Indo-Canadians tend to vote Liberal. But will they continue to do so?

Interesting discussion of the generational differences:

For nearly two weeks, pundits have scoured pre-election surveys and post-election exit polls to analyze the voting patterns of Canadians in granular detail. So it’s surprising that scant attention has been paid to how Canada’s burgeoning immigrant communities voted.

Among immigrant groups, Canada’s large and rapidly growing Indo-Canadian population deserves particular consideration. According to the 2016 census, there are nearly 1.4 million people of Indian origin residing in Canada, accounting for four per cent of the population. Those numbers have grown dramatically since then; today, Indians represent the largest group of new immigrants in the country. In 2019 alone, more than 80,000 Indians made their way to Canada from India — one-quarter of all immigrants arriving that year.

For years, the Indian community in Canada — much like other ethnic minorities — has been perceived as a strong votary of the Liberal party. But the community’s rising socio-economic profile and young demographic skew, combined with the emergence of the Indo-Canadian NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, have raised questions about its political leanings.

On the eve of the election, we collaborated with YouGov on a nationally representative survey of Indo-Canadians. Our survey of 724 citizens of Indian origin suggests that the Indo-Canadian community continues, in large measure, to support the Liberals, with 38 per cent of respondents indicating their support of the party — twice the number that planned to vote Conservative. One in five (21 per cent) backed the NDP.

Remarkably, this breakdown is nearly identical to the distribution of Indo-Canadian votes in both 2015 and 2019, according to our analysis of the Canadian Election Study. How do we explain the voting habits of Indo-Canadians?

For starters, on a standard left-right ideological spectrum, Indo-Canadians strongly skew left. Nearly three in four Indo-Canadians self-identify on the liberal half of the scale. When it comes to the issues topping their agenda this election season, respondents identify the same bread-and-butter issues that weigh on most Canadians’ minds: health care and COVID-19, the cost of living, the state of the economy. 

If the Indian diaspora exhibits a leftward tilt, why don’t more of them vote for the NDP? Indeed, for many Indo-Canadians, Singh’s allure is undeniable. Nearly half of respondents reported that Singh’s leadership of the NDP makes them more enthusiastic about the party, in large part due to his Indian and/or Sikh roots. Furthermore, when asked to rate their views of Canadian political leaders on a sliding scale from 0-100, Justin Trudeau and Singh are virtually deadlocked — Singh earns an average rating of 67, with Trudeau at 65 and Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole lagging at 49.

However, Singh is handicapped by the one impediment that has arguably prevented many Canadians from voting NDP: the party is perceived to have little shot at forming the government. One in four Indians say the primary reason they do not vote NDP is because they do not want to waste their vote. 

On the other end of the spectrum, when asked why they do not identify with the Conservatives, survey respondents reported that the party is too influenced by big business and seeks to cut public services. On everyday economic issues, Conservatives appear out of step with the left-of-centre policies Indo-Canadians favour. Misaligned policies on the right and limited electability on the left seem to funnel Indo-Canadian voters to the Liberal camp. 

The seeming stability of the votes of the Indo-Canadian community, however, elides deeper changes underway. While older voters (above 30) favour the Liberals over the NDP by a two-to-one margin, younger Indo-Canadians split their vote almost evenly between the two. The divide between first-generation Indo-Canadians (who came as immigrants) and second-generation citizens (born and raised in Canada) is starker. While half of naturalized citizens support the Liberal party, just one in three born in the country do so. The NDP is the principal beneficiary of this shift: the party’s vote share among second-generation Canadians is twice as large as among their first-generation counterparts. Indeed, country of birth is the single most important predictor of whether Indo-Canadians are likely to vote Liberal, even after controlling for age, education, gender and religion. 

The relative absence of a religious divide is worth emphasizing, as it stands in contrast with the voting attitudes of Indians in another large, English-speaking country — the United Kingdom. There, Hindus have abandoned the left-of-centre Labour Party in droves and embraced the Conservatives, which has given British Indians prominent cabinet berths and adopted pro-India policies. In Canada, partisan polarization on religious lines is not so evident in the Indian community. But differing views over how Canada should engage with India’s government and concerns that the Liberal party favours Sikhs over the Indo-Canadian community at large could trigger a realignment.

Looking forward, the voting behaviour of the community will be shaped by two competing demographic trends. As the size of the diaspora increases, so will the number of young, Canadian-born Indians who are eligible to vote — increasing popular support for the NDP. At the same time, the sharp increase in recent Indian immigration will boost the numbers of naturalized citizens, who are more likely to support the Liberal party. The net effect of these trends, and how the Conservatives respond, will determine if the stability in the voting preferences of the Indo-Canadian community continues.

Caroline Duckworth and Milan Vaishnav are with the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Devesh Kapur is Starr Foundation Professor of South Asian Studies at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.

Source: https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2021/10/01/indo-canadians-tend-to-vote-liberal-but-will-they-continue-to-do-so.html

Canada raises immigration targets to record level, eyeing COVID-19 recovery

Will be interesting to observe the range of commentary on these ambitious targets. Hard to square this with Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem’s warning that the economy is unlikely to get back on track until 2023. Moreover, previous downturns and recessions tell us that immigrants who arrive during difficult economic times suffer economically in both the short and longer term::

In the midst of a second wave of COVID-19, Canada isn’t just maintaining its immigration strategy, but taking it up a notch, increasing the number of people it will bring into the country in a bid to stimulate the post-pandemic economic recovery.

