clear that even the Current Prime Minister has not been overwhelmed with enthusiasm by Ahmed Hussen’s work in the two and a half years in offiŽce. His demotion from a key department of government to a previously non-existent Ministry without a portfolio is a clear signal that even Trudeau realized that the management of migration flows in the previous legislature represented a weak point in government action.

Moreover, it was a source of controversy and internal splits creating friction with many communities, starting with Italian Canadians.

The appointment of Mendicino, Eglinton-Lawrence’s MP of Italian origin, represents a clear and precise response to the complaints we have supported – by giving space – for Hussen’s work.

That said, we must point out that, in our opinion, the decision to appoint Mendicino Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship is not the goal but a starting point.

He will face a huge amount of work and many problems to solve: the Express Entry, as we have said, but also the thorny issues of undocumented foreign workers – “resolved” by his predecessor with a cynical rise shrug of his shoulders – the inconsistencies of the family reunification system, those of the hasty deportations that violate any principle of common sense and the delicate relationship with the various Provinces on demographic matters.

That sometimes, it is right to point out, they also put their own. Just look at what happened in Ontario, where Prime Minister Doug Ford after the victory of 2018 had the “brilliant idea” – one of many, to tell the truth – to eliminate the Provincial Ministry of Immigration and to entrust its competencies to the Minister for Children and Community and Social Services, a position currently held by Lisa MacLeod.

So, in wishing the new minister good work, we also ask that the government have the strength to turn to ensure that Immigration returns to being one of the strengths of our country’s economic, social and demographic growth.

Source: Trudeau Turns the Page on Immigration. About time!

Marco Mendicino appointed new Canadian immigration minister: Backstory?

A possible backstory for this appointment is that there has been considerable discontent among some Italian Canadians over their relative under-representation in key posts (see the Saint-Léonard Saint-Michel Liberal nomination where a non-Italian, Hassan Guillet, won what was viewed as an Italian Canadian seat before his candidacy being revoked by the LPC and being replaced by Patricia Lattanzio).

More notably, former Liberal immigration minister in the Martin government and current editor of Corriere Canadese, Joe Volpe, has been particularly strident in his critique of Ahmed Hussen:

“Corriere publisher Joe Volpe exhorts Anne McLellan, advisor to Justin Trudeau, to tell the Prime Minister to get rid of those federal ministers who never should have been called to government, first among them Ahmed Hussen. As Immigration Minister, Hussen has been a complete disaster. Nonetheless, approximately 300,000 new entrants, as well as international student visa holders, refugees, and the more than one million undocumented workers (and their families), are at his mercy. Closer to home, he has not lifted a finger to make use of the human resources potential of Italian emigrants ‘young, educated and skilled’ who are leaving Italy each year, going everywhere except Canada. Dismiss him before he causes more damage to the country’s demographic fabric and the Liberal brand, Volpe says.” (1 November, Italian, Corriere Canadese)


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has named Marco Mendicino as Canada’s next Minister of Immigration Refugee and Citizenship Canada.

Mendicino has an extensive background in law. For nearly 10 years he worked as a federal prosecutor, during which time he put members of the “Toronto 18” terror group behind bars. He also worked at the Law Society of Upper Canada, and was the President of the Association of Justice Counsel, where he served for two terms. Mendicino has also advocated for better laws on organized crime and access to justice before the House of Commons and the Senate.

At the time of swearing-in on November 20, he was serving as the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities. He was involved in advancing government green infrastructure and social infrastructure in Toronto and across Canada.

He was re-elected as the Member of Parliament in the Eglinton-Lawrence riding on October 21, 2019 with 53 per cent of voter support. Before being elected in 2015 he developed a lunch program for families with children going into kindergarten or the installation of a new turf field at John Wanless Public School.

In 2017 he served as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, where he helped to advance federal priorities such as Criminal Justice Reform, Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and Restorative Justice.

The new Minister of Immigration also sat on a number of boards and has been involved with the John Wanless Childcare Centre, John Wanless Public School, North Toronto Soccer Club, COSTI Immigration Services, the Toronto Symphony Volunteer Committee and Heart & Stroke Canada.

Mendicino will be replacing Ahmed Hussen who lead Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) since 2017. Hussen will be taking over the role of Minister of Families Children and Social Development.


