Should permanent residents be allowed to vote in Ontario? Experts say it might be time

Haven’t seen many calls by experts for federal and provincial voting rights for Permanent Residents, only with respect to municipal election. As I have written before, not in agreement given the relatively straightforward path for Permanent Residents to become citizens (although the Liberal government delivering on its 2019 and 2021 election commitments to eliminate fees would help).

And why did Nagra not become a citizen given that she has lived in Canada for most of her life?

More substantively, the focus needs to be on measures to increase participation among eligible voters, than simply expand the pool, whether by age changes or immigration status:

Maneet Nagra wanted to vote in last Thursday’s Ontario election, and she even got a voter card in the mail. All she had to do was head to the polling station with one piece of ID and mark an X.

One big problem held her back: she’s a permanent resident and therefore isn’t allowed to vote.

“I got the card and I thought I could vote. I got kind of excited. And then, I searched it out and it turns out I can’t,” Nagra told CBC Toronto.

Source: Should permanent residents be allowed to vote in Ontario? Experts say it might be time

Metropolis 2017: Workshops of Interest – Notes

These rough notes capture the sessions that I either organized or attended to give others a sense of the topics and perspectives covered.

Integration – The Search for a New Metaphor: This session, prompted by the Canadian Index for Measuring Integration (CIMI) discussions on the meaning and definition of integration (and my Integration and multiculturalism: Finding a new metaphor – Policy Options) drew a good crowd(60-70 persons).

I opened with my critique of the “two-way street” metaphor by emphasizing that it did not capture the dynamic and ever-evolving nature of immigration, the Hegelian dialectic between thesis (host society) and anti-thesis (newcomers), resulting in a synthesis, and presented my preferred metaphor, harmony/jazz, where harmony represented the underlying framework of laws and institutions, and jazz the improvisation involved in resolving accommodation demands.

Mort Weinfeld of McGill drew from the personal experience of his parents and talking to cab drivers, noting that integration of the second generation was key. His preferred metaphor was the roundabout, with multiple points of entry and exit, with traffic moving smoothly.

Richard Bourhis of UQAM provided a Quebec perspective, looking at how Quebec language policies were characteristic of an assimilationist approach.

Elke Winter of UofOttawa drew from her analysis of European policies and practices and noted a third dimensions, that of outside actors and transnational forces (e.g., other countries, home communities of immigrants), and that integration was more a three-way than two-way process

The presentations prompted considerable discussion (although no one jumped to the defence of the ‘two-way street.’ The particular points I found most interesting were Richard’s noting the advantage of institutional diversity in terms of integration and others noting the need for metaphors and definitions to include indigenous peoples.

Thinking about next year, this is a topic that merits further exploration, perhaps involving some literary descriptions or metaphors (see the notes for Minority Voice, Identity and Inclusion – Media and Literary Expressions).

Citizenship – Factors Underlying a Declining Naturalization Rate: In the only session on citizenship, Elke WInter opened the workshop with an overview of how Canadian citizenship has evolved over the last 150 years, setting out four phases: colonized citizenship (pre-1947), nationalizing citizenship (1947-76), de-ethnicising citizenship (1977-2008) and re-nationalizing citizenship (2009-15) with a possible fifth phase emerging under the Liberal government. She presented some preliminary findings from an interview-based study.

I followed with my usual presentation of citizenship statistics, showing the impact of previous policy and administrative changes along with an assessment of the 2014 Conservative changes and Liberal partial repeal of these changes (currently in the Senate).

Jessica Merolli of Sheridan presented the key MIPEX naturalization indicators and data from the European Social Survey comparing immigrant/non-immigrant attitudes on issues such as self-sufficiency, interests in politics, LGBT acceptance and others and how over time in the country of immigration differences declined. The most striking exception was with respect to interest in politics, where immigrants, no matter how short or long the time, were more interested than non-immigrants.

Questions of note included do we need a citizenship knowledge test given that it presents barriers for some groups, and the impact that the  physical presence requirement has on families when one parent has to work abroad given difficulties in obtaining well-paying work in Canada.

Other workshops that I found particularly of interest included:

Inclusion, engagement partagé, participation – comment en rendre compte: Elke Laur of Quebec’s Minister de l’Immigration, de Latin American Diversity et de l’Inclusion presented their integration strategy and related measurement approach. Quebec has invested considerable time and resources on both aspects.

Of note is their definition below, capturing the complexities and dynamism of integration:

“Une participation réussie résulte d’un partage d’engagement mutuel de la personne et de la société dans son ensemble. Ainsi, la participation des personnes de minorités ethnoculturelles est conceptualisée sous forme d’un espace participatif dans lequel ces deux modalités se croisent dans une matrice. Cette matrice rend compte de l’articulation de différents degrés (allant de faible à fort), d’engagements individuels et de dispositions sociétales.”

Those interested in indicators should check out their report 2016 Mesure de Latin American participation des Québécoises et Québécois des minorités ethnoculturelles, an impressive report.