On Friday, Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said Canada will welcome more than 1.2 million new immigrants over the next three years, with an annual intake that could reach 401,000 in 2021; 411,000 in 2022; and 421,000 in 2023 — equivalent to one per cent of the population.

The previous plan, unveiled right before the onset of the pandemic lockdown in March, set targets of 351,000 in 2021 and 361,000 in 2022.

“Immigration is essential to getting us through the pandemic, but also to our short-term economic recovery and our long-term economic growth. Canadians have seen how newcomers are playing an outsized role in our hospitals and care homes, and helping us to keep food on the table,” Mendicino said.

“Immigration is essential to getting us through the pandemic, but also to our short-term economic recovery and our long-term economic growth. Canadians have seen how newcomers are playing an outsized role in our hospitals and care homes, and helping us to keep food on the table,” Mendicino said.

“As we look to recovery, newcomers create jobs not just by giving our businesses the skills they need to thrive, but also by starting businesses themselves. Our plan will help to address some of our most acute labour shortages and to grow our population to keep Canada competitive on the world stage.”

The much anticipated 2021-23 immigration plan was tabled amid a cloud of uncertainty over Canada’s economic future in the middle of a global pandemic that has seen the country’s jobless rate surged to nine per cent last month from 5.6 per cent before the pandemic. It peaked at 13.4 per cent in May.

The government’s immigration strategy has been consistent with the approach taken by successive governments to keep intake high during recessions since the late 1980s, when prime minister Brian Mulroney’s government first used immigration to withstand the economic slowdown in 1990s and 2000s.

Canada was on track to bring in 341,000 newcomers this year; 351,000 in 2021; and 361,000 in 2022 — with about 58 per cent of the intake being skilled immigrants, 26 per cent under family reunification and the remaining 26 per cent as refuges or on humanitarian grounds.

However, due to travel restrictions, reduced application processing capacity and flight cancellations, only 60 per cent or some 200,000 are expected to have made it to Canada by this year’s end.

The new plan hopes to make up the shortfall over the next three years, with 60 per cent of the intake coming from economic class, 30 per cent from family reunification and 10 per cent under refugee protection and resettlement.

Last month, Statistics Canada’s latest demographic update showed the country’s population has reached 38 million but only recorded a 0.1 per cent growth or an increase of 25,384 persons between April and June — the lowest since 1972 — because of the pandemic.

In contrast, the growth rate stood at 0.5 per cent in each of the past two years at this time. In 2019, immigration accounted for 86.5 per cent of Canada’s population growth in the second quarter. This year, that dropped to 38.2 per cent (an addition of 9,700 persons).

Source: https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2020/10/30/canada-raises-immigration-targets-to-record-level-eyeing-covid-19-recovery.html?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=SocialMedia&utm_campaign=National&utm_content=canadaraises

The full report and related material: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/news/notices/supplementary-immigration-levels-2021-2023.html

Pre-release commentary by the Conservative and NDP immigration critics:

Conservative immigration critic Raquel Dancho said that whatever the Trudeau government announces today, it must have a concrete plan for bringing people safely into the country during a pandemic and for integrating them into Canadian society.

She said the backlog of applicants has grown during the pandemic.

“The immigration system has not been well-managed, I think to say the least, in the last eight months. So I will be looking for some sort of plan for how they’re going to improve it,” Dancho said.

“The number can be whatever it’s going to be, but unless they bring forward a plan for how they’re going to change course and get better at processing immigration applications, it’s really all for nothing.”

Dancho said Canadians must have a clear explanation of how immigration targets will meet Canada’s labour needs while upholding its humanitarian commitments.

NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan urged the government to increase its capacity to help vulnerable people in need of protection in Canada, noting that persecution abroad has not stopped during the pandemic.

She said Canada also should give permanent residence status to people who want it and are already in the country, such as temporary foreign workers and international students with job offers.

“Canada can, in fact, take a true humanitarian approach by regularizing all those immigrants and refugees and undocumented people,” she said.

Source: Federal government to announce new immigration targets today

And Quebec continuing to have relatively low immigration targets, making the demographic gap between Quebec and the rest of Canada continue to grow:

Quebec could welcome between 44,500 and 47,500 immigrants in 2021.

The immigration targets for 2021 were announced as part of the Plan d’immigration du Québec 2021, released on October 29. This report coincides with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada‘s (IRCC) announcement of its multi-year plan, which is expected this week and will guide Canada’s immigration planning for 2021 to 2023.

In 2021, the majority of new admissions to Quebec — 62 per cent — are expected to come through the province’s economic immigration programs.

The new Quebec immigration levels represent a slight increase over its 2020 targets when Quebec’s goal was to welcome between 43,000 and 44,500 immigrants.

According to estimates in the plan released today, Quebec will admit a maximum of 30,500 immigrants this year, instead of the projected maximum of 44,500. The province says travel restrictions and the closure of federal offices and processing centres around the world make it difficult to meet immigration targets for 2020.

However, the province’s immigration ministry said its targets for 2021 include a rebalancing plan “with the admission of an additional 7,000 people, representing the deferment of some of the admissions that were not fulfilled in 2020 due to the health crisis.”