Canada’s Immigration Minister on Tackling Rise of ‘Anti-immigrant’ Rhetoric

Newsweek profile:

As the U.S. government continues a hardline crackdown on immigration across the country and along the southern border, its northern neighbors have been keeping a watchful eye, wary of how a rise in anti-immigrant rhetoric south of the border might affect the daily discourse in Canada.

In an interview with Newsweek, Ahmed Hussen, Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, said that while Canada is lucky to have a population that “generally supports immigration,” it is not immune to the “anti-immigrant narratives” being espoused in the U.S. and around the world.

“I think we’re very lucky in Canada, by and large, to have a population that generally supports immigration, understands the positive role that immigration has had on our country and understands the positive contributions of immigrants,” Hussen said on Wednesday, following a roundtable discussion organized by the Concordia Forum at Canada House in London.

“However,” he said, “we cannot take that for granted and we are being bombarded with a lot of anti-immigrant narratives right now.”

With Canada’s looming federal election set to take in October, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has sought to resolidify its commitment to welcoming migrants, asylum seekers and refugees into the country. Earlier this year, the Trudeau administration announced plans to attract one million immigrants to Canada over three years.

Hussen, who came to Canada as a refugee himself at the age of 16 after he and his family were forced to flee Mogadishu in Somalia, said he was well-aware of the way anti-immigration rhetoric in a country like the U.S. can shape the discourse around the world.

To counter that, the immigration minister said, the Canadian government has made a conscious effort to “shore up” support for pro-immigration initiatives “by sharing success stories.”

“Not just success stories of the newcomers themselves,” Hussen said, “but also of Canadians who have been transformed by the experience.”

Pointing to Canada’s Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program, now in its 40th year, as one key example, Hussen noted that “over the last 40 years, over two million Canadians have personally sponsored a refugee.”

“Now, that really does something,” he said. “It transforms people… Because we find that not only are those two million Canadians who are signed on to sponsor transformed by that experience, but their networks also get involved with embracing that refugee family.”

“So, for a big substantial percentage of the Canadian population, refugees and immigrants are not an abstract issue. It’s a member of their new family and so, there’s a resilience there,” he said.

Further, he said, that “resilience” is something that more countries have been working towards building, despite the rhetoric coming out of the U.S. Britain, for example, has not only joined Canada in promoting the private sponsorship model, but also in offering a “community sponsorship program.”

“Now, the UK and Canada are jointly promoting this to other countries, so there’s now about 12 countries that have either adopted…or are about to launch…a program in places like Germany, or places you wouldn’t expect, like Belgium,” Hussen said.

When it comes to countering anti-immigration sentiments, the immigration minister said: “I think that’s the way you do it, because that helps to increase the places [for refugees], but it also helps to change perceptions.”

Another way that the Canadian government is seeking to “change perceptions” around refugees, Hussen said, is through a new pilot scheme that allows refugees to enter the country through economic immigration programs.

Run by Talent Beyond Boundaries, a non-government organization that has partnered with the UN Refugee Agency to help match refugees with employers in Canada and Australia, Hussen said the program is aimed at giving refugees more agency.

There are several competitive economic immigration programs in Canada, he said, and “for those spots, people are selected based on their human capital, skills, education, work experience and so on.”

“It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from, your religion, or your background, but refugees, right now, are not eligible for those programs because they’re displaced,” the immigration minister said.

“What I’m saying is that’s not fair to many refugees who have skills, so why don’t we allow them to compete here?” he said. “You know, not just giving them a spot the way we do with the refugee program, because that is not based on skills, it’s based on vulnerability… We’re saying for those who can contribute, and a lot of them can, why not allow them to compete with everyone else here?”

Already, Hussen said, a number of refugees have started working in the country under the program, including a Syrian refugee who was living in Lebanon before being recruited to work for a technology firm in Kitchener-Waterloo earlier this year.

“He used this program to come through the economic skilled immigration competition and he came through the highest federal skilled worker program,” the immigration minister said. “He has the human capital… He just happens to be a refugee.”

Despite the positive influence that Hussen is confident initiatives like the one run by Talent Beyond Boundaries will have on both the economy and perceptions on immigration in Canada, recent public opinion polls have suggested a hardening of Canadian views towards immigrants and refugees.

A recent poll commissioned by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and conducted by Public Square Research and Maru/Blue found that of the 4,500 adults participating in the online survey, 57 percent felt that Canada should not be accepting more refugees.