Enhancing the Potential to Analyze Immigration – Adding the Admission Category to Census Data: Laetitia Martin of Statistics Canada presented the detailed methodology of linking post-1980 IRCC administration data on immigrant admission categories, complemented by Lorna Jantzen of IRCC outlying the potential and challenges. Dan Hiebert of UBC provided an example for refugees of how this linkage could be used to analyze the economic outcomes of refugees, showing that in the long-term, economic outcomes are comparable to the Canadian average.

Minority Voice, Identity and Inclusion – Media and Literary Expressions: A mix of a case study (Punjabi media by Syeda Bukhari where she noted the ethnic media was getting more sophisticated in comparing what politicians said to English and ethnic media and thus holding them to account) and the overall contribution ethnic media does and can make to integration (Madeline Ziniak, current chair of the Canadian Ethnic Media Association (CEMA)).

Myer Siemiatycki of Ryerson gave a fascinating presentation regarding the person and poetry of Julian Tuwin, a Polish Jew (or Jewish Pole) whose loyalty and identity were attacked by both sides.

An example, Tuwin’s Poem, We, Polish Jews (1944)

I am a Pole because I want to be. It’s nobody’s business but my own. I do not divide Poles into pure-stock Poles and alien-stock Poles. I leave such classification to pure and alien-stock advocates of racialism, to domestic and foreign Nazis.

To be a Pole is neither an honor nor a glory nor a privilege. It is like breathing. I have not yet met a man who is proud of breathing.

A Pole – because I have been told so in Polish in my paternal home, because since infancy I have been nurtured in the Polish tongue; because my mother taught me Polish songs and Polish rhymes; because when poetry first seized me, it was in Polish words that it burst forth; because what in my life became paramount — poetical creation — would be unthinkable in any other tongue no matter how fluent I might become in it.”

A Pole – also because the birch and the willow are closer to my heart than palms and citrus trees, and Mickiewicz and Chopin dearer than Shakespeare and Beethoven.

A Pole – because I have taken over from the Poles quite a few of their national faults.

A Pole — because my hatred of Polish Fascists is greater than my hatred of Fascists of other nationalities. And I consider that particular point as a strong mark of my nationality.

He also presented Yolanda Cohen’s deck on the Sephardic press and diaspora identities.

Negotiating “fit” – Connections Between Employer Mindsets/Practices and Labour Market Success of Newcomers: Kelly Thomson of York provided an overview of the issue of “fit” and presented a case study of foreign-trained accountants. Aamna Ashraf of the Peel Newcomer Strategy Group (near Toronto) presented the results of a study on soft barriers, with focused and practical recommendations. Madeline Ng of Autodata and Nancy Moulday of TD Bank presented how their respective organizations encourage and facilitate diversity in their workforces. Unfortunately, Thomson took far to long for her presentation, reducing the time available for discussion with the practitioners.

Fitting In: Identity and belonging among second generation Canadians: Elizabeth Burgess-Pinto of MacEwan University organized  this roundtable discussion focussing on the second generation. A number of second generation (and generation 1.5) participants shared their experiences, challenges and identities.

Can Tories repeat past success in wooing the ethnic vote?

Further to my earlier post Visible Minority Candidates in the 2015 Election: Making Progress, good range of comments by Myer Siemiatycki, Thierry Giasson, and Ratna Omidvar on whether or not the Conservatives can maintain their inroads (most recent polls suggest not).

We will see who is right Monday night:

Opinion is divided as to whether the Conservative Party will be able to repeat its success in drumming up support in the ethnic and newcomer communities in next week’s federal election.

In 2011, the strategy was to “broaden the support of the party and reach out to visible minority communities,” says Myer Siemiatycki, a professor of political science at Ryerson University. “We saw a very concerted and aggressive outreach by the Conservatives.”

That effort proved to be successful. According to an Ipsos exit poll, 42 per cent of immigrants to Canada voted Conservative. The party won 43 per cent of the vote of immigrants who had been in the country for more than a decade. In that same poll, only 37 per cent of people born in Canada voted for the Conservatives.

But this time around it may not work as well, Siemiatycki says. Issues like the niqab, terrorism and security and the Conservatives’ stands on what they have described as “barbaric cultural practices” as well as policies on Syrian refugees, family reunification and citizenship have irked many and perhaps driven away some ethnic or multicultural voters.

Because of that, Siemiatycki gives Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservatives a failing grade when it comes to wooing multicultural and ethnic Canadians this campaign. Charm won’t be enough in this election, he says. As for the Liberals and New Democrats, Siemiatycki ranks their performance as neck and neck, giving both parties a resounding A for their efforts.

While neither party does the kind of narrowcasting the Conservatives are famous for, they have gone out of their way to include a diverse slate of candidates as well as make campaign appearances in diverse ridings, he says.

More importantly, both parties have strongly spoken out against Tory policies, including family reunification; citizenship, the niqab and refugees, he adds. Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and NDP leader Tom Mulcair are trying to win over newcomers and minority communities by arguing that Tory policies are not in the best interest of the country, he says. “It took courage, I think, to stand for minority rights; to stand for inclusion based on diversity and pluralism, tolerance and the rule of law.”