As a result of the health crisis, the province estimates the number of unrealized admissions in 2020 to be between 13,000 and 18,000 but plans to make up the shortfall over the next two years.

Quebec’s Admissions targets for 2021

For 2021, Quebec has set a range of between 27,500 and 29,300 new admissions for its economic immigration programs, including a maximum of 24,200 skilled workers.

The province has also set a maximum of 4,300 admissions for its business immigration programs, which include Quebec’s Entrepreneur Program and the Self-Employed Worker Program.

In addition, a maximum of 800 admissions is set for “other economic categories” such as live-in caregivers and others.

Another 10,200 new permanent residents are expected to arrive through family sponsorship, refugee and other immigration programs.

2021 Quebec Selection Certificate targets

Under the provisions of the Canada-Quebec Accord, Quebec has the power to select all economic class immigrants and certain refugees to the province.

Those selected are awarded a Quebec Selection Certificate (Certificat de sélection du Québec, or CSQ) and can then apply to Canada’s federal government for a permanent residence visa.

Quebec’s plan calls for 26,500 to 31,200 selection certificates to be issued in 2021, slightly more than its 2020 plan, which called for a range of 20,100 to 24,700.

The majority — up to 22,400 — would go to skilled worker candidates.

The selection certificate targets are as follows:

  • Skilled workers: between 19,400 and 22,400;
  • Business immigrants: between 1,500 and 2,300;
  • Other economic immigrants: between 400 and 600;
  • Refugees selected abroad: between 4,400 and 4,700;
  • Other immigrants: between 800 and 1,200.

The targets set for 2021 include applications in process or waiting to be processed in Quebec and at the federal level. They also take into consideration the time it takes for candidates to complete all the immigration procedures.

Source: Quebec extends immigration targets into 2021

NDP calls for race-based data collection to combat racism, spur change

Valid call. Will see whether the government’s Centre for Gender, Diversity and Inclusion Statistics within Statistics Canada starts to generate results and in which areas:

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says the federal government must start collecting race-based data in order to make policy changes that will start to turn the tide on what the United Nations has called the “deplorable” treatment of African Canadians.

Protests against the police-killing of George Floyd in the U.S. spilled into Canada last weekend and Toronto was seized by the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, who fell from a 24th-floor Toronto apartment while police were in the home. Her death is under investigation by the province’s police watchdog.

On Monday, Canada’s political leaders tried to address the growing outrage. Mr. Singh proposed firm steps to address anti-black racism in Canada, while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised his government would do more but didn’t outline specific steps or a timeline to act. Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer proposed no new policies but said all levels of government have “much more to do.”

In contrast to protests south of the border, violence at Canadian demonstrations was limited to Montreal, where 11 people were arrested after dozens of businesses were damaged at the tail end of the formal march, which took place without incident.

Mr. Trudeau promised to “keep taking meaningful action to fight racism and discrimination in every form.” That progress in Canada has been too slow though, according to a 2017 United Nations Human Rights Council report on anti-black racism.

Across Canada, the report found disproportionately high unemployment rates for African Canadians, leading to more precarious and low-paid work, and worse health outcomes, where people in black communities are less likely to access health care services and more likely to suffer from chronic health conditions. In Nova Scotia, it found “deplorable” socioeconomic conditions and no change in educational inequities, 30 years after schools were integrated.

While federal leaders acknowledged the persistence of racism and systemic discrimination in Canada, Quebec Premier François Legault denied that it stems from structural problems.

“All humans are equal, are all the same, regardless of the colour of their skin,” Mr. Legault said. The UN report found African Canadians in Montreal have the highest poverty rates among visible minorities in the city.

The UN report recommended a mandatory nationwide policy on the collection of data disaggregated by race, colour, ethnic background, national origin and other identities “to determine if and where racial disparities exist for African Canadians so as to address them accordingly.”

That hasn’t yet happened and without it Canada is missing critical information that countries like the United States have readily available, said Arjumand Siddiqi, Canada Research Chair in population health equity. For example, Canada does not have information about how employment statistics break down along racial lines, making it difficult to know if some groups are being excluded from the suite of financial aid the Liberals have rolled out in the wake of the economic shutdown sparked by COVID-19.

While race-based data is collected in the census every five years, there is no routine collection of data, and on top of that, the data that is collected is not readily available, said Prof. Siddiqi, who is also an associate professor at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health.

The difference between the data available in the U.S. and Canada is “night and day,” she said. Without that data, evidence-based policy changes are stymied and it’s harder to hold governments to account.

The failure to collect the valuable data comes even as the impact of having the information is clear, Mr. Singh said, noting that changes to police carding were only made when numbers laid bare that the practice disproportionately targeted black and Indigenous people.

He said the data collection would help spur systemic changes in policing, the justice system and to inequities in health care, education, housing and employment, which “perpetuates the undervaluing of black life, of racialized people’s lives.”

The Liberals funded a new Centre for Gender, Diversity and Inclusion Statistics within Statistics Canada in 2018. A spokesperson for Innovation, Science and Industry Minister Navdeep Bains did not explain why a separate centre was created rather than integrating it with all of the work done by the federal agency.