Of those surveyed, 64 percent also said they believed illegal immigration is becoming a serious problem in Canada, while 56 percent said they felt that accepting too many immigrants into the country will change the nation. Meanwhile, 24 percent said they felt too many immigrants are visible minorities.

Despite signs of anti-immigration sentiments growing in Canada, Hussen said his government was determined to stay the course in keeping its commitments to migrants, asylum seekers and refugees.

Source: Canada’s Immigration Minister on Tackling Rise of ‘Anti-immigrant’ Rhetoric

MALCOLM: The latest Liberal fearmongering – Conservatives will ‘militarize the border’?!

Fear-mongering, like virtue signalling, is all too common, whether it be from the right or left. And Malcolm, whose writings are consistent in condemning Liberal actions (and inactions), and arguably fear-mongering herself, rarely addresses some of the inconvenient truths of her critiques.

In this case, if Canada were to declare the whole border official entry points for purposes of the Safe Third Country Agreement, the implication would be that we would need to have more staff at the border to enforce it, not to mention US agreement (unlikely) to take back any person attempting to cross the border.

And should we declare Roxham Road an official point of entry (and if the US would agree), many would simply look for other places to slip across the border?

One could argue that in fact allowing Roxham Road as a loophole makes it easier for the government to know who is arriving and perform the needed security and related checks and go through the IRB process rather than being completely unmanaged:

But While accusing the opposition of fear-mongering about illegal immigration, top Trudeau government officials have stepped up their own fear-mongering campaign against the opposition.

The 2019 federal election may be nine months away, but the campaign has already begun. The latest comes from Trudeau’s immigration minister Ahmed Hussen, who accused the Conservative Party of wanting to “militarize the border.”

Last week, Conservative MP and immigration critic Michelle Rempel held a news conference where she called on the government to study the issue of how Canada screens and vets migrants who illegally cross into Canada. Rempel’s proposal was mild, and well within reason.

Canada is experiencing an unprecedented and ongoing surge in illegal border crossings, which has been accompanied by stories of alleged terrorists and migrants with national security red flags slipping into Canada.

Rempel noted in her news conference that the Conservatives have been asking for a review of Canada’s immigration screening policy since the border crisis escalated in 2017.

Responding to Rempel’s proposal, Hussen dismissed the Tory position on immigration and bizarrely seemed to invent a new position for them.

“I haven’t seen anything from the Conservatives. They don’t have a plan,” said Hussen, before quickly changing his tune. “Do you know what their plan is? To militarize the border and place a CBSA official or RCMP official every 100 metres,” said Hussen.

In the same breath, Hussen claimed both that the Conservatives didn’t have a plan and that their plan includes militarizing the border.

Of course, there is no evidence that the Conservatives — or any sane person for that matter — has ever called for officials to be stationed every hundred meters along the border.

The shared Canada-U.S. border, after all, spans 8,891 kilometres. With border officials ever 100 metres — ten per kilometer — that would mean staffing the border with about 90,000 border stations, and asking our American neighbours to do the same.

If the mainstream media bothered to fact-check Liberal politicians like they do the opposition, Hussen’s wild allegation would surely fail the test.

In reality, the problem is mostly contained to one small section of the border.

In 2018, 19,419 migrants illegally entered Canada in between official ports of entry, 18,518 of them crossed into Quebec. This is in line with the Trudeau government’s claim that 95% of all illegal crossings occur along Roxham Road.

The problem does not span Canada’s nearly 9,000-kilometre border. It’s isolated to a very small location — making it much easier to tackle.

Canada could drastically reduce the flow of illegal migration by taking a simple step: closing the border at Roxham Road and stopping migrants from crossing there. Instead, the Trudeau government has done the opposite.

First, they built a land bridge so migrants wouldn’t have to walk through a ditch.

Second, they permanently stationed RCMP officers at this unofficial crossing point (which is less than five kilometres from the official crossing at Champlain, NY) to register incoming migrants.

Third, they set up makeshift refugee camps so that asylum seekers could start their paperwork and quickly become eligible for government handouts.

Finally, they began shuttling migrants to Montreal or Toronto — their choice — and setting them up in government-funded housing.

Not only has the Liberal government helped to facilitate illegal immigration, they’re normalizing it and thereby encouraging more of it.

Perhaps that is where Minister Hussen is coming from. When you believe in open borders, everything else begins to look like “militarization.”

Source: MALCOLM: The latest Liberal fearmongering – Conservatives will ‘militarize the border’?!