However, Thierry Giasson, professor of political science at Laval University, believes the Tories have been very effective — perhaps just as effective — this time around. They know what they’re doing when it comes to wooing specific ethnic and newcomer communities, he says.

…Ratna Omidvar, founder of the Global Diversity Exchange, a think tank at Ryerson University, believes the Conservatives have made substantial inroads in certain ethnic communities by appealing to “mainstream values within (certain) immigrant communities that are in favour of law and order … I do think the Conservatives have the lead on this.”

Source: Can Tories repeat past success in wooing the ethnic vote? | Toronto Star

Meet Toronto’s disenfranchised non-citizens

Further to my post on the declining number of immigrants taking up citizenship (Ottawa hiking citizenship fees for second time in a year | various), Myer Siemiatycki and Ratna Omidvar on how it plays out in Toronto and the links to poverty and precariousness:

Imagine a city the size of Halifax and then superimpose it onto the map of Toronto. Now imagine a wall surrounding that city state — a wall that divides its residents from the rest of the metropolis.

That’s perhaps the best way to think of the roughly 380,000 residents who live in Toronto who are without Canadian citizenship, says Myer Siemiatycki, professor of politics and the founding director of Ryerson University’s graduate program in immigration and settlement studies. And that number, from the 2006 Census, could be even higher today.

Some estimates suggest the number could be even higher if you include undocumented migrants, whose exact numbers are unknown. Some are foreign temporary workers; some are here on two-year work permits; some are live-in caregivers; many are permanent residents; others are refugee claimants. Some may one day achieve status or citizenship; others will remain underground eking out a living, always looking over their shoulder, perhaps not even able to speak English.

Critics say it’s a lost opportunity for them and for Toronto.

A deep divide separates non-citizens from most of the city’s residents, says Siemiatycki. They work here; pay property taxes; use the TTC. Their children go to school here; some use recreational facilities, community centres and libraries. But they are detached, disengaged, without a voice or a vote. Some are able to get only precarious or low-paying work. Many stay under the radar by working for cash and not paying taxes. Others live in constant fear of being deported. They pay for health care out of pocket.

“Imagine if you did not have papers,” says Ratna Omidvar, executive director of the Global Diversity Exchange at Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University. “Imagine if you could only work for cash. Imagine if you were always in fear that someone would come and get you. Imagine you’re paying a premium for rent … of course they’re disengaged. They can’t not be disengaged.”

Meet Toronto’s disenfranchised non-citizens | Toronto Star.

Who Votes in Toronto Municipal Elections? – Maytree Study

Summary of the results of the Maytree study by Ryerson University Professor Myer Siemiatycki on Toronto municipal voting:

Toronto has a poor record of voter participation in civic elections. In 42 of Toronto’s 44 wards less than half of all eligible voters cast a ballot in recent city elections. The turnout improves only when elections are hotly contested. While areas with lower voter turnout typically have high concentrations of immigrant and visible minority populations, there is minimal correlation between voting and an area’s average income, and no correlation to an area’s proportion of tenants and homeowners.

These are some of the key findings of Who Votes in Toronto Municipal Elections?, the first such study on voter turnout over the past three municipal elections in 2003, 2006 and 2010. Conducted for Maytree by Ryerson University Professor Myer Siemiatycki and geographic analyst Sean Marshall, the study explored the connection between municipal voting behaviour and some of Toronto’s prime demographic characteristics like immigrant status, visible minority identity, income and home ownership.

There is some good news

While the poor turnout is cause for concern, the study shows there is nothing inevitable or pre-determined about who votes in municipal elections. Thorncliffe Park is a prime example of what can be achieved if a more diverse political leadership results in deeper community engagement. With a large concentration of immigrants and visible minorities, this inner city area is one of Toronto’s highest voting neighbourhoods.

Why voter turnout matters

There are many reasons to take the democratic deficit arising out of poor voter turnout seriously. It threatens the legitimacy and confidence of local government and risks local officials being out of touch with public needs and concerns. It can lead to areas or communities within the city being marginalized from public decision-making.

Who Votes in Toronto Municipal Elections?

Higher immigrant population means lower municipal voter turnout: Study

Interesting analysis of municipal voting and immigrants and minorities in Toronto:

Siemiatycki said the top 10 wards in 2010 had average voter turnout at 56.8 per cent, with 36.3 per cent of their population being immigrants and 27.3 per cent being minorities.

In contrast, the bottom 10 had a turnout of just 44.6 per cent, with an average of 63 per cent and 62.7 per cent of their population being immigrants and minorities.

Siemiatycki attributed the low turnouts in wards with high immigrant and minority concentration to the nature of municipal elections, which are not guided by a party system like the provincial and federal elections.

“Municipal elections are confusing and it’s hard to wrap your head around because candidates have no open party affiliations. It’s more difficult for voters to identify with the candidates and what they stand for,” he explained.

“There is also the incumbent advantage in local elections. There are fewer immigrants and visible minorities elected municipally. People are less likely to vote if they are less likely to see themselves in the candidates.”

Higher immigrant population means lower municipal voter turnout: Study | Toronto Star.