Evidence from other countries and small pockets of information in Canada show that poorer people and people of colour are being hit harder by the novel coronavirus. But the Prime Minister acknowledged that collecting that information widely in Canada is an uphill battle, given that at the moment the government doesn’t even have the age data for a “large portion” of the people diagnosed with COVID-19.

Mr. Singh also said he supported the use of body cameras for police officers to ensure accountability and said police need more training in how to de-escalate incidents.

The UN report released a long list of recommendations to the federal government, which included apologizing for Canada’s history of slavery and other historical injustices, as well as considering paying reparations. The federal government on Monday did not say whether it was going to accept either of those recommendations.

Source:    NDP calls for race-based data collection to combat racism, spur change NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh echoed the call made in a 2017 UN Human Rights Council report on anti-black racism in Canada <img src=”https://www.theglobeandmail.com/resizer/06BMxG3XANkkpiQPUyh4FRZLZTY=/0x0:3600×2400/740×0/filters:quality(80)/cloudfront-us-east-1.images.arcpublishing.com/tgam/OV42UZ73E5JO7BMPP6YND6GQ3I.jpg” alt=””>     

Which immigration promises will a Liberal minority government likely keep?

The fate of the Safe Third Country Agreement will likely be determined more by the USA than demands by the NDP and BQ, and “modernize” had a deliberate ambiguous quality:

When it comes to immigration, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau made several key promises during the election. A few were specific, such as a pledge to create a new program that will allow municipalities to “sponsor” economic immigrants, while others were more general.

So which of the pledges on immigration will the Liberals be most likely to keep? And which promises — especially considering that either the NDP or Bloc Quebecois will hold the balance of power in any new government — are likely to go unfulfilled?

Most likely to fail

The Liberals campaigned on a promise to “modernize” the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) between Canada and the United States.

The agreement, which has been controversial ever since the number of asylum claims in Canada began to spike in the spring of 2017, allows would-be refugees to make claims at the border, even when they enter Canada at unofficial points of entry.

Trudeau and the Liberals have said changing the STCA would enhance border security and improve fairness in Canada’s asylum system.

But according to Sharry Aiken, a law professor at Queen’s University, any promise to “close the loophole” or amend the STCA agreement is likely to fail because that would require Donald Trump to agree to keep more immigrants and asylum seekers in the U.S. — something Aiken and other experts say Trump is unlikely to do.

The rising rhetoric around refugees is fuelling many falsehoods about whether these new arrivals pose a threat

Another reason why this promise may not succeed is that both the NDP and Bloc Quebecois have called for the STCA to be suspended until the Americans can prove that their asylum system is fair for would-be refugees.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh — who could hold the balance of power in a Liberal minority government — has been especially vocal about the abuse and mistreatment that migrants entering the U.S. have faced from the Trump administration, saying it’s clear the U.S. is no longer safe for refugees.

Most likely to succeed

The Liberals — both before and during the campaign — have talked openly about the important role immigration plays in ensuring Canada’s future economic growth.

The Liberals pledged to steadily increase the number of newcomers to between 350,000 and 400,000 a year by 2021. This includes increases in all areas of immigration: economic class, family class, and humanitarian class — which includes refugees.

In their most recent budget, the Liberals also allocated $1.2 billion in additional funding to enhanced border security and refugee processing.

The funds, the Liberals said, would be used to help address the growing backlog of refugee claims at Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB), which stood at more than 79,000 cases at the end of September.

Expanding economic immigration to smaller, more rural communities throughout Canada is another promise the Liberals are likely to keep.

The Liberals have said they would create a Municipal Nominee Program that provides up to 5,000 new spots for permanent residents a year. The program will give towns and smaller communities who don’t typically benefit from immigration the opportunity to “sponsor” newcomers to fill gaps in local labour markets.

The Liberals have also pledged to make the Atlantic Immigration Pilot project permanent, with another 5,000 spots a year for new economic immigrants.

According to experts such as Pedro Antunes, the chief economist at the Conference Board of Canada, both of these pledges will help smaller and more rural communities meet their employment needs and attract badly-needed newcomers.

Meanwhile, Trudeau has said he is open to working with Quebec to increase the province’s control over immigration.

Quebec Premier François Legault and Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet have called for the province to have “veto” power over decisions about when failed refugee claimants and other immigrants are deported. The leaders also want more control over temporary foreign workers that go to Quebec.

Trudeau also said he supports Quebec’s right to implement a “test” for new immigrants who want to remain in the province permanently.

Source: Which immigration promises will a Liberal minority government likely keep?

Singh promises bump to Quebec’s immigration funds to address labour shortage

Sigh. Quebec already receives about 40 percent of settlement funding and only received about 16 percent of immigrants in 2018:

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says his government would give a boost to Quebec’s immigration funding to help prepare immigrants to fill the province’s labour shortage.

At an announcement in Drummondville, Que., on Saturday, Singh promised to increase the federal immigration transfer payment to Quebec by $73 million per year to improve settlement services for newcomers, if he is elected prime minister.

The province has been dealing with a labour shortage, with more than four per cent of all jobs in Quebec left vacant for four months or longer, according to a Canadian Federation of Independent Business report. That’s roughly 120,000 jobs.

“Quebec is dealing with a serious labour shortage, and needs immigration to help meet the challenge,” said Singh.

“It’s a critical issue.”

The NDP’s platform also commits to bolstering immigration settlement in rural areas of Quebec. Many immigrants arrive in Quebec with no French language skills, which affects their ability to work in the province. Singh said that a funding increase from an NDP government would help to target those language barriers.

Quebec will already receive $25.5 billion from Ottawa this fiscal year in the form equalization payments and health and social transfers. In the 2017-2018 fiscal year, $490 million was allocated for immigration supports.

But the provincial government isn’t completely sold on the idea of increasing immigration.

Leaning on temporary foreign workers

The CAQ government intends to accept around 20 per cent fewer immigrants this year, or 40,000 instead of the nearly 52,000 accepted last year.

However, Premier François Legault said temporary foreign workers can counter the shortage.

His government recently launched a $21-million plan to make it simpler for smaller businesses to recruit foreigners. It includes subsidizing recruitment missions by Quebec companies overseas and offering to cover $1,000 in moving expenses for the workers.

The province also announced $34 million for measures aimed at better integrating immigrants into the workforce.

Source: Singh promises bump to Quebec’s immigration funds to address labour shortage

Elizabeth May says there’s ‘no room’ for racism in Green Party after NDP defector’s comments

Let’s not kid ourselves by denying that racist attitudes don’t exist and that the comments by Richardson were more in that line than himself endorsing those views.

The question is more whether the “undertone” is more on the discomfort side or more xenophobic and racist.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May issued a statement Wednesday saying “there is no room for any kind of racism” in her party after a recent convert made comments about NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.

On Tuesday, more than a dozen former New Brunswick NDP candidates threw their support behind the provincial and federal Greens. One of the defectors — Jonathan Richardson, the former federal NDP executive member for Atlantic Canada — said racism was one of the reasons for the party’s lack of success in finding candidates with an election call imminent.

He said he travelled around the province to meet NDP members and found there’s “a bit of racism undertone,” particularly in the northern part of the province.

“From when I was up in the [Acadian] peninsula, I would say that a lot of that region that most people would be a bit worried about somebody who wasn’t, you know, wasn’t Caucasian, and that’s going to take some time to show people that, you know, Canadians come in all cultures and diversities,” he said. “But for right now I think that that racism still exists.”

Singh is a practising Sikh and wears a turban.

Singh said all national party leaders should be celebrating Canadian diversity and that May needs to explain why she has let the former New Democrats into her party.

“She’s taking in candidates that have kind of openly expressed their concern around someone looking differently and that being a challenge,” Singh said in Toronto on Wednesday evening. “If she is accepting people that are suggesting things that are not accepting of people’s diversity, then the Green Party has a lot to answer for.”

“I think our political leaders should embrace the diversity of our country and should be willing to say you can look like whatever you are as long as you share the values and beliefs that are going to make peoples’ lives better.”

NDP MP Charlie Angus tweeted that “the fact that some N.B. NDP jumped ship because they wouldn’t run under a progressive leader who comes from another religion is sickening.”

Karl Belanger, a former national director of the NDP, also weighed in, tweeting that it’s “not a good look, New Greens.”

May issued a statement Wednesday saying Richardson’s comments “were taken out of context and have led to accusations of racism against the party.”

“One of the core values of Greens around the world is respect for diversity and human rights,” she said.

“There is absolutely no room for any form of discrimination in the Green Party. We have zero tolerance for sexism, Islamophobia, misogyny, homophobia or hate speech of any kind. Canada’s strength lies in its diversity.”

New Brunswick Green Party Leader David Coon said he hasn’t had a chance to speak to Richardson since he made the comments, but he contends they’ve been “overblown” and “exploited” by people trying to “blunt the impact” of 14 NDP candidates joining the Greens all at once.

“What I heard him say basically was he ran into some people who had ignorant attitudes and held prejudices against people of colour or people of different religions,” he said.

“It’s not a news flash racism and prejudice exists in Canada, and it’s abhorrent and we need to work to stand up to it and stamp it out.”

Coon said he travels the province regularly and, in his experience, “most” New Brunswickers are “very accepting.”

The NDP hasn’t held a seat in the New Brunswick legislature since 2005. Its last MP in the province was Acadie-Bathurst’s Yvon Godin, who retired in 2015.

Richardson told CBC News Tuesday there are other factors behind NDP’s diminished standing in New Brunswick — including the fact that Singh hasn’t set foot in the province since winning the leadership in 2017, the election planning committee’s focus on “urban areas that are diverse,” and a lack of staffing.

Coon said he doesn’t believe racism has played a role in the NDP’s troubles in the province. He contends the NDP has been struggling in New Brunswick since Elizabeth Weir stepped down as provincial party leader in the mid-2000s.

“So it’s been a long process where they’ve found significant challenges in resonating with the people of our province. And so I think that it’s not just one issue,” he said.

New Brunswick Liberal Leader Kevin Vickers said he “couldn’t disagree more” with Richardson’s comments, which he said imply that New Brunswickers are “inherently racist.”

“The New Brunswick I know welcomes and embraces people of all backgrounds,” he said in a statement.

“These comments are wrong, embarrassing for the province and should be embarrassing for Green Party Leader David Coon.”

Coon, whose Green Party is enjoying a boom in support, securing three seats in the 2018 provincial election, said Richardson will have to take responsibility for his words. “It’s his point of view and he’s the one who’s going to have to defend that.”

Late Wednesday, Richardson posted the text of his speech on Facebook, “for those out there who are wondering and asking questions.”

Richardson said he will not be answering questions from the general public or media, but would be “happy to have a conversation” with any of his friends.

Source: Elizabeth May says there’s ‘no room’ for racism in Green Party after NDP defector’s comments

Are there still NDP voters in a province that just passed a religious symbols law? Singh looks to find out

Hard to see him squaring the circle on this one.

Will see during the campaign how much time he spends in Quebec compared to other provinces as possible barometer of prospects:

Quebec’s new law on religious symbols makes minorities feel like they don’t belong in the province, says Jagmeet Singh, and he wants to be the one to lead opposition to the legislation in Ottawa.

The leader of the federal New Democrats says this as he is standing in the food court of a mall in Drummondville, Que., surrounded by locals who support the law and think it’s about time immigrants adapted to Quebec’s culture.

If Singh is to hold on to his party’s 15 seats in Quebec, it will mean connecting with voters in places like Drummondville. That won’t be easy.

“Why do you wear that?” one elderly woman asks, pointing to Singh’s yellow turban. She asks him if he’s been in Canada for a long time.

Another man, Réal Lamott, admits it bothered him to see a politician wearing such a visible religious symbol.

“No, I definitely won’t vote for him,” says Lamott, who backed the Liberals in 2015.

Of the NDP’s 15 seats in Quebec, only three are in Montreal. The bulk of them are in the province’s manufacturing heartland, which stretches between Montreal and Quebec City. Drummondville is right in the middle.

The NDP swept the heartland during the Orange Wave of 2011, when the party won 58 of Quebec’s 75 ridings, but since then political affiliations have drifted toward the right, at least at the provincial level.

This region, its economy driven by mid-sized businesses, was critical to the Coalition Avenir Québec’s sweeping victory in October.

The CAQ’s so-called secularism law, which bars public schoolteachers and other authority figures from wearing religious symbols while at work, hasn’t dented its popularity here. Quite the opposite: According to some polls, the party’s popularity has grown since October’s provincial election.

Striding into these headwinds, Singh campaigned this week, visiting ridings in and around Sherbrooke, Trois-Rivières and Drummondville.

He’s tried to tailor the party’s message to local concerns on this tour.

The NDP’s immigration policy, Singh said, will help businesses deal with the labour shortage, which is particularly acute in Drummondville. Its mass transit plan will bring upgrades to the local train service.

And its proposals for the environment will help smaller municipalities prepare for the more variable weather brought on by climate change.

“That’s what people are talking about,” said Drummondville MP François Choquette, who hung onto his seat for the NDP after he was first elected in 2011.

The religious symbols law is a provincial issue, said Choquette: “I’m concentrating on federal issues.”

Critics of the law, known as Bill 21, have been hoping for more vocal opposition from the federal parties.

The NDP, like the Liberals and the Conservatives, has avoided making any commitments to directly back legal challenges of the law.

Singh, though, went one step further this week, pitching himself as the spokesperson for those Quebecers angered by Bill 21.

“There are a lot of people in Quebec who don’t feel this is the right way to go, and I can be their champion,” he said.

The law, he says, is telling young people from religious minorities that the province where they grew up “is now rejecting you.”

Talk of turban ‘an opportunity’

Political observers are skeptical of Singh’s ability to reconcile that aspiration to lead the anti-Bill 21 vote while holding onto seats in the heartland.

The conventional wisdom among pollsters is that the federal leaders have little to gain in Quebec by being vocal about the issue.

But it would be nigh impossible for Singh to avoid addressing the law head on. Aside from his boldly coloured turban, his kirpan — the small dagger that religious Sikhs carry at all times — was visible as he shook hands in the Drummondville mall.

“Instead of a challenge, I find it’s an opportunity,” he said. “I find it’s the opening of a conversation.”

He offers the woman who was wondering about his turban a quick overview of Sikh history, focusing on the turban’s egalitarian symbolism.

“Well, I think you look quite nice,” she said.

Singh responded by giving her a high-five.

Source: Are there still NDP voters in a province that just passed a religious symbols law? Singh looks to find out

Singh in a bind as NDP must win over Quebecers that support new secularism law

Good column by Patriquin on Singh’s Quebec dilemna:

Were he a teacher in Quebec and not a politician based in Ottawa, Jagmeet Singh would find it difficult to work.

Thanks to Quebec’s “laicity bill,” which became law Sunday, Singh wouldn’t today be able to secure a teaching position with a turban on his head. Had he held this position prior to March 28, the law’s retroactive date of enforcement, he’d be stuck in grandfather-clause purgatory, allowed to wear his turban and kirpan—but lose this right should he be promoted, demoted or transferred to another position. It’s a cruel and confounding position for Singh. As leader of the NDP, he has significant support in Canada’s second-largest province. Yet he couldn’t so much as teach a Grade 4 class in the province, much less join a Quebec police force, guard prisoners in a Quebec jail or be a judge in a Quebec court. He couldn’t even serve as a liquor inspector.

Oddly, the NDP has been remarkably quiet about the demonstrable impingement of its leader’s fundamental rights. The party issued no press release following the judgment. NDP MPs, Quebec and otherwise, were largely and conspicuously silent on the issue. In 2013, the Parti Québécois of the day introduced its “Quebec values charter,” which would have had a similar negative effect on Singh’s ability to work in Quebec. At the time, the NDP called it “state-mandated discrimination,” with then-NDP leader Tom Mulcair vowing to “fight it all the way.” Yet the current incarnation of the NDP met the newly-minted Quebec law with a volley of crickets. There were no promises from the NDP to mount a challenge of the law should it form a government in October. Dissent was limited to Singh himself, who tweeted and otherwise expressed his “sadness” at its passing.

Unfortunately, there is method to the NDP’s silence. Quebec’s new secularism law is an onerous and cynical piece of legislation that tramples on rights secured by both the Canadian and Quebec charter. As a particularly mean-spirited solution for a non-existent problem—that of creeping religiosity in Quebec society—it serves no other purpose than to prop up the nationalist bona fides of Premier François Legault and his Coalition Avenir Québec government. And yet as grievous as it is, the law is remarkably popular amongst the very people Singh and the NDP must court if they wish to have any chance in the looming October election. In short, denouncing Quebec’s law is tantamount to political suicide, for all parties. That silence you hear from the NDP is the noise of political expediency.

How popular is the new law? Nearly three quarters of Quebecers polled believe judges, prosecutors, police and prison guards shouldn’t be allowed to wear religious symbols, according to a Léger Marketing poll for the CAQ government. (Other polls, notably Angus Reid and CROP, reflect similar levels of support.) In fact, according to the Léger poll, nearly 70 per cent of respondents believed the restriction should go even further to include preschool and kindergarten teachers as well. Here, we must acknowledge a bit of political brilliance, however cynical, on the part of Legault. By not including preschool and kindergarten teachers in the religious symbols ban, the premier has sold the law as a demonstration of restraint and compromise. The law “could have gone further,” he said the other day. “There are people who are a little racist and don’t want to see religious symbols anywhere in public.”

The NDP’s relative silence extends to the Conservative Party. While Conservative leader Andrew Scheer gave Quebec’s secularism bill a light spanking last March, the party made no similar overture upon the bill’s passing into law this week. If anything, the Conservative situation in Quebec is even more fraught than that of the NDP: Scheer is courting voters in the province’s exurbs and hinterland, where support for the law is highest (and, not coincidentally, the presence of actual religious minorities is at its lowest.) Scheer is further hampered by another political reality: laws such as the one passed in Quebec have remarkable support in the rest of the country. It is of no coincidence that former prime minister Stephen Harper, with his campaign-era “barbaric cultural practices” snitch line, wasn’t below a bit of Legault-style demagoguery.

And this silence has infected the Liberals as well, albeit to a lesser extent. In 2013, the mere hint of the PQ’s Quebec values charter provoked Justin Trudeau into writing 600 angry words in the Globe and Mail. This time around, it took being asked by a reporter for Justin Trudeau to denounce Quebec’s law.

In keeping relatively quiet on the political excesses of the current Quebec government, perhaps the NDP and others are simply learning from history. At a French-language debate during the 2015 election campaign, NDP leader Mulcair offered by far the loudest critique of Harper’s anti-niqab stance—and the PQ’s values charter by extension. “No one here is pro-niqab. We realize that we live in a society where we must have confidence in the authority of the tribunals, even if the practice is uncomfortable to us,” Mulcair said.

Mulcair’s was a righteous, nuanced and altogether sensible critique of the very type of identity-based politics practised by Harper then and Legault now. It also doomed the NDP, with Mulcair’s support diving at almost the exact moment he uttered the words. No wonder the current crop of federal leaders are so scared to say anything.

Source: Singh in a bind as NDP must win over Quebecers that support new secularism law

Robin V. Sears: How Jagmeet Singh can teach a lesson on tolerance

Interesting and credible advice, including how to handle Air India questions:

Next year, Canada may face a test of our national foundations, that is our commitment to social inclusion and tolerance. Will this fragile consensus survive the bloodletting of a national election when one of the leadership choices is an ambitious Sikh man, in a time when some partisans would stir the embers of racism?

In the naïve euphoria of a “post-racial Presidency,” how many Americans would have predicted an openly racist American president would follow? The Conservative Party has yet to be persuasive about how deeply it has learned the lessons of its disastrous flirtation with Islamophobic racism. The Quebec political elite still needs to acknowledge the black crow feathers dangling from their lips.

The ability to set these boundaries of acceptable discourse falls heavily on one man.

In 2019, Jagmeet Singh faces Obama’s choice. Obama did not run as a black candidate — to the chagrin of many black activists, like his hopeless pastor who almost single-handedly torpedoed his candidacy. He ran first as the candidate of “the outsiders” — by race, by ethnicity, and by class. Later, he became the candidate and the president, of social justice and race. The sequencing was essential to his success.

Jagmeet Singh might consider a similar story arc. He need not present himself as a Sikh candidate, or even as the champion of non-white Canadians: those credentials are given. Until now, even dog whistle racism gets slapped down here.

So Singh can frame himself as the champion of all that we have achieved, the defender of that edifice against any who would undermine it, and the advocate of what more remains to be done to build a discrimination-free Canada. He can be the candidate who frames the debate on these questions — helping to ensure no one is tempted to whisper against Canadian Muslims, or him, on the basis of his skin or his religion.

Those journalists tempted to use the tragedy of Sikh terrorism to humiliate him should remember this: Singh comes from one of the most persecuted, and discriminated against religions in the world. Thousands of young Sikhs have died in recent decades in circumstances that pass no credible legal test.

Some Sikh zealots, as a result, have taken up arms and dreamed impossible independence dreams. This has been a tragedy for one community, Sikhs themselves. There is virtually no sympathy for the Air-India bombers in the Sikh community here — after all, those who died were predominantly their own children and their parents.

What those journalists who taunt Singh, insisting on a condemnation they dictate, need to understand why that stand-alone demand is so offensive. If the question were, “Given the persecution of your community, the destruction of your temples, and the death of thousands of innocent Sikhs in civil conflict, do you understand why some are tempted by terrorism in response?” You would get a resounding, “No!” and then an explanation of why. Singh might want to deliver that cultural history lesson proactively.

He could also deliver a hammer blow to anyone tempted to again try on a racist subtext by speaking out in Quebec. Attacking the slurs against that mostly progressive and socially inclusive community could be powerful. In preparation, quiet discussions with Quebec civic leaders about how to deliver the message, would be valuable in themselves and a powerful signal to Quebecers that he is listening, not lecturing, advocating not admonishing.

He could cite brave Quebec activists’ resistance to anti-Semitism and the persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Duplessis era; the fight for civil rights for all Quebecers, by Lesage and Levesque. And he could celebrate the solidarity among Jewish and Catholic and Muslim leaders in Quebec City after the tragedy there. Tomorrow is the first anniversary.

Like Obama, he could acknowledge both the sins of the past, but also Lincoln’s “better angels” — our progress won by courageous Canadians in every generation. Underline the need to continue “bending the arc” of history toward justice.

He can remind Quebeckers and all Canadians of the personal bravery of Baldwin and Lafontaine staring down the Protestant and Catholic bigots among their own clans, creating the space that made a nation like Canada a possible dream.

The Canadian sanctimony that says there is no possibility of a racist nativism here is dangerous. The Ontario Human Rights Commission reported in December that nearly half of recent immigrants and refugees reported incidents of discrimination against them.

So, let’s pray that Jagmeet Singh and progressive Canadians can succeed in framing the discussion of inclusion versus racism as a path forward, not one sliding into Trumpian depths.

Source: Robin V. Sears: How Jagmeet Singh can teach a lesson on tolerance

Get real. Jagmeet Singh has been dealing with racist hecklers for months. Andray Domise and John Ivison takes

Good article by Domise on how Singh has been dealing with these issues over the year. I don’t have the same assessment of the political chatter as Domise – agree with Ivison below:

Yet taken as a whole, the response to his campaign from the political class seems to be that Singh should hang back in Brampton until the rest of the country—a country which prides itself on not being as despicably racist as America—has evolved enough to accept him. At a time when white nationalists have crawled out of the dirt to murder people in the streets, shoot up and firebomb mosques, and taint the office of the U.S. president, this is not a good look. Regardless of the NDP convention outcome, Jagmeet Singh has, so far, made his candidacy look like light work. But the way he handled Jennifer Bush wasn’t the true demonstration of his class and grace. It’s the way he’s handled Canada’s serious thinkers, who can’t help but find polite ways to explain why he doesn’t belong.

Source: Get real. Jagmeet Singh has been dealing with racist hecklers for months. – Macleans.ca

A ridiculous article in Macleans suggested the “political class” has been operating from a “racialized” script that urges Singh to return in ignominy to his native Brampton and wait until the country has evolved enough to accept his candidacy.

But no one is saying this. Even in pro-secular Quebec, the informed commentary has pointed out that Singh won’t automatically lose on religious grounds.

This country still has work to do integrating its most recent immigrants, and its original inhabitants, into the tossed salad that is Canada.

Singh said as much recently when he pointed out that, while Canada is known for celebrating multiculturalism, “as a kid growing up, it didn’t always feel that way … my turban and beard evoked a reaction in every room I walked into.”

He said fashion became his “social armour … insulating me from the negativity I faced.”

Yet, here he is — the front-runner to lead one of Canada’s national parties.

He has embraced his Sikh identity and had some fun with it in an attempt to make it cool — who else could get away with a pink turban?

He understands, as did Barack Obama, that race is more a social construct that a biological reality — and that he can shift the culture.

His ethnic background has proven to be a power base from which to launch those ambitions.

I first met Singh in his Brampton riding during the 2015 election, when he helped his friend Harbaljit Singh Kahlon campaign for the federal seat he holds provincially.

He pulled up in a convertible sports car, in matching turban, tie, socks, and proceeded to charm the voters of Brampton East on their doorsteps.

Against the background of a lacklustre national NDP campaign, Kahlon lost, but it was clear: a) that Singh is a charismatic campaigner; b) that he has built a powerful political machine in the very young, very brown suburbs of Canada’s biggest city.

The Liberals will be disquieted by a capacity to generate publicity that might rival the prime minister.

New Democrats will just be delighted that someone, anyone is paying them a little attention. The net effect of the heckler video is that it may convince enough of them that Singh has been transformed from “precariously electable” to “sufficiently electable.”

Source: John Ivison: Jagmeet Singh heckler video may be his Trudeau boxing match moment